University of Minnesota biologist, PZ Myers, has seriously dug-in on the host desecration issue, once again confirming his illiberalism. In an interview with the Minnesota Independent this week, there was this exchange:
MnIndy: Has the outrcry over your post given you second thoughts about getting a host and treating “it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web”?
Myers: The response has done nothing but confirm it: I have to do something. I’m not going to just let this disappear. It’s just so darned weird that they’re demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me. Something will be done. It won’t be gross. It won’t be totally tasteless, but yeah, I’ll do something that shows this cracker has no power. This cracker is nothing.
Myers’s response here is mendacious. It is not “respect to a symbol” that is being demanded. It is respect for harassment-free religious assembly.
If a Catholic approached Myers on the street and offered him a piece of religious literature, or a statue of the Virgin Mary, or told him to bow and receive a communion wafer on his tongue, Myers would be within his rights to receive such items from the evangelist and then desecrate them on the Internet. He is equally free, any time he pleases, to go to a Catholic bookstore, purchase an item, and desecrate it on the Internet.
It would be uncivil and juvenile, but he could do it.
But what Myers is actually wanting to do is of a different order. He is going out of his way to procure, by deceit, within the confines of a church’s property, an object that Catholics do not share with nonbelievers. Period.
He is, in short, encouraging his readers to interfere with a particular people’s ability to practice their religion without interference within their own property boundaries.
And he is indulging a primitive and volatile human passion: iconoclasm (taking from a religious people, against their will, objects sacred to them for desecration or destruction).
This is an enormously serious breach of the liberal foundations of our society. We would not, for one moment, condone or tolerate an anti-Semite interfering in a similar fashion with a Jewish synagogue service, and we must not condone or tolerate an atheist attempting to interfere with a Catholic mass.
Tolerating such behavior threatens the very foundations of a liberal society.
To illustrate the seriousness of this issue, let’s imagine that, not Myers, but an anti-Semite, was interviewed by the Minnesota Independent, and let’s replace the word “cracker” with “Talmud” in the interviewer’s question and Myers’s response:
MnIndy: Has the outrcry over your post given you second thoughts about getting a Talmud from a synagogue and treating “it with profound disrespect and heinous Talmud abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web”?
Anti-Semite: The response has done nothing but confirm it: I have to do something. I’m not going to just let this disappear. It’s just so darned weird that they’re demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me. Something will be done. It won’t be gross. It won’t be totally tasteless, but yeah, I’ll do something that shows this Talmud has no power. This Talmud is nothing.
If an anti-Semite gave such a response, would we not hear the illiberalism, intolerance, paranoia and hate undergirding it? And wouldn’t we recognize immediately that the Jewish community was being harrassed by a fanatic?
Myers needs to come down off his high-horse, admit he exercised poor judgement in a rash moment, apologize to the Catholic community, and reaffirm liberal values. Otherwise, agnostics and atheists should treat him as an illiberal pariah upon our community.
Below is Myers’s paragraph, from his blog last week, that generated the initial controversy. We need to keep it in mind that this, and not something else, is what he is defending:
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.