As regular readers can attest, I am a big fan of the lost art of mockery. No, not all mocking is good just like not all art is good. That is why I call it an art. To be good, mocking needs to ridicule the ideas and actions of people, not the people themselves. Mockery must also only mock those things which are the result of choices by people. To mock someone because of something they have no control over, like my brothers receding hairline, is pointless and can be cruel. But good, quality, artistic mocking goes to the heart of the matter, the choice to say or do something really stupid.

I apologize for the preamble, but I felt it necessary to introduce the following exchange. Damian Thompson, blogger for the UK Telegraph and editor of the Catholic Herald took issue with the ridiculous statement of Robert Mickens, Rome correspondent of the Tablet. The Tablet, often called the Bitter Pill (Some good quality mockery right there), is a progressive ‘Catholic’ magazine. Robert Mickens has expressed his fond hope for the Pope to show the effects of his age sooner rather than later. Mr. Mickens wrote ““Once the Pope’s legs start giving out – he is 80, after all – maybe Mgr Marini will bring back the gestatorial chair.”

This spiteful remark follows similar remarks at the end of last year. In the December 30 issue of the Tablet last year, Mickens wrote about the Pope’s plans for 2007: “All these, though, are only proposed diary entries, because they could easily be changed by events beyond the Pope’s control or desire. After all, the Pope is still only a man. As the 15th-century Thomas à Kempis once said: ‘Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit’.”

Thompson responds with some of the more artistic mockery I have seen lately. It is not fancy but right to the point.

But, alas for Mickens, God has not intervened to stop the Pope in his tracks; since those words were written, this great pontiff has liberated the Latin Mass, sacked his ghastly liberal MC, declared war on droning hippy folk Masses and written a magnificent encyclical that doesn’t mention Vatican II. Hahahahahaha. My guess is that God will preserve Benedict’s mind – and legs – for years to come. Stock up on hankies, Bobbie.

“Hahahahahaha”. Classic. In my mind, Thompson is making a serious bid for his place in the mockery hall of fame. Perhaps one day he will have a bust in the hall along such other luminaries as Chesterton and Nelson from the Simpsons.