Julian Baggini on why he didn’t get on board with “Protest the Pope”
I certainly thought the charge sheet against the pope was a robust one. He is guilty as charged on his opposition to condoms, abortion and equal right for homosexuals, and on the lamentable response to the child-abuse scandal. But it does not follow from the fact that you feel strongly about something and have a right to speak about it, that you therefore should always make as much noise as possible.
Consider for a moment why almost every secular, liberal-minded person thought that Pastor Terry Jones was wrong to plan to burn Qur’ans on the anniversary of 9/11. Most would agree he has a right to his views and to express them through legal, peaceful protest. Most non-Muslims would say that burning a Qur’an is not in itself immoral. Still, they recognised the protest was a bad idea, and not just because of the risk of inciting violence. The main problem is that by burning the holy book of all Muslims, the protest would fail to target jihadist murderers and would be seen as vehemently anti-Islam. Bridges, not just books, would be burned.
The kinds of protests against the pope we’re seeing in the UK do not, of course, match the idiocy of Jones’s pyrotechnics. But they too are creating divisions at a time when mutual understanding is already at a low, and – as the alleged terror plot exposed yesterday shows – religious tensions are at a high.
I am glad that people are protesting on the key issues that the pope has got very wrong. If only a few people were doing so I might have felt it necessary to sign the petition. But when everyone starts piling in, it is perfectly reasonable for others to say it is time to back off before it gets too ugly. Party lines are the death of rational, free-thought movements: divided we stand, united we fall.
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/17/pope-benedict-visit-protest-ugly
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Julian Baggini on why he didn’t get on board with “Protest the Pope”,