Friday, June 01, 2007

Celibate man in dress continues to ramble on about abortion

Well, this bloke is Keith O'Brien, the Roman Catholic Church's CEO in Scotland. He also goes by the designation of Cardinal (which is an old word that translates loosely in modern English into CEO). Anyway, CEO O'Brien gave a sermon (that's a speech in modern English) the other day to his flog of supporters in Edinburgh. Having recently lost an important policy battle in the country (his organisation may not discriminate against gay people - pretty shocking to our dress wearing celibate), O'Brien turned his theological gaze toward another one of his company's favourite topics, abortion. He compared the number of abortions taking place on a daily basis in Scotland to the Dunblane massacre. In Dunblane, sixteen kids and a teacher were shot by a lone gunman. Obviously to the man who likes to wear red dresses in public there is no significant moral difference between abortion and the murder of children, teenagers and adults. All the same to him.
I have no intention to get into the pro's and con's of abortion again. In a way, being a card-carrying humanist, I don't mind O'Brien rambling on like this. The more hysterical, and, frankly, silly, his public utterances become, the greater the irrelevance of the organisation he runs in Scotland is likely to become. And that, probably, is a good thing. The less people listen to 'moral' pronouncements, and the kind of bullying and hectoring that emanates from characters like Mr O'Brien the better for our societies.
I am concerned, however, by the overwhelmingly negative response he received from the media. Many commentators suggested that he overstepped the mark and that he shouldn't try to influence elected politicians' views and votes on this issue. Here I disagree as a matter of principle. Mr O'Brien is essentially a lobbyist for a conservative organisation. The organisation is known to hold radical views on abortion, euthanasia and many other issues. Surely in a democratic society lobbyists like Mr O'Brien are entitled to campaign for their views. It is up to mainstream society to reject their message. End of story. It would be a sad indictment of our democracy indeed, if Mr O'Brien could not have his say.

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