Crackers for (Dumb) Crackaz: PZ Myers Edition

So in the fake news outrage of the day, PZ Myers, the author of the blog Pharyngula, a biology professor and armchair anti-religious New Atheist, is in some controversy.

The controversy involves this post posted Tuesday night, entitled “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker.” The Cracker in question being a Communion Wafer. So you can imagine how grown up a conversation this is going to be from the get go.

The background to the post involves a story, detailed by Myers, of a young man who went to a Catholic Mass, received Communion but didn’t eat it and took it with him outside the church. In Christian theology blessed Communion is not to be taken outside of the church except for special cases, e.g. taking it Communion to someone bed-ridden at home or in a hospital. There’s a long theological explanation as to why, but a short version is the Communion is considered a gift and you don’t abuse gifts.

As to the young man’s rationale, the reporting of the story which Myers links to, here, says only the following:

Webster’s friend, who didn’t want to show his face, said he took the Eucharist, to show him what it meant to Catholics.

That’s a pretty ambiguous statement and doesn’t provide much clarity as to the young man’s intentions. Did he mean “show him what it means to be Catholic” in a respectful way or more nefarious/belittling. Sounds more like the latter, but definitely unclear**(see update I below). But whatever the case, he returned it.

Now predictably (though sadly) blow hards like Bill Donohue President of the Anti-Catholic League et. al get on their high horse and say that perhaps the school should consider expulsion, the poor kid has even apparently received death threats (not clear if they are very serious or just people being immoral and cruel).

Regardless even if he had some bad intent and committed an act of sacrilege (vis a vis the standards of the religious community in question) saner heads could easily figure out a way to defuse this situation. He meets with the priest, they go over why what he did–if he intended to do some mischief and knew he was so doing–and pastorally gently explain to the lad why this is hurtful to the community.

Just basic human interaction–try to get him to see what it would be like, how he would feel if he were in the position of the Other person. Go over, what importance this act and the symbol has for the community. This appears to have been offered but I can’t find evidence whether it has or hasn’t taken place.

But that of course has not happened and sanctimonious fools fill the air with their nonsense (liken the event to a “hostage situation” a “hate crime”. Crazy talk). Making the rest of us non-crazy religious types implicated and branded with the actions of these fools who bring shame to the Gospel and to God. Isn’t the first time, won’t be the last. Maddening nevertheless.

Now enter PZ Myers, blow hard from the secular side of things. He does his usual these people are medieval superstitious fools schtick (tired and unfunny as you would expect from a biology professor trying to do good blogging snark/comedy).

So what is the proper response to the idiocy of people like Bill Donohue you may ask?  Further idiocy of course.  Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. These two deserve each other in some perverse way.

Here’s Myers:

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.

Just wait. Now there’ll be a team of Jesuits assigned to rifle through my mail every day.

First off, “score one???” WTF dude? You’re not hip and cool and this isn’t you doing drugs man. The 70s are over homey.  Deal with it.

Secondly, If Myers had brain cell one when it came to religion he would of course know that American Jesuits are all liberal now (Bill Donohue hates the Jesuits about as much as he hates Myers I would bet)–and the image of the Jesuits secretly controlling the world with say Jews and Freemasons only exists in the minds of conspiracy wackjobs (and racists–score one indeed!!!). He might want to read something on the subject other than Black Legend English Lit novels from the 19th century.

But I digress.

Read PZ’s paragraph again and recall that this is a (in physical terms anyway) grown man who has written this appalling statement. It’s as if he’s placing himself in some line of great free speech heroes–this isn’t exactly MLK, Jr. writing from the Birmingham Jail now is it?

It’s just male adolescent immaturity at base. To sound sexist for a moment–could anybody imagine a woman doing this? I can’t. None of the women I know anyway–and for the record I’m married to a non-Christian. That ought to say something. Only men (read: boys) are usually this kind of stupid in my experience.

Instead of (a la New Atheist tunnel vision) this episode being another in the great fight between the reasonable people (self-proclaimed like Myers) and the slavish ignorant fools (The Catholics in question), it is a story about human beings who need some emotional maturity. On all sides. Calmense todos kinda thing.

Myers in particular it would appear needs to go to emotional training school. Memo to PZM: You’re not some great hero/courageous fighter for progress for purposefully being a d**k to people and their beliefs. The non-Bill Donohue crazy types in Catholicism (or Christianity more generally) are just regular people trying to figure out some of what they believe and/or express their deep beliefs.  One of which is a sacred meal–which of course you wouldn’t know about because you focus only on the exterior easy to criticize symbol of the thing.  But who needs intelligence when you’re rational right?

It is not then just “a cracker”. There is place for public debate and he’s free to his views. Fine.

But one’s personal view on said matters is rarely if ever the final word–how it really is (a cracker!!!).  In psychology this is typically referred to as narcissism, which is why this rant is so pathetic.  For a grown man to actually publicly talk about purposefully insulting and degrading people and their religious beliefs is abysmal. That’s just not happening. You don’t have to be some stuffed shirt tightwad religious type to realize this ain’t cool. Period.  Just as it ain’t cool for the young man to receive such vituperative mail.

But this “who can out-stupid one another” race to the bottom is only making it worse.

To wit, it seems again predictably (and sadly) the idiots back on the religious side have taken the bait and made this fool look like hero/martyr for free speech and rationality by sending him some death threats and trying to get the guy fired. Instead of just ignoring the idiot and letting him hoist himself on his petard.

Story here from DKos. [Edit: The DailyKos story writes only that PZM discusses an already in the news story about the guy taking the Eucharist. The author of said post handler name DarkSyde either purposefully occludes the otherwise controversial part (i.e. publicly calling for someone to get him some Communion so he can POST PICTURES OF DESECRATORY ACTS) or needs some brush up work on his literacy skillz, as it were.]

Now I don’t think Myers should be fired and I remember Jesus saying something to Christians about “not returning evil for evil.” Forgiveness and such. A lesson Myers could learn and those now attacking him could learn as well plus of course the always in need of education Bill Donohue types of the world.

That being said, it doesn’t speak well for his character as a human being to actually write such bigoted trash. He hasn’t taken it back/said it was meant as a joke (which would be a peculiarly unfunny one if it were) and is calling for you guessed it a counter-campaign, (counter-crusade?).

The school could probably do well with giving the good Prof. some basic emotional intelligence education. [Edit II: Proof of the integral argument that lines of development are separate!!!] Like how to be a regular human to people and not an a**hole. Firing him will only of course shuffle the problem off to someplace else. Wherever he gets his next job I suppose were he to be fired.

Update I: This story gives more of a rundown of the why of the whole original event. Still not clear as there is some he said/they said stuff going on.  But it looks to me like not surprisingly a misunderstanding that escalates and people locked into their fixed viewpoints. All in all looks like everybody needs to chill a bit.

Published in: on July 11, 2008 at 10:22 am  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. thanks for your sane take on this issue. as a non(practicing) Catholic myself, i couldn’t care less about the bickering among both stupid camps. but i’m more disappointed with Myers because he is branding himself to be “rational” all the while acting like a ignorant fool when it comes to the idea of symbolism and the notion of the “sacred.”

    yes, it may be just a cracker. but a flag is also just a piece of cloth. and i doubt that Myers would be ballsy enough so disrespect a piece of cloth on this blog.


  2. btw, PZ Myers just posted emails containing threat of violence. jeez, as if that was unexpected.

    anyway, i hope PZ stays safe and reasonable (when it comes to people’s religious symbols) for his own peace of mind.


  3. Good analogy with the flag bro. he might want to learn some inner peace visualizations or something. Little 3-2-1 for homeboy could do some wonders I would bet.

    peace. cj

  4. ah well. PZ Myers is still arguing that “this cracker is nothing.” he keeps missing the context of things.

    “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.”


    he’s pandering to his followers and arguing with people who are at the lower rung of rational sophistication and propping himself up to be someone whose uber-rational. and there goes the irony.

    incidentally, a lot of people got upset by the Obama satire on the New Yorker not only because of the satire but also because of the burning of the American flag (even if no actual flag was burned in the process).

    ah well.


  5. […] Hat tip to my man C4, for pointing me to this response interview with PZ Myers (as C4 says in a comment to my earlier post, PZ still doesn’t get […]

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