... I feel that the best response to the careening unexamined prejudice of the esteemed Mr Jenkins' latest article on Comment Is Free is a line-by line takedown.
The pope is right and Harriet Harman is wrong.
I'm on tenterhooks, Simon, please explain.
I might prefer the opposite to be the case but, on the matter in hand, Voltaire's principle should apply. The Roman Catholic church may be a hotbed of religious prejudice, indoctrination and, somewhere in the United Kingdom, social division.
...and sexual discrimination, intolerance and ugly homophobic dogma.
But faced with Harriet Harman's equality bill and her utopian campaign to straighten all the rough timber of mankind, the pope's right to practise what he preaches needs defending.
Last I heard, it wasn't Harman who was anxious to straighten out her constituents.
The pope's complaint, in his outspoken announcement yesterday of his visit to Britain in September, is that Catholics are being denied an important human right: to decide their own employment criteria
Extremely original interpretetion of human rights, Simon, well done.
...for those working in churches and schools or applying to Catholic adoption agencies. The particular issue is homosexuality. Regarding homosexuals as unsuitable may be outdated, even odious, but it does not require the state to force private institutions to employ those whose character or habits they regard as not for them.
Regarding homosexuals as unsuitable is outdated, and it is odious, and 'freedom of speech' is no defence against bigotry and intolerance. Last I heard, it was beneath our ambition as a country to tolerate recalcitrant, ugly prejudice in any part of our infrastructure - and the Catholic church is a huge part of our national infrastructure, operating as it does as a sanctioned educational provider.
An idiot objection is that anyone who defends a pope is defending the comprehensively indefensible. Certainly I disagree even with the terms in which Pope Benedict expressed his dissent. I do not believe that denying him an aspect of his religious freedom is "contrary to natural law" or even inherently "unjust". No one, as the pope implied, is "disputing the gospel's right to be heard".
Oh noes! They be stealing my right to an unassailable dogmatic platform!
I deplore the attitude of the Catholic church to homosexuality...
Glad you got around to saying that, Simon, because I was wondering if you were about to imply that rampant, institutionalised Catholic homophobia is irrelevant to the debate, and suggest that forbidding gay people to work in one's institutions or benefit from one's services is just another harmless example of'free speech'.
That is beside the point. It might be comfortable for liberals simply to grant the pope the "human right" to express his views and no more. But a truly free society is not like Solzhenitsyn's Soviet asylum, where freedom of speech is permitted only to those safely certified and incarcerated in prison. Tolerance must be shown not just to an opinion but to the personal and group behaviour that results from that opinion.
That the pope might support the suppression of abortion clinics does not justify Harman's suppression of Catholic adoption agencies. But then I have little doubt that if Harman were a Catholic she would be stamping out clinics with the most draconian of powers.
Because she's an eeeeevil feminazi, OMG.
The avowedly socialist drift of her bill is "not only to build a new economic order but a new social order", a social order of her own devising.
Women's rights, racial and sexual equality, protection for the elderly, the disabled and the poor might not be interesting to you, Simon, but then hopefully we won't be living in a world run almost exclusively by people of your particular age, gender, race and social and sexual demographic for much longer. Till then, just you carry on believing that Harriet Harman invented feminism all by herself just to piss you off.
People with such ambition are usually intolerant of others, and often dangerous.
Women with any ambition are nearly always seen as dangerous.
The cabinet of which Harman has been a member for a decade has promoted and subsidised faith schools, allowing them to do what she is banning the Catholic church from doing – that is, use religion as a tool of human discrimination. Many people regard the consequence of faith schools as more widespread and communally divisive than the hiring practices of the Catholic church. Why is Harman doing nothing to end them?
Except that Catholic schools are faith schools. Do you want to ban all faith schools, Simon, or just the non-Christian ones?
There are still large numbers of Britons who are uncomfortable with those whose behaviour diverges from what they see as traditional norms. These conservatives have swallowed much this past half-century, as authoritarianism has been steadily eradicated by liberal legislation on homosexuality, abortion, divorce and free speech.
How terrible for them. My heart bleeds, it bleeds, just like a terrible cunt, which coincidentally, Simon...
Occasionally the liberalism has looked more like intolerance, as over smoking and aspects of "hate speech". Indeed to some people, liberalism's onward march has seemed more like a jackboot in the face.
All liberals R Nazis!!*$!
Harman is one of those Labour ministers whom no one would describe as a defender of liberty. Her campaign against domestic violence stands to her credit, but she cannot walk down a street without screaming for a policeman to find out what the world is doing and telling it to stop.
...the screeching, hysterical bint with her horrible ladybits all over the nice Deputy Leader's seat.
British liberalism has had a good half-century, but has begun to lurch into the intolerance it purports to oppose. It should loosen up and acknowledge that some communal space must be allowed the old illiberalism.
Communal space, perhaps. Unilateral control over the education of children or the provision of adoption services, no.
In reality, 11 Catholic adoption agencies out of 480 were hardly a monument to bigotry. A celibate Catholic chaplaincy or a Christian school headship is hardly a knife at the heart of social equality, any more than a men's club
Those harmless men's-only clubs that, until recently, helped to keep all women from positions of power for centuries.
or some miserable smokers loitering outside an office block (on whose freedom the government also wants to stamp).
This whiny attempt to curry favour with the chain-smoking wingnut libertarian contingent of Guardian readers just makes me want to stub out a fag in your face, Simon.
The ailing Catholic church, like most hallowed institutions, does much good work, and it does bad. But the bad is not an incarnation of such evil as to merit state persecution, as if this were still the 17th century.
Oh woe, the poor Catholic Church, with its insignificant, persecuted 1.3bn adherents. The poor Catholic Church, one of the biggest enforcers of punitive ideology and state-level persecution of anyone who happens to be a little bit different. Who will protect it?