Secular or Sinister?

I first encountered Cristina Odone as one of the more strident contributors to the BBC Radio 4 Today Show’s “Thought for the day”, a daily three-minute slot inexplicably (to me) handed over to some religious believer.

In her blog post for the Telegraph today, however, Odone has opened up an ad hominem attack on the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, inarguably the single loudest voice for science in the UK Parliament. She calls him “Dr Death” for the fact that he “believes in euthanasia — … really believes”. I assume by “believes”, she means “supports the legalization of under some circumstances”, and by “really”, well, I’m not sure. Perhaps she is implying he thinks that lots and lots of people should be killed outright. That’s because, she says, “The Lib Dems are now the most secular party in the Britain — and not in a good way. There’s something sinister about a movement that, in my view, doesn’t hold all life precious.” I’m not sure what the “movement” here is, but it is an unfair and illogical leap from support of euthanasia and (as she mentions elsewhere) abortion, a position that plenty of religious people — even Catholics — hold. This isn’t “sinister”, it’s intellectually nuanced, the ability to judge competing values and goods in the complicated real world in which we live.

Luckily, Evan Harris himself, along with many others, have responded to this vile attack. I wouldn’t expect an apology, however, since I assume this is what she “really believes” about us secular types.

(In the interest of fairness, I will say that Odone is on the right side of at least one issue, championing Simon Singh in his fight against the chiropractors.)