William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Dawkins & Hitchens to be Arrested for Crimes Against Intelligence

Comedian Richard Dawkins and seasoned troublemaker Christopher Hitchens plan to put a headlock on Pope Benedict when he steps onto English soil. “Stop!” they plan to yell, “We arrest thee as a criminal against humanity!” It should be some good joke.

Most of us know Dawkins’s stand-up routine. His “selfish gene” riff caused giggles in science clubs all over the Continent. But it was his award-winning “memes” gag that really sent them rolling in the aisles.

And now he plans to perp-walk the Holy Father down a Heathrow jet bridge. Such inspired hilarity can only come from an academic.

Dawkins has spent the last few decades whipping himself into a frenzy because a very small segment of the population isn’t convinced that evolution is proved. Some form of Darwinian theory is surely right, but that a few souls don’t believe it is not that interesting: a larger number of people can’t work the Pythagorean theorem, let alone identify which side of a triangle is the hypotenuse.

Hitchens is also a serial hand-wringer. He, like Dawkins, is consumed with anxiety because some people still follow a traditional religion. These men are of course free to terrorize themselves, but they run a risk: intense fear can choke off the blood supply to higher brain functions.

My evidence for this is that the pair have sworn to arrest the Pope when he visits England in September.

Their case against the Pope is this: in 1978 American Catholic priest Stephen Miller Kiesle received three years’ probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct. Kiesle had tied up and molested two boys in church. To repeat: Kiesle was caught, found guilty, and punished civilly.

We can agree that his punishment was too light and that he should have had his rosary beads surgically clipped. Nevertheless, he was sentenced in a court of law and he served that sentence.

After he did his (weak version of) time—this was in 1981—Kiesle himself asked his Bishop John S. Cummins to begin the process of defrocking him. Kiesle was at that point no longer officiating as a priest.

Cummins wrote Cardinal Ratzinger a letter detailing Kiesle’s crimes and asked that Kiesle be removed from the priesthood. In 1985, Ratzinger found that Kiesle’s actions were of “grave significance” but cautioned patience: he would not immediately remove Kiesle because of the “good of the Universal Church.” Kiesle was finally laicized—booted—in early 1987.

Hitchens’s and Dawkins’s hindsight suggests to them that Kiesle should have been defrocked immediately. That he was not constitutes, they say, Benedict’s “crime against humanity.”

Upon this odd theory, every senior member of the armed forces are as guilty of “crimes against humanity” as Benedict is—but not in the way you think.

When a soldier, sailor, or airman commits a crime he is tried and punished. Importantly, it is the soldier who serves out the sentence, not the civilian. That is, the solider is not immediately discharged, but might be after his sentence has been completed.

Whether or not he is eventually discharged depends on the nature and circumstance of the crime. For minor crimes, an attempt is made to retain and rehabilitate the soldier, especially if he is young. Major crimes—like child abuse—rate dishonorable discharges.

Kicking out a bad priest or solider merely relieves the Church or military of one small duty. But the disgraced, defrocked priest and the busted soldier are still “out there”, they are both ex-criminals living in society. And the Church and the military no longer have authority over them and can no longer watch them.

Thus, to call the Pope’s initial—but not eventual—reluctance to defrock a “crime against humanity” is, without any doubt, a crime against intelligence.

The actions of Dawkins, a serial offender, and the charming bad boy Hitchens have, by releasing their cancerous argument on an unsuspecting public, set back Reason at least 100 years, a heinous iniquity that must be punished.

Their crime is exacerbated by contributing to the delinquency of two lawyers who concocted a legal theory which says the Vatican is not a real State because—warning for the squeamish: avert your eyes now—the Vatican is not recognized by the United Nations. Therefore, they conclude, the Pope is not a real Head of State, and is subject to arrest.

I can find no mitigating circumstance that would let Dawkins and Hitchens off the hook. They must be arrested and brought to justice before their actions corrupt others. The survival of intelligence depends on their apprehension.

If anybody has any information of the pair’s whereabouts, please contact your nearest police department.

Update From the master jokester himself. He is wussing out of finger the Pope’s collar himself, but he still wants him to serve time.

31 Comments

  1. ‘Upon this odd theory, every senior member of the armed forces are as guilty of “crimes against humanity”‘

    Upon this odd conjecture you an idiot =)

  2. Mr Briggs,

    Great post! I think we can defer dealing with Dawkins and Hitchens to the Swiss Guards. I don’t think they have much sense of humor. BTW, Switzerland didn’t become a full UN member untill 2002.

    What do you suppose it’s like to be laicized? It sounds painful.

    As to the theory of evolution, I’m not entirely convinced myself. It’s the best theory we have, but I don’t find that a great argument. Has anyone ever directly observed one species evolving into another? We’ve been breeding dogs for thousands of years, big ones, small ones you name it, but they’re all still dogs as far as I know. You breed a horse with a donkey and you get a mule. That would be a new species except that it’s, well, a mule. Likewise, we can breed a lot of sports in the plant world, but neither a mule or sport is really a new species, since it can’t reproduce.

  3. It doesn’t matter whether the theory of evolution is right or wrong. Freedom of thought is a necessary foundation of intelligence and social well-being.

    Witch hunters are the lowest form of human being. They seek to steal your mind. Similar to zombies that want to eat your brain.

  4. Sure, how long it takes to defrock a priest doesn’t really matter, even if it takes 14 years.
    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/04/ratzinger-and-the-cases-of-father-teta-and-father-trupia.html

    And then, of course, if the priest apologizes, then all should be forgiven.
    http://cbs5.com/national/Pope.sex.abuse.2.1588568.html

    And even when a priest is sent into treatment, only a few days is really necessary.
    http://www.cathnewsusa.com/article.aspx?aeid=20295

    But above all, just remember that all this is supposed to be a “pontifical secret”.
    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/EpistulaEnglish.htm

    And let’s not forget, a lot of this happened before he was head of state.
    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2005/08/19/58590.htm

  5. Here’s a published article documenting the subject priest was tried & put on probation in a civil court: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8d8ec902-4434-11df-b327-00144feab49a.html

    This blog article eludes to an interesting (my opinion) point: that “liberals” (who seem to be the one’s most outspoken against the Pope on this matter) endeaver to force an outcome they find desirable. The word being “force.” If the civil courts/system don’t satisfy, attack the institution to which a person is associated, etc.

    At no point do they address the law that let the person off so easily and address changing that law, and associated laws that would make prosecution of such matters more effective (however they define “effective”). As noted in the blog item, the crime is properly punishble by the state, not the institution (institutions of every type are by design, structured to protect themselves & to expect them to do otherwise is simply naive).

    In other words, their behavior is directed at the most obvious symbols in the most superficial manner imaginable with complete disregard for extenuating, or greater, factors — i.e. a behavior pattern that is essentially indistinguishable from that observed with little children throwing a tantrum when they don’t get what they want. A tantrum designed to get mommy or daddy or the nanny to fix the problem their way.

    Put another way, they emphasize easy symbolic action & are “work-averse” to pursuing the changes needed that really address the issues (e.g. changing laws, etc.) — instead endeavoring to get the “nanny state” to take care of things.

    Intrinsic in their [self-asserted] noble ideals is a surprising pattern of situational morality & all the inconsistencies that go with that.

  6. Speaking of defrocking, Dawkins needs a dresing down. I expect the women will be queuing to carry out that duty.

    The narcicist who wrote ‘There’s no God, have a nice day’ across London bussses. the proverbial knave that twists the truth to make a trap for fools. Darwin was a gentleman, I wonder what he’d think.

  7. I like Hitchens in general. His monographs on George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson are pretty good. However, he does seem to have a short fuse and narrow view when it comes to religion. His hostility towards fundamentalist Islam makes sense. His attitude towards the Catholic Church makes less sense.

    As for Dawkins – who knows. Perhaps he likes the notoreity.

    Wrt the handling of pederest clergy, I do believe the Church was and is too quiet. One of the De la Salle brothers at the school I went to simply disappeared after a number of episodes. Nothing was said directly to the students. In retrospect more should have been made public – primarily to warn students. By my count, I was taught by 20 plus brothers over 7 years. Only this one appeared to have a problem. Another had an affair with a married woman (or two). The vast majority were very dedicated and 4 or 5 were exceptionally gifted teachers.

  8. Joy:
    Long time. Nice to hear from you again.

  9. Dawkins and Hitch are comedy gold and should be considered international treasures. The pratfalls, the comedic timing, the utter dedication to craft are incredible. If one didn’t know better one would think they were serious about these inanities. The only trouble I have is figuring out the funding aspect. How do they get paid? I expect to see product placement featured in their next act!

    The idea of two adherents of the Church of Secular Humanism goofing on the Pope is hilarious!!!

  10. Joy, great to hear from you.

  11. Briggs

    12 April 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Say, Jon, you’re not trying to spoil my fun, are you?

  12. Joy, nice to hear from you.

    As to the post is it possible the former priest and what he did or how he was treated is not the problem?
    Might it just be that the stubborn old pope-person refuses to modernize his church’s tenets, and paragraph 6 of this link is what has Hich’s panties up in a bunch?  Since holding his breath till he was blue in the face hasn’t worked, he now wants to take everything “to the next level”.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few Swiss Guards ensured that position turned out to be flat on his back, but I suspect wiser head’s would simply temporarily block his “access” and allow Hitchens time to change his nappies.

  13. The intervention was an act of mercy that coincided with international humanitarian and political justifications for removing the Saddam regime — Hitchen consistently gets it right. Don’t be so bought and sold on why BUSH went to Iraq, the warrant was there regardless of how the Bush Admin stated it.

  14. Mr Briggs: from afar you will not be aware of the context in which the “arrest” of the Bishop of Rome sits . Our friends on the campaigning Left have abused the law in the UK to try to arrest hate targets of the Left on behalf of deserving causes of such purity as the Palestinians – a meek, mild group never known to resort to acts of mayhem and murder – for example by trying to set the police onto visiting Israeli politicians or former army officers. Similar numpties you may recall, tried to get the Rumsfuhrer arrested in Belgium for his action against that other pillar of Humanity and sweetness and light, one S. Hussein Esq: and of course Tony Baloney Blair and the Bush (boo! hiss!) are perpetual targets.

    We live in times when there is clamour for the perpetrators of crimes against the environment – coal sellers and burners, petroleum users – to end their lives in interminable trials in the Hague, and where those who actually do have blood dripping from their hands, including but not limited to – Muggabe, Castro are generally ignored by our moral and intellectual betters on the Left.

    In passing you may also not be aware of the situation in Europe whereby there is an Islam inspired resurgence of religion insisting adherents are a special case and can legitimately evade secular laws and customs and traditions, and lobby successfully for new laws that confer rights which trump the existing and free-born rights of non-religious citizens.

    I recommend you check to see where the Dawk & Hitch duo’s tongues are in relation to their cheeks… indeed cheek.

  15. John B, I suspect the recto-cranial orientation may be the primary driver at times.

    On his ‘Joy of curmudgeonry’ blog, Deolgolwolf noted the following possibly pertinent observation:

    ‘There has been raised a horde of men, if so honorific a title may still be retained for them, who cry out “sky-fairy!” whenever they hear the word “God”, rather as Ivan Pavlov’s dogs salivated whenever they heard bells and whistles, albeit with a crucial difference: the dogs could not be inculcated to fancy that in their mindless reflexes they were on the side of reason.’

  16. I know that the US has a Vatican Ambassador, does the UK? If so, the Dawkins/Hitchens legal ploy seems downright stupid. The Vatican would appear to have a similar status to the UN.

  17. Sometimes I think Briggs is in fact a mind reader, I wrote this before today’s post!

    Hello again Bernie, I’ve missed you too!
    It’s hard to keep up with Mr McBrigger’s prolific writing. I often want to comment but don’t have time. Still, I enjoy reading all the comments and am often amazed by the skill many people have in writing. So many different styles.

    And, Bernie, would you consider being interviewed as Bernie on a radio podcast?

    JH and 49er,, thank you.that is sweet of you both.

  18. Joy:
    Sure we can discuss. If you do not want to go public with your email, perhaps you cancontact Matt and he can send on your email. I still use my business email and my former partners do not always agree with my pov.

  19. Actually, quite decent philosophers, Jerry Fodor for instance, have real worries about the status of the theory of evolution and its relation to its evidence. They aren’t advocating divine creation of course. But they are saying that the relation between theory and evidence here is a bit odd, rather unlike the relation between theory and evidence in other areas of science.

    It is usual for observation statements to be theory laden. But this theory laden? It is also usual for there to be some elements of circular reasoning, because a scientific hypothesis is to some degree a whole with lots of other ones. But this much circularity?

    As the late great Sidney Morgenbesser once said, when we grew up knowing it was wrong to cross a union picket line,did that mean it was wrong to cross a picket line manned by Albert Shanker’s Teachers Union?

  20. That Times article’s title was not Dawkins choice, but an editor’s who has a taste for sensationalism.

    The idea that Dawkins and Hitchens want to “arrest” the Pope is silly. They know it just isn’t possible. They just want to create awareness about the issue.

    Also, the “crimes” were a little more shady than what you are saying, mr Briggs. You sound like RealClimate denying that ClimateGate was more than shenanigans ROFL.

  21. Oh and tying up and abusing two children is now a “misdemeanor”?

    And we should be okay with that.

  22. Luis:
    That is not a fair reading of Matt’s original piece.

  23. Briggs

    14 April 2010 at 7:29 am

    Luis,

    I’ll pay you exactly $100 cash if you can find any place anywhere where I either said or hinted that child abuse is a “misdemeanor.”

    Also, in the update included at the bottom of the post, it is quite clear that Dawkins does in fact—out of his own mouth—want the Pope arrested, tried, and convicted. The original piece (the news article I linked to) also extensively covers the foolish lawyers Dawkins and Hitchens dug up and their odd theory of how arresting the Pope would be feasible.

    The only parts of my post that are inaccurate are clearly satire.

  24. I’ve not posted before but have enjoyed Dr. Briggs’ posts for sometime now. I’m neither a scientist, academic, nor particularly learned in any discipline other than business and law. I am just an incurable skeptic who enjoys the presentation of intelligent discussions (the commentators are as enjoyable as the original posts) of complicated subjects wrapped up in a satirical or sardonic voice. I would continue to read and enjoy without comment even now except that I wanted to add my thoughts to Michel’s comment about evolution.

    It appears to me that the trajectory of the current, man-caused climate change theory is following the trajectory of the theory of evolution. Both seem to rely upon consensus for its main element of proof. And besides the heavy lading of theory in relation to evidence and of circularity of evidence as mentioned Michel, each appears to have a huge lading of policy-changing agendas tied to large sums of money available only to the faithful followers of the theory. The only rational basis I find for regarding it unreasonable for one to question evolution is that it is contrary to the consensus of “well-settled” science — and not that is contrary to definitive proof.

    For the skeptics of evolution, particularly for those who are deists, the book, “In Six Days…” is an interesting read. It is a compilation of essays from 50 career scientists.

  25. Some adults here don’t want to see past their own opinions and then resort to insulting and belittling Dawkins and Hitchens. I am a teenager. I was told that it’s best to explain why you agree or disagree and that disparaging comments are a reflection on the one who writes them.

  26. Briggs

    14 April 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Well, teen Lodge, it’s like this. Most of us are aged and know a lot of the background information behind this story. To suggest that you can arrest a head of state, as the Pope is, on a watery charge—such as indicated—is clearly ridiculous. Plus, if you slow down you’ll notice that I did explain why the charge against the Pope is silly. What say you to my argument?

  27. Lodge:
    Welcom, but you need to be specific. Who is insulting and belittling Dawkins and Hitchens? Please think about your own statement. I assume you know what recursiveness is?

  28. Welcome, teen Lodge. Your advisors probably warned against assigning motives. “Some adults here don’t want to see past their …”
    Hurry back.

  29. Mr Briggs,

    Great discussion. Have you noticed that those with the most firm opinions on theories such as evolution and global warming are those who have no real understanding of science? They seem to personified by the likes of AlGore, whose last experiance with science was when he got a C in the 9th grade (I made that up, but doubt it’s far from wrong). These are folks who see science not as method of inquiry, but as delivered wisdom which they accept on blind faith.

    My education is in Physics. I recall taking a year long series of courses called “Dynamical Models”. Our professor explained that a few years earlier the course would have had the same name as the title of the text we were using “Mechanics” by Symon. (I don’t reccomend Symon BTW). He explained that the course name had been changed to help make the point that what we were learning were models of reality, rather than reality itself. I am still much impressed with this distinction. Our understanding of Newtonian mechanics or the Euler Lagrange equations of motion is based on their ability to flawlessly predict the results of any experiment we perform. We now understand that they are actually flawed under rare conditions which require the use of relativistic mechanics. Again, we don’t accept this based on the impressive mathematics of a Swiss patent clerk or the other giants on whose shoulders he stood, but on observational data.

    Theories such as evoloution, global warming and cosmology are generally beyond proof. We can’t perform experiments to test these theories. The general public has little understanding of this point.

    The late Michael Crichton gave an interesting speech about belief linked here:
    http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html

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