Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hosting Mr. Myers

I don't even know why I want to throw in with this issue, but a certain, strange compulsion irks me on.

Mr. Paul Myers, biologist and blogger has donned a new hat: comedian. That's right, he's decided that it would be funny to do a photo-blog entry of desecrating the Eucharist.

Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? ...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.”

Well, it's good that Myers doesn't want to hold the Eucharist hostage. Given Catholic theology – that the Eucharist, when consecrated, actually becomes the body, blood, and divinity of Christ – holding God hostage would be a big order, even for a man specialized in poking at zebra fish. I don't know what that last clause was supposed to mean, but I found it a little amusing.

At the back of all this, where the whole bloody incident started (and probably where Myers got his knickers in a twist) is the story of a Florida teen who took a host home and received a big Tsk-tsk from the Roman Catholic Church. Fine. Tsk-tsk accomplished, let's move on.

But no.

Media morons, and newspapers everywhere seized on this 'momentous' event, this first time in history where anyone has ever done anything sacriligious to the Christian faith, this unique occasion when someone did something they shouldn't have with a religious affectation. Desecration of the Temple aside, killing of non-Catholic Christians, and failure to send aide to persecuted brothers and sisters in war-torn countries aside, it's a good thing our peevish friends at the syndicates and television studios turned their vulpine ways to this unoriginal event.

And humping the media leg comes Myers, full of atheist (in)sensibility, and oh-so-laudable motivations such as wasting his time picking fights with the Catholic Church, mocking the faith of millions around the world, and spearheading a fight against a God he doesn't believe exists. For what other reason is there to promote such a wanton waste of time and intellectual energy than to prove that God won't super-charge his posterior with a fresh thunderbolt from above? That leaves the option that Myers simply wants to do this to show that he can, because being offensive about religious things will give him all the pomp and hilarity of other crusading media atheists like Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. That, and it's oh-so-cool to hurt people, isn't it?

Well, PZ Myers, enjoy your time in the limelight. Perhaps Tinseltown will canonize you by making a movie about you: the unsung hero of atheists everywhere, the man who single-handedly took a communion wafer and did bad things to it (like the stupid kid who sits on a hill and burns ants with a magnifying glass), the eminent cerebral who took time away from his studies in biology to make the world a better place by pissing off a large portion of its population for no other reason than to show that he could. Underdog. Vigilante. Time Waster.

Not too far behind on the time-wasting front, however, is the crotchety, whiny little outfit, the Catholic League. Mr. Donohue has gladly obliged Myers' petulance, and taken high offence at the proverbial beer bottle tossed into the crowd. So now, a wee fist-fight has ensued and Donohue has called in his thugs. For example, this quote from the Catholic League website:

“As a result of the hysteria that Myers’ ilk have promoted, at least one public official is taking it seriously. Thomas E. Foley is chairman of Virginia’s First Congressional District Republican Committee, a delegate to the Republican National Convention and one of two Republican at large nominees for Virginia’s Electoral College. His concern is for the safety of Catholics attending this year’s Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Myers’ backyard. Accordingly, Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence. Given the vitriol we have experienced for simply exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, we support Foley’s request.”

Is it just me, or has this been overblown?! So now, public officials are being called in, and extra security is being requested because some pokey, little professor wants to be naughty with the sacrosanct? And notice the hyperbole driving the fears of Catholics in Minneapolis: “...provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence. Given the vitriol we have experienced for simply exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of speech...”

Since when did nasty words (vitriol) equate to physical violence? What about the stages between saying mean things to blowing stuff up? But leave it up to zealous crusaders like Donohue to whip the crowds into an even bigger frenzy by manufacturing fears of violence because Myers and some of his friends have burped out their cynicism and sarcasm. I mean it's harldly likely that Myers wants to up the ante from drive-by sarcasm to drive-by shootings. Give me a break!

And as far as the First Amendment right to freedom of speech goes, it's logically implied that Myers has the freedom to not listen. Claiming freedom of speech as a trump card when you're feeling a little insecure about vulgar missives being passed back and forth doesn't get anyone anywhere. Myers has the same right, so now what? Should he pull in an elected official of his own and demand FBI surveillance and security because Catholics might want to retaliate by taking his zebra fish hostage? My daddy's bigger than your daddy. Oh yeah? Well my daddy beat your daddy up in school, so there.

People, listen. What Myers wants to do with the Eucharist is offensive to a lot of people. Understood. But his public admission is on level with throwing a beer bottle into a crowded bar and watching as people kick the snot out of each other. God's not gonna be damaged by one man's infantile attempt at gaining popularity amongst unbelievers. If that's what he wants, he's got it. But at what point are the rest of us going to suffer for his blasphemy? That's between him and God, and since he doesn't believe in God, he'll have to wait until he finds out if God really does exist before he can actually be accountable for his intellectual, and spiritual bullying. In the meanwhile, I wouldn't give the man any more attention than this article. Doing more would be giving him undue focus in my life, and I just don't think this issue that he's raised is really worth much more than this.

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