I would like to take a moment to examine Catholic League president Bill Donohue’s statement regarding PZ. (Details of the CL’s attack on PZ Myers here) Here is the statement:
“The Myers blog can be accessed from the university’s website. The university has a policy statement on this issue which says that the ‘Contents of all electronic pages must be consistent with University of Minnesota policies, local, state and federal laws.’ One of the school’s policies, ‘Code of Conduct,’ says that ‘When dealing with others,’ faculty et al. must be ‘respectful, fair and civil.’ Accordingly, we are contacting the President and the Board of Regents to see what they are going to do about this matter. Because the university is a state institution, we are also contacting the Minnesota legislature.
“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ. We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”
That first bit is in reference to a strange rule we have here at the University of Minnesota. If I have a web site hosted here at the U, there are certain things I can’t put on there. Like child porn, or anti semitic hate material, and so on. The University further stipulates that I am also personally responsible for anything I link to, and implies that I am responsible for anything that is thence linked to out farther in the internet. This makes sense at first glance. I should not link to a child porn site. But what if I have a link to a site about Bambi that later turns into a child porn site when I wasn’t watching? There are those at the U’s IT units that feel that that counts, and therefore that no one should like to anyone. Others remain silent about the issue (I’ve been asking around about this for years). I think everyone is just hoping that this odd rule is never tested.
The Code of Conduct does not cover PZ in his private life. But since PZ’s blog is on the internet and everything on the internet is connected to everything else, that means that his blog is covered under the Code of Conduct via this strange rule. Or at least, that is the implication and the hope, I assume, of Bill Donohue.
My final comment (but see below) is about Donohue’s statement that it is vile for anyone to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ.
Absolutely! Of course it would be! That would be horrible, desecrating someone’s body, especially a well known and widely loved individual such as Jesus. (But really, anyone’s body).
If PZ Myers ever desecrated anyone’s body he would not be my friend any more, and I’d be the first to turn him in if I knew about it.
The trick, for Mr Donohue, wold be to make the link between the cracker and the Christ child.
To put a finer point on how the University of Minnesota’s internet policy is unworkable and kinda dumb ….
I like to call this the Architect law. Say you are an architect. You design a window into a home. Later, someone is sitting at that window, gazing out, and they witness a horrific site that disturbs them emotionally to the point that they become non-functional for the rest of their life. Now, you are sued because you put that window there. Had the window not been there, this could not have happened. Your fault.
That is the nature of the UMN linking policy. Not enforceable, I would think.
When I got on the phone with Amanda a few minutes ago, and mentioned this attack on PZ Myers, she said “So, do you think this is some sort of emerging social and legal phenomenon that is going to change the face of the internet and society as we know it?…”
… quite possibly, I thought. Quite possibly.
But probably not.