Amidst other drivel in the British press today is Richard Dawkins’ and Christopher Hitchens’ effort underway to set up a legal ambush for Pope Benedict when he makes a state visit to England in September. Drawing a patently absurd comparison to Augusto Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in London, Dawkins and Hitchens no doubt took heart in United Nations jurist Geoffrey Robertson’s recent demand that Benedict be prosecuted under “universal jurisdiction” procedures similar to those deployed to indict Slobodan Milosevic for his crimes against humanity.
Perhaps these two unruly fellows—Ditchkins in the First Things stylebook—simply think the moniker “village atheist” insufficient. But more astonishing than their overwrought public tone is their total lack of self-awareness and tact. How is it possible these two born again religion abusers expect a hearing as disinterested parties in the fight, following nothing more than a thirst for justice? It doesn’t require an iota of cynicism to see that the motivation in play is the sheer thrill of putting a pope in shackles, and that the Ditchkins monstrosity cares more about the trial than about the children. Sometimes atheism poisons everything.