Dawkins has been in the news again. This time he wants to arrest the Pope when he visits England.
His logic is that the comparable case is the - deservedly failed - Pinochet arrest and farce of a trial in Britain. Interesting choice...
There is the issue that one is the case of a well known mass murderer who, as head of state, ordered executions and tortures; and the other is the case of a minor official who 'chose poorly'. One lead to hundreds of deaths, the other led to - probable - continued sexual abuse. One was acts of commission, the other of omission.
Don't get me wrong, I think that the Roman Catholic church is 100% in the wrong in their attitude to priests and people here. (In fact I think the Roman church is THE prime example of how organising religion into hierarchies leads to corruption and immorality totally opposed to the principles of the founder of the religion... I also find it farcical that the RC continue to insist that their medieval introduction of the deeply flawed concept of a 'celibate' clergy is a good or necessary thing.... But that is another post). Nonetheless, I find the idea that you arrest a head of state for something that other men did, that people a the time failed to pursue through the courts even though they clearly had the option to, deeply flawed. Indeed the Pope was part of the cover up, but that does not absolve the people who should have been standing up for their children for not going to the police in the first place... they too were part of the cover up.
All that aside, it is Dawkins who looks the fool here. He is demonstrating that he understands neither morality or law, just the most base principles of political PR.
Why do people who are experts in one area of life start thinking that this means they can pontificate on things they don't understand? The media is largely to blame for parading airhead pop singers and beefcake footballers as though their opinions on economic policy or human ethics are more valuable than random words from a Boggle set. I can see why the airheads fall for it, but why do supposedly serious academics do the same.
I was re-reading one of David Irving's early works recently - the brilliant Rommel: Trail of the Fox. It demonstrates what a master of his craft can do, before what can only be described as rampant insanity drives him to incomprehensible positions. But at least he stuck to a stupidity within his own discipline, where he could make a fight of it.
I realise of course that Dawkins was ruthlessly and probably unfairly attacked by people who think he over-extends what he can draw from Darwinianism. Unfortunately he seems to think that the fact that some of those who shout loudest are extreme religious nutters, gives him the right to denigrate anyone who points out that there are many holes in his logic and in the theories of Darwinian evolution. In fact he believes that it gives him the right to attack not just the 'God created the world in 7 days that's all there is to it, burn any other book' American right crowd, but also the entire religious community.
Being completely ignorant of even the history of his own specialty, he probably doesn't realise that he is attacking the wrong side. It is the Roman Catholic church that has always supported the 'revealed' truth that science can add to the story, versus Protestant nutters who deny everything not in the Bible. So he doesn't seem to understand the difference between enemies and potential allies... too black and white in his viewpoint perhaps? Instead he has decided that every aspect of religion must be evil. (An interesting expansion from 'some of the people who don't agree with me are religious nuts').
So he has launched a crusade against religion... Interesting choice.
Unfortunately he knows very little of religion, and hasn't bothered to learn, so his pronouncements on ALL religions are about as valuable as those of Paris Hilton or Posh Spice.
He does this by attacking the philosophical principles of ANY beliefs based on faith.
Unfortunately he knows very little about philosophy, and hasn't bothered to learn, so his pronouncements on philosophy are about as valuable as those of Yogi Bear and Daffy Duck... (Actually I might be doing an injustice to Daffy Duck. Those Looney Tunes cartoons are a lot better scripted than most people recognise... I think the writers might have even had something resembling a broad classical education... No one would accuse Dawkins of anything except extreme narrowness in his viewpoints.)
His current method is to suggest a legal case...
Unfortunately he knows absolutely nothing about the law and has, to all appearances, fallen for some smart lawyers suggesting that they can spend many months in court proving this... as long as he pays enough. I hope he has got a lot of spare royalties to throw away. (See good opinion of legalities of case here.)
In reality of course all he is doing is pursuing a political style PR campaign.
I wonder if he actually knows enough about politics to think this will work? Or does his PR company have an equal attraction to his royalties as his lawyers?
I suppose it is possible that he is genuine. That he is so incensed at the way some ignorant peasants have been stirred up, by unscrupulous leaders of corrupt organisations, to shout down the centuries of knowledge that have been agreed by great minds: that he is willing to finance vast campaigns to spread illogical and ignorant concepts in the attempt to batter the opposition into submission.
I wonder if he can recognise the irony of 'doing unto others' what you think they have done to you?