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.