Love him or hate him, if PZ Myers (Pharyngula) at Seed Media's property were not doing what he does, one of us would have to - so we are inclined to love him. The Catholic League disagrees and they have urged their readership to contact University of Morris president Robert Bruininks to protest PZ's article, It's a Goddamned Cracker, in which he stated that the zealots in this story, Student Who Took Religious Icon Getting Death Threats, were a bit over the top in sending death threats to the young man who removed a Eucharist from church and held it hostage. The sticky issue, for both PZ and Webster Cook, the young man who pilfered the blessed wafer, is this 'hate crimes' business. I am sure I was not the only person that felt like when you started attaching different penalties to the motivations behind identical crimes, culturally we were leading ourselves down a slippery slope. Stealing a cracker is one thing, just like getting in a fight. Stealing a religious symbol because of intolerance could be lumped in with beating up a gay guy because of his sexuality. The Catholics in question (not all Catholics, obviously) feel like this was a hate crime. So it could be a problem for Cook, and thus for PZ as well. If this goes anywhere at all, an attorney could stand up and ask a judge to replace religious people with homosexuals or blacks and see what PZ's blogs read like. That's enough to make PZ into a judicial conservative, I bet. Does he hate religious people? Well, no, he just hates religion, which is like loving the troops but wanting them to lose a war - maybe too middle of the road to take credibly in more than a wink-wink way, though some do. It doesn't matter. The crux of the issue is, does he deserve to be sacked? No, he does not. Barack Obama will not lose his job because his pastor said blacks should not sing "God Bless America" but instead "God damn America" and PZ should not lose his job for writing a blog piece called "It's a Goddamned Cracker." Was it a bit much? Well, yeah, and I think he recognizes that. He changed the title to "It's a frackin cracker" so he has given a little. He didn't change the URL, though, so he is still defiantly making his point and you have to respect that. Somewhere out there is a preacher saying biologists are evil and what science lacks is a group of people issuing press releases every time it happens. Plus, it's important that dissent not be bullied out of existence. I'd support either side in that. PZ wrote a follow-up post asking readers to help him fight against the hordes levelled against him and it's a good idea. Click on the URL and you can get the email address of the university president being written by PZ's detractors and you can counter that by writing a nice letter of your own in support of the good things he writes. I don't want to be called the 'secular community' any more than I want to be called the 'religious community' but I want to be with the right community. PZ is right, even if I wouldn't have written it the way he did. He was basically defending an idiot college student who tried to make a stupid idea into a larger freedom issue (and didn't do it well) but he is a college student so some stupidity can be forgiven. Heck, in 1984 I argued how Walter Mondale could beat Ronald Reagan. I still voted for Reagan but you get my point. Young people say and do dumb things. College professors sometimes defend dumb students. It's no reason to get fired. Statements like
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.
won't endear him to Catholics but he probably doesn't have any Catholic fans anyway. Any Catholic reading him by now is just looking for trouble. So show PZ some love. He's sometimes on the fringe but so are lots of religious people. They let the rest of us stay in the middle and we're all the better for it.