My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The Press Ombudsman panel dismissed a complaint by Ronald Suresh Roberts (also known as Robert Kevin Roberts) against The Weekender newspaper this week. The paper reported late last year that Roberts had been charged with plagiarism by Aids denialist Anthony Brink for lifting passages from Brink’s unpublished book and using it in his “biography” of President Thabo Mbeki, Fit to Govern.
Roberts was particularly upset by the poster of the newspaper titled Suresh Roberts caught cribbing because, he argued, it elevated the claims by Brink to the status of fact. The Press Ombudsman panel rejected his argument, stating that it was a fair reflection of the story and that the story was fair.
Significantly The Weekender editor, Peter Bruce, argued that this was so because the:
The Weekender believes that the publication was true or at least that they reasonably believed the facts to be true. The evidence appears on a balance of probabilities in relation to the plagiarism charge to bear fruit. The same applies to the billboard.” Bruce repeated this at the hearing: “The poster was true – he (Roberts) is a plagiarist.”
The Ombudsman panel found in favour of the newspaper, in effect endorsing the view of the newspaper that Roberts is a plagiarist.
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