Saturday, March 27, 2010

Johann Hari's rude and bigoted reply to a reader who corrected his factual inaccuracies

Naturally at this time of mass media hysteria over the Catholic Church sex-abuse stories, Christopher Hitchens is far from the only writer to have used his column inches to indulge in a prolonged bout of fantasy and rhetorical overkill on the subject. In last week's Independent, Johann Hari did much the same.

One reader had the effrontery to contact Hari asking him politely whether he'd withdraw some of the wilder statements in his column. The reader included quotations from Crimen sollicitationis, which Hari in his column quite madly claimed "order[ed] bishops to swear the victims to secrecy and move the offending priest on to another parish".

The reader also pointed out inter alia that "there is absolutely no proscription in any document on reporting any case of abuse to the civic authorities by anyone?" and argued not unreasonably that, "de delictis gravioribus is a direct action by the then Cardinal Ratzinger TO PREVENT diocesan cover-ups of sexual abuse cases - rather every detail of said crimes were to be reported to Rome - with consequent MANDATORY reporting to the civic authorities of said offences where it is the law; and recommended reporting where it is not?"

Hari's reply was spat out:

"What rubbish. "No proscriptions" on reporting the facts? It says they should be dealt with in 'the utmost secrecy'!
Shame on you for supporting this filth.
I get over 200 emails a day. I'm not really inclined to spend my time engaging with paedophile-defenders like - as you put it - "His Holiness."
I hope one day you have an awareness of the despicable and evil crime you are defending, and apologize to the victims. You can reply to this but I won't read it. I have better things to do."

Let me suggest that the better things Hari should spend his time on include fact-checking his copy, double-sourcing anything he writes about canon law, reflecting on the crucial role stereotypes play in perpetuating bigoted attitudes to minority groups and considering the following statement: taking issue with your copy, Hari, is not the same as defending child-abuse.

Then he should go and hang his head in shame.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you link to this document so we can decide for ourselves who is right? Thanks.

7/13/2010 4:11 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Dear Anonymous,

I have linked to Crimen Sollicitationis again and again in preceeding and succeeding posts. Please do your homework!

7/13/2010 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Matt Wardman said...

Thinking about publishing on this myself.

It needs to be pursued threw official complaints channels - the Indy's process and the

A nationally prominent columnist publishing and republishing scurrilous and libellous falsehoods is important because people have assumed he has a clue what he is talking about, and act on that basis.

I'm not prepared to call Hari's statements outright lies because I don't think there is deliberate deception involved, and he believes what he is saying. He is also known for having been litigious on occasions :-).

All this applies to Dawkins, too, of course, because the 3 cases formed the main planks in his "arrest the Pope" suggestion, and the allegations of Papal criminality.

I'm not an RC, but it's important not to keep quiet on this; the rhetoric will only get more abusive.


9/21/2010 1:57 PM  

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