I Think I Heard A Head Explode

...and it was poor Christopher Hitchens', reading that the Pope is the George Orwell of our time. And from a fellow atheist, no less.
A great deal of the hostility to the Pope’s visit was likewise caused by his having been right, at least in some things, such as the insufficiency of consumerist materialism as a basis for a satisfactory existence. There are few human types less attractive, surely, than failed materialists, which is what the British, or at least so many of them, now are. They consume without discrimination what they have not earned: which is why many of them are so grotesquely fat as well as so deeply indebted. Indeed, there is scarcely any kind of debt or deficit to which we as a nation have not resorted in order to continue (at least for a time) on our vulgar and degraded way. A nation that behaves thus is quite without honour or self-respect, collective or individual. All this Benedict XVI has seen with a perfectly clear eye; and if what George Orwell once wrote, that we have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men, we might even call the Pope the George Orwell of our time.
The important part of the essay is Dalrymple's assertion that hatred for the pope stems from the fact not that he stands athwart any particular policy, but against an entire Weltanschauung. He says what Benedict is doing is forcing a crisis of confidence in the dominant culture, akin to that described by J.S. Mill when he asked himself a question:
Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be erected this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness answered ‘No!’At this my heart sank within me; the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been founded in the continued pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.
But I'm feeling puckish, and therefore skip to the yummy (because keenly observed) insult to the "arrest the pope" crowd:
the very resort of some liberals to the language of arrest shows how, not very far beneath a veneer of libertarianism, lies an authoritarianism that makes Benedict XVI look very liberal indeed. They want arguments to be settled by arrest: in other words, who can arrest whom, assuming that they will always be the ones to wield the handcuffs.
 The pope is the real liberal.