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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Social autism strikes again

It would be rather amusing if this little incident proved to be the end of Pharyngula:

Paul Zachary Myers, a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, has pledged to desecrate the Eucharist. He is responding to what happened recently at the University of Central Florida when a student walked out of Mass with the Host, holding it hostage for several days. Myers was angry at the Catholic League for criticizing the student. His post can be accessed from his faculty page on the university’s website.

Here is an excerpt of his July 8 post, “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker!”:
“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers continued by saying, “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.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“The Myers blog can be accessed from the university’s website. The university has a policy statement on this issue which says that the ‘Contents of all electronic pages must be consistent with University of Minnesota policies, local, state and federal laws.’ One of the school’s policies, ‘Code of Conduct,’ says that ‘When dealing with others,’ faculty et al. must be ‘respectful, fair and civil.’ Accordingly, we are contacting the President and the Board of Regents to see what they are going to do about this matter. Because the university is a state institution, we are also contacting the Minnesota legislature.

The question of desecrating the Host aside, there's little question that there is very little, if anything, respectful, fair, or civil about PZ's nasty Internet morass. This should also explode once and for all the myth that Pharyngula is a "science" blog; it's little more than the public soapbox of a mediocre individual with a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome who happens to hate religion. Which is fine, but if PZ wrote about blacks, Jews or gays the way he writes about Christians, he'd have been fired long ago.

Now, I'm not Catholic and I am not terribly concerned about the fate of crackers either, but unlike PZ, I am not socially autistic, and so I understand the importance of respecting the symbols that are important to others. And you know, I highly doubt PZ would be so blase about it being "just a sheet" or "just a crooked cross" if people were exhibiting KKK and Nazi symbols on his campus.

Of course, PZ has the right to write whatever he wants and offend whomever he wants, but as a public employee he also has a responsibility to his public employers, who may or may not wish to fund these sorts of anti-religious antics. Andrew Stuttaford's response is amusing, though, since he suggests that debating PZ instead of calling for his job might be a better idea.

Yeah, that's not so much an option....

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