Skip to comments.ABC's Bogus "Pope Joan" Story Also Hocked Debunked "Rule of Thumb" Myth
Posted on 12/30/2005 3:14:10 PM PST by infoguy
The bogus story of "Pope Joan" was not the only fiction that ABC and Diane Sawyer tried to hustle on the American public in last night's Primetime (Thursday December 29, 2005). In trying to convey the environment of ninth-century Europe, host Diane Sawyer and a guest, Donna Cross (author of Pope Joan), promulgated the debunked feminist myth that the phrase "rule of thumb" originated from a centuries-old law about wifebeating. The popular hoax purports that a man was once allowed to clobber a woman as long as the club was no wider than his thumb.
In her much-acclaimed 1994 book, Who Stole Feminism?, writer Christina Hoff-Sommers shreds the "rule of thumb" myth.
"The 'rule of thumb' ... turns out to be an excellent example of what may be called a feminist fiction ...
"That the phrase did not even originate in legal practice could have been ascertained by any fact-checker who took the trouble to look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which notes that the term has been used metaphorically for at least three hundred years to refer to any method of measurement or technique of estimation derived from experience rather than science.
"According to Canadian folklorist Philip Hiscock, 'The real explanation of 'rule of thumb' is that it derives from wood workers... who knew their trade so well they rarely or never fell back on the use of such things as rulers. Instead, they would measure things by, for example, the length of their thumbs'." (p. 204, emphasis mine. Ms. Hoff-Sommers elaborates further.)
It's ironic that Ms. Hoff-Sommers notes that the truth could have been attained within about 30 seconds and access to a good dictionary. The same holds true for the entire "Pope Joan" episode last night. Although the story of "Pope Joan" has not the "slightest foundation" [link], nearly the entire hour last night was spent examining the so-called "clues" of "one of history's great detective stories." Barely two minutes dabbled in the wealth of scholarship that flat-out debunks the tale.
Last night's "On the Trail of Pope Joan" was simply shoddy journalism and a cheap shot at the Catholic Church. Dr. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, weighed in on the show before it aired. Read his impression here.
(TRANSCRIPT - From Primetime, ABC, December 29, 2005 (audio and video on file):)
Discussing ninth-century Europe:
MARY MALONE (guest): "No woman would have been allowed to appear on the streets in public. That named you as a prostitute immediately. Women were confined to their homes." (DP: I'm not an expert in this era of history. Is this even true?)
DONNA CROSS (guest): "A man was absolutely permitted to beat his wife to an inch of her life."
DIANE SAWYER: "Later, folklore would give us a phrase 'rule of thumb,' the stick for beating should not be wider than a thumb."*
DONNA CROSS: "The only law on the books was one regulating the size of the club that the husband could use."
HT to Marty Helgesen at Jimmy Akin's blog.
(* - When Diane says "folklore," she uses the word in the sense of "traditional belief." The context of her remark makes it explicitly clear that she purports the law to be true.)
Breaking news: "Pope Joan" is a tired old myth.
It was pretty pathetic story, and I am no RC.
They kept referring to "old" texts, but "Pope Joan" was supposed to be in, what, the 800s? From when were the texts? If 800s, that's something. If 1500, that's another.
I did note that most of the sources were internal RCC, not protestant, and it was fairly accepted as true for sometime -- but that means little other than we have an old lie.
The one story that intrigued me got little mention in ABC --- the story of the pope who tried a dead pope for heresy.
This is actually a true story:
One of the most bizarre historical accounts involving the papacy involves an event known as the Cadaver Synod. Stephen, made pope in 896, ordered the exhumation of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, and had him tried for alleged crimes against the church. Formosus had only been dead for about nine months. Stephen dressed Formosus' corpse in papal robes and sat it in a chair. Stephen presided over the trial.
"E.R. Chamberline writes, 'The corpse was provided with a council, who wisely kept silent while Pope Stephen raved and screamed his insults at it. The pretext for the trial was that Formosus, contrary to canon law, had accepted the bishopric of Rome while he was still bishop of another diocese.
"'But few, if any, in the council chamber, were impressed by the charge. The real crime of Formosus was that he had been a member of the opposite faction and had crowned 'emperor' one of the numerous illegitimate descendants of Charlemagne after having performed the same office for the candidate favored by Pope Stephen's party.' (The Bad Popes, 1969, p. 209)
"Formosus was declared guilty. His remains were dragged through the streets of Rome and then thrown in the Tiber. The effect of the Cadever Synod backfired on Stephen. Formosus' supporters, appalled by Stephen's macabre trial, rebelled. He was deposed, imprisoned and strangled to death."
So liberals are all upset about people who beat their wives hundreds of years ago but do not care that muslims beat, and kill, their wives regularly in todays world. Shows you the type of mind set they really have.
I couldn't believe that ABC actually did a show about that Pope Joan nonsense.
More disgusting, though, was the History Channel show last week about how Leonardo da Vinci could have made the Shroud of Turin!
Even being protestant, just the thought of this show sickened me.
I'm still waiting for the special broadcast showing Muhammed robbing, raping, pillaging, plundering, pedofiling, ...
No. Total BS.
So liberals are all upset about people who beat their wives hundreds of years ago but do not care that muslims beat, and kill, their wives regularly in todays world.
Perhaps the muslim "rule of thumb" is that you must not
use a stick smaller than your thumb.
You're correct. They went over it very quickly, but the earliest documentation is 400 years after the so-called "Joan." This first writer also made a notation along the lines that the story needed to be checked out.
Also, the Vatican has coins from the actual Pope Leo who actually did rule during the reported "reign" of the phony "Joan." Here's a good link on the matter.
"President Hillary" is another tired old myth.
And from Diane Sawyer you expected...what?
Didn't this "pope Joan" get official status by showing up on an "official" papal deed. I'm aware there are many versions of the deed as Rome tends to rework it from time to time. I have several of the lists myself. If it is a myth, why is it everyone elses myth instead of one induced by Rome itself.. lol
Actually I think they have the rule of stone. Any size stone is acceptable!
The width of an adult male's thumb across the joint is one inch.
Wow... Papal succession used to be a lot more interesting than it is today.
More evidence Diane Sawyer is a complete lightweight and network news shows are increasingly irrelevant.
Nothing surprising from ABC and not a surprise Diane Sawyer would be involved, typical leftist nonsense, I'm betting dannyboy had a hand in this, what was his famous line, false but accurate??? LOL!
BOYCOTT ABCAND ITS ADVERTIZERS.
Papal infailbility ping.
bump for publicity
What a crock. Where is the "news analysis" of muslim customs? Oh, that's right, the leftist media has declared war on the (mostly) white, middle-class male.
Same old lies and disinformation. Men beat their wives using the "rule of thumb" measure.
Calls to the domestic abuse shelters increases during the Super Bowl.
Do you see a pattern here?
If the Cadever Synod failed at the box office, why did Sergius III do a remake nine years later? (This time Formosus got chucked in the Tiber at the end, and still they recovered the body.)
Just a clue as to where "rule of thumb" came from.
I am shocked at the notion of digging up popes for trial, and the notion that anyone who did this was still pope and capable of speaking ex cathedra makes me laugh at the possibility of union between the Orthodox and Rome.
Rome should have distanced itself from this years ago.
What more are they supposed to do to distance themselves. The pope who led the trial was promptly imprisoned and killed. The next pope annuled the verdict only months later. Then a year later the pope forbade any future trials of dead people.
Also the dead pope accused at trial really had invited the Franks to invade Italy.
and next week Diane Sawyer has an explosive expose on the secrets of the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. She blows the lid off of this previously unheard of secret plan for world domination by the joooos!
Which doesn't explain why Sergius III tried dead Formosus again several years later
Also the dead pope accused at trial really had invited the Franks to invade Italy.
Well that was more or less tradition.
Stephen III did it in 753.
Leo III did it
And in the 12th Century, the Normans would be invited in (the Franks having become the effete French in the meantime)
If thy can still claim ex cathedra after such a perfect realization of the fact popes are human and that primacy is a matter of honor not dogma, they have yet to distance themselves.
Ex Cathedra is a crutch to allow people to compartmentalize and hide from errors that can't happen if infallibility existed in the first place. It is the curtain behind which the wizard stands. The nutty case for ex cathedra as it exists today is largely a modern retelling of the story to save face. In practical application, history tells a much different story. But, as with liberals, let's not let the facts get in the way of anything.
Primacy wasn't about honor, it was about political power and using sophistry through a religious forum to achieve it. That really is the bottom line. To protect power, they doctrinalized their political propaganda. No mystery and it isn't terribly original.
mine is 13/16ths and I’m 44....go figure it’s an estimate ... a ‘rule of thumb’ ha