Old Good News Revisited (Or, New Bad News)

Since the topics I write on are vast
There’s a chance that good news from the past
Might be soon overturned
Cos you see, I have learned
That Good News may be too good to last.

They may or may not both be from today, but that’s when I saw them–two updates on things I have written about here. Both were good news when I wrote about them; both kinda suck today.

I wrote about Monsignor William Lynn… he was found guilty in Philadelphia, sending a clear message to the church.

But now… conviction overturned.

A Pennsylvania appeals court on Thursday overturned the criminal conviction of a Roman Catholic official who was accused of covering up sexual abuses by priests he supervised. The court rejected the legal basis for a prosecution that was viewed as a milestone in holding senior church officials accountable for keeping abuse reports secret in past decades and transferring predatory priests to unwary new parishes.

So, yeah, bad news.

The other one, I guess, wasn’t originally good news after all. Which means the current news is not newly bad, but just a continuation of bad. Bottom line is, I wrote about the BBC’s “Thought For The Day”, which apparently refused to include atheist thought as a subset of “thought”. So today, I find out that a guest editor managed to sneak an atheist’s thoughts in. Well… an hour earlier, and labeled “alternative”, because the BBC refused to let an atheist have the regular slot.

The BBC has banned Sir Tim Berners-Lee from having an atheist deliver Thought for the Day as he guest edited Radio 4’s Today programme, saying it must be spoken by a believer.
Sir Tim, who was invited to edit the flagship news programme on Boxing Day, had intended to employ an atheist to read the traditional Thought for the Day, in order to best represent Britain as a whole.
But, he has disclosed, the move was prohibited by the BBC, which insists the slot must be filled by a religious leader.

I guess it can’t all be good news.

Oh, and it goes without saying, if you look at the comment sections of either story, you’ll see what people think about atheists.


  1. Randomfactor says

    The good news about the bad news is that the court was apparently correct in overturning the conviction.

    What Lynn did was morally bankrupt and irredeemably evil–but not illegal at the time he did it.

  2. Robert B. says

    That’s “good news” only in the Prof. Farnsworth sense, Randomfactor. I’m not really comforted that the courts are good at enforcing bad laws.

    Also, what happened to “accessory after the fact”?

  3. sathyalacey says

    Robert B:
    Are you actually arguing that the practice of not convicting people for crimes that they committed when the acts were in fact not criminal is a “bad law”?

    Because convicting people of crimes, however much we would like to see them punished for their acts (which I do, in this case) that are in fact not actually crimes, would seem to be a Very Bad Idea.

  4. Robert B. says

    It wasn’t actually an argument, since I presented no justifications, but I meant to claim that the fact that it wasn’t illegal to help child rapists conceal their crimes was bad law. I’m not in favor of ex post facto laws, or of courts punishing legal acts, I’m just rather shocked that this was a barn door we ever left open. I don’t understand it – IANAL, and I don’t know details of the particular case, but I had understood that knowingly helping someone get away with a felony was always a crime.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    That door was explicitly closed, in part as a result of this case.

    There is no doubt he did it, no doubt it was bad; the law, though, did not anticipate that such actions existed. If only there were some organization that listened to a higher standard than the law.

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