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I am going to piss off some people I respect here, but I think PZ's conduct is reprehensible.

Ok, set the scene if you haven't heard the story already.  A student, Webster Cook, at the University of Central Florida, objecting to the use of public funds at that state university to support chaplaincies or other religious student groups, attended Mass recently, received Communion in the hand but did not initially put it in his mouth.

A point of clarification for non-Catholic readers.  Roman Catholics believe that the Communion - the bread and wine - constitutes the Real Presence of Christ in substance.  With extremely few and narrow exceptions, only Roman Catholics may receive Communion at a Catholic Mass and only when in a state of grace, i.e. free of major unconfessed/unabsolved sin.  It is an extremely big deal to Roman Catholics.

Back to the story.  Parishioners accosted cook when he did not consume the wafer, so he put it in his mouth, but then shortly thereafter removed it from his mouth to show it to a friend.  Hilarity ensued, with other parishioners urging him to consume the wafer and further grabbing him by the arm.  Now Webster Cook is holding the wafer "hostage," despite alleged death threats.

Introit noted science blogger, professor and atheist PZ Myers, who then called not for the young man to return the Communion to the local parish, but for others to send him (Myers) Communion wafers for him to desecrate in an unspecified manner.

Introit wingnut media assassin Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, understandibly unable to refrain from smacking this slow, low-hanging curveball of a media opportunity out of the park.  Donohue has called for the ouster of Myers from his faculty position at the University of Minnesota.  It should be noted that while U of M is, like UCF, a public institution, the post calling for the wafers was at Pharyngula, part of the scienceblogs.com media group and not affiliated with the University.

Now the predictable hilarity continues.

I am unapologetically secular, but I hope that Myers gets fired.  It disgusts me to agree even for a split second with the likes of wingnut Bill Donohue, but I agree with him.  Myers is calling for people to take a religious artifact from a church under not only false pretenses but with intent to degrade that artifact's rightful owner.  It is fraudulent and larcenous to present oneself to a priest or a bishop as a Catholic in good standing in s perceived state of grace (as defined by the Church) and to receive the Church's sacrament with intent of defiling it.

Let's say you go to McDonald's, ask for a Big Mac, they bring it to you and you walk out the door without paying.  Even if you don't explicitly promise to pay when you ask for the Big Mac, you are making a representation of your intent to pay for food when you stand in line as a licensed restaurant.  If you take the Big Mac without intent to pay and without paying, you are both a liar and a thief.  If the McDonald's manager knew that you intended not to pay, i.e. saw through your con, he would not hand you the burger.

In the same way, when Catholic priests or lay Eucharistic ministers helping the priests recognize a known non-Catholic or married-and-remarried Catholic or excommunicated Catholic in the communion line, they don't offer Communion.  Of course they don't make you run an ID check at the altar or chalice, you don't have to clear Catholic Homeland Security, but if they catch it, they will deny Communion.  One occasionally sees this happen at a Catholic Mass.  Other liturgical Christian churches (e.g. the Orthodox Church) have similar rules.  But priests are not generally trying to defend their sacrament from intentional desecration by sneak, which is what Myers is calling for.

Myers is calling for us atheists to lie, to steal and to participate in a massive act of collective disrespect of our religious neighbors.  It is outrageous.  Even if the people who accosted Cook should be punished (debatable - there is some moral/legal leeway for some physical contact to stop the theft or destruction of property of others), no other Catholic community should be so punished.  It is an outrage and constitutes, I would argue, the sort of moral turpitude that justifies firing a tenured employee.  Count me as an atheist who wants the Catholic Church's (and all religions') liturgical acts respected by law.

What's most frustrating for me is that I actually have a lot of sympathy for the idea that public funds should not go to chaplaincies or the like in public universities, both morally and legally.  This asshole Cook set us back and he should not be rewarded.  Neither should Myers escape responsibility for the larceny and fraud that he has called others to perform.  THAT'S more of an invasion of other people's property than some campus funding for some student groups and some  religious services.  Myers has called for a conspiracy to defeat the free exercise of religion by Catholics, and should face the consequences for doing so.

Originally posted to tbrucegodfrey on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:17 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fired for something he wrote on a personal blog? (17+ / 0-)

    As reprehensible as his statements might have been (and they were stupid, but my reaction is 'eh')

    I am religious and understand the power of religious symbols, yet...

    this started as an over-reaction (world-wide condemnation, death threats) to a silly act by a student.

    It's all silliness. Muslims getting upset in Britain because a dog on an ad, Catholics getting upset in the US because some student didn't eat the communion cracker.

    Wow, when religious people start to ignore these minor slights (and to the other 80% of us, they are indeed very minor), then you won't have people like PZ Meyers fanning the flames.

    Lose his job over writing an intemperate rant?

    Talk about overreacting.

    Daddy, Papa & Me: Two dads, a daughter & the politics of it all.

    by wclathe on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:24:05 AM PDT

    •  Certainly a case can be made that (0+ / 0-)

      the call for lying and stealing was minor lying and minor stealing, a pissant conspiracy to slap the Catholic Church from the inside, and that one does not fire for pissant stealing and lying.

      •  So, by your logic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dhonig, corvo, LisaR

        It is okay to punish anyone who disrespects religious practice by forcing them out of their job?

        Should he also get a tattoo across his face insisting that no one else ever hires him due to his unforgivable indiscretion? Lose his home and starve 'cause he wrote something offensive to some?

        WTF does opinions expressed on his blog have to do with his job? Nothing! You seem to be advocating (or at least agreeing with) punishment way, way beyond reasonable bounds.

        Unless, of course, I missed the snark tag.

        you were sick, but now you're well again and there's work to do- vonnegut

        by zzyzx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 11:46:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So it's not his fault because they (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      gave him the fans to flame? Bullshit.

      And it's awfully high-profile for a "personal blog."

      Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

      Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

      by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:30:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If he isn't running it as an official business... (0+ / 0-)

        ..or in representation of soemthing else, it technically qualifies as personal.  Doesn't really matter how many people read it or how it's positioned.

        •  *Very* technically. (0+ / 0-)

          And if they believe he's reflecting poorly on them as an institution, that's a legitimate reason to want to fire him. He's a public figure.

          Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

          Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

          by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 11:14:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In that case... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lemming22

            ...we're all public figures and we're all open to being left unemployed, homeless, and destitute and ruined for stating our opinions.

            I think that's a dangerous path to take.

            •  Eh, no. (0+ / 0-)

              As a high-profile professor, he's a public figure whether he's got a blog or not.

              Also, if he really wanted a "personal" blog with no connection to his public persona, he could always blog anonymously.

              Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

              Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

              by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 12:54:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  umm, time to ask *you* (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dhonig, kd texan, lemming22, LisaR

                whether you have even the vaguest idea of what "tenure" is.

                •  ??? (0+ / 0-)

                  I said reason to want to fire him.

                  Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                  Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                  by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:00:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Universities aren't people (0+ / 0-)

                    and as such can't have "legitimate reasons to want to fire" anyone that do not conform to their own policies.

                    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

                      Okay, the president may have a legitimate reason to want to fire him.

                      I'm not saying he necessarily should, I just mean it's perfectly fine that this incident would weigh against Myers. The fact that it's not an official university blog is significant, but it doesn't absolutely protect him; if he started advocating for firebombing churches, they'd definitely be giving the tenure conditions a good, close read.

                      Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                      Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                      by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:08:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  And what legitimate reason (0+ / 0-)

                        would exist outside of policy?

                        •  Like I said, he reflects poorly on them. (0+ / 0-)

                          Don't get me wrong, it's ghastly that the guy would be getting death threats over a sacred cracker. But Myers is just being an asshole about it, deliberately taunting people of faith, including the vast majority that are offended by the death threats and might be sympathetic to a more substantive argument.

                          I don't think it should be enough to get him fired. But it's not hard to see why the university would want to give him a stern talking-to at the very least.

                          Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                          Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                          by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:19:17 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  So you don't know what policy is for? (0+ / 0-)

                            Sheesh.

                          •  Which policy are you referring to? n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:38:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Any university's disciplinary policies. (0+ / 0-)

                            Their precise purpose is to delineate legitimate reasons for disciplinary action, from warnings to reprimands to terminations.

                            If the "reason" for firing someone doesn't conform to policy, then it is not legitimate.

                          •  Well, I don't know their policy. (0+ / 0-)

                            And again, all I'm saying is they may have reason to want to fire/reprimand/berate him. If it's against policy, tough shit for them.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:47:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and here I thought (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            corvo

                            that universities are supposed to be bastions of free speech.  Remember that quaint concept?  Silly me.

                          •  Free speech is not the same (0+ / 0-)

                            as being a dick to prove a point. This stunt does nothing to advance the discourse.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:53:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  being a dick is in the eye of the beholder (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            corvo

                            and I can't believe I just typed that!

                            Back to the topic at hand, so to speak, since when is free speech contingent on advancing discourse.  And who gets to decide what is considered "advancing" the discourse and what is not?

                          •  The people who write his paychecks do. (0+ / 0-)

                            And he is absolutely being a dick, and nothing more. He's pulling a stunt meant to do nothing but provoke. Just what is he expressing here? That it's silly to threaten people with death over a cracker? You can say that without going out of your way to offend millions of people.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:03:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  actually, people don't write his paychecks (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            corvo

                            they're probably computer generated.  Sure, they're backed by public funds, but you can't presume to know how all members of the public feel about an issue now, can you?

                          •  Oh, snap. Should've known you're a literalist. (0+ / 0-)

                            There's a legitimate line to be drawn between advancing one's own religious perspective (being "none" in this case) and flippantly denigrating others'.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:17:25 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  but drawing that line is different (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            corvo

                            for different people, depending upon their own religious beliefs or lack thereof.  You think he's being a dick?  Fine, that's your right.  Perhaps even the university president thinks he's being a dick.  But it seems to me that you're treading down a slippery slope when you bring up wanting to fire people for that.

                          •  No, there's a clear, well-defined distinction. (0+ / 0-)

                            He's pissing people off just to piss people off. Basically he's trolling.

                            Sure, what he's doing isn't offensive to everybody. But you don't need a subjective standard to see that he's being offensive for its own sake.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:35:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and how do you know that he's doing this (0+ / 0-)

                            beyond your own subjective standard?

                          •  That he's being offensive for its own sake? (0+ / 0-)

                            Easy. He's asking for a blessed item so that he can publicly desecrate it. Doing so will demonstrate nothing concrete but that he has a Web cam and access to a sacred cracker. It serves only to provoke people for whom the cracker is indeed sacred and to make fellow atheists feel good about themselves for having pissed off the religious people.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 03:30:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you're conflating your reaction (0+ / 0-)

                            with his intention.  How do you know what his intention is?  Have you asked?  Has he stated it?  How do you know that he wasn't intending to be funny?  Or provocative?  Or stupid?  Or who knows what?

                          •  Quoting from his post, (0+ / 0-)

                            as quoted in the first diary on this:

                            So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I'll send you my home address.

                            Seems pretty clear he's not in this for an edifying discussion.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 04:40:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How much right does one have (0+ / 0-)

                            to want to take an illegitimate action?

                          •  Uh, anyone can *want* to do anything. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:59:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Beside the point, (0+ / 0-)

                            especially because you keep on harping on "reasons" and even "legitimate reasons."

                          •  So why did you ask the question? n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:04:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  To watch you evade the answer. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Aunt Martha
                          •  Eh, well, I didn't. (0+ / 0-)

                            The answer, as I implied, is "every right."

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:13:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  In which case (0+ / 0-)

                            your answer is pretty unambigiously wrong.

                          •  That's nice. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:17:54 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  We are all grateful (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kd texan, Aunt Martha

                            that you're not in a position to interpret policy in this matter.

                          •  Now you're just being an ass. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:22:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  actually, I don't think corvo is (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            corvo

                            The whole point of having a policy is to protect professors from people who want them to be fired for saying or doing unpopular things.  Whether it is unpopular from the left or the right.

                            And what is it with you and body parts?  First dicks, now asses. :)

                          •  Meant more like the donkey. (0+ / 0-)

                            And sure, maybe it's against policy. And I don't think he should be fired for this. But I can't blame someone for wanting to fire him. As I said earlier, if that would be against policy or is otherwise made difficult, tough shit.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:38:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That makes sense only if you distinguish, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Aunt Martha

                            and distinguish rigorously, between Joe Smith, outraged private citizen, and Joe Smith, university president -- both of whom happen to be the same person.

                            The former may feel as he pleases.  The latter must act according to policy.

                          •  The latter can *also* feel as he pleases. (0+ / 0-)

                            So long as, as you say, he acts according to policy.

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 03:22:59 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The latter's feelings are irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

                            to the actions he is paid to undertake.

                          •  Did I say otherwise? n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                            Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                            by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 03:30:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

              •  so by the logic (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                corvo

                that universities can fire any professor who "reflects poorly on them," they can fire right-wing professors who get criticized by left-wingers, left-wing professors who get criticized by right-wingers, moderate professors who get criticized by both, etc., etc.  Who will be left to teach classes?

                •  Didn't say they should fire him. (0+ / 0-)

                  Said they may want to.

                  And it's not a matter of who's criticizing whom. Myers is being flagrantly offensive as a cheap publicity stunt. I agree with him that it's absurd and dangerous that someone's gotten death threats over a cracker. But this little show just isn't productive in any way.

                  Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                  Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                  by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 01:57:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  and why should they even want to? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    corvo

                    that is, if they really believe in free speech...oh, and tenure too.

                    I'm not saying that all university presidents do believe in that, but that's the real problem.

                    •  The problem isn't one of free speech. (0+ / 0-)

                      And "free speech" means something different here — there's no government involved.

                      Again, it's not the content of what he's saying. It's the fact that it's doing it so deliberately to be hurtful. I don't care how silly people are for caring about crackers; silly people are people too. I'm not talking about people who are apeshit enough to actually threaten death over a cracker; I'm talking about the people who are deeply offended by the debasement.

                      Denny Crane: But if he supports a law, and then agrees to let it lapse … then that would make him …

                      Shirley Schmidt: A Democrat.

                      by Jyrinx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 02:12:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  "stealing artifacts from a church"??? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shayera, zhimbo, Eireknight

    in a diary yesterday, someone said they ordered a box of 1,000 or so.

    "Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise." Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by Cedwyn on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:27:48 AM PDT

  •  I don't think that he should be fired. (11+ / 0-)

    But I didn't like the call for hosts to desecrate.  I'm an atheist, but I did start life as a Catholic and I understand what the host represents.  There is no need to show strong disrespect for a religious practice, even if you think it's dumb.

    I think it's possible to support the fight against the university's use of funds for religious groups without trying antagonize those groups.  In fact, I think that's the best way to do it - saying "I respect your faith, but I don't share.  Please respect my choice not to believe by not making me pay for your religious expression."  What Myers has done hurts the cause, because it moves the focus from the real issue.

    Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

    by lineatus on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:27:55 AM PDT

  •  ridiculous (15+ / 0-)

    Sorry, but calling for PZ to be fired is ridiculous. This is something he wrote on a personal blog, not a university blog. As a former Catholic, I certainly understand why Donahue has his panties in a wad. Bill should certainly exclude PZ from his transubstatiation ceremonies.

    But really, despite what the Church says, it's just a cracker.

    Even if it were the actual flesh of Christ, it seems to me that the alleged Omnipresent Being has means at his disposal to deal with perceived slights.

    •  I don't get this distinction (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85

      Personal blog or university blog; if blogging under your known name and persona, you are representing your university to some extent. If what you blog is an embarassment to the university they have some rights to object.

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:33:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a personal blog, but he asked people to (9+ / 0-)

      go into a Catholic service, misrepresent themselves as people with a right to communion, take something from there dishonestly (steal), and send it to him, so that he could distress Catholics by treating an object holy to them with as much disrespect as he could dream up.  

      What he urged people to do is definitely dishonest and possibly illegal. I would assume it's theft to take a communion wafer out of the chapel on false pretenses. Some poeple are yelling "They GAVE it to him!" but a "gift" involving so much deliberate deception is probably not a gift in any legal sense.  And while the theft is "petty" in legal terms, it's major in cultural terms.

      The important point here is that many of us on this blog and elsewhere are trying to build a society based on tolerance and mutually respectful behavior between people who disagree with each other on many things.

      Donahue obviously isn't helping in that effort. But neither is P.Z. Myers.  

      He thinks that Catholic belief is stupid on this issue (many religious folk would agree) so he thinks it's fine to violate honest and minimally respectful ways of dealing with them.  This is wrong.

      I don't think he should be fired for what he wrote, but it's ethically wrong, and if it is in fact illegal, then he has no business trying to draw other people into his dishonest proposal.

      In particular, I think PZ Meyers should be criticized by other atheists/agnostics/secularists. What he's doing is petty and mean-spirited. He could buy as many non-consecrated wafers as he wanted. But no. The whole point is to upset Catholics as much as possibly by desecrating a consecrated host, and gloating about doing it.

      There are lots of ways Myers can validly upset Catholics. I'm sure he does it regularly, by arguing aginst and laughing at their beliefs. Fine. But not by taking their own religous acts (consecration of a host) and using it against them through lying and trickery. That is not a way to build a society where diverse beliefs co-exist in peace.

      It's also no way to show an atheist commitment to reason.  

      Vote John McCain for a Hundred Year War!

      by Fiona West on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:01:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Comment of the day in my opinion. (3+ / 0-)

        Perfect explanation of the problem here.

      •  Explain to me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        how it is theft to take a magic Jesus zombie cookie, once it has been freely offered to you?

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 11:26:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Catholics gather for the purpose of celebrating (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musing85, yet another liberal

          mass. Any non-Catholic visitors are welcome to be present, but not to take communion. When it's time for communion, those who are Catholics, and by their religion's definition in a state of grace, are welcome to line up to take communion.  The wafer is "freely offered" to you, if you're in line, only because of the trust and reasonable expectation that you are a Catholic there to take communion. It is not given to you as a personal possession, something to own and do what you want with. It's offered to you because you represent yourself as someone ENGAGING IN A PARTICULAR ACTION, right at that very moment, ie taking communion, and it's offered to you only as part of that action. And that entails eating the wafer.

          As Tbrucegodfrey said in another comment, you can stand in line in a McDonald, say you want a Big Mac, then take it and walk out without paying, and claim you never SAID you were going to PAY for a Big Mac. But in normal human interactions, when something is understood that clearly, to signal one intention and act on another is dishonest. If you take some object in that way, it's theft. This particular theft is quite petty in monetary terms, but major in cultural terms. And inarguably dishonest.

          Again -- many of us, religious or spiritual or  atheist or agnostic, are trying to build a society based on mutually respectful behavior between people of different races, genders, cultures, and beliefs.

          Therefore, we hold that Catholics should be able to practice their central religious ritual in peace.  Myers can laugh at them and ridicule their beliefs all he wants -- go, PZ.  But he has no business disturbing their right to practice their religion in peace, or sending others to do so for his pleasure.

          Vote John McCain for a Hundred Year War!

          by Fiona West on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 11:57:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  it may be a "sin" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo

            to walk out of a church with the host stuck to the roof of you mouth, and perhaps even a "mortal sin". And I suppose one could argue for a civil case of "breach of contract" -- although I was a minor at the time of first communion and not in a position to execute a lifelong binding contract.  But "theft"? No.

      •  While I agree with much of what (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo

        ...you say, I still do not see why being fired is seen as an appropriate response. It is not as if he lobbied his students, in class, to go and rape nuns.

        Seems like a really, really bad precedent.

        you were sick, but now you're well again and there's work to do- vonnegut

        by zzyzx on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 12:03:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree it's not the most classy thing... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zzmarkzz, corvo

        ...but there's not really much deception involved.  In many churches you can simply walk up and open your mouth and they'll stick it right in there for you.

        I'm against doing this because as crazy as I think the rite is, its origin is actually pretty creative and, if people weren't so fucking stupid, might actually result in greater peace in this world.  As a symbol, it's fairly powerful.

        Anyway, this was a response to the insanity of trying to force a kid to swallow a cracker, whether holy or not... and then threatening him with death since he refused.  

        Let's cut the guy a little slack for some theater...

        230 some-odd years ago our founding fathers destroyed someone else's property to make a point.  We call it the Boston tea party.  It sure pissed some people off and it sure as hell was rude... but it also sent an important message.

  •  Thanks for the background (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, webtows, catleigh

    I don't agree it is a firing offense, but there should be a smack down from his employer.

    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Sen Carl Schurz 1872

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:31:07 AM PDT

    •  I am offended by your statement ... (3+ / 0-)

      attacking the sacred right of free speech and demand that your employer smack you down (or smite, smiting's good) for making this statement in a public forum.

      Kinda sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

      •  As already noted (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        musing85, slksfca

        Free speech rights pertain to government interference, not employer interference.

        If I work for XYZ Corp, and everyone who reads my personal blog knows I work for XYZ Corp, and I say something that riles and offends hundreds of XYZ's customers; then I fully expect XYZ's management to have a word with me.

        "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Sen Carl Schurz 1872

        by Catte Nappe on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:03:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ahh, but as in the case in the Myers case... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo

          ...the perceived slight that the offended person can force a smackdown for doesn't have to be based in fact.

          By saying that for offending the wafer and/or attempting to engineer its defiling... which only has value in the factless basis that it becomes the flesh of Christ after a priest waves his hand over it... that he deserves a smackdown, you effectively opened yourself up to the same for any perceived slight, factual or not.

      •  He shouldn't be smacked down (0+ / 0-)

        for expressing how silly he though the original incident was - even if his attitude was dismissive and antagonistic - but I think he should be reprimanded for the incitement to have someone take a religious object out of a church for the expressed purpose of desecrating it!

        That is unprofessional and has no place anywhere!  If I were his employer and I found out about such a posting I'd be rather upset!  I don't think I'd fire the guy this time, but I sure would counsel him to be much more circumspect in his public rantings in the future.  And if he were to carry out his expressed intent...well, free speech is free speech but going out of one's way to be deliberately insulting and hateful - I would have to question that person's attitude toward others and wonder if I'd want him teaching my students.

        He really blundered on this one.  I was ready to write in support of him until I read through to the bottom of the article and read about his desecration challenge.  That was just over the top and inappropriate and ugly. I don't think he should be fired but he really needs to be on notice that hate and intolerance is not tolerated - whether it is coming from the right OR the left.

        I have a hard time understanding why people insist on behaving like jerks and then wonder why people are upset with them.

        Doing my part to fight Obama Muslim smears

        by blue armadillo on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:31:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about this? (8+ / 0-)

    First, prior to a service, the wafers in a box are simply wafers. Same as you'd buy at the market.

    Now, at some point during the ceremonies, the priests does something or other to "bless" the wafers and it is only then, at this very moment, that it is possible:

    to take a religious artifact from a church

    So we can posit that it is the intention of the priest (or whatever) that creates the artifact in question, and changes it from being the standard thing one eats with wine and cheese.

    Would it not be possible, then, for the same priest we're talking about here to "un-bless" the wafer? Can't he just snap his fingers or utter some words and change the special cracker back into the normal kind?

    You see, this isn't about crackers, it's about an alleged lack of respect for a particular religious dealie doodle. An unbeliever, a heretic, an apostate has transgressed, and now there must be punishment.

    That's what this is about and it's so insanely stupid that that intelligent adults would spend more than moment even casually considering it, let alone calling for a university to fire an instructor.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:31:40 AM PDT

  •  You are saying that PZ (7+ / 0-)

    should be fired from his job as a professor because he advocated something on a personal blog which you, personally, find disrespectful and outrageous?

    And what is the action that PZ is advocating? That

    "people take a religious artifact [a Communion wafer] from a church under not only false pretenses but with intent to degrade that artifact's rightful owner"

    What the hell is wrong with you?

  •  I'd just like to point out the fact (6+ / 0-)

    that it is not possible to steal from McDonald's because they demand your money as soon as you have placed your order.  

    Once your moola is safely stashed in the cash drawer, they fill your order.

    Small point, I know, but your example just didn't work for me.

  •  The reason some are so sensitive about this... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shayera, corvo, zhimbo, LisaR, entlord1

    ...is that they know it is ROTFLMAO level bullshit.

    They want us to EAT their god, but they get all hissy about jokes like, "Jesus is coming! Who's got a towel?"

    They know that laughter is their enemy. Religion will die of laughter. And it's on the edge of the grave now. They should be calm and confident, friends of the Big Guy in the Sky, but they know in their hearts there is no Big Guy and they're piddlepants desperate.

    It's messy at times, but fun to watch.

  •  If anyone that hasn't tried it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource, shayera, LisaR

    I highly recommend Quiznos new Italian Sub on the toasted Body of Christ.

    If at first you don't succeed, your name is not Chuck Todd.

    by Larry Madill on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:44:43 AM PDT

  •  Bullshit (14+ / 0-)

    sorry, but total and complete bullshit.  The bottom line is that you are grossly misrepresenting what happened. Myers was responding, not to the simple theft of the piece of bread, but to the absurdity of the responses.  

    "We don't know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was," said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. "However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it."

    Myers response?

    Wait, what? Holding a cracker hostage is now a hate crime? The murder of Matthew Shephard was a hate crime. The murder of James Byrd Jr. was a hate crime. This is a goddamned cracker. Can you possibly diminish the abuse of real human beings any further?

    He was responding to Donahue's hyperbole:

    For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage--regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance--is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.

    Myer's response?

    Oh, beyond hate speech. Where does this fit on the Shoah scale, Bill? It shouldn't even register, but here is Wild-Eyed Bill the Offended calling for the expulsion of a student...for not swallowing a cracker.

    In other words, this was not about the "cracker," or the "host," or whatever you choose to call it.  This was about the inane hyperbole, the INSANITY, of people putting their personal mythology over the education of a student, and the real-life horrors of hate.

    As an aside, you also failed to mention the student's reason for being there in the first place- to protest public school funding for religion on campus.  In other words, there are significant First Amendment issues here as well.

    Bottom line?  Bullshit, plain and simple.

    Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Two Days per Bottle.

    by dhonig on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:45:36 AM PDT

    •  You might want to read the post before you (0+ / 0-)

      make such clearly false comments.

      •  I did (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zzmarkzz, corvo

        you can see my response below in this thread.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Two Days per Bottle.

        by dhonig on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:11:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Alas, your response shows that when you read it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musing85, Catte Nappe

          you missed a few things.  The whole point is not what Myers was responding to, but rather the utter innapropriateness of his response.  Now, as I note in a comment elsewhere, I don't think it rises to the level of a firing offense, but any claim that Myers is in the right here demonstrates an attitude toward society that I don't much care for.  

          (Note that this is not a defense of Donohue.  Donohue is one of the world's biggest assholes, while Myers is simply a bit of a jerk.)

    •  reading is indeed fundemental (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85

      guess you disagreed with me and did not read the last paragraph.

      Looks like my prediction that I would piss off people I respect came true; I respect your prior writings, dhonig, and know that I will again.

      •  Bullshit^^2 (10+ / 0-)

        I read your last paragraph, and on re-reading find that you're a real Ratzinger.

        Myers has called for a conspiracy to defeat the free exercise of religion by Catholics, and should face the consequences for doing so.

        Said like a Grand Inquisitor. This is exactly the kind of stupid hyperbole that PZ Myers was speaking against.

      •  I read the whole thing, and you got it wrong (7+ / 0-)

        Introit noted science blogger, professor and atheist PZ Myers, who then called not for the young man to return the Communion to the local parish, but for others to send him (Myers) Communion wafers for him to desecrate in an unspecified manner.

        Introit wingnut media assassin Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, understandibly unable to refrain from smacking this slow, low-hanging curveball of a media opportunity out of the park.  Donohue has called for the ouster of Myers from his faculty position at the University of Minnesota.  It should be noted that while U of M is, like UCF, a public institution, the post calling for the wafers was at Pharyngula, part of the scienceblogs.com media group and not affiliated with the University.

        Nope.  Donohue entered BEFORE Myers.  He was RESPONDING to Donohue and company.  He did not ask that the host be sent to him merely because it was "stolen."  (actually, it was not stolen, as it was given to him.)  He responded only after Donohue and company went completely beserk.  It is the representation otherwise that makes this diary less than correct, far less.

        Done with politics for the night? Have a nice glass of wine with Two Days per Bottle.

        by dhonig on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:11:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, pissed me off too... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, corvo

        I read PZ's post on Pharyngula a couple of days ago...
        dhonig's right, it was about the insane response to the "cracker" theft...
        And, for what it's worth, I'll respect their right to believe, not their belief and certainly not their reaction... this post on Pharyngula in response says it all-

        "Well, if you are going to keep this crap up, you might want to rethink this one. Most Christians believe in the right to bear arms, and if you removed it from the constitution, that won't change their minds one bit. And most Christians are armed. So, when do you want to start a war against Christians?"

        wow...

        Sorry, no love here for the Catholics and their Dark Ages rituals..

        BTW, Cook returned the cracker.

    •  See, I was with Myers 100% until he got to (5+ / 0-)

      asking for people to send him hosts to desecrate.  He's right that the response to what Cook did was way way over the top.  It was insanely excessive.  And if he'd left it at that - pointing out the sheer absurdity of the response, he'd have nailed it.

      But then he put the ball in Donohue's court with his call for consecrated hosts.  He unmade his point by doing so, because now he is acting like an intolerant bully.  He allowed the story to be about him, rather than the people howling at Cook.

      Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

      by lineatus on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:56:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My sentiments exactly. n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, blue armadillo, lineatus
      •  But that was his response to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        corvo, CParis, LisaR

        hate mail calling for violent acts against him, including death, by people who are supposedly religiously living with Christ as their exemplar.

        He was doing nothing more than holding up a mirror.

        I have the distinction of being called a media whore by Courtney Love. -Maynard J. Keenan

        by arielle on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:06:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're behaving badly so I will, too? No wonder (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slksfca, lineatus

          our movement has so many problems.

        •  I understand why he did it, and still think (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Catte Nappe, slksfca, The Big Rodent

          it was a stupid thing to do.  Also (I need to re-read I guess) I thought the death threats were in response to the call for desecration.

          Everything he wrote about the original incident was very powerful, and he made a very solid case about the excesses of Donohoe's hounds of hell.  He undermined that by taking it a step too far.

          Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

          by lineatus on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:17:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even the kid was getting threats. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            corvo, LisaR

            PZ wasn't the first to get them

            I have the distinction of being called a media whore by Courtney Love. -Maynard J. Keenan

            by arielle on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:37:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Either way (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe, arielle

              I think his call for purposeful desecration was unecessary and hateful - even though one migh be able to excuse his passion because of the death threats he and the kid were getting.

              He soiled himself with the same ugliness by putting out that call - although it is not entirely clear how serious he is to so far as actually DOING any desecrating, as opposed to being simply a "You wanna see desecration, I could SHOW you!!!!  HAHAHA YES YOU"  kind of internet rant.

              Still - words are powerful things and I really feel he ought not to have posted THAT.

              I think everyone involved needs to sit down and calm down.  I don't think its a firing offense but he sure needs a little talking to - some of his student very well might be Catholics and he is THAT cruel and dismissive of them ALL??? and - so far as the nutjobs sending death threat at the unspoken  behet of Donohue - they are beyond hope anyway. Unfortunately, Myers has given them a nice big target and a reason to feel righteously victimized.

              Doing my part to fight Obama Muslim smears

              by blue armadillo on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:47:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sensible post. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catte Nappe, blue armadillo, LisaR

                Lineatus, as well.

                Deep breaths all around would be a great idea.

                I'm not sure how I feel about a public school financially supporting a religious institution, I do not think the kid should be expelled, I do think the Bishop should meet with him and they should both apologize.

                PZ is smart enough to reiterate his points about this story without inflaming people and using broad brushes and he should also apologize.

                I have the distinction of being called a media whore by Courtney Love. -Maynard J. Keenan

                by arielle on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:55:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I think firing might be going a bit far, but (6+ / 0-)

    I definitely agree that Myers has crossed a line here.  This is totally innapropriate behavior.  Myers has done some good work fighting creationism, but this sort of behavior makes it appear that he does so not in defense of science but from hatred of religion.  Yes, there were serious overreactions to the UCF student's actions, but calling for more such actions is pretty damn stupid.

  •  You are confusing the word secular (10+ / 0-)

    Secular does NOT mean the absence of religion.

    Secular means that we live in a society where the religious and the non religious are entitled to the same rights and have the same freedoms.

    I shall not rest until right wing conservatives are 4th party gadflies limited to offering minor corrections on legislation once or twice a year.

    by davefromqueens on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:51:24 AM PDT

  •  You're advocating that someone be fired from (9+ / 0-)

    their job for posting their personal opinion on their own personal, not affiliated with their job in any way, blog?
    Wow. Way to descend to Bill Donohue's level.
    And in my opinion, which is just as valid as yours, that's what you've done.

    ~~insertobscurereference,pretentiousquoteORsalientaphorismhere~~

    by shayera on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:54:25 AM PDT

  •  He shouldn't be fired (8+ / 0-)

    But this case does raise a number of difficult issues.

    First of all I have to say I have not been impressed in general with PZ's understanding of academic freedom. That doesn't stop me from defending PZ's First Amendment rights (he apparently did this in a capacity unrelated to his job as a college professor)and his academic freedom to not be censured for expressing his First Amendment rights.

    Having said that, I am not sure whether to be offended or to find his actions humorous. My response is a little bit of both. First of all, people should have the right to make fun of religion or for that matter of any point of view. As an agnostic I find the whole idea of believing that the wafer really turns into blood and flesh to be absurd.

    On the other hand, there is a long history of religious discrimination against Catholics in this country and also against other forms of religious expression. How would we respond if a fundamentalist Christian announced he wanted to destroy sacred Jewish relics or deface Wiccan symbols?

    So there is another side of me which believes that all people's sacred spaces should be defended.

    What this case does illustrate is how the widening of the definition of harassment as a form of discrimination can potentially derail the right to criticize religion.

    Well, anyway: I wish PZ Myers well in defending his First Amendment rights and his academic position. I also hope this illustrates to PZ the importance of having as broad a view of academic freedom as possible.

  •  Top of the list (8+ / 0-)

    of Things I Thought I Would Never See Here.

    I have the distinction of being called a media whore by Courtney Love. -Maynard J. Keenan

    by arielle on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 09:58:19 AM PDT

  •  Fire? No way, but perhaps... (7+ / 0-)

    ...this might be a good lesson for PZ. I'm as anti-religious as they come. My fiancee and I are currently trying to plan a wedding ceremony where the word "God" or anything even remotely religious is completely omitted.

    That being said, I've long thought that, as good as PZ has been debunking the claims of the ID creationists, I've often thought when it comes to the progressive movement, he often does more harm than good because he embodies (with pride) the often awful stereotypes that religious people often give atheists. Just like I hate people forcing their religion on me, purposely antagonizing deeply religious people just because you think they're all stupid is... well... stupid (just like the guy PZ was trying to "defend" who stole a wafer out of the church)! It brings absolutely nothing to the table and gives them something to rally around.

    So while I don't think a blog post is a fire-worthy offense, I do hope this little episode makes PZ reign himself in in the future.

    I believe in the Church of Baseball.

    by Wade on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:14:56 AM PDT

  •  Myers' call for sacred biscuits... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zzyzx, shayera, rockhound, corvo, milkbone, LisaR

    ...was simply a piece of text.  Until there is evidence that anyone actually followed through on his request and stole a consecrated wafer, he is just someone who has made an (admittedly rather outrageous) statement in  his own blog.

    Thought experiment:  Myers calls for his readers to send him consecrated packages of pasta, which he will defile in some unspecified manner, thereby offending Pastafarians everywhere.  Is that an offense?  No, he's just being a bit of an outrageous asshole, which is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    If somebody does steal a wafer, and Bill Donohue wishes to press conspiracy to commit defamation charges in some court...well, even in the current climate I have difficulty in seeing how that would hold up.  If a court were to rule that communion wafers actually become the flesh of Christ through transubstantiation, that strikes me as a pretty egregious violation of the Constitution too.

    You're left with "advocacy of theft," and since the wafer is freely given away, I'm a little unclear as to how that would hold water.

    Myers should emphatically not be fired, and this whole controversy needs to be exposed to as much sunlight as possible; as one commenter on his blog pointed out, "take a consecrated wafer and mix it with a bunch of unconsecrated wafers.  Can you or anyone tell the difference?"

    Furthermore, what's to stop Myers from buying a box of wafers online and hiring an actor to dress up as a priest and pretend to consecrate them?  Are they consecrated then, or not?  Is it sacrilege if the consecrating priest had his fingers crossed?

    This is ridiculous, which is Myers' point.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:20:04 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, sure (0+ / 0-)

      And the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was just a story. And falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater has no consequences at all.

      And no, no one who is not a validly ordained priest in possession of the canonical faculty to do so can consecrate hosts. So your last thought experiment is useless.

  •  I share your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soonerhq

    disdain of what PZ did, but it has nothing to do with his job, so I can't really understand why he should lose his job over it.  Lose blog readership, sure.  But his job?

    Je suis inondé de déesses

    by Marc in KS on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:32:56 AM PDT

  •  "and prate about an elephant . . . " (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zzyzx, dhonig

    Amazing how everyone has an attitude as to whether Myers can be fired or disciplined, and yet nobody seems willing to quote the only relevant documents regarding the terminability of Myers's employment:

    --UMN policies;
    --the AAUP Red Book;
    --Myers's contract.

  •  keep PZ (7+ / 0-)

    and fire tbrucegodfrey

    "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?" -George Washington

    by House on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:49:37 AM PDT

  •  OK, I see your point, but... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zzyzx, arielle, corvo

    ...what does that have to do with his job?  He doesn't run the blog as part of his job.  I'm not entirely sure that what he asked random, amorphous people to do was explicitly illegal.  When I read it, I read it as intentfully outrageous to match the fervor of a group of people who were clearly not acting in their right mind.

    I will note that Christianity has this doctrine called "turning the other cheek"... according to Christian belief, it was the martyrs that paved the way for Christianity, not those who lived by the sword.  So their actions in trying to force him to take communion were clearly imbalanced.

    If he had gone in front of his class and said "For your homework, you have to steal a communion wafer, defile it on camera and then turn in the tape so that I can show it to a local priest" then I could see firing him.

    But as far as I can tell that's not what he did.

    We have to be careful about damaging peoples' livelihoods for making statements, no matter how outrageous.  That pendulum has a tendency of taking off heads when it swings back.

  •  too bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    It's too bad Myers obscured a perfectly valid point by being needlessly provocative. That said, he may be so dumbfounded by the ridiculousness of the whole thing that he couldn't help himself.

    The core concept here is the idea of a holy cracker. Yes, I realize its spiritual significance to Catholics. However, from an anthropological perspective we're talking about people for whom a key spiritual ritual is blessing and eating a cracker. It's easy to see why some might find that a little odd, or even laughable.

    Not so laughable is the fact some take the aforementioned cracker so seriously that they threaten someone who blasphemes their cracker with death. And to me, that's the key observation behind this whole thing. We hear stories about people rioting over cartoons or threatening death over a teddy bear named Mohammed and our society basically views those people as lunatics. Yet we have a perfect analog here in the US and and most people rush to their defense.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 11:13:22 AM PDT

  •  I've been all over the other thread (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    arguing that Myers' blog post was needlessly insulting, not to mention counterproductive to the goal of reaching out the the millions of reasonable believers.  But I do not think he should be fired.

  •  Illustrating absurdity by being absurd (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shayera, Catte Nappe, corvo, LisaR

    when I read Meyers' post I didn't even think the call for sacred crackers was real, and I still don't.  I think Meyers would be more surprised than anyone if a couple communion wafers actually showed up in his mail box.  

    He was responding to the outrageously inappropriate response from the religious types by saying something outrageously inappropriate.  

    I equate this with saying "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."  But with no serious intention of follow through.  

    A teacher friend of mine typically responds to bad grammar from his students by saying to them, "Grammars be bad."  

    Illustrating absurdity by being absurd.  

  •  Wow, this turned out to be the most (0+ / 0-)

    entertaining thread of the day.

    Just like I thought it might when I first noticed it, and it only had 3 comments.

    Does that make me a prophet of some type?  And if so, am I now eligible to try the sacred wafers?

  •  Magical cracker crime? (0+ / 0-)

    If the witch doctor wants to give PZ a cookie, ownership passes to the good doctor. What he does with it at that point is squid man's own lookout.

    I can make a good case that a fortune cookie, taken home and desecrated is not a hate crime. I tolerate it when jackasses burn books, and have a collection of motel bibles and a webber grill.

    Fire PZ Myers and you will open a can of religious whupp-ass worms that can't be turned back.

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