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Death sentence musicologist now faces dismissal over Pope threat

Richard Parncutt, the Australian systematic musicologist who entertained us over Christmas with an essay demanding the death penalty for global warming deniers, now faces disciplinary action from the University of Graz. It could result in his suspension or dismissal.

richard parncutt

Parncutt’s latest indiscretion is to call for the Pope’s execution, on grounds of ‘premeditated mass murder’. He writes on his blog: ‘I am talking about the current pope, because his continuing refusal to make a significant change to the church’s position on contraception will certainly result in millions of further unnecessary deaths from AIDS in the future.’

Christa Neuper, rector of the University of Graz, said Parncutt had inflicted ‘massive damage to the university’s reputation’.

Amazing, the things they get up to in systematic musicology.


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  1. He’s gone mad.

  2. “Systematic”? I wonder if “systemic” might seem more apposite to the case of this turbulent musicological priest…

    • stanley cohen says:

      You wouldn’t by any chance be asking someone to ‘rid you of this turbulent priest,’ Alistair?

      • @ Stanley Cohen:

        Knowing the phrase well, I felt it important to make a point of saying nothing of the kind so feared that someone might ask, as you have now done!

  3. Frances (Australia) says:

    Wow I never knew that Music could be this – er, well er Exciting! Are they really serious about this? Please keep us updated on what happens next. Humming the Marseillais.


  4. Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

    I think Mr. Parncutt has become a bit unhinged to say the least. To follow his “death to global warming deniers” with “death to poor old Mr. Ratzinger” (an interim Pope at best) pushes the bounds of credulity. Anyone the least familiar with Pope Benedict XVI’s past would know he’s very conservative and clings to the views of John Paul before him and the basic tenets of the Catholic church. I have no problem with disagreeing with the church’s views, but to call for the Popes execution is ridiculous. As a “musicologist” does he ever talk about music? I’m a VERY lapse Catholic, but agree with the rector of the University of Graz.. We get into allot of political talk here at Slipped Disc, but , thankfully, not much talk about religion.

    Keep us updated on his job status Norman.

    • JBBaldwin says:

      What’s an interim pope? Aren’t they all interim popes, in that they act in persona Christi until he returns in glory, per Catholic theology?

      (I’ve heard that Benedict XVI is known as the pope of Christian unity.)

  5. Peter - a different one from the other Peter says:

    University of Graz have really got a problem on their hands. An academic who is …. thinking. Oh no ! And what is worse, is that he is pointing out where logic leads to unpalatable conclusions. And then he writes about it in his blog. This is terrible, disastrous, outrageous.
    And rather funny.

    So what’s his logic… Someone who encourages a large number of people to act in a way that results in many many deaths… is doing something evil.
    And what is University of Graz’s logic…. No but he’s the pope, he is too important, we must not be disrespectful.

    Actually it is not a new argument at all – people like Christopher Hitchens repeatedly pointed out the way that various religious beliefs have resulted in large numbers of deaths (mostly of other people) and continue to do so.
    It is a touchy subject.

    Systematic musicology must be a thrilling area of research.

    • Isn’t the University’s view likely to be more that this gentleman has aired his extreme views once already, apologised, and promised to think more carefully… and then does so again… and the damage to the reputation of the institute (for not hiring loons, for example) is important, so something should be done. I guess if he wants to air his own views somewhere – however unpalatable – then fair enough. But he should not be using his position at the University, nor a University mouthpiece and facilities, to do so.

    • stanley cohen says:

      “Systematic musicology must be a thrilling area of research.”
      Maybe it isn’t so Mr (?) Pancutt does this object on the side.

  6. Systematic musicology is a sub discipline that focuses on the sociology, psychology, and aesthetic philosophies of music. Media studies, cultural studies, and gender studies are central components of the field. They are often the provocateurs of the field. The discipline follows in the traditions thinkers like Theodore Adorno and Carl Dalhaus and its roots can be extended back to the writings of philosophers like Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato. And of course, one of those fellows was sentenced to death for what he said…

    Professors should be given to sober, credible and reasoned thought, but I think universities should err on the side of tolerance when they make controversial statements of a political nature – especially from someone like a systematic musicologist. Philosophers of art tread the margins. It would suffice to tell Parncutt to obtain a personal blog independent from the university’s servers and make his personal statements there. The Uni in Graz has told him that, and I hope it will end the matter. The gray and myopic world of musicology could use a colorful character or two.

    I categorically reject death penalties, but after all, Parncutt’s idea that global warming and unprotected sex might cause countless deaths isn’t all that unreasonable. Firing him would send a message of intolerance that is far worse than anything he has said. It would also once again cast the Catholic church in a poor light and actually be in contradiction of the values of forgiveness and reconciliation for which it presumably stands.

  7. Parncutt is [redacted].
    (1) His comments should not be inflamed by the media.
    (2) His remarks, as they are crazy, should not stimulate the political juices
    (3) He should be commited to a hospital, or at least a hospital regime
    (4) I underwent a psychotic episode from 1974 to 1975. Let me assure you, it is no laughing matter.

  8. He should move to the USA, I’m sure he could find a nice job in talk radio or any university located in the south. : )

  9. Greg Hlatky says:

    For someone who says he’s opposed to capital punishment, Professor Parncutt seems to enjoy sentencing the wrong sorts to Death Row. A veritable Robespierre among systematic musicologists! Who’s next for the sneezer? Rush Limbaugh? Nigel Farange? The fat, smelly guy who sat next to him on the train?

    Not to mention that Professor Parncutt is calling for global warming skeptics and the Pope to be executed not for deaths they have committed but ones that might happen someday. Surely this is a unique bit of jurisprudence. Whatever will our progressive friends think of next?

    However, as Mr. Osborne rightly points out, it would be wrong to make a martyr out of this pathetic boob. I would give Professor Parncutt’s views no more weight than those of a ranting street-corner lunatic, but even a lunatic has a right to express his opinion. As an academic, Professor Parncutt is no danger to anyone and can be left at large. The best thing to do is shake our heads in pity and move on.

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