Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
When is a cracker not a cracker?
OK, you've probably heard about the little dust-up that PZ Myers has been having with a bunch of Catholics. If not, here's the initial post at PZ's site, with follow-up posts here, here, here, here, with this being the most recent post, featuring some of the hate mail sent to Myers. That's over 6,000 comments on his blog alone, by my count. And of course lots of others have weighed in on the subject, including UTI alum DarkSyde yesterday at Daily Kos.
I'll admit to having spent *way* too much time the last couple of days following this insanity. Why? Because watching people become unhinged is fun and educational. As a friend said about this debacle:
Every so often, I am cool with letting the fundies make raving fools of themselves.
OK, for those of you who don't have a background in Catholicism, pretty much the central core of their faith revolves around "Communion" in which the Eucharist is shared. For a lot of Catholics, this is merely a figurative ritual, but Roman Catholic doctrine holds that the communion wafer and wine is transubstantiated and literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus. Yes, it is ritual cannibalism, but they don't like you to portray it that way.
So, in characterizing the communion wafer as a 'cracker', PZ stepped right into the middle of their faith and said "this is absurd". Read his actual posts to get the details. Of course, this pissed off a whole lotta Catholics and other religious types. And it was that reaction that I found interesting and educational.
There has been the usual and predictable "this is hate speech!" nonsense, what you would expect from someone who has been told that their belief in Sky Daddy is silly. There has also been the occasional barely-disguised death threat (what actually got PZ interested in the whole matter to begin with). The student who started the whole thing was physically assaulted, and efforts have been made to make his life at his university miserable. People have been calling for PZ Myers to lose his (tenured) position. All of that is pretty much par for the course in these flare-ups.
But what I have found to be extremely interesting, and insightful, and more than a little disturbing, has been what someone over on PZ's site dubbed "fatwa envy". A very significant portion of the email PZ posted, and comments in the various threads from self-identified Christians, revolves around the idea that PZ should do something to offend Islam (which he actually has done on many occasions), so as to earn himself a death sentence.
Think about that for a moment. These people were expressing a palpable hunger for violence to be directed at PZ, via a religion that most of them consider 'wrong'. I'm not sure whether this is a measure of our civil society holding these people back, or a moderating influence of Christianity, or what. But I am certain that there's a bunch of these nuts who would just love to have the freedom to kill us heathens.
Ah, well. Oh, and should this post get noticed by the crazies, and someone wants to send threats my way: It's been done. I'm unimpressed. And armed. Like many good Americans who believe in the entire Bill of Rights.