Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pope Benedict foments . . . rape culture? Seriously?

Ian Buruma, a professor of democracy, human rights and journalism at Bard College in New York, suggested that Pope Benedict's teachings contributed to the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old Indian woman on a Delhi bus one night in December. Buruma told CNA on Jan. 21 that Pope Benedict XVI’s “narrow views on proper human relationships reinforce the idea in other, more violent, men that women outside those traditional relationships are 'loose' and thus deserve what is coming to them.”

He argued that the Pope’s tacit criticism of same-sex unions in a Christmas address to the Roman Curia supports sexual aggression and rage by promoting fear of sexual liberty. While he acknowledged that the Pope’s speech – which was delivered after the violent attack took place – did not directly influence the rapists, Buruma said that “arguments such as the Pope’s reinforce sexual norms that incite men to violence.”

Buruma's epiphany is other-worldly, to put it charitably. No one -- no one -- is inspired to rape by Pope Benedict's teachings. If someone otherwise prone to rape were actually inspired by the Pope's teachings, that person would not rape. What Prof. Buruma ignores is that rape is the worst of the "sexual liberties" that the Pope condemns.

Pope Benedict is about as responsible for the gang rape in India as the ham sandwich I had for lunch yesterday.

The Church's position on same-sex marriage is an apt subject for civil public discourse, as is the Church's own mishandling of sexual assault by its clergy, provided such discourse is fair and factual. What is not  appropriate is to demonize the leader of a church with more than one billion members by positing vile, preposterous assertions designed to hurt the church simply because its teachings do not conincide with the speaker's agenda.

Buruma has forfeited any claim that his voice should be heard in the public square. The local village idiot likely would have greater insight about these matters than him.