Reverend Peter Mullen holds the rather unique position of chaplain to the London Stock Exchange. As if that’s not keeping him busy enough these days, he also writes a column for the Northern Echo, a newspaper in the north-east of England, and maintains a personal blog. This week, his blog became big news thanks to an inflammatory post.
“It is time that religious believers began to recommend discouragements of homosexual practices after the style of warnings on cigarette packets,” Rev. Mullen wrote. “Let us make it obligatory for homosexuals to have their backsides tattooed with the slogan SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and their chins with FELLATIO KILLS.”
The Rev. later said his post was a failed attempt at satire. He then apologized and shut down the blog. Though Rev. Mullen’s blog isn’t hosted by the Echo, “the association is embarrassing nevertheless,” according to a blog post by Echo editor Peter Barron.
So what to do?
“Even though the comments were made on Peter’s own personal blog and have nothing to do with The Northern Echo, he will also be issuing an apology in his Echo column next week,” Barron wrote.
It’s rare but not unprecedented to see a paper publish an apology for a columnist’s public comments or actions. In December of 2007, The Australian published a rather vague apology about actions by Caroline Overington, a columnist for the paper:
ON Saturday morning, November 24, 2007, Caroline Overington had an encounter with the Labor candidate for Wentworth, Mr George Newhouse, in circumstances that she sincerely regrets. She hopes that she and Mr Newhouse can put this incident behind them and she wishes him all the best.
The Australian regrets any embarrassment Mr Newhouse has endured and also wishes him well.
While inside a polling station in Sydney, Overington had reportedly verbally abused Newhouse and pushed him away with an open hand. (Some witnesses reported she slapped him, but Overington denied this.)
The lesson, of course, is that a newspaper columnist is never off duty.
Correction of the Week
“St. THOMAS is a successful university in St. Paul. Its teams are the TOMMIES. They were named after THOMAS Aquinas. But the president of that fine institution is the Rev. Dennis Dease, and our calling him “Thomas” in Friday’s editorial was one Tommy too many. We confess our sin and apologize to Tommies everywhere.” –Pioneer Press
Typo of the Week
Israeli newspaper Haaretz suffered a front page meltdown this week. In a story about comments made by French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, the paper reported he had said Israel would “eat” Iran before that country managed to obtain nuclear weapons. The headline on the story read, “You will eat Iran before it achieves an atomic bomb.” (Left unanswered by the story was whether you have the cheese course before or after Iran.)
An apology in the paper the next day explained that Kouchner had, in fact, said “hit” rather than eat. Read more here.
“Some confusion arose in a review of a television drama about knife crime as a result of mishearing the term shanking, which means stabbing someone with a knife, as shagging (Last night’s TV, page 27, G2, October 2).” –The Guardian