Prof. Frank Furedi observes that the intolerance displayed by groups like Protest the Pope is a sign of ‘moral disorientation’

In the Australian newspaper Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, accuses members of  Protest the Pope such as Dawkins, Hari and Tatchell of behaving towards Pope Benedict like children competing ‘to see who can come up with the meanest phrase to castigate the playground scapegoat.’

Prof Furedi comments on their speeches at the Protest the Pope demonstration:

‘Consider the infantile exchange between anti-papal zealots who were recently asked what they would say to the Pope if they met him. “Go home to your tinpot Mussolini-concocted principality, and don’t come back,” said the Grand Inquisitor of the new atheist sandbox, Richard Dawkins, who refers to the Pope as “Mr Ratzinger” and describes him as the “head of the world’s second most evil religion”. Not to be outdone, the journalist Johann Hari imagines he is a policeman and declares: “I am placing you under arrest for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and for your central role in the systematic cover-up of the rape of children across five continents.”

He concludes:

‘The principal hallmark of today’s breed of secular moraliser is unabashed intolerance, and a demand that everyone conform to their zero-tolerance values…These secular moralisers are not really interested in the intricacies of theological disputes; they merely want to exploit them. Their mission is to call into question the moral integrity of their opponents by depicting them as a malevolent force that violates the elementary norms of contemporary society.’

Prof Furedi, with his background of research into the sociology of fear, observes that those leading the attacks against Pope Benedict, such as Claire Rayner, exhibit an intolerance ‘fuelled by an irrational and visceral sense of existential disgust, leading to moral disorientation. A moral disorientation that led Claire Rayner to write in the New Humanist magazine about ‘getting rid’ of Pope Benedict:

‘The phrase “get rid of him” is not a slip of the tongue, either from the standpoint of a seemingly hi-tech but actually medieval moral crusade against the Pope – getting rid of “evil” is its own justification.’

Frank Furedi concludes: ’Tolerance is too precious an idea to squander through childish displays of anger.’

7 comments to Prof. Frank Furedi observes that the intolerance displayed by groups like Protest the Pope is a sign of ‘moral disorientation’

  • John

    It’s interesting how the militants got so angry when Pope Benedict talked about the atheist extremism of the 20th century that lead to unspeakable terror and yet, blinded by their hatred and intolerance, they fail to notice that they are validating everything Benedict said.

    I mean this with all sincerity – if people like Dawkins and Hari acquired political power, I would fear for my country and, as a Catholic, my own safety.

  • Karla

    Do you see how the groups direction changed throughout the months, first it was against it being a state visit, then it was against the Pope himself. The group’s direction, I think, completely backfired. Nothing but hate filled, zealous childish anger from these people. These are the secular elites that are held up to be admired in the mainstream media. Their ludicrous statements, from the Vatican not being a state, to the Pope being a nazi. Silly, uneducated rubbish. How anyone could take any of them serious is ridiculous.

  • Serge

    With so many evidences that Protest the Pope is a hatred motivated group against a human person, the Pope who in reality does not deserve that hatred in any way, and also a group that promotes hatred and intolerance against Catholics, I still don’t understand that this Protest the Pope web site AND group is not dismantled.

    I mean, if there were such a group promoting nazism and hatred against jews, negating the millions of killings of jews, and taking so many immoral actions such as killing the reputation of people and making lies and present them as truths, their site would be closed down and the people taken to trial. Or maybe I am wrong? I wish someone on this blog could explain the law principles at stake, or at least maybe redirect me to proper web sites and books.

    But Protest the Pope is just a sad example of what is going on around the world on the internet, “arts” entertainment people (especially humorists and pop and rock singers) and the medias of (miss)information: some kind of tacit acceptation and even promotion of hatred and intolerance against basic human values. This is what the Pope calls a culture of death.

    It looks like society at large is, if not truly accepting it, at least tolerating that raise of hatred as if it was an unavoidable fact. Very sad. Especially that after WWII the world had promised “never again”.

  • Michael Petek

    Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights runs as follows: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

    This is why I placed a posting on the Protest the Pope website stating openly that Richard Dawkins ought to be silenced.

  • Robin Leslie

    Yes, those of us who blogged on the Protest the Pope encountered a variety of fairly rough comments, none of them constructive. I believe that the argument has to be on the ‘enemy’s’ territory as well as one’s own for only then can you begin to understand their
    origins, context and shared feelings. Not every single comment or argument was abusive, though by far the majority were, and a number of comments appeared reasonable. There were quite a few Catholics contending on the Protest the Pope site so you could, perhaps, benefit from reading them.

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