Caution: The Pope Is Coming!

Beware! You could lose your job for reposting or passing on the following image:

Caution: The Pope Is Coming

This altered image, which looks to me like a perfectly reasonable and important warning to children, got a man fired from his job – specifically, Hugh Dallas, an official for the Scottish Football Association, who was fired this week after forwarding this picture in an e-mail in reference to the Pope’s recent visit to that country.

I’ve read several news articles about this, none of which make it clear whether Dallas passed this along using his work e-mail – which admittedly would be a legitimate reason to fire someone, albeit an obvious pretext – or whether the SFA is just taking the initiative to police its employees’ thoughts in their spare time. But what is certain is the involvement of the Catholic church, specifically a “nasty little weasel” (as Richard Dawkins called him) named Peter Kearney, of the Scottish Catholic Media Office. Like the red-faced bigot William Donohue and his Catholic League, the sole purpose of this group’s existence is apparently to seek out things to be offended by:

Mr Kearney warned: “Let no-one be in any doubt, with this shameful episode, Catholics in Scotland have drawn a line in the sand.

“The bigotry, the bile, the sectarian undercurrents and innuendos must end. Such hateful attitudes have had their day. They poison the well of community life. They must be excised and cast out once and for all.”

…”Our grandparents and even our parents suffered intolerance and persecution. We will not tolerate it. We will not laugh it off or see the funny side – because there is no funny side.”

It’s a brazen act of arrogance for this church, which engaged in a decades-long global conspiracy to shelter child rapists and still refuses to reveal the full extent of its culpability, to label it “bigotry” for people to point this out, whether humorously or otherwise. The level of violence and anger of their rhetoric is new, even if their hypocrisy isn’t – but it may be that this shrinking, aging, scandal-ridden institution is starting to panic as it senses its moral credibility slipping.

Be that as it may, Kearney, who has no sense of shame or proportion, has made it clear that his goal is to intimidate and silence people who raise criticisms of his church that are rooted in facts. And he did succeed in getting one man fired, but we can ensure that it’s a Pyrrhic victory by disseminating this image far and wide. That’s why I wrote this post, and that’s why I encourage you to do likewise.

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