Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Best PZ Defense I’ve Seen

I don’t know who wrote it, but it was an email sent to Andrew Sullivan or one of his guest bloggers. I think it’s pretty much dead on. I’ve been a critic of PZ for his anti-religious fervor in some cases, but not in this one. I think he went a tad bit too far, but the phenomenally idiotic reaction dwarfs that sin by orders of magnitude. I would have felt pretty silly putting a rusty nail through a cracker, for precisely the reason PZ says – it’s a freaking cracker. I wouldn’t have taken it that far. But let us not lose the entirely valid point he was trying to make. As the link above says:

That bears repeating: this is not the middle east; this is not the middle ages. This is a free society. And in a free society, there exists no right to not be offended. If the Catholic church can get away with desecrating what others consider sacred (or, for those of us who have no concept of sacredness, at least special) – if they can call a loving union between two gay men or women an “abomination”, if they can call the union into which I hope to enter someday a “perversion”, then damn it, I reserve the right to desecrate what they consider sacred also. Respect is a two-way street – if they want my respect, they must give me theirs. If they want Myers to respect them, they must also respect him (and Mr. Cook for that matter). But this is something of which religion in general seems incapable – they always want respect, but reserve the right to give none in return.

In reality, though, this has nothing to do with respect. I don’t owe “respect” (whatever the hell that means) to anyone’s beliefs. If your beliefs are stupid, they should be called stupid; wrapping them in a veil of religion does not make them immune from criticism. But if we’re going to really make a case for outrage, I’m afraid the case against the Catholic Church is a whole lot stronger than the case against PZ Myers.

PZ “desecrated” a piece of bread. He called an idiotic belief exactly what it is, an idiotic belief. He didn’t burn anyone at the stake; the Catholic Church has. He didn’t torture anyone for being of the wrong faith; the Catholic Church has. He didn’t cover up sexual abuse by priests and shuffle predators from one diocese to another to victimize again; the Catholic Church has. This is not an argument the church really wants to have, folks. That’s why it prefers to focus its outrage on symbols rather than substance; on the substance, they lose and lose badly.