The USA, lately. #politics #uspoli

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Monday, 8 September 2008

Which Star Trek Character Are You?

Your results:
You are Spock

An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Geordi LaForge
Jean-Luc Picard
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Beverly Crusher
Will Riker
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Mr. Scott
Mr. Sulu
Deanna Troi
You are skilled in knowledge and logic.
You believe that the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few.
Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Test

Thanks to mrz80.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Things that make me ashamed to be a Christian

OK, first a little back-story…

Back in July, University of Central Florida student Webster Cook was at a Catholic mass on campus with a non-Catholic friend. Cook's friend did not go up to receive the host, as Catholics would not consider that proper, but was curious about what the host looked like. Cook, instead of eating his right away, pretended to do so it and took it back to show his friend. On his way to sit down, a female usher saw this and attempted to wrestle the consecrated host from Cook. Cook and is friend then left the mass, taking the wafer with them, to escape the verbal harassment by the congregation. Almost immediately the nasty emails (Cook was on UCF student government so was easily contactable) started with people not only threatening to break into his dorm room to rescue the host but apparently death threats as well.

Susan Fani, a spokesperson for the Orlando–area Catholic diocese said the following:

We don't know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was, [h]owever, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.

We just expect the University to take this seriously, [t]o send a message to not just Mr. Cook but the whole community that this kind of really complete sacrilege will not be tolerated.

Later, after apparently talking things over with other Catholics, Cook returned the wafer and asked for an apology of the harassment form the Bishop. The next Sunday there were armed security guards at the mass

After Cook returned the host one would have thought the issue would die down instead of becoming national news fodder on CNN and Fox News.

But then Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, started giving his opinion on the subject:

For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage—regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance—is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done. All options should be on the table, including expulsion.

Then P. Z. Myers, a biology professor and out–spoken atheist also waded into the fray:

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.

People immediately began sending Myers some extremely nasty emails as well as death threats. One woman even lost her job because her husband mistakenly used her corporate email account to send one of those death threats. Many people also started sending Myers copies of the Koran and accused him of being a coward for never having threatened to desecrate anything important to Muslims. In addition, many people sent emails to the president of the university where Myers is professor, demanding that he be fired immediately even though he posted his comment on his personal blog at ScienceBlogs, which has nothing to do whatsoever with his university. On 24 July 2008 Myers posted an image of some pages from the Koran and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion (Dawkins is famous atheist) covered by used coffee grounds and a banana peel, plus the eucharist someone sent him punched through with a nail along with the following quote:

My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt. <image> By the way, I didn't want to single out just the cracker, so I nailed it to a few ripped-out pages from the Qur'an and The God Delusion. They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your lord, you are not disciples of any charismatic prophet. You are all human beings who must make your way through your life by thinking and learning, and you have the job of advancing humanity's knowledge by winnowing out the errors of past generations and finding deeper understanding of reality. You will not find wisdom in rituals and sacraments and dogma, which build only self-satisfied ignorance, but you can find truth by looking at your world with fresh eyes and a questioning mind.

For a more in–depth review see here, here and here.

By all accounts, this situation was not handled very well by all involved. Cook should have openly not swallowed the host, the usher should not have attacked him, the congregation should not have yelled at him and the emailed death threats were way out of line. But armed guards, WTF?!? Can you say over–reacting?

Donohue is not exactly known for his tolerance of others, and the Catholic League is often called a far–rigth fringe group, so it's not really surprising that he wanted Webster Cook expelled and later called on Catholics to flood Myer's university with demands for his metaphorical head.

Myers is usually far more level–headed than Donohue (I read Myers' blog regularly), but is unabashedly anti-religion and often refers to believers of any stipe as “religidiots” or similar insults. Howeever, I agree with him when he says this:

Wait, what? Holding a cracker hostage is now a hate crime? The murder of Matthew Shephard was a hate crime. The murder of James Byrd Jr. was a hate crime. This is a goddamned cracker. Can you possibly diminish the abuse of real human beings any further?

Now I disagree with Myers' position on religion and faith and even more so with the way he expresses it—I'd hesitate to call him intolerant or bigotted, but he is certainly extremely insensitive, but the emails he gets on this topic are just terrible. They are the antithesis of of what “Christian Love” is supposed to be. I may disagree with Myers' views but I would trust him not to misrepresent the proportions of emails has receive on this subject and show us only the crazies(!!!) in the excerpts he has been posting on his blog.

Yestderday Myers posted one response that I think was the worst of the non–death threat excepts. All because of one particular sentence.

You act is far more deplorable than Hitlers' Holocaust or the terriorists on 9-11.

What?!? Punching a hole in a fucking cracker is worse than murdering six million Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals? Now I rarely swear but that is exactly the first thing I thought as I read that excerpt. If anybody I knew in Real Life™ read Myers' blog, you know I'd be ashamed to tell them I went to church every Sunday morning.