Clueless White Woman

July 18, 2008

religious intolerance: not just for religions anymore…

Filed under: bigotry — by clueless @ 12:54 am

I don’t know what the readership overlap is between anti-racist and pro-science blogs is. I mean, there must be some, because I read them both…

But, on the chance that you’re not the same unusual as I, here’s a bit of background: A student in Florida went to Catholic Mass and was given a wafer during communion. Instead of swallowing it, he held it in his mouth and took it home with him. Who knows why, but he did. The local Catholic community reacted furiously, including with some death threats (although I doubt those were either sanctioned or requested by the church hierarchy), and the student eventually returned the Eucharist.

P.Z. Myers, a well-known atheist, called the Catholic response an overreaction, then vigorously upped the ante:

Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?… I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage … 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.

I’m sure reader will be totally shocked to learn that a call for further violence against a sacred symbol of a religion has resulted in — wait for it — an angry, defensive response, including death threats. (Surprise!)

A peaceable resolution seems highly unlikely. In a July 14 interview with the Minnesota Independent, Myers stated at the end:

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.

Weird to want respect? While he shouldn’t be forced to worship transubstantiation, there’s a vast gap between that and actively seeking a way to disrespect it. By declaring that Catholics shouldn’t be offended by his proposed action, he’s become the self-declared arbiter of what is and is not offensive; echoes of a person convinced of his own superiority and cheerfully willing to insult inferiors. Add in completely unwilling to consider an alternative way of thinking, and you’ve got a self-important attention-seeking bigot. Rational discourse is the way to bridge gaps, not desecration of every sacred symbol you can find.

On the plus side, it’s helping me weed out some skepticism blogs that I don’t really want to be reading on one simple qualification: do they think that Myers is being counterproductive? Thankfully, some do.


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