Mary Kenny – FAIL!

25.11.08 | Ariane |
Atheists, Facts, Inaccuracy, Irish Independent, Journalism, Mary Kenny, Morality, Roman Catholics

II: not dependent on facts, either

II: not dependent on facts, either

If Mary Kenny is a journalist, I am a brass rooster collector. (And I promise you, I’m not a brass rooster collector.) I didn’t think it was possible to get every single fact wrong in an article, but reading through Kenny’s latest piece in the Irish Independent is like playing a game of “spot the error”. I honestly think there’s one in every line, and it’s not a short piece:–on-highway-to-hell-1550742.html

But it’s not just Kenny’s errors which are startling – it’s the way she attempts to equate atheism with all that is wrong with the UK, including child abuse, unforgivably using the tragic case of Baby P to generate emotion with no relevant context (Kenny has no evidence to suggest that his killers didn’t believe in God, or that their religious beliefs (or lack of them) were a factor in the case in any way).

In addition, Mary Kenny is a Roman Catholic, so she’s on very shaky ground indeed when writing about any link between religion and child abuse. Catholic priests, anyone? Magdalene Laundries? Kenny seriously believes the world would be a better place if we all believed in God. 9/11, Mary? Iraq? The Middle East? The Balkans? Northern Ireland?

You can write a letter to the editor of the Irish Independent here:

independent.letters {at} independent(.)ie

Here’s one from an atheist:

24 Responses to “Mary Kenny – FAIL!”

  1. 1
    iparrajorge Says:

    As a contributor from Spain, that has follow the bus campaign since the first days, I fell deeply offended by this piece of “Journalism”, what is great, since we are fighting against too-thin-skins. I understand it is a personal opinion, but the less you can expect is to get the fact, reasonable, correct. I think the attitude of the campaign has been very positive.

    There are two points that trouble me. First, that we are permanently linked with “nihilism”. At least in my case, very far from the truth. Second, I find really funny her obsession with our monetary problems (thanks for worrying!). It is of a beautiful irony, that the same month the campaign was launched, and reached the magic £100,000 number, the (her) pope, Benedict XVI gave, as a birthday present to his brother, a concert in the Sistine chapel valued at…. YES, you got it, £100,000!!!. But it seems, that doesn’t bother her that much, that is reasonable, that makes sense.

    Anyway, let’s keep the campaign going (a lot of Spanish people lately thanks to an article in ‘El Pais’). Let’s use the scientific method, a critic to our way of looking at things has been made, we accept it, and we will value it for what is worth, in this case, I’m afraid, that is nothing.

  2. 2
    Simon Bishop Says:

    I’ve left my response to Mary Kenny’s fact-free article on the ABC donation page.

  3. 3
    Tom Hiskey Says:

    Look what this terrible article has achieved… a £3000 donation to the Atheist Bus today from a wonderful guy called Simon Bishop. Amazing. So some good has come of it.

  4. 4
    Ariane Says:

    iparrajorge: Thanks for your trenchant and incisive post. I’m really glad you’ve found the campaign positive. Great points – and I was unaware of the £100,000 concert!

    Simon: You are truly a God among men. Thank you very much – we really appreciate it.

    Tom: Indeed – Simon Bishop moves in mysterious ways. Honestly – atheists are so miserable, we find the good in everything!

  5. 5
    James Says:

    At the launch of the Bus can Mr Bishop please be given a golden bus T-shirt


  6. 6
    Richard Says:

    Every week there are priests of various types who preach to their congregations messages such as “Those not of this religion will go to hell”, “Members of this religion are unique and special”, “Goodness only comes from this religion” and in some more extreme cases “We should pray for rain on (Other Religion)’s parade”, “We should place holy bread outside their temples to scare away the evil spirits that they worship”.

    All of this and no-one bats an eyelid, but a bus with “There’s probably no god” on it gets debate. At least it’s publicity even if the facts in this particular article are so very wrong. It’s a pity that web site doesn’t have a comments feature.

  7. 7
    Ian G Says:

    As an Irishman, I apologise, I really do. There are many good journalists in Ireland, but unfortunately none of them work for the Irish Independent.

    Mary Kenny is one of those people who make me worry about the future of my country.

  8. 8
    Ariane Says:

    James: Good idea. If you make it, we’ll definitely present it to him.

    Richard: That’s very true, and very confusing, especially in 2008. It’s lucky for the website that they don’t have a comments feature…

    Ian G: Thanks for your lovely comment – and please don’t apologise. I didn’t mean for one minute to suggest that Mary Kenny is representative of all Irish journalists! We all know that she isn’t, and that there are lots of very talented, honest and liberal Irish journalists out there. Many thanks for posting.

  9. 9
    Ian in France Says:

    This whole campaign is just so joyously, heart-warmingly, eye-moisteningly brilliant that I’d love to hug everyone involved.

    Specially Simon Bishop.

    Merci mille fois Ariane, gros bisous.

  10. 10
    Richard Says:

    I did write in with a slightly extended version of my comment here. I suspect they will get a lot of responses though.

  11. 11
    Declan Says:

    As an Irish citizen, I’m embarrassed by this disguisting article.

    Please believe me when I say that Mary Kenny only represents a minority view in this country.

    The younger generation here is especially objective and open minded.

  12. 12
    Simon Bishop Says:

    Here’s another letter in response to Kenny’s article, from Kevin Nolan at the University of Limerick.

  13. 13
    Scooby1967 Says:

    Once upon a time journalists were required to include facts in their articles…

    “It was all started up by — predictably — Professor Richard Dawkins”:

    “He [Richard Dawkins] put down a deposit of some £8,000″:

    “…and the rest came from public contributions — mostly from readers of The Guardian newspaper, in which the campaign was publicised”:

    “…most of them [atheists] seem to be miserable blighters”: WRONG [Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers don't strike me as being of that ilk, nor am I]

    The rest of the article is badly written rubbish…

  14. 14
    Bill Says:

    PLEASE submit Kenny’s article (and your response) to the Richard Dawkins website

    They’ll take alot more notice of you than of me!


  15. 15
    Ex Catholic Says:

    Wouldn’t you say that Mary Kenny’s comments were , well, I don’t know, just a little ‘shrill’ and ‘strident’?

  16. 16
    Josh Says:

    Frankly I’m shocked that any publication can put out an article that has almost every line in it wrong. Do these people not have fact checkers or researchers or even just a kid with broadband!

  17. 17
    Brian Says:

    It reads as if it came from the Daily Mail (UK). A horrible bigoted article that shouldn’t be published in a national newspaper.

  18. 18

    I sent in a complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman. Please do the same.

  19. 19
    Bill Says:

    check out:,3380,Atheist-bus-more-like-a-bandwagon-on-highway-to-hell,Independentie

  20. 20
    Simon Bishop Says:

    Here’s a ridiculous response to Mary Kenny’s article from the same rag:

    Obviously Patrick has never heard of Russell’s teapot.

  21. 21
    Sad Person Says:

    She even got that GK Chesterton quote wrong.

    He wrote “The Ballad of the Sad ASCETIC”
    …..Not ‘atheist’ at all!

  22. 22
    John Stretch Says:

    I emailed the Irish Press Ombudsman to complain about Kenny’s article. They replied that I should complain first to the newspaper, indicating what outcome I felt might be appropriate, and only submit the complaint to the Press Ombudsman if was unhappy with the editor’s response. I’m losing the will to live.

  23. 23
    Dafydd Says:

    Is there a way to become a content writer for the site?

  24. 24
    Richard W Says:

    I’d just like to draw your attention to this:

    “The Atheist’s Guide To Christmas” is the UK’s first atheist charity book, featuring contributions from Richard Dawkins, Derren Brown, Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh, Claire Rayner, David Baddiel, Charlie Brooker and many more. It’s been edited by Ariane Sherine, the creator of the hugely successful Atheist Bus Campaign. It’s out on Oct 1st and all royalties are going to the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust. Please pre-order now:

    The Atheist’s Guide is a mix of humorous and poignant contributions from over 40 various prominent atheists. It’ll make an ideal Christmas gift for your atheist friends. Your religious friends will love it too, or, even better, it’ll put them in a foul mood for Xmas! So a win-win situation! More info on the Facebook group:

    Your support will not only maintain the profile of atheism in the UK, it will also help raise funds for the very worthy THT charity. Please note that the contributors, and Ms Sherine, have waived payment for their considerable input into the “Guide”.

    Thank you, and please pass this message on to everyone you know!!

    [My apologies if you already know about the Guide!]

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