Fight back against Bill Donohue!

So far today, I have received 39 pieces of personal hate mail of varying degrees of literacy, all because I was rude to a cracker. Four of them have included death threats, a personal one day record. Thirty-four of them have demanded that I be fired. Twenty-five of them have told me to desecrate a copy of the Koran, instead, or in some similar way offend Muslims, because — in a multiplicity of ironic cluelessness — apparently only some religious icons must be protected, and I would only offend Catholics because they are all so nice that none of them would wish me harm. I even have one email that says I should be fired, that the author would like to kill me, and that I only criticize because Catholics are so gentle and kind.

Oh, and of course, the university president's office has also received lots of mail demanding my immediate ouster (keep in mind, though…Catholics are no threat to anyone at all.) I don't know how much, but since Donohue published the president's email address and not mine, I imagine it's much greater than what I've seen. Those lovely Dark Age fanatics at the Catholic League have started a write-in campaign to start up an inquisition.

So no poll-crashing today. Instead, I would appreciate it if you would write a short note to President Robert Bruininks in support (he's going to hate me for this). I have to ask for a few constraints, though: only do so if you are willing to sign a real name to it — most of the complaint mail I'm getting uses fake names, making it much less persuasive — and that, unlike the religious screeds I'm seeing, you take the time to proofread and send him something that at least looks like a high school graduate wrote it, which will put you way above the level of the hate mail. Be polite and rational, too!

If you really want to impress, send him regular mail at this address:

President Robert H. Bruininks
202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Bill Donohue has a loud, braying voice, and he's already trying to stir up a witch hunt. We need a counter-campaign from the secular community.


Whoa, this one is getting heavy traffic and we need to close it down and reroute. Continue the discussion here, if you must.

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"I even have one email that says I should be fired, that the author would like to kill me, and that I only criticize because Catholics are so gentle and kind."

...I loled. A lot. These folks are so much deep in their own asshole they can't see what the hell they are typing.

Pope Benedict XVI restored the practice of indulgences to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. You may be able to buy your way out of this mess.

By Reginald Selkirk (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Unfortunately, my real name is Spanky P. MacFucklestein, so my message might come off as a joke...

Nah, I'll do it up right. Hang in there, PZ. Fuck these fucking fucks. I'm going to eat a whole box of Cheez-Its tonight.

Geoff

I'd be happy to send a fan letter to your pres. But for my peace of mind, please tell me you don't really need it... you've got tenure right? And it means something?

Unfortunately, my real name is Spanky P. MacFucklestein, so my message might come off as a joke...

Nah, I'll do it up right. Hang in there, PZ. Fuck these fucking fucks. I'm going to eat a whole box of Cheez-Its tonight.

Geoff

Tardfires are wafting over the Internet. I wonder in Ben Stein likes Honey Grahams? Stein and Donohue could have a smores eating contest with the holy ghost.

Don't let it go to your head, PZ.

Must be the most fun you've had since being expelled from Expelled, though.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

P.S. You can do whatever you wish, of course, but it's still in bad taste (and offensive to a lot of grannies) to desecrate the host.

Dude, you fully have my support. Fight the Power! (Not that Catholics are any real threat, as you said!)

...I loled. A lot. These folks are so much deep in their own asshole they can't see what the hell they are typing.

Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians.

This is not up to the people complaining nor is it up to those who support PZ. It is up to his employers.

I for one hopes he doesn't get fired and is allowed to show his opinion on here as much as he wants. He hurts a lot of peoples feelings when he pulls out his little hate bits on Christians. But he doesn't hurt my feelings and it gives me insight on how you athiest clowns think.

Good luck PZ... and I am sincere about it.

The link to your university president is dead (for me, that is.) Is it working for others?

I'll get a letter out, too.

I suggest also sending one to Webster Cook's school -- wasn't the last word that they were going to be acting as the Catholic Church's enforcers? (And, no, I won't be inflammatory, I promise.)

By Chiroptera (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

For what it's worth, you've instilled in me an appreciation for - and modest understanding of - biology that ... 23 years of education couldn't manage.

So thank you.

As soon as I get home in the AM I will email the pres.

By firemancarl (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Hmm why does P.Z. pick on the Christians? Maybe because in his country they're the biggest problem, the most vocal and the most influential? And why the fuck would he attack gays or blacks, just because a man dislikes all this superstitious bullshit doesn't make him a racist or a homophobe, two things I can assure you he is not.

I am not concerned about my job -- tenure! -- but when I get calls from the administration, I'd rather it were to tell me that a whole lot of people like what I do rather than that strangers who never read the blog before and don't know me want my head on a platter.

Damn, all of this just for a stupid cracker? This is crazy, even speaking as a former Christian who was somewhat Catholic and Protestant.

Starbuck "PZ can't see the harm he does"

We have stood by too long suffering under the harm that religions have done interfering with the state of the planet. Believing that their god will fix everything including overpopulation.

No, we will no longer be passive and put up with the BS. It has to stop, it has screwed up the planet and our lives.

No more pandering to stupidity. No more "you have to be considerate".......

The brain-dead, immoral Catholics think that having sinful thoughts is the same as doing the sin so I suggest that we all think about desecrating transubstantiated crackers. Just imagine, you dipshit Catholics, thousands all over the world having sinful thoughts aimed at your stupid crackers.

This kerfuffle gives the jokey expletive, Christ on a Cracker, much more weight.

I'll always stand by a fellow z-fish researcher!

Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians.

Ah yes, those stupid, hate mongering, murdering gays!

I'm frankly not shocked, but I'm certainly nauseated.

I'll show my moral support by decimating a box of Ritz crackers this evening.

By James Sanner (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians."

He's pretty pro-gays (speaks a lot against biggots), he is not racist, and I think he spoke a few times against them crazy jews.

Stop it. That argument is getting old and it is just not valid. He is not doing any harm at all. It's just that the crazy folks decided that he is making a terrible harm... A harm so terrible that Donohue can't think of something more harmful and hateful.

...And somewhere out there a woman's getting raped, I bet.

What could be a worse thing to do to a eucharist wafer than eating one and turning it into poop? I don't get it.

Catholic boys should be dressed in eucharist-print underpants. Maybe that'd protect them.

Just sent the following.....a bit stilted, but conveys what I want to get across......

Dear President Bruininks,

I write to add my voice of support for PZ in the face of the witch hunt launched by the Catholic League simply because an opinion was voiced which they do not agree with. Prof Myers is a bastion of common sense and rationality - something much lacking in the world these days. To take any form of censoring (or other) action against him at the urging of any extremist cult would be to capitulate to their irrational bigotry and distorted world view.

My name is John Paul Hands, and I live in Ireland. I'm perfectly willing to be publicly identified as supporting prof Myers.

Than you for your attention.

Paul Hands

By Paul Hands (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians.

This is not up to the people complaining nor is it up to those who support PZ. It is up to his employers.

I for one hopes he doesn't get fired and is allowed to show his opinion on here as much as he wants. He hurts a lot of peoples feelings when he pulls out his little hate bits on Christians. But he doesn't hurt my feelings and it gives me insight on how you athiest clowns think.

Good luck PZ... and I am sincere about it.

Posted by: Starbuck | July 10, 2008 4:31 PM

Uhhhh...He didn't do anything to any Christians.

He made fun of a glorified cookie, and of the people who get their panties in a wad over said cookie. The vast majority of my Christian friends don't really give a shit about what so-and-so says about a cracker. People like you, however, seem to think it's acceptable to compare making fun of a hysterical flap over a cracker to racism, hate crimes, etc. It's quite indicative of your mentality and of the way you view your fellow humans.

PZ, you have my full support on this. A letter to your Uni Prez is on the way. Reason will prevail.

Firstly,

Congratulations to PZ for his new daily death-threat record. Hip, Hip, Hoo-ray!!

Second, I don't know whether the president will appreciate it or not, but I will send a proper letter of support, all nicely written and spell-checked.

(He doesn't need to know I am a (severely lapsed) protestant from Northern Ireland, and tomorrow is our traditional "kick-the-Pope" celebration, were we burn effagies of his holiness on bonfires across the north!
Hip, Hip, Hurray for the medi-evil mindset!)

Consecrated wafers would sell like hot cakes at the bonfires here.

If feels good to kick the pope again, even though I'm now an atheist.

Was Bill D. the cracker you were rude to? I imagine he has a pointy hood a few bedsheets for dress up (with black latex undies and fishnet stockings, natch) and a cat o' nine tails too.

I support you PZ. You are a personal hero of mine.

By j (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Email sent.

I am celiac, so would you all please munch a wafer for me ?

thanks you kindly

By Britomart (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Oh and Starbuck... I'd like you to read this over again. And think it over.

"I even have one email that says I should be fired, that the author would like to kill me, and that I only criticize because Catholics are so gentle and kind."

100 Church Street S.E.

The irony! lol

Consider the letter in the mail, PZed!

By minusRusty (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Done.

I've just sent an e-mail to the Pres. I've got my fingers crossed that he's a sensible man.

By Sean Wills (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Starbuck:
You need to brush your teeth... the shit stains are showing.

By J (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Well my real name is Geoff and I'm sending a letter through to the president. You have my support. Don't let these douche bags get you down.

It's only a cracker, but it's also only a job. If you don't see any harm in attacking the former, then there should be no problem with attacking the latter (especially if you're cloistered in tenure).

I just sent my letter off. This is utterly ridiculous, and we need to show there are more people who support PZ than there are morons who oppose the first amendment.

I am a former altar boy who was my extended family's #1 choice for a priestly vocation (smart enough to learn Latin, useless enough around the ranch to be spared). This apple, however, rolled pretty far away from the tree. Most of my family remains devout and occasionally they rue the "fact" that anti-Catholicism is the only form of bigotry still tolerated by society at large. There's not a lot of substance to this claim. Most current criticisms of Catholics and Catholicism are aimed at the Church's intrusion into politics and its encroachment into health services (Catholic Healthcare provides excellent service as long as you don't want any form of birth control; dogma trumps client choice).

I'm embarrassed for the members of my former faith that they are so often represented in the mass media by that cretin Bill Donohue, who has made being a noisy jerk into a full-time job. (He does, admittedly, have the perfect skill set for such an occupation.) I could not resist twitting Donohue in a post I wrote back in 2005 on anti-Catholicism. It concludes with some of Donohue's fulminations about the supposed "war on Christmas" and I reproduce Donohue's perfect quote about his relationship with Jesus: "I've never met him." (Eaten him, yes. Met him, no!)

PZ, I sent my letter by snail mail. On nice stationary too, with a watermark.

Starbuck, there's no point in detailing the foolishness of your comment, you wouldn't understand the reasoning anyway.

Sending my letter off as soon as I get home and put a stamp on the envelope! I have followed this whole thing lurking and reading... and it's effin ridiculous. I would gladly stand beside you and desecrate a cracker with you any day of the week. Keep up the good fight PZ. Rationality wins.

"Good luck PZ... and I am sincere about it.

Posted by: Starbuck | July 10, 2008 4:31 PM"

No, you aren't.

Javier: too bad you didn't come up with anything more "brutal" than eating the damn cookie (sorry if I spoiled it for someone).

I have a bunch of ideas, but no cookies (my cat must've eated them)...

PZ if you're still reading these comments I would suggest to you that you send those death threats into the FBI along with the corresponding IP addresses they came from.

Who says the Dark Ages are history?

Consider my small candle missive to the UM prez declaiming your enlightened public service done and done.

All will be well and all will be well and all will be well. /snark

PZ, some sites actually have a "hate mail" page, where they publish the really ugly stuff that flies in over the transom. I suggest that you consider doing the same.

If you get a drool-bedewed snail mail full of abuse, scan it and post the image. If an email, cut and paste the sucker, complete with signature and all headers.

Exposing the vileness of these outbursts of authoritarian-aggression-by-proxy in the full light of day seems to me to be altogether fitting and proper.

By Ktesibios (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

The religious people who are getting all sinfully wrathful about this have a pretty low opinion of their god.

I also like the idea of a hate mail section

I'm sorry you recieved hate mail. I really hope nobody actually acts on any of the threats against you.

My friends and I debate theology all the time. We learned early on that if you actually want to convince somebody of something, you have to respect thier opinions first, and keep the argument on the level of the intellectual, not personal.

Please respect my beliefs.

E-mail sent! Hope it helps.

By Mickey Mortimer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I love that liberals are all about tolerance, until it comes to something they don't like--like religion. How very, ummmm, tolerant of you all.... (Insert eye roll here)

Email sent.

Thanks, PZ, for being a beacon of reason in an increasingly Dark Age.

- "I was viewed as a wafer terrorist .."
- "If you have insulted a cracker, that's it - your career is over."
- "Just stand up and insult crackers. You'll find out how risky that is!"

By infidel.michael (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Just e-mailed the following over my real name and University affiliation:
Dr. Bruininks:
Despite what you are apparently hearing from the followers of Mr. Donohue of the Catholic League, your faculty member Dr. P.Z. Myers does not need to be fired or disciplined in any way. Although I do not personally agree with everything Dr. Myers posts on his well-known weblog Pharyngula, I have great respect for him as a biology educator. As one myself, I can recognize in Dr. Myers's clear and well-written posts concerning scientific topics that he must be a fine teacher and a scientist fully current in modern biology. That he chooses to spend some of his free time on the internet goring the sacred cows of various religious groups clearly has nothing to do with his effectiveness in teaching, research, and service to the university, profession, and community. Please ignore the calls for his head and be assured that he is, in my opinion, an asset to UMM.
Sincerely,
[Sven DiMilo]

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Respectful, full-name-and-phone-number-included letter of support sent.

Jennifer, #60: I love that liberals are all about tolerance, until it comes to something they don't like--like religion. How very, ummmm, tolerant of you all.... (Insert eye roll here)

Yeah. How dare secularists express outrage at death threats directed at a kid who pulled a prank that harmed no one. We sure are an intolerant bunch!

By Chiroptera (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Here's my letter:

President Bruininks,

I'm writing to you in support of Prof. Myers, who you no doubt know has come under considerable attack for his statements about Catholic altar bread, photos, and UCF. Since his statements did not occur on a UMM hosted site, and since his views are no doubt well known to you, I assume that there is already an understanding in place that Prof. Myers can use his SEED blog to express personal opinions. I urge you to stand by that, even in the face of the incoherent anger of people like Bill Donahue and the Catholic League, whose major complaint seems to be that he is insufficiently deferential to their particular religion.

Thank you for your time,
Joe Blubaugh
Undergraduate Student, Purdue University

@ 36

I briefly dated a celiac and did a good bit of research on what was and wasn't safe for consumption. She and I broke up before it really became an issue...regardless I'm sure we can come up with a proper wafer for you to munch!

Something peanut based perhaps, or soy? :D

I'll be dropping a real life, hand written letter of support in the mail tomorrow.

Personally I can't see a major university firing a prof. for something like this, talk about negative P.R.

By Hessenroots (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

A nicely formatted, well-written, congenial letter of support and identical email will be in the works tonight and sent out tomorrow.

What the fuck is wrong with Bill's rotten, nasty-ass teeth? I'd hate to be a cracker in his house. Oh fuck, that would be goddamn terrible.

Nicely written note of support for you, PZ, to President Bruininks from me, will be sent in tomorrow's mail. Your blog keeps me sane. Carry on, sir!

By dieselrain (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I will do a snail mail letter for you PZ. This whole scenario is just so utterly ridiculous.

"Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians."

Um, maybe because they weren't the ones that went bat shit nuts and started attacking some kid for taking a CRACKER? And just for the record, there is ZERO harm in taking your precious jesus cracker.

Hello PZ Myers, i would have gladly sent a mail to the president, but i'm not confident enough in my writing skills.
Furthermore, the whole thing is ridiculous to a point i'm not sure what to write ("Mr President, please don't fire PZ Myers, because the cracker is not really the Christ.")
I live in France, and most people here are catholics. While we have our own bunch of crazy extremists, i don't know or heard of anyone who do really believes that the cracker is the Christ's body. Even the priests here will tell you that's symbolic.
I hope you don't get into any trouble because of this crazy bunch of idiots.

Bring 'em on!

By George W Bush (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

prof: i sent a brief email of support to your prez. now you can continue your work of destroying the gays and the blacks! muahahaha!

wait, that's not what you do at all.

I apologize if this has been done already. Here is a link to a place that sells communion supplies. I might just buy a few dozen pounds of wafers and use them for kitty litter. I wonder if I can get a batch of wafers blessed somehow.

I sent this e-mail to President Robert Bruininks:

Good afternoon,

I am writing in support of Professor PZ Meyers, who I understand has become the target of a hate-mail campaign. I also understand that you have been included in the inanity because, apparently, some of these people who dislike Professor Meyers believe you, sir, can fire him, or something. I'm not entirely clear on their reasoning. I understand logic is not the strong suit of Professor Meyers's detractors.

I just wanted to drop you a kind e-mail expressing my support for both universities in general, and your efforts in running one in particular. I'm an alumni of California State University, Chico, and I now work as full-time staff on campus. I've seen a bit of what it takes to herd faculty and manage public relations. Good luck with this one!

I've come to know Professor Meyers through his blog. It has been personally helpful and comforting to me. This is because I have recently gone through a separation with my parents. They believe in the inerrancy of the bible and consequently believe that I, as an atheist, have no morality and am not fit share their company or the company of my siblings.

Professor Meyers provides a corner on the Web that gives skeptics and those who do not wish to be ruled by superstition a place to see they are not alone. In my experience, one of the favored tactics of religious fundamentalists is to isolate and intimidate their opponents. I believe this is, in fact, exactly what the Catholics are trying to do to Professor Meyers.

Professor Meyers was 'there' when I needed support, so I'm writing to support him now.

Don't let the upsurge in spiteful mail devour too many of your hours : )

Cheers,

Richard W. Houchin

zero #49: I would gladly stand beside you and desecrate a cracker with you any day of the week. Keep up the good fight PZ. Rationality wins.

I'm Spartacus!

(Or, in Monty Python mode: I'm Brian, and so's my wife!)

Letter on way from Blighty.

(Mind you, if you got fired for this, the universe would probably come to a grinding halt as rationalists go on strike.)

Done and on its way to sunny Minnesota via snail mail. :-)

By Steve in MI (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Re: In Support of Dr. Paul Z. Myers

President Bruininks,

As you are well aware, Dr. Myers has managed to inspire some outrage regarding a post on his blog, Pharyngula, regarding the desecration of Roman Catholic communion wafers. The post in question was inspired by the highly overzealous and unreasonable reaction to an incident where a Roman Catholic communion wafer was taken from mass after it had been consecrated.

This letter is to inform you that I strongly support Dr. Myers' freedom of speech regarding religious issues, including religious issues and opinions that some, or even many, might find highly offensive. His blog entry was not done as an official part of the University of Minnesota, nor as part of his official duties as a Professor, nor is it hosted on any University computer servers, and therefore, there should be no need for any formal review or action against Dr. Myers from the University. I also don't think that there should be any suggestions made to Dr. Myers regarding altering the content of his Pharyngula posts, past or future. (Provided, of course, that such posts are within the legal bounds of free speech, rather than, say, illegal threats against persons or property.)

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[-me]

By minusRusty (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

PZ --

I am a senior at The Ohio State University and I am planning on attending University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) for grad school. It was your blog that got me interested in the school in the first place, and I am so grateful because U of M is an absolutely INCREDIBLE school and I cannot wait to get started there. I have you to thank for that.

I'll draft a letter right now to send to the President of U of M (Morris). I'll specifically state that without you, I would not be moving to Minnesota nor attending U of M. As crazy as that sounds, it's honestly the truth. I had little knowledge of the school until reading your blog. Thank you for everything you do. As exaggerated as it sounds, it is true when I say "your blog changed my life"!

By Chris (in Columbus) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Here's what I wrote:

Dear President Bruininks:

I assume you've already been deluged by emails on this subject, so I won't waste your time by repeating the details.

I would just like to say that Catholics are within their rights to treat a cracker with as much respect and reverence as they wish. But when they demand that anyone who doesn't respect their crackers as much as they do must be punished, then *they* are the ones who are out of line, not those who criticize them for it.

Thank you for your time,
-Jeff Dee
Austin, Texas

Sent something as soon as I noticed that there was an email address on the hate site's page. I expressed the hope that the University would take the high road by saying that your opinions are your business, and are neither supported nor opposed by the U. Good Luck!

Ok, this is craziness. I'm Catholic, and when I first read the story, I thought "Yeah, that guy was a bit rude for just taking the Eucharist like that", and that was it. No death threats. No calls for people to be fired. No demands to have the host back (for what reason?? There are stacks and stacks of them in any church!!). Just a bit of a headshake, and that's it. Why people are making such a huge deal about this, I have no idea. They've got nothing else on the go I suppose. It stories like this that don't make me feel great about my beliefs at all. I don't always agree with what your blog says when it comes to religion, but this time, I do.

This may not a good time to say this, but how many presidents of a large university want their mailbox and inbox spammed about one professor and his personal (I assume) blog? That said, I'll go think up some nice things to say...

Emailed sent, in support of PZ, with pleasure.

Have also fired off unflattering (but not rude) feedback to the Catholic League... can't stand those sabre-rattlers.

I just posted the message below in the "anti catholic bias" comments section on the Catholic League website.

"You guys started the inquisition and murdered Giordano Bruno for believing there might be planets around other stars and you have the audacity to worry about anti catholic bias. I am more concerned about anti reality bias and the Catholic Church(TM) is the biggest offender."

LONG LIVE PZ!!!!!!!!!!

My letter!

"Dear Mr. Bruininks,

I write to you with regards to the copious amounts of (probably illiterate) mail that you have recently been receiving, urging you to fire or otherwise discipline Prof. PZ Myers from Morris University, on account of his threatening to physically and psychologically abuse a cracker. I turst I do not need to remind you that Cracker Abuse is not a crime, and Mr Myers should therefore be allowed to abuse as many crackers as he wishes, without having to worry about losing his job. Indeed I believe that, under the circumstances, it would be highly appropriate for yourself and Mr Myers to unite in a joint display of public cracker desecration, in order to show these professional moaners that their cracker-loving protests are falling on deaf ears.

Yours faithfully,

John Yates, Scotland."

Hope it gets you off the hook, PZ! ;)

Email sent...

Dear President Bruninks,

I'm writing to show my support for one of your one, Paul Zachary Myers. A wonderfully articulate and thoughtful human being under attack by a horde of hypocritical, anti-intellectual troglodytes for merely pointing out the absurdity of a group of superstitious miscreants. Criticizing religion or anything for that matter is something that enables all of us to engage in critical thought and pursue discussions that can help us all advance as individuals and as a species. Criticizing things that are blatantly absurd and CRUEL (http://www.myfoxorlando.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail;jsessionid=912931E6…) should be rewarded, not punished.

For reference, I have no problem giving my name and standing up for the RIGHT cause here... and that is the truth that folks like PZ speak and seek...

Gregory D. Johnson
Syracuse University Graduate (BS in Computer Science - 1999)

Thanks and please don't ever let the hysteria overtake the truth,
Greg

I think I'll hand-deliver my letter! Morrill Hall is right next to the physics building here on the Twin Cities campus...

@Alex #83,
Sure you can buy them, but I doubt they've been consecrated so they're just crackers.

Dr. Myers:

You really should see a shrink. Normal people do not go around pissing in the faces of total strangers and explaining that they do it because they are mad at somebody who is not there.

What the hell your antics have to do with the promotion of science is beyond me. But, of course, here in your cocoon of Bright sycophants, pointing that out will have no effect. Proceed with the juvenalia.

By Mark P. Shea (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the
purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves." [Robert G. Ingersoll]

If you subscribe to the crazy e-mails from Human Events you will find, apart from the daily offers of magic drugs and cheap conservative books, a pile of hate about Muslims.

It seems as though Donahue is all about emulating the crazy Muslim ideas that have to be respected.

Cathy Gill --

You say "Please respect my beliefs." That notion, that beliefs should be respected, is the deep problem that is common to all dogmas, religious and secular. It is not only ridiculous, but it is self-evidently ridiculous when you stop to think about it. If I claim to believe that a potato chip is the incarnation of my deceased grandmother, whatever that might mean, and then I ask you to repsect my belief, do you honestly think that you should? If I believe that aliens from the Crab Nebula have settled on Pluto and have opened a chain of hamburger restaurants there, do you respect that belief?

No, the respect a belief deserves is in direct proportion to the evidence supporting that belief, not the sincerity with which that belief is held.

Note, by the way, that I can respect you as a person while having zero repect for your ideas. As a high-school teacher, I routinely tear to shreds the work my students display on their exams, but I love and respect them as people. And I never hold back on finding fault with their work out of a concern that I might hurt their feelings.

They, at least, understand the distinction between respecting people and respecting ideas.

PZ -- I hand-wrote a letter and will drop it in the mailbox this afternoon.

By Dave Thuleen (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

PZ - note sent. Please remember that Donahoe went after Amanda at Pandagon back when she was hired by the Edwards campaign. Perhaps she has some information or advice that might be helpful.

Hillary

Gawd, the whinging!

Please respect my beliefs.

No.

E-mail sent with real name and all.

Jennifer #60:

I love that liberals are all about tolerance, until it comes to something they don't like--like religion. How very, ummmm, tolerant of you all.... (Insert eye roll here)

Jenny (you don't mind if I call you Jenny. It seems like a much more tolerating name than Jennifer), like so many conservatives, you're a idiot. I can tolerate idiots, but it does seem that too many of you are also conservatives.

PZ is not complaining about religion in this particular thread. He's pointing out that a religious figure, the self-appointed head of the Catholic League, is making threats because PZ is not taking his religion seriously. I suspect that's your problem. You notice that many liberals don't take religion seriously and you don't like it.

You know, Jenny, that's just too bad. Americans believe that each and every one of us has the right to say whatever we want, as long as it's legal. However, there is not a similar right not to be offended. You may whine that liberals don't tolerate religion, particularly religious excesses like Bill Donahue is indulging in. However, neither you nor Bill have the right to expect that statements you find offensive be punished.

Four of them have included death threats, a personal one day record.

But only Davetard would try to incite a terminally ill person to try to actually kill you.

He really is one of the nastiest and most evil persons on the planet. What a shock that he's also an IDiot.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Just emailed El Presidente. I like this blog too much and my sister liked your instruction too much for me to stand on the sidelines on this one.

Really? And PZ can't see the harm he does? Why doesn't he write what he does about gays? or blacks? or jews? No, it is always the stupid, hate mongering, murdering Christians.

This is not up to the people complaining nor is it up to those who support PZ. It is up to his employers.

I for one hopes he doesn't get fired and is allowed to show his opinion on here as much as he wants. He hurts a lot of peoples feelings when he pulls out his little hate bits on Christians. But he doesn't hurt my feelings and it gives me insight on how you athiest clowns think.

Good luck PZ... and I am sincere about it.

Posted by: Starbuck | July 10, 2008 4:31 PM

It's only a cracker, but it's also only a job. If you don't see any harm in attacking the former, then there should be no problem with attacking the latter (especially if you're cloistered in tenure).

Posted by: logos | July 10, 2008 4:51 PM

I love that liberals are all about tolerance, until it comes to something they don't like--like religion. How very, ummmm, tolerant of you all.... (Insert eye roll here)

Posted by: Jennifer | July 10, 2008 4:57 PM

I think I've figured this out. By Catholic logic, Attacking a Cracker = Attacking a Person. Because the Lord Jesus says, "Take this, and eat of it, for it is just as important as a real, live person."

So if someone says something bad about a biscuit, that justified threatening the person's well-being, job, and life. Also, if a person is intolerant towards a cracker, this justifies Catholics in being intolerant towards people. If someone attacks a cracker, then you've been victimized, and can threaten to kill them.

It all makes sense when you think about it that way...and huff some paint...and slam your head against the wall a few times.

I find it disheartening that you would have to need positive email, as if this brouhaha actually threatened your position.

"but I doubt they've been consecrated so they're just crackers."

Umm, they're always just crackers. But I understand your point. That's why I was wondering about a way to do a giant batch-blessing. Maybe I can find something on the interwebs.

"Four of them have included death threats, a personal one day record."

All this for a tiny wafer. I'm in favor of never letting Catholics forget this wafer incident, especially the death threats. This evidence for their immorality and stupidity should be shoved into their faces every day for many years. The Catholics are no better than Muslim terrorists and they should never be allowed to forget it.

Save a Cracker - Kill a Human!

Cafe press idea?

Here is a copy of the letter of support I just sent:

This is just a quick note of support for P.Z. Myers.

Crackers are not people, and people who believe that they are, or who believe that the crackers in question are the actual physical body of God, are themselves a bit crackers.

People believe a lot of crazy things, and they believe them honestly and will all the faith they can muster. In the past it has always been polite to accept and afford a modicum of respect for these silly beliefs, all in the spirit of live and let live. However in this post 9-11 world, it has become obvious that these harmless delusions are not so harmless. It's time we called a cracker a cracker and face reality.

Religious lunatics like Bill Donohue are dangerous. The nice peaceful folks at the Catholic League are so upset at insulting a cracker that they are sending death threats and calling for Dr. Myer's dismissal. It is imperative that people of reason begin taking a stand against this type of religious lunacy. Bill Donohue is a dangerous, deluded, angry man who seeks recognition and acceptance, by force if necessary, of his crackpot beliefs. Giving into these types of nut jobs only empowers them. I urge you not to be browbeaten by these theistic thug. They have ever right to call a cracker God, but it is just as important that Dr. Myer's have a right to call a cracker a cracker. So long as we play games and try not to offend our silence will be seen as acceptance of these ludicrous ideas. What's worse, is while we are held hostage by civil discourse, these hooligans feel no such restraint.

In short, please support Dr. Myers.

Jim Stryker

By Kergillian (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Re the Catholic celiacs and communion: yes, gluten-free god is available, and in the UK many priests will happily put the appropriate cracker christs on the plate (they like it if they're a different shape so they don't get them muddled up, how practical). That said, some bishops have been less accommodating presumably because they believe that the chemical reaction of transubstantiation:
cracker + wine + blessing -> flesh + blood + holiness
does not obey the Law of Conservation of Gluten does not apply (a miracle!).

Of course, other countries' voodoo merchants might be more difficult (Catholic priests in the UK nowadays understand that they can't bully their congregations as much as they used to, and I think even in Ireland, most priests no longer practise buggery with their altar boys).

By Sam Centipedro (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Cathy Gill,
We should, and do, respect your right to your beliefs. We will not try to have you fired for them, we won't email and harass your cow-workers and family.

We do not have to respect your beliefs themselves, and you do not have to respect ours.

ALL beliefs can and should be criticized. If we were to live in a world where any ideas a human brain could hold were to be given equal respect and therefore treated as equally valid... well, we wouldn't be here conversing in the manner in which we are.

"Four of them have included death threats, a personal one day record."

All this for a tiny wafer. I'm in favor of never letting Catholics forget this wafer incident, especially the death threats.

If someone designs an pleasing, "It's a fucking cracker" badge, I'd add it to my site. I'm sure many, many others would, too.

I sent one for you. I'm not just gonna sit around and let these bigots trample all over our freedoms over some goddamned cracker

you have my sword, sir!

Snail mail sent!

By John Olthoff (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Sent off my email from England, in what I hope is proper English, funny imperialist spellings and all. Was careful to use my patent 'death threat checker', just in case one had snuck in.

reallly?? i just wonder how many catholics thought it was outrageous at how upset Muslims got at a danish cartoon.

ridiculous and hypocritical

I find all this rather incredible. For centuries religious organisations have wielded power over the masses by amazing them with apparent insights into the nature of the universe and threatening hellfire for those who dare to question the divine providence of god representatives. Moreover, they take your money for the privilege.

At some stage we came to the point where "host desecration" is considered the most heinous crime - an attack on the saviour himself. Through the magic of transubstantiation a cracker can actually change into the living flesh of Christ, but no evidence for this miracle has ever been presented. Hell, they even tell us that the form, shape, colour, texture, taste, smell, and feel do not change, but the *substance* changes. What on Earth can this mean?

Taking it a step further and calling a cracker a religious icon whose sanctity os paramount borders on pure insanity. If this madness were limited to a small cult the wider community might see it as slightly bizarre, maybe even humorous. But I am afraid to report that this particular breed of madness is wide spread - a pandemic.

Their reaction to such comment stinks of hypocrisy. The suggestion that their holy relics and voodoo rituals are untouchable, yet another's faith is open to abuse is ridiculous. I live in hope that those making such comments are able to take a step back and objectively look at what they are doing. So far I have been uniformly disappointed.

"But, of course, here in your cocoon of Bright sycophants, pointing that out will have no effect. Proceed with the juvenalia."
And ending on that line, Miss Shea flounces out of the room...

By J (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I'll send a letter. But better advice is that if they try to sanction you in any way, get lawyered-up with the ACLU.

Chances are they'll back down so far, so fast it'll take weeks for the smoke of their retreat to settle.

Bill is going to metaphorically kick your arse buddy. Bet on it.

By BenYachov(Jim … (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I too sent an e-mail to the Pres. In thinking over the situation that caused all this fuss, I wonder what would happen if a number of churches were suddenly confronted with attendees, one of who managed to drop a host cracker, during some sort of processional walk. Where it would be trod upon, of course. All those crackers presented by the staff would of course be consumed in situ, but somehow someone smuggled in an extra cracker. Then dropped it without being seen. You could have so much fun with this.

By rod-the-farmer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Email of support sent. The day we aren't allowed to criticize ideas is the day education is rendered worthless.

PZ, you should post all the info on the death threats and forward it on to authorities. Put their "anonymous" ugliness -- and whatever identification is available -- on full display.

By Jeff Schmidt (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Prof Myers, I would like to send a brief email to President Robert Bruininks. It would be in support of your stance against religion, on the grounds that excessive belief in superstition can be, & oftentimes is, dangerous for human society. Before I do this, I need to know if your University President is a rationalist.

(Sorry for shouting.)

By Richard Harris (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Someone oughta make a cartoon of Pope Ratzi with a wafer-shaped bomb in his pope hat.

I sent this email:

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison who reads the blog of Professor Paul Z. Myers, a professor at your university system's campus in Morris, MN. In hearing of the news that, in response to Dr. Myers' criticism of the reaction to a student's actions at a religious ceremony in Florida, several members of that religion had sent him death threats and called for his firing and/or resignation, I am appalled, and I highly suggest you keep him on your staff. He is respected among members of the scientific community for his advocacy for the teaching of sound science and his willingness to criticize those segments of society that indulge in ridiculousness, and he has no shortage of admirers here at the University of Wisconsin - Madison (in fact, the atheist student group which I am a member of is inviting him to speak here early next semester). I trust that you, being a former professor yourself, realize the value of this highly competent professor to your institution.

Sincerely,

Katharine Leah Dickson
kldickson@wisc.edu

I sent off a note myself.

You know what the worst thing is? Communion wafers aren't very tasty.

They're cheap and cardboardy.

Message sent! Keep us informed, PZ, and keep dishing out the deserved disrespect for daft delusions!

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Prof Myers, I sent an email to President Bruininks in your support. Keep speaking out against ignorance no matter how loud it may be.

I will take your bet Ben.

Bill is going to metaphorically kick your arse buddy. Bet on it.
Posted by: BenYachov

Gesundheit!

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

J (not J) #118:

"But, of course, here in your cocoon of Bright sycophants, pointing that out will have no effect. Proceed with the juvenalia."
And ending on that line, Miss Shea flounces out of the room...

It's juvenilia, anyway.

When will it become apparent that crackers don't matter!

I'll send a letter of support, and turn up on Saturday in solidarity. Do you think you will need security in Atlanta?

Done. This breed of asspanda needs to be slapped down hard, or they just keep shoving their agenda more intrusively. Their weakness is that they can't see how ridiculous their shrill flailings make them.

Starbuck,

On "hurting feelings" -- right now, there is a post on the Religion Clause blog about someone suing because sodomites was translated as "homosexuals" in one edition of a Bible, and his feelings were hurt. The general consensus there (correctly) is that he has no case. To the extent you bring it up, though, think about it -- Christians/Catholics say homosexuals are doing something evil and will be going to hell for eternity. For that matter, atheists are to suffer the same fate. Theists will try to get laws passed to prevent these types of behaviors. Somehow, this isn't seen as bigotry by most theists.

As for giving insight into how "athiest [sic] clowns" think, I hope that it does. I note that you've shown rather selective memory about responses here -- please try to pay better attention. I do note that you've been politely disagreeable, which is fine, and I hope comments regarding your teeth (for example) do not bother you too much. Just don't mistake them for atheism -- that's just the internet.

By CrypticLife (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Just sent a short email to your president.

As far as all the upset Catholics are concerned, I think they should accept the challenge, live up to their own expectations and forgive you - end of story.

By Axel Muller (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I love that liberals are all about tolerance, until it comes to something they don't like--like religion. How very, ummmm, tolerant of you all.... (Insert eye roll here)

Posted by: Jennifer | July 10, 2008 4:57 PM

Yeah. A kid did something trivial and done by THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF CATHOLICS. You nutters, suffering from withdrawals in the current lack of "missing white woman" news cycle hysteria took this non-event to the point of idiocy.

Your kind made death threats and are demanding the expulsion of this student trying to, at the very least, set his life back a year or two as he'd have to start over at a new college where won't, because that's how it works, get full credit for the 3.5 years of college he's completed.

And when we pointed out your INTOLLERENCE and MASSIVE OVER-REACTION to his mistake, you got even nuttier.

SO, fuck off. You're so goddamn delusional in your sanctimony it's not even funny.

Are you telling me that is all you get for a lifetime's contribution to NAMBLA? One lousy cracker a week with nothing on it? Who the hell is stupid enough to pay that kind of money for rotten food? No wonder the priests can't afford to buy a hooker for their Monday off. They have to use little boys for their NAMBLA membership requirement. I guess fellow gay priests are somehow off limits, so children are better?
Groucho was right about clubs.

Please respect my beliefs. - Cathy Gill

Since you don't say what they are Cathy, how can we decide whether to respect them or not? for all I know you might believe the British royal family are anthropophagic shape-shifting alien lizards whose schemes are laid bare in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or even something reallywacky, like that the Pope is infallible and a man in a dress can turn a biscuit into part of another man who died 2000 years ago!

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Wow, this is the catholic version of the Danish cartoons. This may be fun. Go for it PZ, let's see some cracker abuse, email sent including my real name!

I just wrote to the President as follows:
Dear President Bruininks,

I am writing in defense of P Z Myers regarding the controversy with certain Catholics and others of similar persuasion in the matter of communion wafers (crackers).

While religious authorities and spokespersons have no problem denigrating other human beings, homosexuals for example, they become highly irrate if anyone dares to consider their own beliefs and rituals equally abhorent or at the very least meaningless and without rational basis.

Any effort of these people to demand the dismissal or censure of P Z Myers through their self righteous furvor should be totally disregarded by the University.

I hope you will consider this plea in your deliberations.

Do you really think this juvenile crap impresses people, asshat? And I'm not even Catholic. But do keep it up. You're just demonstrating what insecure, intolerant a-holes atheists really are.

Whatever happened to "turn the other cheek"?

I am going to write a nice, long letter to President Bruininks tonight. I think I will have some clout being a recent graduate of the University.

I just ate some Cheezits, will I go to Hell or did I offend some cult?

You're safe, as long as some guy wearing a dress didn't mumbo-jumbo over the cheezits, turning them into Cthulhu's toenails or something like that.

Dr. Myers:

You really should see a shrink. Normal people do not go around pissing in the faces of total strangers and explaining that they do it because they are mad at somebody who is not there.

What the hell your antics have to do with the promotion of science is beyond me. But, of course, here in your cocoon of Bright sycophants, pointing that out will have no effect. Proceed with the juvenalia.

Posted by: Mark P. Shea | July 10, 2008 5:18 PM

And the new IRONY METER just exploded! And I only got it last week. Fortunately, it is still under warranty.

PZ, I suspect that the calls for you to desecrate the Koran or otherwise offend muslims are the product the trope popular in social conservative political discourse that liberals hate christianity but give a pass to radical islam.

By Bureaucratus Minimis (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

since PZ received death threats, it is only fair that he receive a life threat:

Professor Myers,

you are a learned scholar, a proponent of rational thought, debunker of dubious claims and incredulous of the credulous.

if you continue this pursuit of knowledge and education, you will find that others will follow in your footsteps and contribute positively to society.

you have been warned.

but what i really want to know is: what is bill donohue's email address?

By Paul Johnson (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Normal people do not go around pissing in the faces of total strangers and explaining that they do it because they are mad at somebody who is not there. - Mark P. Shea

Mr. Shea, may I point out that the idea of "pissing in the faces of total strangers" came out of your degenerate mind? PZ Myers has been rude about people issuing death threats because someone didn't eat a "magic" cracker. See the difference?

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I've sent off a nice letter by mail. Knowing Australia Post he should get it in about a year.

I pointed out that the university should be proud of their Professor and, whilst there will always be the nutbags, the press he generates for the institution is overwhelmingly positive. Personally I'd never heard of the place prior to reading Pharyngula and, I'd probably bet, neither had most of the non-US readers, but as a direct result of me discussing it my young cousin is at the moment wading through admission procedures and is going over to the study there.

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

True story: The Dominicans take their name originally from Domini Canes, "Hounds of the Lord". They were given the original license by teh Pope to hunt down and kill unbelievers. Not hurt their feelings, hunt down and kill.

Methinks these cracker-worshippers can shove their phony outrage up their own asses.

Well, of course, if we believed it was a cracker, we wouldn't be so upset. Why is it that the supposed champions of tolerance don't extend tolerance to those that disagree with them? In fact, what good IS tolerance if not extended to those that disagree with you?

I used to be an atheist so I understand your science-alone tunnel vision, but some of us don't believe that everything can be explained by science.

So, since many people believe that the consecrated host is the very Body of Christ, why can you not be civil to us? Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you.

Atheists don't hold much sacred, so it is probably hard for you to understand, but someone threatening to kill your family is probably something you'd get a bit upset and angry about, I assume? Well, that's about how we Catholics feel when you threaten to profane the Body of Christ.

I hope you see the error of your ways and grow out of your quite prolonged adolescence. When you realize that there are people that are just as intelligent as you (probably more, judging by your behavior) that have believed in God and Catholicism, you'll take the first step towards sanity and maturity. To think that everyone who disagrees with you is stupid and not worthy of respect is itself mind-bogglingly stupid and juvenile.

Do you think you are smarter than Blaise Pascal? How about Louis Pasteur? I could go on and on, but it is probably useless.

By Dave Mueller (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I sent an e-mail. Subject: "Don't bow to a mob frothing at the mouth over one man threatening an inanimate object."

By Ryan Cunningham (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Christopher Johnson, #146: You're just demonstrating what insecure, intolerant a-holes atheists really are.

Well, I dunno. Death threats over a pretty trivial matter will make anyone feel insecure. Expressing outrage by making threats against crackers rather than against people seems to be pretty civilized to me. But then, I am an intolerant a-hole.

By Chiroptera (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"Do you really think this juvenile crap impresses people, asshat? And I'm not even Catholic. But do keep it up. You're just demonstrating what insecure, intolerant a-holes atheists really are.

Imagine the GALL of these atheists, intolerantly criticizing the DEATH THREATS of others!

Just sent my email and added a post scriptum. It might have a typo but telling the president that if he doesn't take steps to protect PZ the reputation of the university will be damaged. I guess that many skilled people who think about joining this university will inform themself about it. When it turns out that the president of the university isn't protecting a free thinking, pro science member of his faculty and blogger its reputation will be greatly damaged.

Dear President Bruninks,
I am sadend to hear that one professor of your university is a victim in a hate campaign. I believe that you will do whatever is possible to protect the right of free speech for your faculty. Intimidation and threats are not acceptable in a discourse about religion even when the discourse was started in a mocking tone (and there is a good reason for this tone: "taking hostage" a cracker).

Sincerly,
Dr. Jan

P.S.: I only know about the University of Minnesota because of Prof. Myers, his blog, Pharyngula. I visited the website of your university and consider it as an optiion for my future career in science.

Death treats from Catholics? I seem to recall a lot of sermons on turning the other check from the priest of my parish back in the day I was a believer. These Christians apparently believe in God just as much as we atheists do if they go against own beliefs like that. Hypocrites.

Well I sent my e-mail supporting you with my real name and real e-mail address to your boss Pz for what is worth.

Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us
Posted by: Dave Mueller

Seek medical help.

Email sent, and a pleasure to do so.

By BaldySlaphead (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Minneapolis Tribune (the largest paper in Minnesota) reports on the story:

Minnesota college instructor under fire over communion wafer comments

A Minnesota university instructor and avowed atheist is jousting with a national Catholic watchdog group over a smuggled communion wafer, which the associate professor dismisses as a "frackin' cracker."

Paul Z. Myers, who teaches biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, on his blog this week expressed amazement that a Florida college student who briefly took a wafer "hostage" from a church ceremony has been receiving death threats for an action that was characterized "a hate crime" by the Catholic League.

Under the headline, "It's a frackin' cracker!" Myers wrote in an at-times profane blog entry: "Crazy Christian fanatics right here in our own country have been threatening to kill a young man over a cracker. This is insane."

He added: "Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? ... I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage ... 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."

Myers, in an interview today, explained that the blog entry is more "satire and protest" than an actual threat to defile the Eucharist.

His blog entry has collected nearly 1,000 comments since it was posted Tuesday.

The Catholic League, a civil rights group that challenges any instances it sees as an affront to Catholicism, said today that it is calling on the university to act against Myers, noting that Myers' blog can be accessed through a link on the university's website.

"It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ," Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a news release. "We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively."

Myers, who was raised Lutheran and now considers himself a card-carrying atheist, said he's been getting a "few death threats" since the conflict began, "but I don't take them too seriously."

His opponents, he said, describe him as a "strident, militant atheist" because of his activism in the debate of evolution vs. creationism.

www.startribune.com/lifestyle/faith/24313139.html?location_refer=Home%2…

It's so many words, Myers seems to be saying there.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Dear President Bruininks:

I write to you in support of Professor Paul Myers, a man who I have known through various forms of correspondence over many years.

I know him to be a passionate and more than capable teacher, as he has been exceedingly generous with his time and knowledge and I have learned much from him during that time. I know him to be a man of staunch moral principles and, while I have disagreed with him on some of his stands, he has never left me with the slightest doubt that the notion of harming any of his fellow human beings is utterly abhorrent to him.

It is inevitable that such men as Dr. Myers will engender enmity from those in our society who view knowledge and freedom of thought only as a danger and who think that all but their moral code must be stamped out. Such are the people who have initiated the present writing campaign against Dr. Myers. Those people are as much enemies of the university and what it stands for as they are of Dr. Myers. It would be ironic indeed if the university was chivvied by these people into aiding in its own destruction by targeting Dr. Myers.

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to ignore this ugly campaign against Dr. Myers and to continue to support him with the full weight and resources of the university he as served so well to date.

Very truly yours,

John T. Pieret, Esq.

(Address and Phone #)

Dave at #156
Blah,blah,blah..I could go on and on, but it is probably useless.

Not probably, Dave, definately. I used to be a Catholic and I call bullshit on your statement about fucking around with a wafer being worse than threatening to kill you.Liar.

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Letter mailed with real name and affiliation:

I write in support of Dr. Myers. As someone who was raised Catholic, I find this made-up controversy instigated by Bill Donohue to be completely shameful. Being offended by a sacrilege does not justify an attempt to ruin another person's life. Dr. Myers himself was only responding to another overreaction at another university by highlighting how ridiculous that overreaction was. That's what satire does. The fact that a brief bit of satire has prompted death threats to Dr. Myers is appalling. And what would be even more appalling would be if these elements in society should succeed. Because where will it stop? Even Protestants don't think the wafers are literally the body of Christ. Who then would be safe from the Catholic mob hunting for Dr. Myers?

As a fellow educator working part-time at a community college, this kind of threat to intellectual freedom is greatly disturbing to me because I don't have the kind of safe guards that Dr. Myers has in being a tenured professor. I hope that you will continue to stand behind Dr. Myers and not allow the university to be manipulated by those who would control even those beyond the reach of their religion.

I, too, sent an email in support.

#111, you're right. The university link to Pharyngula was removed.

PZ talks about death threats against a student for not eating a wafer, then PZ gets death threats, then his university removes a link to his website. That's the power of faith.

Any letters to President Robert H. Bruininks might want to make a request to have PZ's link restored.

Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you.

HATE SPEECH! HATE SPEECH! HELP! I'M BEING ASSAULTED!!!

I believe this BLOG is the Sacred Incarnation of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the word "body" is the most offensive word in the English language. Your posting it here is worse than threatening to kill me! How dare you? You must respect my irrational and unprovable nonsense!

Now it's time for me to follow Christ's example and get REALLY FUCKING MAD AND HATEFUL!

By Ryan Cunningham (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

At the horror of finding myself actually somewhat understanding the evil fundies (not the parts with death threats and harassment e-mails tho') I think that the comments have veered somewhat off-course: wasn't the main point of PZ's first post the reaction of the catholic community to the college student's stunt, rather than trans-substantiation itself? I think we can all agree that it was a stupid prank (on par in seriousness with putting tabasco in your friend's beer). What went wrong was the awfully revealing aftermath where the catholic community just over-reacted (as they habitually seem to do.)

Now while we should stand in defense for the poor college kid and PZ, what is there to be gained from willfully hurting peoples' feelings when cracker-eating is not exactly a major issue of e.g. civil rights.

We should not fight the fundies "on the beaches" when the battle is already "in London" - any moderates or otherwise who might be fostered in support for the really important issues - like abortion, gay rights , separation of church&state, evolution etc. - should not be antagonized over trivialities over crackers (double meaning here: WE should not antagonize them, but of course they shouldn't be antagonized in the first place).

There was a good article in Foreign Affairs some while ago that argued for a "broadened" concept of allies for the US selected on more pragmatic grounds (avoid the flashbacks of Noriegas etc. here =P). In similar spirit I suggest that we should work with people "we wouldn't want to have dinner with".

*sinister smile* and when the time is right it is the crackers' turn!

#92 "You really should see a shrink. Normal people do not go around pissing in the faces of total strangers and explaining that they do it because they are mad at somebody who is not there.

What the hell your antics have to do with the promotion of science is beyond me. But, of course, here in your cocoon of Bright sycophants, pointing that out will have no effect. Proceed with the juvenalia.

Posted by: Mark P. Shea | July 10, 2008 5:18 PM "

Mark, the antics serve to bring faith-based belief into the light of day.

If one can assume that racism, gender bias, and other forms of hatred and bigotry are not helpful to our society, then sometimes challenging beliefs with rational, empirical thought is a good thing.

Try it!

Let Mr. Donohue express his beliefs on his own time.

Hello Dr. Bruininks,

This is just a brief note to express my support for Professor PZ Meyers at Morris. I understand that he is under attack from religious organizations for opinions he has expressed in his personal blog. I hope the University of Minnesota will stand behind Dr. Meyers and his right to express his opinions. PZ boldly promotes rational thinking, and our state and our country need more of that.

I hope my kids go to UM Morris some day.

Sincerely,
[me]
BAgE class of 1987

By splendidmonkey (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Dave Mueller, #156: Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you.

And this is why people like you scare the living fuck out of us. Remember how Muslims all over the world rioted when European newspapers printed cartoons of Muhammad? Do you really think that no one should ever, ever print cartoons about Muhammad, that "serious anger" directed toward someone who publishes a cartoon about Muhammad "shouldn't surprise" us? Or is that just getting silly>

By Chiroptera (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

#156: "I used to be an atheist"

Bullshit.

Don't know if this has already been asked...isn't there somewhere we can beseige Donahue with email, spam, mild threats, what-have-you??? Maybe we can crash his website somehow?

We need to counter these idiots. This really is no different from insulting mohammed via a cartoon, right? I mean these xtian idiots are 1 step away from it, it seems.

Oh how I hate it when people act so insulted on God's behalf....narcissitic bastards.

I figured that it was better to immediately send an email than to run the not-insubstantial risk that I'd never get around to mailing a actual letter.

One thing I pointed out was that both PZ and the kid who did not immediately consume the cracker have received multiple death threats from Christians. Instead of being arrested for their crimes, these perpetrators are brazenly trying to get the second death threat victim fired for standing up for the first death threat victim.

PZ, is there any (even slight) identifying info on the death threats that could justify filing a police report? If they're going to attack you, might as well make them sweat a bit.

Email sent.

Was almost caught up with posts, now 100+ behind again, but it was worth it.

So much ado about a bloody cracker!

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

E-mail sent. Hey PZ, are the death threats sent by people officially calling themselves members of the catholic league? If so, you got a case against them. Maybe we should all publicly call a cracker a cracker, and see how many death threats from the catholic league we get...

Dear President Bruininks,

This letter is intended as a gentle plea to you in the hopes that you might not let the multitudes of screaming, hateful rabble drive you into firing or otherwise punishing an intelligent and decent human being for the crime of free speech. I am speaking, of course, of the recent imbroglio over the words of P. Z. Myers regarding the so-called 'kidnapping' of the Catholic Eucharist.

I am not Catholic, or even Christian. Frankly, my religion, or lack of it, shouldn't be an issue here. Regardless of what people might believe, in the United States, the Constitution still guarantees all men the freedom to speak what they believe about matters that interest and engage them.

I am quite certain that Bill Donohue and the others at the Catholic League will be whipping their followers into a frenzy in the coming days to send you mail and email demanding that Myers be fired, that Myers should even die for what he has said; indeed, on Myers' blog, he has stated as of this afternoon that he has already begun to receive death threats for his words. It is both reprehensible and lamentable that, in this day and age, people can be so driven to hatred by another man's words that they would think nothing of killing him, or inciting others to do so.

I have every confidence you are a reasonable and rational man. I hope that in the days to come, you will weather the criticism stirred up by these hatemongers with grace, patience, and confidence.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Lawrence
Whiting, Indiana

Starbuck "PZ can't see the harm he does"

We have stood by too long suffering under the harm that religions have done interfering with the state of the planet. Believing that their god will fix everything including overpopulation.

No, we will no longer be passive and put up with the BS. It has to stop, it has screwed up the planet and our lives.

No more pandering to stupidity. No more "you have to be considerate".......

Geez, I said I hope he doesn't get fired for it.

And I might say, boy aren't you the long suffering martyrs...

And for you yahoos who think Christianity was supposed to bring peace to this earth, think again. Christiany is a lot of things, but peace is NOT one of them.

Jesus said he didn't come to bring peace to the earth, in fact he said he brought a sword.

And that is very evident. The hate coming from the Christians is appalling. But the hate coming from the athiests is very telling. They aren't as smart as they think they are. You are just a bunch of ticked off humans, nothing more.

If you want to deny the Lord, ok, that is your right. It is also your right to send yourself to hell. And that isn't hate speech or anything of the sort, it is a reality.

Do Judges send criminals to prison? No the prisoners send themselves, for doing the crime.

Now, if you can't figure out that if Christians are right and there is a God, that you will go to hell (the place for satan and his cohorts, because that is the side you chose.. well then I guess the infinitely stupid will go to hell as well.

I am amazed at the stupidity level of athiests who describe themselves as "progressive" "intellectual" "brights".
Stupidity is oozing from you.
I apologize, it isn't so much stupidity as being naive.
Or better yet, you are decieved.
And seeing is you don't believe in God, that means you will believe in ANYTHING but God.
Idiots, all of you.
You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?
It's in the Bible...

*ATHEIST IN DISTRESS HAND GESTURE @ PZ*
*ATHEIST IN DISTRESS HAND GESTURE @ PZ*
*ATHEIST IN DISTRESS HAND GESTURE @ PZ*
*ATHEIST IN DISTRESS HAND GESTURE @ PZ*

I'll write up a little something when I get finished work. I don't think you have anything to worry about PZ; all this guy along with his minions have done, is show their true colours.

I think what they've accomplished here is, frankly, great. I hope they continue to throw themselves head first into the fire like the ignorant, confused lemmings they've proven themselves to be. Bring more attention to the astounding absurdity their side of the "argument" entails!

Come on Donohue; the cracker debacle is no laughing matter!! Don't stop at an email to his boss, call the news papers! Call CNN! The American people deserve to know!

By Michael Pack (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

OK. I fully agree that it's just a damn cracker. Nevertheless, these crackers are an important symbol to a certain population, and announcing on your blog that you want to desecrate that symbol is deliberate disrespect. It's one thing to criticize the remarks that people make, and to criticize their opinions and beliefs. By my standards, that stuff's not only acceptable but encouraged. But it's quite another thing to take an action, or threaten to take an action, with the direct intention of causing offense. That's called an insult, and it's unproductive, childish, and just not called for.

You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?

Wow! Really? An imaginary construct has called me a bad name. I'm scared now!

Wow, this is the catholic version of the Danish cartoons. This may be fun. Go for it PZ, let's see some cracker abuse, email sent including my real name!

Posted by: Steve F. | July 10, 2008 5:46 PM

Not only have I been thinking that for the past two days, but I bet these same self people were along the lines of "those fucking rag-heads need to get over it." I bet ol' Bill Donahue and the Catholic League didn't start a letter writing campaign against the paper that published the Mohammad cartoons.

In fact, they got pissed when an "Opus" cartoon that poked fun of Islam wasn't published in the Washington Post:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented as follows:

"The Washington Post, and all the other newspapers which refuse to print these cartoons, are simultaneously sporting their cowardice and bigotry. In 2006, this same newspaper portrayed the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the symbol of the Democratic Party, and it depicted the disgraced Congressman Mark Foley as a candidate for the priesthood at 'Saint Paedophilia's.' In 2004, it displayed a bishop monitoring Catholics in a voting booth, and it showed a habit-wearing nun brandishing a ruler while 'little Mel Gibson gets beaten to a bloody pulp by Sister Dolores Excruciata of the Little Sisters of the Holy Agony.' In 2002, it depicted a bishop and two priests as the 'Axis of Evil,' and in 2001 it twice mocked the Eucharist.

"Did the Washington Post Writers Group ever give editors notice about the inflammatory nature of these cartoons so that they might run a substitute? Did they access Catholic experts to advise them about the propriety of running such cartoons? Did they ask Catholics on staff what they thought? No, and that's because angry Catholics--like Jews--never decide to man the planes. This is what the cultural elites mean by diversity."

http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1323

Seriously, if you're demanding respect for religions, shouldn't that include all religions? Shouldn't you COMMEND the Washington Post for their growing senstativity toward the worlds relgions?

Letter sent.

Death threats. Threatening letters to employers. I say this entirely without irony: JESUS WEPT. If any of these neo-Pharisees ever met the saviour they claim to follow, they would die of shame.

By Peter Milley (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"So, since many people believe that the consecrated host is the very Body of Christ, why can you not be civil to us? Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you."

They might well believe it. Many Americans believe they have been kidnapped by aliens, and even more believe aliens visit Earth. There is no evidence or reason to believe them, and there is no evidence or reason to believe Catholics who believe a wafer really has turned into the body of Christ. If they produce evidence to support that claim then I am prepared to re-consider, as I am sure is PZ. Until then they are just deluding themselves.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you.

According to the propaganda, Christ is able to raise himself from the dead. Seems to me that Ol' JC can take care of himself. If PZ gets struck by lightning, then we'll know that JC is feeling pissed off. Until then, you and your foaming at the mouth loonies might want to moderate your anger.

Dave Mueller #156:

That unqualifyingly is the stupidest fucking thing I've heard in quite some time. Comparing this to killing someone is stone-cold fucknut batshit.

Get help. And stay the fuck away from me or anyone related to me...

Mueller - #156

Do you think you are smarter than Blaise Pascal? How about Louis Pasteur? I could go on and on, but it is probably useless.

Do you think you're smarter than Richard Feynman?

As if that meant anything more than empty bleating.

"Nevertheless, these crackers are an important symbol to a certain population, and announcing on your blog that you want to desecrate that symbol is deliberate disrespect."

No shit. So what?

o you really think this juvenile crap impresses people, asshat? And I'm not even Catholic. But do keep it up. You're just demonstrating what insecure, intolerant a-holes atheists really are. - Christopher Johnson

True, you're not a Catholic. But since your website (which is abominably badly designed and very slow, by the way) is labelled "Midwest Conservative Journal" and is full of ravings about the evil Archbishop of Canterbury's betrayal of Anglicanism, we can be sure you're well up to the standard of lunacy they've been displaying here, so you needn't be ashamed!

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I just hope you don't start knocking the toasted raviolis and wine that signify the body and sauce of the Great FSM. That would be crossing the line.

Amen and pass the Holy Mozzarella
FSM League President
jimmiraybob

By jimmiraybob (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

#183: Now, if you can't figure out that if Christians are right and there is a God, that you will go to hell...

I see you missed it, Starbuck, but that fallacy was thoroughly debunked years ago. Blaise Pascal isn't in heaven or hell now, he is simply no longer alive, and his body has rotted away.

Dave Mueller,
To think that everyone who disagrees with you is stupid and not worthy of respect is itself mind-bogglingly stupid and juvenile.

It's not a matter of "everybody who disagrees" with us, it's that you're stupid and your holy crackers are not worthy of respect, being as they're, y'know, crackers.

Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us

You're a liar. Nobody actually believes that. You lackwits are just playing a bizarre game of who can claim to believe the stupidest shit. The rest of the world is tired of the fallout.

Amen and pass the Holy Mozzarella
FSM League President
jimmiraybob

Parmesan is the true cheese, blasphemer!

Do you really think this juvenile crap impresses people, asshat? And I'm not even Catholic. But do keep it up. You're just demonstrating what insecure, intolerant a-holes atheists really are.

Posted by: Christopher Johnson | July 10, 2008 5:50 PM

Riiiiiight... Because we make DEATH THREATS and try to RUIN PEOPLE'S LIVES over a cracker.

And, btw, shouldn't the all powerful, all knowing big fairy in the sky take care of this? Seriously, why does he have to rely on PEOPLE, who are infinitely weaker and more fallible, to take care of blasphemers?

Really, just let old Thor or Vishnu or whichever sky-fairy of your choice uncork 3 million volts on ol' PZ and the problem is TAKEN CARE OF. No need for you to get involved.

Cathy Gill #57 wrote:

My friends and I debate theology all the time. We learned early on that if you actually want to convince somebody of something, you have to respect thier opinions first, and keep the argument on the level of the intellectual, not personal. Please respect my beliefs.

It seems to me that your last sentence contradicts your earlier point. "Desecration" is an intellectual issue, and the concept of what it means to desecrate something sacred deserves to be taken seriously. Disagreement -- even angry or mocking disagreement -- is a necessary part of the landscape of debate. Attacking an idea is not attacking a person.

We DO respect your beliefs -- in the way that counts. We think them worthy of discussion and criticism. We also think they happen to be wrong, and foolish, and should not be treated as if those who hold them must of course be simple and sensitive children who cannot understand that all ideas are open to discussion and criticism. On the contrary. You are worthy of better beliefs.

"So, since many people believe that the consecrated host is the very Body of Christ, why can you not be civil to us? Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you."

Why should we respect your silly superstitions? You guys worship crackers, how can anyone take you seriously?

Support mail has been sent.

Man, all these threats and hatred over holy crackers is making me so hungry I could eat a savior.

By OctoberMermaid (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I think secretly most christians know god does not exist, because they sure as hell don't follow the bible or Jesus' teachings.

It's all about control. This little Catholic League dustup really just confirms that.

It just seems like the god people want to rule everything. They want their little christian nation where they can hate gays and oppress women all day long without anyone calling them out for it.

But yet, Iran is evil because it's a "muslim state".

So hypocritical.

#177 BobC "Bullshit"

If you don't believe there is such a group of people as forme r atheists, you really do need to get out more.

I can't even count the number of people I've met that went through an atheistic phase, usually beginning in adolescence, and lasting into young adulthood. That seems to be true of most of the people on here.

Some of them are even rather famous, such as Anthony Flew.

By Dave Mueller (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I tried to bcc P.Z., but his listed email won't accept my emails, so here is what I sent off to the Pres:

Dear President Robert Bruininks;

It has come to my attention that there are those who would demand the
head of one of your Assistant Professors, P.Z. Myers. While righteous
indignation can be a source for motivation, it can also be a very
destructive force if it is guided by 'beliefs' instead of rational,
empirical thought.

I do not appreciate Mr. Donohue's foisting of his belief system upon
the rest of us!

So, this is just a quick note to let you know that I value, and in no
way am I offended by, the discussions contained in P.Z. Myer's blog.
Of course, I do not lock-step agree with everything that he or his
many readers have to say, but I really appreciate his blog as a source
of thought-provoking information. In this age of touted diversity, it
is good to see voices from all perspectives.

Challenging our beliefs is basic to the very concept of the University
as a center of learning. Certainly, challenging beliefs is essential
in learning to overcome long-term stereotypes like racism, gender
bias, and homophobia.

Personally, I appreciate the challenges that I have gotten from Prof.
Myers for the last year, and so I respectfully submit this note in
support of Professor Myers and Pharyngula.com.

Let Mr Donohue speak by way of his own blog, but please, do not allow
his zealous attitudes pressure you or your University into any
constraints on Prof. Myers' personal Science Blog. I would hate to
see any repercussions that would detract from one of the few available
forums for free opinion and thought.

Sincerely;

Just sent a support mail to President Bruininks (with my full name, as always). I hope he can find some time to read all this, and that his mailbox won't explode...
I think that people like PZ are a powerful advertisement for his university. On the other hand, I think that people like Donohue are a disgrace for about any place they go to.

By Christophe Thill (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

While composing an email of support to President Bruininks, it thought back many years to the last time I tasted a communion wafer. The body of Christ tasted OK, as I remember. His blood made me think he might be diabetic though.

Starbuck 183 @ "Idiots, all of you.
You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?
It's in the Bible.."

Bible makes a great blunt object to attack other people, doesn't it Starbuck? That's why it is the good book, good for a weapon. The nonsense that comes out of people like you is can't be parodied, too back you can't figure out why that is a problem. That or you just don't care, the felling of self righteousness is the only thing that counts your psychopathic mind.

Low lives like you are just about spreading hate. You don't believe in God anymore than we atheists do.

I'm an atheist, but how about picking up a bible and read about how your god feels about idolatry. Also, maybe pay a little more attention to the things Jesus supposedly taught you:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Notice how many words he spent there telling you how to treat people? Really fantastic stuff. But there's not a DAMN word in that bible about how to treat communion wafers. You're so worried about a symbol of Christ's body that you've completely forgotten the reason anyone paid any attention to him in the first place! Is your theology really so shallow that you believe The Son of God died so you could eat crackers once a week?!

IT'S CALLED PERSPECTIVE. GET SOME!

By Ryan Cunningham (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Dear Dr. Bruininks,

I am writing in support of Dr. PZ Myers' recent posts regarding the captured Catholic cracker.

I was present on the campus of Eastern Washington University (as both a teacher and a student) when a similar uproar began over the proposed presence of an American Indian activist and professor named Ward Churchill. (He had been invited by the Department of Indian Studies to speak during American Indian Awareness Week.) Churchill had made the radical suggestion that past American foreign policy might have had something to do with the 9/11 bombings. His hate mail escalated. His job was threatened as was his life. The then-President of the University un-invited him. The Faculty Senate voted to re-invite Churchill. The President wouldn't change his mind. Churchill came anyway and spoke to us.

It was a mess, that time. Everyone understood that the President's primary job was to raise money for the University and yet there should have been a line beyond which he would not go. It was interesting that at the same time as Churchill was un-invited a man (and porn star) named Ron Jeremy came to speak to the student body about the value of pornography. Yes to difference with respect to sexual preferences; no to differences with respect to political interpretations: Now I am sure the message that this weird pairing of decsions sent to the student body and faculty wasn't intentional, but it was a message nonetheless.

I would think you would want to be very clear what message you send with respect to the religious outrage against the questioning of whether a cracker can indeed be deemed to be kidnapped, because that is, in essence, what Dr. Myers questions. He is asking if a cracker can be reasonably argued to be a living presence. Now I know that there are people who claim that a cracker can be kidnapped. Some of Myers' mail apparently says so directly. But the point is that Dr. Myers is questioning those assumptions. Questioning assumptions seems to me a critical aspect of an academic life, and one at which Dr. Myers excels.

So instead of bowing to the demands of the unquestioning (but demanding) hoards of those who believe crackers can be kidnapped, perhaps you might consider a counter measure and elevate Dr. Myers' status, or at the very least give him a raise.

Thank you,

Carol Shillibeer
Vancouver BC

By Carol Shillibeer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Let's put this in context by comparing the sins of PZ against the sins of the Catholic church

PZ Myers:
1) Said rude things about consecrated crackers and threatened to do bad things with said crackers

Catholic Church:
1) Killed thousands during Spanish Inquisition
2) Dealt enormous psychological abuse to adherents through fear-mongering and dogma
3) Sexually abused of thousands of minors (and for which it has never really taken responsibility for)

Sorry, PZ, but you a mere amateur on the sin-scale compared with the Cathies.

The weaker position always has the tendency to escalate the competition stakes.

At stake initially, the idea that a cracker has some magical, mysterious property that equates it with actual human flesh. Since this bat-shit-crazy idea is indefensible with reason, the opposing position escalates the stakes - by introducing personal harm and murder. What a bunch of losers.

So I'm curious...hypothetical situation: Donohue is put in a situation in which he's forced to decide between saving the life of a person who is about to be murdered, and saving a communion wafer that is about to be thrown into some mud (or otherwise defiled/destroyed - i'm not sure what the equivalent of death would be to a cracker...it's obviously not being eaten, since it happens all the time with no fuss...) which would he choose? how long would it take him to decide? both are people, but one is jesus...hmm.

For what it's worth, here's the letter I sent. Feel free to "remix" it as you desire, but please make it original -- exact copies will probably have a negative impact overall. Bonus: I am a University of Minnesota alum (Computer Science, 2003), which hopefully adds some weight.

Dear President Bruininks,

I am writing in support of Dr. Paul Myers in the controversy regarding his comments about communion wafers (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/faith/24313139.html). I agree with Myers that it's "insane" that people would send death threats to a UCF college student because of an apparent prank involving taking a single communion wafer out of a church service. Though Myers' blog does not couch his sentiments in a particularly respectful fashion, I think his rhetorical style is effective at clearly communicating his argument that religious Christian extremism is alive and well in the USA. I would be very disappointed if the University were bullied into taking any negative course of action against Dr. Myers for this controversy.

Thank you for your consideration.

(contact details removed)

#161:
I seem to recall a lot of sermons on turning the other check from the priest of my parish back in the day I was a believer.

Hehe. It seems that tithing has got a lot more blatant these days, eh?

#156: "'I used to be an atheist' but now the Lord has my life..."

You guys have some form letter for that post? Kind of a "I used to be an atheist" mad-libs? Because you pull the same "I used to be an atheist, but now I'm so mature" crap all the time.

It's predictable. It's common. It seems to happen like clockwork as you try to claim some maturity high-ground while espousing your childish beliefs and immature demands for unearned respect.

Long time reader, first time commenter. I've just sent an email to the president in support of you. You do a fantastic job on this website and long may it continue.

In the spirit of Spartacus.

"I'm PZ Myers!"

:D

By Mark Baxter (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?
It's in the Bible...

Oh, for the love of chocolate cake and orgasms, I'd like to think this was sarcasm, but I just can't tell anymore. We atheists believe, on the basis of historical and scientific evidence, that the Bible was written by people. Not by one god, not by one god with a triple split personality, not by a god who spake unto scribes the words he wanted scritched down on dead animal skins, but people. Frightened, insecure, tribalistic, occasionally thoughtful, sometimes loving people, with the limited knowledge they had available at the time.

This, we believe.

Why do you not respect our belief?

Post the hate mail, for great justice.

Letter sent. Hopefully he realized that you are better business for the University than outraged Catholics. If I was high school right now I'd be considering the University of Minnesota for a biology degree because I know I would be taught facts by someone I respected. I sent this:

President Bruininks,

In light of the attack on Professor Myers professional status for expressing his view on his blog concerning the catholic church, I'd like to let you know of my support of his constitutional right to free speech. Please do the right thing and ignore Bill Donahue and his Catholic League extremists. Professor Myers inspires many people including young future-biologists who would love to learn from him at your institution..

Thank you,

Scott Rhoades
Ashland, PA

By Scott Rhoades (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Will be done.

I've been through the threat cycle myself many times. FWIW, if they are serious, the FBI is legally obligated to investigate and they will do so. For Cthulhu's sake, turn the serious sounding ones over to the local, state, and federal police. One group of ugly people after me were picked up by the feds and last I heard, were explaining their activities to a federal judge with a felony indictment to show for it.

PZ,
I just sent a letter to Mr.Bruininks, and copied you. Please suggest something else I (we) can do for you. I really want to help with this unwarranted attempt at censorship.
Best Wishes from San Francisco

By sfatheist (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Starbuck:
"You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?
It's in the Bible.."

You are so dense, so idiotic...I can't stop laughing at what passes for thought in your little pea brain.! That is probably the worst case of circular logic EVER!

Astrid, Baal (insert any deity here) says you, Starbuck, are an asswipe because you don't believe in them (and you should be put to death if you don't convert).
or
My nonexistant Purple Unicorn God told me personnally that you were a jerkward and latent homosexual because you don't believe in him. So you can't play with us until you renounce all your heathen pink unicorn-as-god denying ways.
Do you get it now? Your claiming the bible is true, but what about the Book of Mormon? It's even newer than the New Testament. What about the Quran? I'm sure it says that you are an infidel because you don't believe it to be the word of Allah.

You are so sad, little man.

By j (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I've send my pro-PZ spam off to President Bruininks.

And I hope that kid licked the cracker before returning it. :)

It's really annoying when those wafers rise up after three days. Just sayin'...

"...not by a god who spake unto scribes the words he wanted scritched down on dead animal skins..."

Wonderful.

And, to further clarify, what is this thing called god? Without parallel exemplar I have no way of understanding this concept. Is there something you can show us? Or is all there is are the scritchings of men?

(I'm stealing the scritch verb Blake - with all due respect. Hilarious.)

Dave Mueller, #156: "Threatening to profane the Body of Christ is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you".

How about "Drawing pictures of the prophet is basically worse to us than threatening to kill us, so you really shouldn't be surprised to get some serious anger directed towards you".

All religious extremists are clinically insane.

Frankly ... even if desecrating a cracker would be as evil as cogvering up a single "child fuck incident", PZ would have to buy the yearly cracker production of the united states to even come close to the evilness of the "Kinderfickerschutzgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit" called catholic church.

#156 "I used to be an atheist..."

Yeah, right. I've heard that so many times from Christians, usually guest speakers who see it as a way to get instant "street cred." It's always the same. "I used to be an atheist, I was so godless and lived it up and didn't care 'bout nothin' or no one.

But then Juh-ay-zuss came into my life and look at me now. But for the Grace of God, I'd still be out there whorein' and scorin, dopin' and mopin! Amen!"

Most of us are atheists because we see no evidence for these religions. Unless you can provide some real evidence and not just personal accounts or God-of-the-gaps arguments, we aren't going to be swayed.

And I'm familiar with the Bible verses about how "the fool says in his heart there is no God," etc. It's a cute little game that the author plays, knowing that he's got an indefensible position. So just say anyone who disagrees is a fool! There, now we all feel nice and smug. If someone threatens you with rationality, just point at this verse, huff and walk away.

By OctoberMermaid (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I am sending the following in tomorrow's mail:

Dear President Bruininks,

I am writing to offer my support to Professor P.Z. Myers, and to urge you to ignore the campaign against him which was initiated by the Catholic League.

As a committed secular humanist, as an academic, as an intellectual, and as a Faculty-Member-Once-Removed of the University of Minnesota (my mother, Dr. _______, was co-founder of the Minnesota Project for Continuing Education for Women back in the 1950s, and I missed being born in one of her Introduction to Psychology lectures by about an hour and a half), I wish to reiterate my support for Professor Myers and to urge you not to capitulate in any way to the forces of bigotry and intolerance exemplified by the Catholic League and their leader, Bill Donohue.

Sincerely Yours,

WarrenS

-- oh, and by the way, I'm a first-time poster but long-time lurker. Love your blog! --

You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?

Yes, it's true, I do exist. And I do think that atheists are fools.

But all you believers are fools as well. Do you not realize that there is nothing that you can do to affect Me? Pray all you want. Perform rituals. Eat crackers. Fight holy wars. I'll laugh. I don't care because I don't have to care.

I'm eternal. Why should I care about anything you do or don't do?

I'm eternal. Why should I care about what atheists do or don't do?

Do you think it hurts me? Do you think I'm as pathetic as you humans?

PS: Satan is my sockpuppet!

FWIW:

Dear President BruininksI write to you, in support of Professor PZ Myers, who has become the object of
a campaign against him, because of some remarks he made on his weblog
"Pharyngula".
While his opponents have right the to be offended if they wish, they miss the
point of Dr Myers.
He writes from deep knowledge, with passion and skill, and makes
difficult material easy to understand. His views on science and society are
well argued and based on fact. His views on religion come from conviction,
and his current difficulties come from remarks consistent with his convictions.

As I understand it, this matter is outwith your remit, and it is quite unfair
that you should have been involved in this, but I thought that if your
inbox were to be swamped with emails, some of them should represent a common
sense view of Professor Myers

Post the hate mail, for great justice.

Take off every 'ZIG'!!

You know what you doing

I am aware of all all internet traditions.

'You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?'

I'll do you a deal: if your God calls me a fool to my face, I'll convert. Send Him round.

By Steve Jeffers (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Would the Catholic League be pleased if Myers changed his position and did the Christian thing and molested a holy cracker?

#205:

But did they start "believing again" because of logic or reason? Was there some overwhelming evidence that pointed towards the existence of god?

No, probably not. I'd bet most "former atheists" converted to belief for emotional reasons, or they wanted easy answers to the questions science can't yet answer.

And personally, pooh-poohing atheism as a "phase" is so ridiculous I won't even regard it.

I think in reference to #156, Sure, there are plenty of intelligent folks who believe in a god, but that doesn't mean they're right. I find that humans have a very, very tough time of letting go of religion, even if presented with overwhelming evidence that their religion is based on falsehoods and fabrications. That doesn't mean that somehow we're imbued with religion, it just means that religions these days have a very, very good knack at getting people to believe anything they want them to and to hold onto it for dear life.

I took the communion as a (too young) Protestant. Their beliefs were inconsistent with the Catholic church... Please share the outrage with all the misguided Christians!! They acutally ATE it without believing in your (well thought out) views. :)

#205: I can't even count the number of people I've met that went through an atheistic phase

True statistic: 100% of people are atheists at birth.

Sent my support off.

Dear Dr. Bruininks,

It has come to my attention that there has been a certain degree of ruffled feathers following Dr. Myers' blog post about the abuse that a university student was subjected to after deciding to leave church with a sanctified host. The uproar and calls for action are of course frivolous, and have nought to do with Myers' paedagogical abilities, research, nor do they reflect badly on the university in the least.

I stumbled upon the Pharyngula blog several months ago, as I enjoy science blogging and have an interest in evolution, and it has been an enjoyable read; Myers' posts about religion can be entertaining, and religion has (and deserves) no special immunity to criticism. As a Canadian, I enjoy freedom of expression, much in the manner of your freedom of speech I would assume, and when there is a situation as ridiculous as this one (a student receiving death threats over some unleavened bread) it certainly deserves attention and ridicule.

Myers has posted asking that readers concerned for him should write to you, to express our support. I fully support Myers' right to criticise the follies of religion, as well as his continued posting on science topics, in which he participates in educating the public, sharing his knowledge, experience, and perspective freely for the benefit of others. I wish I had the time, energy, and skill with language that he displays regularly, that I might emulate him and take up the role of public educator as well. A professor willing to share so freely, and so clearly dedicated to improving the public understanding of science is clearly an asset to the university, showing a dedication to teaching and his subject matter that is inspirational.

Sincerely,
(my real name)

By Epinephrine (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Do you people kick up the same level of fuss whenever it's the Muslims that are going batshit ballistic over cartoons or teddybears or (most recently) a cute puppy? I don't think so. On Pharygnula, every thread about such a topic seems to infallibly degenerate into an analysis of the effects of European colonialism and the socio-economic state of Muslim societies.

That's not to say you shouldn't kick up this level of fuss. But realize how soft you're going on Islam.

Letter written and posted PZ. Good luck and love your blog!

Randy Stimpson (#227):

Hey PZ,

If you are required to post an apology in order to keep your job will you do it?

Hey Randy,

Have you stopped beating your gay lover yet?

"Yes" or "No" will do, thank you very much.

I seem to remember they tasted like shitty little dry bits of cardboard. And they inevitably stuck to your palate and you had to use you tongue in most unladylike manner to peel it off. Hey, there's a thought. I tongued Jesus. Woot!

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Busy today. I will write tonight.

Hard letter to write. "I understand Dr. Myers has been threatened with death for contemplating cracker abuse. I abuse crackers often, they are sold in stores and I eat them. Ritz, cheez-its, soda crackers and occasionally sociables. I understand that some people claim crackers are really Jesus. They don't look remotely like Jesus. And it seems to me that the omnipotent creator of the universe could take care of itself even if it looked like a mundane cracker.

Ignore the good Christians that are threatening to kill Myers. They know not what they do as they are retarded religious fanatics and all. In fact, you might want to increase the police security at Morris unless you want some pathetic headlines for U. of Minnesota, "Professor killed over a cracker by psychotic loons."

Yours in Christ,

Signed Dr. Real Name.

#244: But realize how soft you're going on Islam.

Posted by: J

First time visiting here, eh?

J at #244

I understand it requires a brain with functioning cells to do a blog search but give it a go. You'll find PZ is plenty critical of Muslims who act in similarly batshit, insane and illogical ways as Christians or, for that matter, any other sky-fairy-loving , juju-worshipping wankers.

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Ooh, I'm a UMN alum. I will send a letter on your behalf, I'm sure they'll listen to someone who might give them money if she ever pays off her student loans. ;)

This is one of my favorite blogs PZ, keep up the great work.

Do you really think this juvenile crap impresses people, asshat?
______

Quite a number of theist and religious apologists are oddly complimenting us, comparing us to children. Jebus says something about how we must all be children before we can see the kingdom of god, so it must be one of the best compliments they can pay us. No? They are trying to insult us? Wow, they need to take a remedial course in insulting and maybe also take a refresher in their holy book.

Some of them are even rather famous, such as Anthony Flew.

Posted by: Dave Mueller | July 10, 2008 6:18 PM

Flew is apparently suffering from dementia. This allowed an unscrupulous hack to take advantage of him and "co-author" (that is in reality, wholly wrote) a book that makes great claims about the existence of God that are, in parts, partially or wholly opposite everything Flew wrote before he became unstable.

That an unscrupulous Christian could take advantage of a mentally ill and incompetent person is, well, par for the course. Because, well, that's what you do - exploit the fear and frailties of others with vague promises and concrete threats.

Do you people kick up the same level of fuss whenever it's the Muslims that are going batshit ballistic over cartoons or teddybears or (most recently) a cute puppy?

Fuck the heck?

The situations are not fully comparable. Now, we have (a) direct threats against our host, which makes the matter personal; and (b) an influx of drive-by trolls insisting upon their own dogmatic, inegalitarian, intolerant mysticism. Of course the comments will be more heated now. In this circumstance, the emotional reaction cannot but be more outspoken, while most of the participants have consistent intellectual positions in the two cases.

I wanted to know if "Desecration of the Host" is a mortal sin (penalty: eternal torture) and I found this Catholic blog that has a long thread about it.

"By receiving on the tongue you avoid this possibility, because the entire host, particles and all are already in your mouth. There is no chance of them falling about, unless you wag your tongue in a disrespectful manner, or play with it after receiving it. In which case you would be guilty of mortal sin."

More insanity here: http://tinyurl.com/65swxb

From a Time magazine article dated Mar. 05, 1934: "It is mortal sin for anyone but a priest or deacon even to touch the Host."

So according to the Catholic beliefs, the student who didn't eat the wafer can be expected to be tortured in hell for the next several trillion years.

Mr. Myers you may hold whatever opinions you wish about Catholicism and Catholics, and express them freely. What you cannot do in view of your institution's mission "to empower members of the campus community to particulate fully and thoughtfully in a diverse society - regionally, nationally, and globally" is to incite to hatred.

And you have done that.

In fact, I have some doubts about taking you seriously. I believe that this is a publicity stunt. By and large, you have succeded. Congratulations. Judging by most of psycophantic reaction I read here, you have achieved that.

The bad example that you have set diminishes the University of Minnessota's efforts to pursue its mission and have in fact, brought dishonor to the University and to you personally. I hereby question your character and your integrity for having done so.

I do, however, believe in redemption and I hope that you come to see that in order to disagree with others you don't have to incite to hatred, and to recognize this realization through a public committment to state your opinions civilly and thoughtfully in the future.

-Theo

People, people....

You are defending a publicity seeking FOOL!

==============================================
The top atheists attack religion in the theoretical ground and would never stoop down to attacking actual sacred and physical objects of a tradition.

Do you think Dawkins or Harris would pull a stunt like this?

SO, why stand up for this fool if not for a sheer sheep-like mimetic desire?

You are not doing yourselves any favors...you think outrages Catholics look "extreme," take a look in the mirror...

I did my part and sent an email supporting you and this blog.

Hello President Bruininks,
I'm writing to support Professor Myers and his willingness to exercise his right to free speech and his right to freedom from religion by promoting his atheism and criticizing the proponents of religion when they act in ways counter to rationality, human decency, and common sense. I read today on Pharyngula about the hate mail being sent to both P.Z. and the college from those offended by him. I hope you and the college appreciate what Professor Myers contributes with his blog and do not let these bullies intimidate you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
-- Sheryl Westleigh

It makes me so angry that people would send you death threats over something so ridiculous. I can't imagine what goes through the head of someone who would send a death threat. I hope none of them are serious but still report them.

Dear Mr. Bruininks,

As you are certainly aware, the Catholic Leagues Bill Donohue is running a campaign to oust or at least censor Prof. PZ Myers.

I wish to write in support of Prof Myers. The blog posting that Prof. Myers wrote, in which he said that he would desecrate a cracker was an excellent retort to the insanity of the Catholic communities reaction to the earlier cracker incident.

Mr. Donohue will no doubt claim that this talk of cracker abuse is Catholic defamation and is not in the realm of free speech. The very fact that anyone could consider the treatment of a cracker (no matter what's been done to it) is very troubling. It is reminiscent of the "Host Desecration" incidents in which Jews were burned or otherwise killed and tortured because it was believed that they had desecrated a Eucharist. Clearly the people that are at risk here are not Catholic.

If we allow mobs of irrational people to punish others that do not respect their beliefs, there are very dark times ahead for humanity. If one is required to respect and affirm the Eucharist as the body of Christ, then there is nothing stopping the forced belief in Christianity or any other religious belief.

Please let the days of actual religious intolerance be behind us and let no harm come to Prof. Myers for his justly held opinions. After all it is just a cracker.

Sincerely,

Brian Williams

By Brian Williams (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

TDJ, so PZ's desire to abuse a wafer is worse than death threats against a student?

Supportive, polite email sent with my real name, yes indeedie.

Now gimme me a poll to crash. :)

By Adobedragon (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

#257

I think we should listen to K8. He/she is clearly one of us. I am completely convinced! For reals.

By OctoberMermaid (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

How has PZ Myers tried to "incite hatred" towards anyone? He has tried to incite hatred for silly beliefs that make people threaten a young man with expulsion, injury, or worse. But hatred for stupid beliefs is not the same thing as hatred for individuals

Theo, can you describe a specific point where PZ has incited anyone to hate anyone else?

By Ryan Cunningham (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

-sigh- I knew something like that would happen.

Anyway, did you actually receive any pieces of Jesus yet, Doc?

I think Jesus tastes great with cheese spread. There's a brand in a rectangular clear plastic box with a blue lid. It's...phenomenal. It really adds some zing to Teh_Christ, because otherwise he's just kind of salty and bland.

lol! #247

That description couldn't be more correct! I just got done telling my boyfriend about how they stick to the top of your mouth...ugh, they were awful! I'm so glad I don't have to eat those things anymore.

Hey PZ, I love your blog. I'm sending an email to your President right now, even though I hail from Brazil. Hope he can see you reach us overseas :)

Bill Donahue can go fuck himself. He should do so, and leave the altar boys alone.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

@266...

because otherwise he's just kind of salty and bland.

My Jesus wafers never had any salt on them. At least, none that I could taste.

Good onya PZ, I'm sure your President will understand :)

Here's my letter:

Dear Mr Bruininks

This email is in support of PZ Myers, whose recent Pharyngula post ridiculing some strident over-reactions to a student leaving a church with a communion wafer has attracted a large amount of hate-mail. Some call for his dismissal while others, more troublingly, are calling for his head. It also appears the Catholic League's Bill Donohue has started some sort of witch-hunt against Prof Myers, but as I'm sure you're familiar with the situation I won't go into detail.

I don't think for a second that PZ is (or should be) in danger of being dismissed, censured or disciplined in any way, but because Mr Donohue seems intent on seeing him crucified for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech and is fomenting some sort of PR campaign against him, I felt it was only right that I formally voiced my support for PZ on this occasion. The US seems to be a hotbed for Christian extremism, more so now than ever before, and even though I'm an Australian citizen I won't stand by and watch someone I respect be dragged through the mud by hysterical fanatics without expressing solidarity with him. It may only be a symbolic gesture but I hope it adds to some kind of critical mass of support to counter Donohue's smear campaign.

Kind Regards
[Real Name supplied :)]

Letter sent. Copy to PZ

"Nevertheless, these crackers are an important symbol to a certain population, and announcing on your blog that you want to desecrate that symbol is deliberate disrespect."

As opposed to conquering, enslaving, and attempting genocide of indigenous peoples around the world in the name of the Christ and God? I'm willing to go out on a limb and suggest that that has hurt a lot of feelings too. Pardon me while I don't shed a tear for your grief over the insult to your symbol.

How many times have you/the Church/the Catholic League/the Protestant Evangelical nation condemned unbelievers, faggots, uppity women, or believers in the "wrong" religion to eternal burning in a lake of liquid fire. How many times have they piously beseeched the Lord to rain down his fiery wrath onto whole nations? Sheesh, and you're offended? Stand back, wambulance coming through.

Now, stop insulting my feelings with your spreading of superstitious ignorance, defense of barbaric flesh and blood eating rituals and your whiny indifference to your own participation in sins against humanity.

Yours in FSM

By jimmiraybob (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

It's hard to believe this hate mail isn't some kind of sick joke, it is so ludicrous.

You have my support, PZ. As soon as the Earth swivels so that the Sun can light up my desk sufficiently, I intend to write to the President, simply to defend the right to free speech concerning religious beliefs.

People consider it the norm to call the 9/11 bombers 'nutcases', so why is it now considered to be sacrilegious to make a joke in a piece about one's honest opinion of a religious ceremony? This is a sign that the world is completely insane.

PZ - Please post the emails you have received....and notify the police about the threatening ones

By Bob Russell (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Do you think Dawkins or Harris would pull a stunt like this?

Well, given that Dawkins voiced his approval of the Blasphemy Challenge, I don't think he'd be upset if, let's say, young people all around the world started uploading YouTube videos of themselves desecrating crackers. As he wrote,

I had not given the Blasphemy Challenge any thought until you [William Dembski] called it to my attention. Now that you have done so, I do not seem to feel strongly one way or the other. As that admirable bumper sticker has it, Blasphemy is a Victimless Crime. So, am I going to send in my own film clip denying the Holy Ghost? No, that is not what Oxford professors do, they write books instead. Do I find it offensive that so many young people are sending in their film clips? No. I hadn't listened to any of them before you raised the matter. I have now done so, and I must say I find them more charming than offensive. They mostly seem rather nice young people, and they are doing their bit, in their own lively and entertaining way, to raise consciousness and set an example to their peers. I am especially pleased to note how young they are, for organized atheists have, until recently, been noticeably and discouragingly grey-headed. I think we may be witnessing the beginnings of a shift in the tectonic plates of our Zeitgeist. I am delighted to see so many young Americans taking part, in a way that suits their age group better than mine or yours.

So, he might think he has better things to do with his time (and maybe he does), but I doubt he'd be opposed to the principle.

Seems to me that cracker worship violates one or two of the Ten commandments. The one's about idolatry. "Thou shalt not worship graven images or have any other gods."

The cracker is just a freaking cracker. It isn't god for Cthulhu's sake.

Theo, PZ is inciting hatred? Hatred of crackers?
I hope your a writer at The Onion. If not you need to check yourself.
Oh, yeah F*** Ritz.

I'll fire a hand signed snail mail letter off to the UMN president. Academic freedom must be maintained.
To all the Catholics demanding respect, as soon as you show the same respect you demand for my belief in a woman's right to choose, a gay couples right to marry, the need for the pedophilic priests to be prosecuted and defrocked, we can talk. Otherwise, take your hypocritical attitude and give it a long walk off a shot pier.

By Nerd of Redhead (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Your poor university president will be inundated even more with emails. I've added my voice of support. And do let us know if you or your family are in any real danger.

I cannot, alas, say I am SURPRISED by this hysterical, irrational reaction. I grew up with fundamentalists...

'Do you people kick up the same level of fuss whenever it's the Muslims that are ... '

Yeah, OK. Let's play this game.

When you hear some news report that a Muslim father has beaten his daughter to death for talking to a boy, presumably you admire him?

Because you're on *that* side of the equation. Simple as that.

After all, you're supporting the people who are threatening to kill a man over what he thinks about a biscuit.

By Steve Jeffers (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I can't come up with anything better than
"Get a f***ing life Bill".

This is still an argument over the "kidnapping" of an inanimate cracker, correct?

Listen, if Billy and his traveling inquisition want to look like fools, let them. But don't let them pull you into their flaming bullshit with them; we're a recession and new pants ain't cheap.

Alright, carry on.

By Michael Pack (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Message sent. I hope this serves as a suitable counter demonstration to the Catholic's Antics...

By Jack Of Knives (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

*Should be "the Catholic League's antics..."

By Jack Of Knives (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

At the risk of being attacked as a concern troll, I have to say I agree with what Glen D's said a couple of times on this thread: Donahue's challenge is ridiculous, I agree with the substance of the point PZ is making... but, the whole thing does seem in poor taste.

The reason I wouldn't desecrate a host? Many people I love (though don't necessarily agree with) would be hurt and offended by such an act. Doing so anyway might be politically provocative and maybe even morally justifiable, but it would also be... classless. Just because (otherwise good) people believe something you think is stupid, and just because other people who are not so good have used those beliefs to justify a lot of bad things, doesn't mean doing something hurtful is therefore ok.

I try not to cause people pain unnecessarily. Sometimes, an action that will cause some people pain is necessary because of a greater good. I don't see how that would be the case here.

So I won't be sending a letter in support of PZ. His job certainly isn't in any danger, anyway. But personally I don't think he needs to be commended for being, frankly, a jerk.

Death threats? But the great Ceiling Cat(holic) has said:

Don' kil. Unless hooman makez u dress up.

Surely the Cat(holic)s would never disobey their own commandment...unless...you haven't been dressing up Cat(holic)s have you Pizzy?

Because that would be disrespectful!

C'mon, PZ! You should know better! Insult one cracker, and the whole South will rise against you.

Letter will go in the mail tomorrow . . . .

By TheOtherOne (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Dembski's take: "Paul Zachary Myers: Evolutionist and Now Imminent Desecrator".

Immanentize the Desecration!

Here's mine:

Dear President Bruininks;

I am writing in support of Professor PZ Myers, freedom of speech, and the ability to honesty criticize and disagree with any and all ideas, including religious beliefs. When people wish to close all discussion, they call an idea (or person or place or thing) "sacred." I think that, as a matter of principle, we need to challenge the sacred, because it is we who set it apart. And we are all human, and can always be wrong. We need constant reminders of that.

"Respect" comes in many forms. It does not always involve deference, or agreement, or gentleness. Sometimes respect entails treating the other side as intellectual equals, and not as children who need to be appeased, coddled, or pandered to. I do not think PZ Myers has been disrespectful to Catholics. On the contrary. He is treating them as the same as himself. Each individual is capable of recognizing the absurd, the hypocritical, and the unjust for themselves. They are not their religion.

The faith that Faith is privileged -- and that believing in irrational things is a form of mental and moral fortitude -- needs to be challenged, and at times even ridiculed. Faith gives people too much power, and closes off dissent. The original violation of the eucharist was perhaps rude and a bit foolish. The extreme over-reaction was the outrage. People should not think that their religious beliefs are themselves sacred. Doing so makes them dangerous. It always leads to violence, because it cannot be defended by reason, and force is eventually all that's left.

So PZ Myer's criticism of the reaction to Mr. Cook was spot on. We need people who are willing to say hard things. We need people who are willing to challenge the sacred. We need people who are impolite enough to say "a teddy bear cannot offend" and "a cracker is a cracker -- stop and think." Just as we need people to say "atheism is stupid -- of course God exists, just look around."

A view which cannot stand up to examination and ridicule is not worth keeping. So whether they keep their beliefs or change them, PZ Myers has treated them with the respect of a friend. He has, when all is said and done, defended being reasonable.

I think that is what brings us all together, whatever our beliefs.

I just ate some Cheezits, will I go to Hell or did I offend some cult?

I for one am shocked and appalled.

Can I just mention here how much I love the phrase "frackin' cracker"?

Kate or K8,
What, like, is your favorite subject in High School? Like, you are sooo cool. U R a deep thinker + u rock 4ever! Even tho you're obviously not an "A" student, but obviously still a virgin...

By J (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Amen and pass the Holy Mozzarella
FSM League President
jimmiraybob

Parmesan is the true cheese, blasphemer!
Posted by: Mark B

Parmesanite heretic!

By jimmiraybob (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Ummmmm...... Everyone knows the Catholic Dough-Boy is an Antisemite and likes degrading Muslims, right?

Just so everyone is clear on the sheer hilarity of this hypocricy...

E-mail sent. It actually took a little while to draft, longer than I expect anyway. I won't bother reposting it here. There's no real reason to since everything about this absurdity has probably already been said at one place or another. I just wanted to let you know that this secular Texan is backing you and your Pharyngula blog. I read it at least once or twice a day and without it I would feel a little more alone in the world (especially since I'm constantly surrounded by so many Evangelical Christian Republicans in this state). Keep your chin up, keep your job and keep ridiculing nonsense.

- Keith

It never ceases to amaze me that in this day and age people continue to propound the divinity of bread products.

It's enough to make me sympathize, albeit briefly, with the cause of reformed religion.

Was it not the Covenanters who said:

We shall, in like manner, without respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of Popery, Prelacy (that is, Church government by archbishops, bishops, their chancellors and commissioners, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that hierarchy), superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and whatsoever shall be found contrary to sound doctrine

By Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

#296 What is this crap? I've been here way longer than Kate and J (not...J?) never hits on me. I call shenanigans.

Oh and while I'm griping about stuff, PLEASE PZ take that scary wasp/hornet head off the rotating banner at the top of the page.

Thing freaks me out hardcore, for serious.

By OctoberMermaid (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Done.

Dear President Bruininks,

I am writing in support of Dr. P. Z. Myers, in the wake of the Catholic League's out-of-proportion and inquisitional calls for his silencing.

A Texan and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the University of York (UK), I have to admit the only thing I know about the University of Minnesota is that PZ Myers is on the faculty there. His blog, Pharyngula, contains some of the most accessible, timely, and fascinating discussion about contemporary biology on the Internet. I believe it is also one of the most read blogs by a Minnesotan, in any subject.

Aside from these reasons, I shouldn't have to point out that the University of Minnesota taking any action against Dr. Myers, who - as an Associate Professor - surely has tenure, would be betraying its mission as striving "to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity, and cooperation"; never mind making itself the pitied laughingstock of academia. To allow a shrill group of partisan irrationalists to dictate the boundaries of the discourse or to influence the depth of scholarship at UMN (or, indeed, in the wider society), would be unthinkable.

Please make a record of my support of Dr. Myers. His work and writing on evolution and popular science in general are extremely important at this time, when the obstinate, calliopean voices of anachronistic minds are doing everything in their power to stifle real debate and, real science. They want throw a dark shadow over the enlightenment, and you are in a position to stand in their path.

Many thanks for your time,

Stella Realname

#118 - Miss Shea flounces out of the room... No she does not!
We strumpets do the flouncing here. The Sluts sashay.
Your bar tab for grog & swill is now at 12 ducats. You can on this special day, call 'waf-foonery' went to your head or offer outrageous french flattery and I'll 'forgive' you your tab back to 100%
The Strumpet ;)

Parmesanite heretic!

Splitter!!!

Poor PZ,

What a victim....bigots PZ cry too!

:-(

PS - one wacko on campus calling the FL kid in the middle of the night does not equal a Fatwa!

Atheists are such drama queens...

Theo or TDJ,
I saw your website. You are a brilliant thinker, with no bias whatsoever.
I'm sure we're all hurt that you feel the way you do, especially Dr. Myers. We've seen the light through your masterful use of logic, personal insight and unimpeachable code of ethics and morality. May your God go with you...

By j (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

There you go again, Dr. Meyers. What won't you desecrate? First it is the flesh of God, but where will you stop, I wonder? What's next for you? A headline reading "Wonderbread: Perhaps not SO wonderful?" I would not be surprised.

You have plunged humanity into free fall. Even if you offered your surrender now, I cannot guarantee that Our Benefactors would accept it. At the moment I fear they have begun to look upon even me with suspicion - so much for serving as humanity's representative.

This operation has no room for a rogue biologist.

By Wallace Breen (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Does anyone else feel a sense of profound pity for Dave Mueller?

He's pulled out practically ever fallacy he could think of(ex-atheist, pascal's wager, appeals to authority, scripture quotes, ad hominem) - all in defense of his cracker.

DS wrote: I try not to cause people pain unnecessarily. Sometimes, an action that will cause some people pain is necessary because of a greater good. I don't see how that would be the case here.
____

The most important and biggest lessons in my life to date have been accompanied by emotional pain. It is called growing up; we don't like to do it, we would prefer to stay in the womb, but reality says otherwise.

Your stance reminds me of the Tasaday (a supposedly stone age Philippine tribe found out to be a hoax)--they claimed that they abhor violence so much that they did not stab a frog with a stick, no, they slowly, taking hours, thumped it to death by tapping the forehead of the frog. And they thought that was merciful?

Mel Brooks famously recounted how a Freudian analyst cured a patient from compulsively tearing paper by simply saying, "Don't tear paper. What are you tearing paper for? Stop tearing paper."

That is what PZ and many of us are doing here. "Don't tear your rationality. What are you tearing your rationality for? Stop tearing your rationality.

I've been asleep for a while, so PZ: crack these fuckers' heads with my blessing. The Catholic League are some of the nastiest, most dishonest, and most pretentious idiots ever to be confirmed, and we're talking about the church primarily responsible for the Crusades, so that's saying something.

They're as viciously anti-immigrant as any natvist anti-Catholic, and they basically ignore the one or two things that makes the Church tolerable to begin with. If there were a God he would have cracked open the Earth and swallowed up Donohue long ago.

Professor Myers,
I'm going to send an email and a snail mail letter.

Go Ducks!!!!

Shorter J @ #244: "Sam Harris, you're so fine!"

"Atheists are such drama queens..."

Yeah, because we're the ones getting all violent over crackers and cartoons.

Yeah DS, you do sound like a concern troll. Even if you do believe that Myers' actions are jerky and in poor taste, is it appropriate for an interest group to campaign to take away a tenured professor's job? Isn't the nature of free speech that obnoxious speech needs more protection than bland speech.

Even if you find Myers' actions objectionable (and I, personally, do not), isn't his freedom of expression worth protecting? I was seesawing on whether I'd send a letter, and now I've convinced myself that I have to. I don't want to align myself with the concern trolls.

PZ, I knew you had gone to far when I read your post.
It was not just any old cracker you know.
People have been killed over these crackers, and I am sorry to say no one will be
able to save your tenure now. Be thankful that you will not be burned at the stake,
and next time (if indeed there will be one) just shut TFU. Just a cracker? OMFG!

Meanwhile, another e-mail campaign is undoubtedly being waged, with priests worldwide being asked to raise the wafer security threat level to "red".

Where you and Fox are going astray is in thinking the cracker is symbolic of the body of Christ. To the Church, it IS the body of Christ. Really. The wafer is transubstantiated when it is blessed by the priest, miraculously transformed into the actual body of Christ in such a way that the change cannot be detected by human senses. Even if the priest is a drunken child molester high on crack, his mumbling the right words over the wafer makes it the actual body of a long dead man. And that, my friends, is lunacy.

Can the Catholic spokespeople really not tell the difference between criticizing a belief and threatening a person? Good grief.

Craig

@256,
> is to incite to hatred.
> And you have done that.

Baloney. Thinking a person is stupid is not the same as hating that person.

Anybody who thinks transubstantiation turns a cracker in to the corpse of Jesus is just as stupid as a person who thinks 1 + 1 = 5. I don't hate such people, I do however think they are stupid.

All PZ has done is threaten to publicize the completely obvious stupidity of certain Catholic ideas which aren't as well known as they might be.

The idea of the transubstantiation -- that a cracker actually turns into Jesus -- is indefensibly stupid, and there is simply no getting around this. Hence the death threats against PZ, the threats that his job should be taken away, that whining that he's being "intolerant," etc. There is no good defense for the notion of the transubstantiation, so people are resorting to the only kind of defense left, the worst kind of defense -- threats.

Mocking people who claim that 1 + 1 = 5 and who also demand that this idea should be respected, should be an expected outcome. Likewise with the idiotic notion of the Jesus cookie.

I don't hate Catholics who believe this, I pity them for being so gullible and stupid, and have no problem mocking those beliefs in the hope that others would see how stupid those beliefs are.

And if ever there was an appropriate time to use the word "stupid," this is it. It doesn't get any more stupid than a magic Jesus cookie.

For what its worth, while you're all in letter writing mode, you might try sending one to Bill O'Donoghue at

cl@catholicleague.org

I'm sure he'd love to hear our opinions on his campaign to try and influence PZ's boss.

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Apparently it is not sacrilegious to offer discounts on the proto-body-of-christ (crackers before the priest casts his spell on them). (500 crackers for just $7.63 at eChurch Depot!)

"It was not just any old cracker you know."

Umm, yes it was. Incantations don't work....they're not real. The magical utterances directed at the cracker do not affect the cracker. If you can show they do, then by all means, show us all.

No. It's a stupid cracker that is being worshiped by idiots.

I somehow cannot bring myself to write a serious message about such a ridiculous topic, so I'm afraid anything I write would be more harmful than helpful. I'm sure there is no shortage of Pharyngulites rising to the occasion at this time, so I'll just wish you the best and continue having lulz about the whole situation over at Rants 'n Raves.

By ShavenYak (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Starbuck, read some history of the Catholic Church. Whenever these guys (and to a lesser extent, other churches) held levers of power, they caused mischief or worse. Blacks were victims, Jews were victims, gays were and are victims, while Catholics in power were and are perpetrators. See the diff?

What is so dangerous is the combination of unsupported beliefs with the ability to force these beliefs and their consequences on others. Given a chance, they'll go for it.

By dubiquiabs (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Not sure if they want to get messages of support from someone in the UK, but I've heard about catholics setting up some chapters over here as well, so I think an international show of solidarity against such cults is acceptable.

Also, I like to say body of christ when I eat a pringle.

By Scrofulum (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mine Own Letter (SENT!)

The Catholic League wants me to write in demanding the immediate removal of PZ
Myers. Bill Donohue says ""It is hard to think of anything more vile than to
intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ."

I can safely presume that a man who has achieved your position would be able to
discern the difference between a cracker and the body of a long dead human or
supreme deity. The uproar over this abused Eucharist is reminiscent of Muslims
rioting over cartoon depictions of Mohammad. It is the height of irrationality
and any calls for the removal of PZ in regards to this matter will hopefully get
the same attention your saltines get just before you crumble them up into your
tomato soup.

Thank you for your time.

Alex (#322):

Incantations don't work....they're not real.

/me starts in confusion

Hold on a sec, I gotta test this.

/me points chopstick at Bill Donohue

"Avada kedavra!"

Mmmm, didn't seem to have any effect. Must be my pronunciation.

"A-VA-da ke-DAV-ra!"

Etc.

I can keep this going until I get bored. If some sarcasm-impaired fellow accuses me of advocating violence, I'll be entertained and keep going longer.

Dear PZ, you said "We need a counter-campaign from the secular community."

Can born-again Christians join in too?
We support your campaign to call magic crackers, completely crackers!

By Ross Nixon (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mailed.

Phil, copied you, check your inbox.

jj

Starbuck, that was one of the worst concern-troll postings ever.

You're welcome.

Please be advised that it provided further motivation for me to, once again, support PZ. Thank you.

This really is one of the dumbest flaps ever.

I, personally, wouldn't desecrate a consecrated host. If I found myself in possession of one, I would sell it on eBay. There are probably Satanists and others for whom such a desecration would be meaningful, and some of them have disposable income.

If the fools at Catholic League REALLY want to silence PZ, I humbly suggest that the best way to do so, would be to donate a big stinking pile of money to the Biology department at UM-Morris. PZ and the rest of those no-good-nik scientists will be busy for months buying spiffy new lab equipment and filling out paperwork, with precious little time to offend the pious, and for years thereafter, doing cutting edge research. And just think of the heartburn you'd give PZ: he'd feel obligated to be polite for a while (it's a midwestern thing), but it would just eat at him to no end.

Or I suppose they could just keep paying out hush-money to child-rape victims.

Also, I like to say body of christ when I eat a pringle.

Posted by: Scrofulum

Pringle's brand eucharist are less than 50% Jeebus.

Dear Alex, people fly aeroplanes into buildings for less. I reiterate: it was not just any
old cracker. You cannot just walk away with the flesh of our saviour,
where would that leave us? I ask. A fleshless saviour? Is that even remotely possible?
No, this is the end of tenure for our beloved PZ. Sorry.

October Maid,
I love your posts (and yer writin' ain't bad either), but I assume you are referring to J (the muslimphobe)

Patricia,
I was commenting on Mark Shea's rather flamboyant and petulant departure.
I would never demean your strumpery (?!!??) with an illegal use of "flounce".
And if I knew french, my voluptuous strumpet...ooh la lah!

By j (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

You will end up on TV with this one PZ. The death threat thing is going too far.
When I was still with the snake herders club our preacher thundered fire and brimstone against the pope for the wafer thing. All True Christians know that jeezuz ascended BODILY into heaven, therefore NO part of him remains on Earth. The wafers are idolatry = hell bound sin.
I intend to send Billy Boy a firmly worded letter on the subject. Pure "wine-curdling blasphemy." (Thanks Pierce)

So there's:

- murder
- rape
- killing babies
- torture
- planetary destruction (except for a boat-full of people)
- blood sacrifice
- vicarious punishment
- vicarious redemption
- eternal suffering

...and now cannibalism.

Where do I sign up?

PZ,

Letter (appearing to be written by college educated person) is now in the US mail... to your University President. Keep up the great work as you soon realize how many fans and admirers you really have!

By William Bishop (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

My letter, just emailed:

Dear President Bruininks,

I wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how important I find the words of Dr. Myers. His is a voice of rationality rising above an increasingly shrill cacophony of anti-intellectualism. The attempts by the religious to roll back the Enlightenment run rampant and roughshod over Science, the Constitution, reality, and reason.

I can think of no more appropriate example of the absolute inanity of religious retardation than the recent episode involving the Catholic League's frenzied and maniacal campaign against Dr. Myers because of his comments regarding their mystical crackers. In fact, even as a writer, I'm quite sure I could not have invented such an absurdity and maintained a suspension of disbelief in my readers. Nobody in his right mind would buy into such a ludicrous plot device. And yet, there it is, in real life; death threats to an esteemed Professor of Biology because he dared to point out the bizarreness of a physical altercation over a magic cracker.

These are truly strange times in which we live, when we can put people into space, decode the human genome, communicate nearly instantaneously with any point on the globe - and yet Dr. Myers is threatened with death for not showing proper deference to ancient superstition.

After all is said and done, we as a society need more PZ Myerses and fewer Popes, if we hope to fully emerge from the darkness of ignorance. It is my sincerest hope that you value Dr. Myers as much as I do.

With regards,

An email, properly, if Britannically spelled has been sent, as follows.

Sir,
Forgive me for taking up your time.
I wish simply to add my support for P.Z. Myers in this silly business regarding a communion wafer.

By any objective measurement, a wafer remains a wafer, blessed or not.

That Mr. Donohue and others are entitled to their beliefs, however unscientific, is not at issue.

What is at issue is the right of others to question those beliefs and to point out where they are manifestly nonsensical.

American education has taken a serious beating in recent years, as seen from outside the US. (I write from the UK). There seems, among other problems, to be a reluctance- even a fear, to challenge superstition. America needs all the clear thinkers and dedicated educators it has left.
Myers is far too great an asset, both at home and internationally, for you to risk losing.

Sincerely,
Alastair D. Macrae, B.Sc. Hons (Glasgow 1978)

By A. Macrae (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

where would that leave us? I ask. A fleshless saviour? Is that even remotely possible?

Parody? It's hard to tell, but I'm leaning towards the position that pazuzu is a parody troll.

"A fleshless saviour?"

Actually, boneless-skinless is healthier.

I just sent an email to your president. I spell-checked it. Go, PZ! You rule!

Just a cracker? OMFG!

That's right, dipshit. It's just a cracker. OMFG.

Spare us your case of the vapors over it, mmmmmkay?

Alex @ #338

Well, yes, I can see that's all attractive but remember, here on the side of science we could do all that too but from a secret moon base, or an evil vlocano lair. ...and we have sharks, with FRICKING LASER BEAMS. Tell me science isn't cooler huh?

By Bride of Shrek OM (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Parody trolling is really hard to do well, just because the real trolls have all the angles covered on stoopit. About the only one that I've ever seen that was consistently funny was MERKIN PATRIOT on Atrios.

Dear PZ, you said "We need a counter-campaign from the secular community."

Can born-again Christians join in too?
We support your campaign to call magic crackers, completely crackers!

Right, because believing that saying a set of magic words over a cracker turns it into the literal flesh of a 2000-year-old Palestinian schizophrenic is so much crazier than believing that saying a set of magic words while squinting really hard forces the same 2000-year-old Palestinian schizophrenic to protect you from his father, who would otherwise punish you eternally because the mother and father of mankind ate an apple given to them by a snake 6000 years ago.

Wasn't Pazuzu the name of the demon in The Exorcist?

By j (not J) (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Hey pazuzu,

Obvious troll is obvious.

Also, you REALLY need to look up the definition of 'tenure'.

To quote The Princess Bride;

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Wasn't Pazuzu the name of the demon in The Exorcist?

Not to mention the gargoyle in that one episode of Futurama.

My letter is on its way.

Several of the support letters posted have talked about the contributions PZ has made to science and rational thought and what a great guy he is all around. While important, and true, I think they omit the most salient point: PZ writes about religion on this blog, a blog which is not in any way connected with the University of Minnesota. Donahue is trying to get PZ fired based on something which isn't related to PZ's work and wasn't paid for or in any way supported by his employer.

"...with FRICKING LASER BEAMS."

I dunno. The laser beams or the cracker-flesh thing. It's a tough one. Do you still get to smite people?

Just finished my email.
Unbelievable what extents the "tolerant" followers of a man who told people to foster peace and goodwill towards others will go to.
The irony is very thick.

Here's my email, PZ! I've just sent it off to President Bruininks.

Dear President Bruininks,

I am the Head of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at a private school in Zurich, Switzerland. I write to defend Professor Myers against the extraordinary hate campaign being waged against him by the incendiary Bill Donahue, who is the president of the radical group which calls itself the Catholic League.

Donohue's "Catholic League", which despite its name is a private group with no affililation with the Catholic Church, has attempted to destroy the careers of two employees of Senator John Edwards, pressured ABC into cancelling the Peabody-Award-winning series "Nothing Sacred" (created by Jesuit priest Bill Cain), and has also attacked, variously, the ACLU, Miller Brewing Company, Abercrombie & Fitch, the television programs "South Park" and "The View", actress Rosie O'Donnell, writer Christopher Hitchens, comedians Bill Maher and Kathy Griffin, singer Joan Osborne, director Kevin Smith, and numerous others, including, of late, Mr. Webster Cook, a college student who chose to walk out of a Catholic Church service with the communion wafer he was given, instead of eating it. Mr. Donohue has accused Mr. Cook of "taking [a] hostage", described his harmless action as "beyond hate speech", and has suggested that his university should consider expulsion.

Enter Professor Myers, distinguished faculty member of your university, who in his free time, explicitly without making any connection to your university, publishes Pharyngula, the world's most popular science blog, in which he exercises his First Amendment rights by criticising, among others, religious groups, specifically of late by noting the incredible hate campaign, including death threats, directed at Mr. Cook, the student whom Mr. Donohue attacks. To show his support for Cook, Professor Myers (again, on his private, non-university affiliated blog) has flippantly suggested that he (Myers) would be willing to publicly "treat [a wafer] with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse".

In a statement publiched on the Catholic League website, Mr. Donahue has disingenuously responded to Myers's blog entry by first trivialising his (Donahue's) vicious attack against Mr. Cook as simply "criticising the student", and then suggests that Myers's blog is part of the "content" of the university's website, since it can be accessed from that website - a silly argument, since the blog can of course be "accessed" from any computer and from any website, simply by typing "Pharyngula" in the search box - nor, as you know, does the university's home page offer any link to the blog. Donohue then accuses Myers, and hence the university (following his bizarre associational argument), of threatening to "desecrate the Body of Christ", and agitates his followers to mount a letter-writing campaign against Professor Myers, which has resulted not only in calls for his ouster but also numerous death threats from Donohue's excitable (and frequently excited) followers.

I am sure you will protect the academic freedom and the First Amendment rights of your faculty member against this attack by the radical Mr. Donahue, who is once again trying to aggrandize himself by adding another scalp to his belt.

Sincerely,... (yes, I signed it.)

Email done.

Sir

I am writing in support of yourself and Professor P.Z. Myers against the hysterical over-reaction regarding a piece of communion wafer by certain Catholic pressure groups, in particular the Catholic League.

As well as being a excellent scientist and educator, Professor Meyers is a highly regarded social commentator, and his web log is one of the most-read on the internet. His critical focus on religion is extremely necessary, due to the anti-intellectual stance of many religious groups who seek to undermine the foundations of rationality itself. This particular incident is a case in point.

It would be a disaster if threats coming from a completely irrational mind-set was allowed to suppress a clear voice of reason. Arguments based on automatically demanded respect for a given belief-system, or on the degree of offence taken, should be given absolutely no weight.

I strongly urge your university to fully support Professor Myers in his important work, and to protect him from continuing attacks by those with a pre-enlightenment agenda.

Yours Sincerely,
(real name)

I am not a troll, just a sad observer of the decline of the american empire.
How are you supposed to fight people who actually believe that their saviour
can suffer from you actions against a cracker? Since I hold strongly that
there never was a person named Jesus (http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm)
I clearly have a hard time sympathizing with the view that a cracker is is flesh.
Unfortunately that will not save PZ at this time. His tenure is now forfeited. Sorry.

this may already have been stated but Dawkins has got behind this in a big way on his site as well.

By steve8282 (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Ahhh j, bar tab loaded, grog & swill for you Mon deux. *wink*

Dear President Bruininks,

This is just a short note to express my support for Dr. Paul Z. Myers and his right to free speech. I have been a reader of his blog Pharyngula from the very beginning. I have found his writing to be entertaining, informative, and provocative--sometimes all three at the same time. He is always very clear that what he writes on his blog is his opinion alone and not that of the University of Minnesota or of Seed magazine, the host of his blog.

Now, I see that Dr. Myers is under fire by William Donohue, a minor cable news personality who claims, without authority, to speak for all American Catholics. Manufactured outrage, intimidation, and calls for boycott (usually unsuccessful) are Mr. Donohue's stock and trade. Mr. Donohue is attempting bully the University of Minnesota into punishing or pressuring Dr. Myers into censoring his speech. To do so would be a grotesque violation of Dr. Myers academic freedom, personal freedom of speech, and an improper intrusion by the University into his extracurricular life.

On a more general level, giving in to Mr. Donohue would legitimize and encourage his brand of strong arm tactics to the detriment of our common political culture. I have confidence that you will not do that.

Thank you for your time,

John J. McKay

pazuzu, who the hell do you think are?

I think we could adapt the "fertility clinic" thought experiment:

"A fire breaks out at a Catholic Church. You can save either a child or a plate full of consecrated wafers, but not both. Which one do you choose to save?"

Letter sent. Along with my wife, that's two more U of MN alums behind ya.

Dear Professor Myers,

I urge you not to desecrate the Eucharist.

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.

Such a sacrilege would not only be deeply offensive to Catholics, but also to people of all faiths for such a blatant disrespect of a profoundly held religious belief.

Thank you for your consideration.

By Stephen Majewski (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

When I see Bill Donahue, I think that he had too may crackers!

By Cracker Joe (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

You do realize that God himself calls athiests fools?
It's in the Bible...

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

And that's a convincing claim?

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

By MAJeff, OM (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I think we could adapt the "fertility clinic" thought experiment:

"A fire breaks out at a Catholic Church. You can save either a child or a plate full of consecrated wafers, but not both. Which one do you choose to save?"

What happens if the priest consecrates more wafers than can be consumed on a given date? Must the consecrated crackers be individually crucified, so as to avoid being tossed down the toilet without being saved when they go stale before the next mass?

Similar to what happens when more embryos are fertilized than can be implanted. They can be kept on ice for a long time but eventually the unimplanted embryos have to either be disposed of or used for research. And fertility treatments generally make a lot more embryos than are implanted.

I'll send mine tomorrow as it's getting late over here in Europe. Don't worry PZ - if religious bigots are angry at you, you know you are doing something right...

AS YOU WISH, COMMANDER!

/////sent via g-mail//////

Dear Mr. Bruininks,

I am writing to try to help counterbalance the flood of angry nonsense you must be receiving from many flustered people- to give you perspective in the issue that has just landed in your lap.

PZ Myers is a well appreciated and funny man, and his following online is not small. I don't take time out of my work day to write this kind of message for just anybody. While this media circus may put pressure on you to take action against Dr. Myers, please add my voice to the "oh, nonsense." list- apparently freedom of speech is not well appreciated by some.

Thank you for your time,

-Will

By Will Von Wizzlepig (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

@365:

Sadly, many of those yahoos (Swift reference) would save the crackers. Unless they particularly fancied the child.

Maybe it really is the body and blood of Christ. If you want to partake, shouldn't you be able to get take-out?

Such a sacrilege would not only be deeply offensive to Catholics, but also to people of all faiths for such a blatant disrespect of a profoundly held religious belief.

Mr Majewski, you obviously don't know me at all well. You have just convinced me that I must commit sacrilege, since I oppose the whole nonsensical notion of a "profoundly held religious belief".

Christians are so angry because they think big daddy will take his anger for you out on them.
The bible is full of stuff where god totally goes berserk and kills everyone, innocent babies.. fargin everyone.

Thats why christians get so pissed, they are scared of the big tyrant in the sky, that he will kill them for something they did not do.
What baffles me the most is why on earth anyone would want to live with that madgod in the sky, hell is probably heaven compared to heaven. ohh.. well shrug

My letter is written on paper and is sitting in a small metal box with a raised red plastic flag on it. A woman will come by later in the afternoon, take it out of the metal box, lower the red plastic flag, and drive away with it in a little vehicle, after which I will probably never see the letter again. But President Bruininks will.

I hope the lady with the little truck doesn't desecrate my letter. It is sacred to me. (The letter, not the little truck.)

Desecrate the Eucharist... man, I just don't understand that, but then I never was any good at playing cards.

I'm going to make a suggestion here that I hope people pay attention to.

The letters I've seen have been heart-felt and sincere, and strongly support PZ's position. I'm down with that.

And for those who've noticed that I can be vebose at times, this may strike you as coming from the wrong source, but I'll say it anyway:

You're making your letters too long!

Mine was 2-3 sentences long. All you really need to say is that this is a ridiculous campaign, and you support PZ. That's about it.

Seriously, think it over, people.

I sent a CC of mine to PZ. Sorry, but I'm not going to reveal my actual name here. Not going to happen.

Let some rationality survive here. Its a cracker. Period. Are we to also protect Zeus? Religion is personal, keep it that way. Good luck, sent my support letter.

Rev Dr. Jim Roche

By Rev. Dr. Jim Roche (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

just sent this. hope it helps
-----------------------------------------

Dear Sir,

I have been following over the last day or two what in other realities would be an amusing comedy sketch regarding the 'hostage taking of a communion wafer'. Today however I have learned that a particular presenter (Bill Donohue) has initiated a campaign to have your esteemed employee (PZ Myers) ousted from his employment. In light of this I write to you to lend my voice in favour of PZ Myers.

I do not wish to belittle anyone's religious beliefs, but the hysteria we have seen over this is so disproportionally off the chart you would normally associate this level of reaction with the more radical friends of the prophet. According to his blog, PZ Myers has even received death threats. Even one calling for his dismissal, and death, then in the same breath extolling the virtues of the meek, mild and so blatantly persecuted Christians.

After all if you were to truly believe the 'miracle' of the Eucharist then the Christians, so offended by this theft of a wafer, are really complaining that the fellow in question refused to participate in sanctioned ritualised cannibalism and then had the gall to run off with the sacrificial victim... In this light PZ Myers' commentary seems commendable even.

All PZ Myers has done was voice an opinion over the blatant absurdity of this story. I urge you not bow to the pressure of crazed hysteria. PZ Myers is a good writer and a voice of educated reason in a sea of crazy. As he has remained employed for so long I can only assume that he is fairly good at his job too, it would be a shame for him to be punished for his not unreasonable opinion.

Yours in support of PZ

Stephen J Rushbrook

I'm honored to be able to lend my support to PZ Myers.

I'm sending the following letter to Dr. Bruininks tomorrow morning.
______________

Greetings,

I write to you in support of Dr. P.Z. Myers, a man who I have come to admire greatly.

We live amidst people who still are, in large part, deeply superstitious and irrational, preferring their delusions to the real world. Not being content to ruin their own lives and those of their children, these 'people of God' seek to bring the rest of us down with them.

Dr. Myers has taken a stand against ignorance and superstition and has chosen to fight the scourge of religious belief that plagues mankind. A man of principle, reason, and love for humanity could do no less. He is a light in the gathering darkness.

He is an excellent educator and a good man. You should be very proud to have him affiliated with your school.

With warm regards,

Craig S. Holman, Ph.D.

I, too, wrote a long letter, mainly to establish that I knew the situation involving Webster Cook, Bill Donohue, and PZ Myers. When I did constituent services for a state legislator in California, we often got short letters in mass-mailing campaigns that said little more than "I support X" or "I oppose X". Those letters got little weight because they showed no sign that the letter-writer had done more than sign a form letter. The longer, more personal letters had more impact.

The last paragraph of my letter, however, makes my point very specifically and alludes to my inner nastiness (or perhaps to PZ's):

Donohue has now turned his attention to Professor Myers and is demanding that he be disciplined by the University of Minnesota. The only proper reaction to Donohue is to explain to him (very patiently) that Myers retains his freedom of speech as a citizen of the United States, that he did not speak as a representative of UMM, and that Donohue should stop bothering the university. (If I were P.Z., I might have other suggestions what Donohue should do, but I'm much more mild-mannered that your associate professor of biology.)

via snail-mail:

Dear President Bruininks:

As I'm sure you've already been inundated with mail about the Communion-wafer comments made by Professor PZ Myers, I'll spare you the details of the incident. Suffice it to say that I am writing to voice my support to Professor Myers.

While nearly all of my knowledge of Prof. Myers work comes from the posts on his blog, it is through that lens that I can see that his passion for researching and teaching science is rivaled only by his passion for freely expressing his views in spite of his detractors (who have, I'm sure, made themselves well-known to you by now). What Myers did, in this instance, was to write about the essence of a thing - just as one might write about a fetus in an article concerning abortion - and to characterize the extreme reactions of others to a perceived slight against that thing. And just as you would support Myers for freely expressing his views on abortion (whatever those might be), you must stand by him now.

Best,
[Me]

You're making your letters too long!

Mine was 2-3 sentences long.

I'm making a note on the outside of the envelope that says "In support of Dr. PZ Myers". That way, even if they don't get to open it for a while, at least they can see my position of support. I would assume that if you are corresponding by email, it would be good to make your postion clear in the subject line.

I plan to make my letter pithy, but I haven't seen any problems with any of the letters I've seen here so far. Every one has been eloquent and well written. As long as your support is clearly stated in the first paragraph and repeated in the closing, the reader will get the idea. Honestly, I doubt they will read much of what goes between, anyways.

Message sent to the Prez.

Will forward a copy to you.

Christians are so loving when they think they can convert you. Point out an absurdity though, and they want to kill you.

Did they forget the admonition of the Jesus character to "turn the other cheek"?

I am writing in support of Dr. Myers. His defense of reason and rational thought must be encouraged. Please resist the agents of intolerance who are almost certainly trying to silence people like him (and me, to a lesser degree).

Sincerely,

By Blaidd Drwg (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Written. Will be sent by snail mail tomorrow...I kept it short

My e-mail has been sent. I kept it to a few sentences. Basically, to sum up: You are a university, which is supposed to be founded on things like facts and reason. Dr. Myers is speaking out in favor of facts and reason against myth and superstition. It should be pretty obvious which side the university should come down on.

Keep it up, PZ. I knew the minute I read that cracker post that it was going to start a shitstorm, but you've outdone yourself. And you're way funnier than the religious nuts.

Seriously, I doubt Bruininks is going to give a flying fuck one way or the other about the cracker or ensuing debate/outrage/nonsense. All you're going to do is fill up his email box and piss off the office workers who actually have to read it. The people who are really feeling the brunt of your efforts can't do anything about the situation and will just resent you (and the Catholics) for creating a ton of work. Bruininks won't take sides anyway; it's a freedom of speech issue.

If you really want to do something about it, donate money to some cause that works against religious intolerance.

By U of M student (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

". . .send him something that at least looks like a high school graduate wrote it,. . ." How? The topic is pre-school level.

By Ann R. Key (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Pop quiz!

Which of the following is worse:

a) drawing the Prophet
b) holding hostage a wafer
c) protecting a pedophile priest in order to keep the face of the Church clean

If you answered a) or b) you can't seriously pretend to be called a human being.

By Cracker Joe (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

You go PZ, we're with you. I sent a letter off today.
Can we start a campaign to start sending boxes of crackers to the Catholic League? An ex-catholic myself, I'm trying to get excommunicated.

To : Stephen Majewski @367

If we stop desecrating the host, will the Catholic church promise to stop diddling with minors, and condemning to hell everybody who doesn't agree with them?

Men in frocks in glasshouses should not throw stones...

Here is the email I sent in support of PZ:

Dr. Myers is a scientist, and as such, he is entitled to put forward any hypothesis, no matter how offensive, so long as he backs it up with evidence. In so many posts on his pharyngula website, he fights against the irrational.

If people have a problem with it, they should feel absolutely encouraged to make counterarguments - using logic and evidence, of course - no matter how offensive Dr. Myers may find them. It seems that those offended by Dr. Myers' words have gone on the offensive, attacking him personally and professionally, without making any persuasive arguments that he was actually WRONG.

Dr. Myers is what every great scientist should be: brutally honest. Nobody - academic or otherwise - should be afraid speak freely for fear of personal retribution.

Freedom of speech entails the freedom to offend.

Christopher Allard, Toronto, Ontario

By CB Allard (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.

Yes, we get this, asshole. We understand that your creepy cult has members who claim to believe such bat-shit insanity for the purposes of playing a strange game of epistemological chicken, trying to prove HOW MUCH and HOW DEEPLY they believe, because surely someone who says bat-shit crazy things like this with a straight face must be a True Believer.

You know what, though. WE DON'T FUCKING CARE. Just please try to get that through your magic-cracker-addled skull.

Letter of support duly sent. Also posted on the Richard Dawkins front page along with numerous others from other contributors from that source.

By Calilasseia (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.

Posted by: Stephen Majewski | July 10, 2008 7:58 PM

The fact that otherwise intelligent people actually believe that is exactly what we are making fun of.

I wrote the following:

President Bruininks,

I just wanted to take a moment to express my support for Dr. Paul Z. Myers. As a student of biology, I have found the thoughts he shares on his personal blog, Pharyngula, to be insightful, entertaining, and educational. His explanations of complex topics are eloquently simple and easy to understand. His passion for his field is second-to-none. He has been a real inspiration to me to become the best biologist possible.

Additionally, I believe he has the constitutional right to express his opinions on sometimes controversial topics such as religion on his personal blog. I would hope everyone would understand these opinions are his alone, and do not reflect on the positions or policies of the University of Minnesota.

Given the quality of the biology content Dr. Myers provides on his personal blog, I'm sure he must be excellent professor of biology. It would be tragic if the outrage over his personal opinions on his personal blog had an impact on his employment with the University of Minnesota.

Thank you for your time,

ME

Here is my letter. It goes out tomorrow.
-----------------------
Thursday, July 10, 2008

President Robert H. Bruininks
202 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street S.E.
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Dear Dr. Bruininks:

I am a regular reader of a weblog named Pharyngula which is maintained by Paul Z. Myers, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota at Morris.

I have found Dr. Myers writings thought provoking and challenging and even entertaining. As a Mathematician who has had little contact with the biological sciences, I find his defense of evolution to be enlightening both as to the biological science involved and to the philosophy of the larger issues of how should science be conducted. His weblog is a valuable resource for those of us who are concerned that the enemies of academic freedom are attacking the university in ways that are both open and covert. Their policies, should they gain more adherents, will eventually reduce academia to a barren desert on their theocratic continent.

Currently, Dr. Myers is engaged in a controversy with a bully named Bill Donohue. Mr. Donohue has taken a minor childish incident - a student tried to leave a church with a Catholic Eucharist - and blown it far out of proportion to its real significance. He does not acknowledge the triviality of this incident but, instead, has resorted to threats to the livelihoods of those who disagree with him.

For many years, the great universities of the United States have stood as bastions of freedom both academic and constitutional. Mr. Donohue and his ilk would be very enthusiastic about you or university abrogating this tradition and disciplining Dr. Myers publicly. Currently, they are organizing a campaign to influence you and the Minnesota legislature to do this.

I want to register in the strongest terms my support of Dr. Myers and Pharyngula and my disgust at the strong-arm tactics of Mr. Donohue and the Catholic League. He understands neither freedom of speech nor the vast difference between childish pranks and threats to livelihood or worse.

Sincerely yours,

Patrick J. Fleury, Ph.D.

By --PatF in Madison (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

DS said:

At the risk of being attacked as a concern troll, I have to say I agree with what Glen D's said a couple of times on this thread: Donahue's challenge is ridiculous, I agree with the substance of the point PZ is making... but, the whole thing does seem in poor taste.

The reason I wouldn't desecrate a host? Many people I love (though don't necessarily agree with) would be hurt and offended by such an act. Doing so anyway might be politically provocative and maybe even morally justifiable, but it would also be... classless. Just because (otherwise good) people believe something you think is stupid, and just because other people who are not so good have used those beliefs to justify a lot of bad things, doesn't mean doing something hurtful is therefore ok.

I try not to cause people pain unnecessarily. Sometimes, an action that will cause some people pain is necessary because of a greater good. I don't see how that would be the case here.

So I won't be sending a letter in support of PZ. His job certainly isn't in any danger, anyway. But personally I don't think he needs to be commended for being, frankly, a jerk.

I would not have supported PZ actually desecrating a host, but you seem to have missed a very important point, here. The reason that PZ said what he did was to express his solidarity with the young man who had been assaulted and had been sent death threats. That, I believe is commendable.

And it also serves another purpose. For how long, and for which beliefs, do we allow "respect" and "reverence" to be used as an excuse not to offend people, and at which point do we take a stand and say that enough is enough?

In my opinion, not telling family members that you think that some of their beliefs are very silly -- or at least attempting to reason with them, based on current evidence -- can, in some circumstances, be immoral. Again, at which point do you decide that they have gone too far?

And was there really any need for the insult at the end? What if you have hurt PZ, unnecessarily? Oh, you only hurt people when you think that its necessary? Hypocrite.

PZ,

I think you're a fucking idiot. No more than that. Why don't you come from behind your child-porn filled computer screen and shut the fuck up.

By Doppelganger (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.

Why do they believe something so truly, really, substantially ridiculous?

Tolerance is really easy when the it comes to tolerating those people and ideas we like and agree with. The challenge comes when you have to tolerate those who don't agree with you and have differing opinions. For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree. A true intellectual, academician would see the inconsistency here.

The only thing you are proving with your little stunt is that intolerance is not the sole province of the uneducated masses. It is alive and well amidst the ivy covered walls of our so called institutions of "higher learning."

Step back, sir and see what this is doing to you and your profession. You have allowed your politics to trump your sense of reason, fairness and propriety. You have ceased to be a scientist and have become everything you say you hate about those who you are ridiculing. If you were truly a "tolerant" person, would this wafer thing have even registered on your radar? A truly tolerant person wouldn't seek out the chance to heap ridicule on another person for their beliefs, now would they? Stop and think. Please. If you expect tolerance of others, shouldn't you be willing to be tolerant of their flaws, real or perceived?

By Mark Dixon (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Sent by snail mail:

Dear...

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter in support of Dr. PZ Myers, whose life and livelihood are threatened by zealots of the Religious Right. Having had the privilege of working with excellent scholars of the Department of Epidemiology and the School of Public Health, I have the greatest respect for the University of Minnesota.

In my opinion, Dr. Myers has greatly contributed to the reputation of your institution by being an outspoken champion of scientific scholarship and a courageous foe of "absolute truths", which are neither true nor absolute. One only needs to look at the interference in stem cell research by religiously motivated politicians to be reminded of a long history of damage done by religion in positions of power.

Please include me, should you find it advisable to publicly identify supporters of Dr. Myers.

With respect and affection for a great institution of science, I am ....

By dubiquiabs (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Greetings from Sweden PZ! You are one of my heroes, keep up the good work!

By Markus Karlsson (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I'm in with a note of support to the prez. (Hat-tip to Alex for the Ingersoll quote, which I used in my very brief message.)

By TonyInBatavia (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

done.

By mezzobuff (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

PZ writes:

"Mr Majewski, you obviously don't know me at all well. You have just convinced me that I must commit sacrilege, since I oppose the whole nonsensical notion of a "profoundly held religious belief"."

Well, just because he does not have any "profoundly held religious belief" does not mean that he must physically assault the beliefs of others or that he should incite hatred/violence in the general community.

Myers is an embarrassment to the scientific community and displays the intolerant and extreme nature of "new" atheism.

Finally, this is little more than a cheap trick; I have never heard of Mr. Myers before and will certainly not hear from him again after this publicity stunt.

To all the moronic concern trolls.

The religious issue death threats and try to get people fired and you complain that PZ is being intolerant because he wants to do nasty things to a cracker?

Get some fucking perspective.

Yeah, BradJ, don't worry -- your third paragraph had already convinced us all that you don't spend much time keeping up on science blogging. Or, likely enough, science.

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Sent away this email not long ago: I hope my non-native english will be good enough for a university president.

Greetings Sir,

I am writing this on behalf of PZ Myers to show my support for him and his ever-entertaining, intelligent and no-nonsense blog, Pharyngula. I will personally never be able to enroll at your university (as I live in Sweden), but I think PZ Myers is a great asset to your establishment, and people like him makes me feel there is still hope for the United States. PZ Myers puts the University of Minnesota on the map all around the world, even Scandinavia! If the current 'cracker-affair' affects PZ Myers' current standing with you or your university, I would be deeply disappointed.

Best regards,

The comment trolls apparently need to be reminded that this all got started because a bunch of Catholic fanatics were quite literally terrorizing some poor college kid who stole a cookie, and kept at it even after he gave it back.

This isn't about the wafer. It's about the behavior of the Catholic wackos who went after this kid the way they did.

Tolerance for religion doesn't extend to tolerating this sort of behavior, which included death threats and trying to get the kid expelled from school. And whatever PZ said, the same applies - death threats and trying to get him fired are not an acceptable response when he exercises his free speech rights.

Tolerance means only that you have a right to your beliefs. It certainly does not mean you have a right to harass, intimidate and threaten people who disagree with you. Nor does it mean that no one else can express their own beliefs that your beliefs are idiotic, which is all that PZ did - he's not sending out death threats or trying to get people fired.

I think you're a fucking idiot. No more than that. Why don't you come from behind your child-porn filled computer screen and shut the fuck up.

Posted by: Doppelganger

Rarely have I read such a rational plea for tolerance. All the concern trolls should take heed of this calm, logical, objective appeal for charity and understanding.

I don't say this about too many people, but when Bill Donahue dies, I'll dance on his grave. In fact, I'll hire a whole circus, with elephants, midgets, and mexican acrobats with montezuma's revenge to take turns trampling, trashing, and shitting on his grave. But I'm above the type of idiotic hate mail reserved for his minions, so I'll just imagine all this with a smile on my face, or perhaps just ask my girlfriend to help me paint a fully illustrated picture with happy-to-see-you-dead symbolism.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mark Dixon, #407, wrote:

If you were truly a "tolerant" person, would this wafer thing have even registered on your radar?

Mark, try going back to the very beginning. The original act was, a rude and silly one (someone taking the host without consuming it) and if the reaction of the church and its adherents had been to simply point out the rudeness and silliness of that, then PZ wouldn't have made any noise about it.

He reacted the way he did because that rude and silly boy was threatened with legal action, physical violence and death for what he did.

Which is, of course, outrageous; PZ, like any sane, rational and decent person, was outraged.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Done, what I'd also like is Donohue's email so I can send him a note of my displeasure...

Finally, this is little more than a cheap trick

Posted by: BradJ | July 10, 2008 8:43 PM

That's exactly our point. Doing something to a wafer is just a cheap trick with no real significance.

Our letter (slightly plagiarized from the fine folks on this blog):

Dear President Bruininks,

As you are aware, Mr. William "Bill" Donohue is running a hate-mail campaign to oust, or at least censor, Prof. Paul Myers a Professor of Biology at UMM. This e-mail is in response to that hate-mail campaign.

In case you are unaware of Mr. William Donohue, he is the president of the hate group known the "Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights" and is well known for his bellicose hate-speech and making a living over being outraged at imagined or trivial slights. One of Mr. Donahue's tools is hateful rhetoric in which he routinely engages in bashing gays, liberals, colleges, during his over two dozen television appearances during the past five years. He has specifically referred to the "gay death style," remarked, "God forbid we'd run out of little gay kids," claimed that Senator John Kerry "never found an abortion he couldn't justify," and claimed that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular ... Hollywood likes anal sex." These quotes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his anti-gay/anti-liberal agenda.

My wife, Dr. Diane Sepich (who went to graduate school with Dr. Myers), and I support Dr. Myers in his irreverent and sarcastic rebuttal to the insanity which certain over-heated individuals within the Catholic faith have demonstrated over a trivial incident that occurs on a recurrent basis within the Catholic faith. Especially in light of death threats this student was subjected to over this trivial incident.

Mr. Donohue will no doubt claim that this talk of cracker abuse is Catholic defamation and is not in the realm of free speech. The very fact that anyone could consider the treatment of a cracker (no matter what's been done to it) to be "one of the most vile things imaginable" is very troubling. It is a modern version of the "Host Desecration" incidents in which Jews were burned or otherwise killed and tortured because it was believed that they had desecrated a Eucharist. Clearly the people that are at risk here are not Catholic but each and every American and institution that depends on the free-flow of knowledge and the ability of people to think and live as they see fit within the bounds of the law and the Constitution.

Sincerely,

George S. Brundage, CPA

Dr. Diane S. Sepich

By George S Brundage (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Letter of support sent. Voices of reason unite.

Brad J, #413, wrote:

Well, just because he does not have any "profoundly held religious belief" does not mean that he must physically assault the beliefs of others or that he should incite hatred/violence in the general community.

How exactly does one 'physically assault' a belief? Would one start by punching it in the face, or working the body for a while first?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Sam Harris said in The End of Faith:

"After this incredible dogma [of transubstantiation] had been established [in 1215], by mere reiteration, to the satisfaction of everyone, Christians began to worry that these living wafers might be subjected to all manner of mistreatment, and even physical torture, at the ends of heretics of Jews. (One might wonder why eating the body of Jesus would be any less of a torment to him."

Jesus is coming and he doesn't pull out.

"The comment trolls apparently need to be reminded that this all got started because a bunch of Catholic fanatics were quite literally terrorizing some poor college kid who stole a cookie, and kept at it even after he gave it back."

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, FUCKERS????

The kid in FL was harassed by one or two jerks - probably classmates.

There is no FATWA! Catholics are not out to get the kid.

This incident was used by this douche-bag, no-name professor to try to drum up anti-Catholic hatred (and a bit of an bad boy atheist rep) and, judging by this blog, it has worked.

Congrats on being IGNORANT ASSHOLES, gang!

PS - your letter SUCK...the university president will be able to see right through the anti-religious tirades that you have sent in.

I guess the art of persuasion is lost on assholes on here...

#155: No, actually, the Dominicans derive their name from that of their founder, Dominic de Guzman. Domini Canes is a fun pun that circulated throughout the Middle Ages about the order but it wasn't the source of their name.

PZ, of course I'll be sending off that letter of support tomorrow in hard copy as well. I figure that emails will not get quite as much notice so it's best to duplicate that virtual communication with the tangible kind. And I'll pass on the word to my sister who took her Ph.D. in the Twin Cities. We rationalists have to fight the good fight!

Subject: P.Z. Meyers is a Credit to Your Institution

Dear President Bruininks,

As an avid follower of new science, I cannot express enough how important the work of P.Z. Meyers is to me. Several times each day, I benefit from his dedication to the public understanding of science. The controversy stemming from his comments on the Catholic Eucharist is bizarre, and to some extent proves his point. I hope you will remain strong in the face of religious zealotry and refuse to let this incident harm his standing at the University of Minnesota in any way.

Thank you for your time,

Barry K

@396
" An ex-catholic myself, I'm trying to get excommunicated."

How do you do that? I would like to get excommunicated, too. I have not been to church - except for marriages and funerals - for 40 years. I wouldn't care about this except that I am sure the church is still carrying me on the books as a Catholic and they use the enormous numbers of Catholics as leverage whenever they want something from the government. Decreasing the number by one may not be much, but it is something.

Alternatively, maybe we can set up a business in autoexcommunication kits. We could sell these mail order and they would contain a bell, book, candle and instructions.

let me know what you find out.

By --PatF in Madison (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, FUCKERS????
I guess the art of persuasion is lost on assholes on here...

Well... um... thanks for the lesson.

"If Jesus came back, and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."

-- Frederick from "Hannah and her Sisters" (played by Max von Sydow)

My only concern here is that perhaps one ought not make too light of religious nuts threatening death. They have a history.

Okay, got out the box of good stationary (which had dust on on it) & sent the following via real paper letter:

Dear President Bruininks,
It appears as if certain people are calling for the University to censure (or even fire) Professor PZ Myers for comments that he made on his web site.
I find it hard to imagine that the University could be held legally responsible for Prof. Myers' actions, so any concession to them would be just that - a concession to people who want someone who disagrees with them to shut up. As the head of a University, I am sure that you do not want your educational establishment to be known as one that censures its professors for expressing an opinion.
As for Prof. Myers threatening to desecrate what some consider to be a sacred artifact: while obviously I can't speak for him, his comment seemed to me to be less wanting to insult anyone than to be in solidarity with the young man who started all this after said person started getting death threats, which now Prof. Myers is receiving as well.
In any case, please add mine to the stack of letters you have received in support of PZ Myers. His science blog is community outreach of the highest order, and he should be supported.
Sincerely,
name & address & email address

Good luck to you, PZ.

CDV, #427

Read. Think. Post a comment.

Try it in that order next time.

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mark Dixon #407-

Please, show me where you see any real intolerance on this blog. Go ahead! Show me the death threats toward believers, the physical assaults, the calls for shunning or punishing those who have done no harm to anyone.

Find any yet? Didn't think so.

It seems to me that in your twisted dictionary, "tolerance" means sitting down and shutting up about any issue that could possibly offend someone, no matter how ridiculous that issue might be; or showing extra deference to those whose very stock-in trade is intolerance! Sorry man, no dice. If Catholics want to act like lunatics and spoiled children in public, then they can be called on it, preferably in a loud and mocking voice. No intolerance required.
You're just upset that these shitheads aren't getting extra, unearned respect for their superstitions and overly dramatic behavior. Once again, sorry, but I feel no need to give extra respect to magic spells and immature tantrums.
Feel free to grow up and deal with it, or keep on whining about intolerance. You will be tolerated either way...criticized heavily, but tolerated. There is a difference, if you're adult enough to accept it.

e-mail sent.

I think when he sees the pubescent nature of your blog, he will realized what a catch he has working at his university.

Not sure how much effect "out of country" emails will have, but I've sent one in stating my full support for your right to freedom of speech.

PZ Myers wrote: "Mr Majewski, you obviously don't know me at all well. You have just convinced me that I must commit sacrilege, since I oppose the whole nonsensical notion of a 'profoundly held religious belief'."

If you do, I can only hope that some day you will have a change of heart. Luckily, God is merciful, forgives all who seek His forgiveness, and doesn't hold our past transgressions against us. I'm pulling for you.

By Stephen Majewski (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.

Why?

Seriously, you're an adult. You have the intelligence necessary to use a computer.

Why do you, personally, believe something so absurd that a piece of baked dough can magically become part of the alleged creator of the universe? Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe wants you to think that he's inside a cracker? Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe wants you to eat this cracker? Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe thinks that not eating the cracker is a bad thing? Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe could in any way, shape, or form, be harmed as a result of the cracker being damaged?

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

PZ,
I am willing to support you by sending a note to your president. However, I must first ask this: do you write this blog on University time or your own?
You will be much easier to support if you write the blog on your own time. If you would stick to science/evolution and not get into militant atheism/politics/religion, then you would have a stronger position on university time. But this wafer/cracker incident is so absurd that by itself it makes no difference on whose time you wrote about it.

By Dick Marti (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mark Dixon #407 wrote:

For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree.

It depends on what you mean by "tolerance." There's more than one meaning, and not all should be given:

Tolerance:
1.) A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
2.) The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.
3.) Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.
4.) Lack of opposition for beliefs or practices differing from one's own.
5.) The act or capacity of enduring; endurance.
6.) The act of allowing something.

We allow others to disagree. We endure it. In fact, we even encourage it. We permit the beliefs of others not like ourselves. We are fair and objective towards them, considering them seriously, putting them under analysis. We value disagreement. It's what drives science, and progress.

So what part of "tolerance" is missing? Sympathy, indulgence, approval, esteem, and admiration. We do not humor religious belief. We don't cater to it, or yield to it, or leave it alone with a smile and a wink and a sigh. We don't say "how wonderful that works for you!"

You don't want tolerance. You want deference. Lack of opposition. And no criticism.

No can do.

I just sent a snail mail letter of support for you with my real name and address on it. I enjoy your blog, and have learned more about biology and evolution than anybody else. Plus, you helped turn me into an atheist! I hope the Catholic League finds a different way to untwist their panties soon.

Stephen Majewski, #431, wrote:

I'm pulling for you.

Doesn't your god frown on that sort of thing? Sin of Onan and all that?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

@427

"I guess the art of persuasion is lost on assholes on here..."

Well, I think I'd rather be considered a persuasive lost asshole than to open my sphincter and remove all doubt...

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, FUCKERS????
I guess the art of persuasion is lost on assholes on here...

Well... um... thanks for the lesson.

Well I'll be cleaning that beer off the monitor for a little bit.

Mark B (#314):

Did you even read my post? Where did you see me supporting any attempts to curtail PZ's speech? But I guess it's just so much more fun to anonymously attack people on teh internets than to actually read and think.

Damian (#404):

Feel better now? Did I say anything about "respecting" or "revering" beliefs you don't agree with? Did I express solidarity with the people who beat up that kid? And yes, I was saying exactly that I would only hurt someone if I thought it was necessary (sorry, should I ask you first?).

Anyway, I don't think a notoriously thick-skinned blogger is going to be hurt by being called a jerk in one of several hundred comments. But if he was, then I guess I do think it was justified. I fail to see how that makes me a hypocrite. What I did say, however, is that I would not desecrate a host. I explained why. I explained why I wouldn't write a letter for PZ. I said I thought his reaction was extreme and, well, jerky. I didn't tell him what he could or could not do, nor did I attack his motivation or anything else. But again, I suspect you (like Paul B) post anonymously on blogs because you like to feel important when you dish out that self-righteous indignation, not to actually read or think.

Have a nice evening.

DS

Owl screeches:

"Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe could in any way, shape, or form, be harmed as a result of the cracker being damaged?"

What don't you understand about the freedom of religion and the right to the pursuit of happiness?

What don't you understand about respect for other citizens within the community?

The kid in FL has not be actively harassed - it was one or two of his classmates. As for the anti-Catholic bile on here....you people are sadly ignorant and indoctrinated in hate.

As for knowledge of the universe - there is much more that we DON'T know than we do, so why the arrogance? Do you know more than Pascal? Or Mozart? Newton?

Do you seriously need to worry about your job? If so, I'd be looking for a new employer anyway. Do you really want to work for people who humour a mob of irrational loons?

To Mark Dixon and others having a go at PZ regarding "tolerance".

Are we required to tolerate the intolerant? Where do you draw the line? Do we ask the people issuing death threats over some baked flour to "be nice"? (I suppose "What would Jesus do?" might work better.)

Moreover, have you actually stopped to consider the disingenuous and condescending nature of "tolerance"?

"I tolerate you."

"Gee, thanks... So you're not going to stone me then?"

Just sent:

Mr. Bruininks,

This is another message in support of Dr. Myers.

No one has the right to not be offended. I'm not even sure it is possible to bring harm to a cracker. In any case, kowtowing to the bluster of empty authority would only embolden those who would foist their irrational, pre-enlightenment world-view, onto the rest of us. A scary thought indeed.

Thank you for your time.

Regards,

You, Professor Myers are a damned fool. You are publicly advocating what one of the major world religions considers an act of sacrilege. All that a creationist need now do is point to these abysmally juvenile antics as evidence that adherence to evolutionary science is not based on cool, objective reasons, but on the fact that its most vocal adherents are deeply irrational, bigoted, raving atheists. Looking at all of these comments, I begin to wonder, myself. Thanks for setting back the cause, jerkwad.

Here's what I sent to Bruiniks. I hope this additional post to this thread doesn't cause the servers to overheat and crash, but I guess that's the risk PZ pays for having such fervent supporters.

Dear Robert Bruiniks,
I'm sure by now, you've received hundreds of e-mails telling you how wrong it would be to listen to Bill Donohue, and his cohorts. I guess one more e-mail wouldn't hurt the cause. I honestly believe that PZ Myers is a unique and irreplaceable individual on your faculty, and any thought or consideration of his removal would signify a lack of far sightedness and irresponsibility reserved only for the most deporable of human beings; those that lie, cheat, and generally obfuscate the truth for their ignorant belief system. We all have views that can come across as offensive, but when individuals like Donahue stir up witch hunts remeniscent of c1690 Salem, Massachusetts, then we have a duty as citizens of an open and honest Democratic Republic to persuasively crush such ravid idiocy the moment it's presented. Our future as people who embrace liberty, freedom, and the open and honest pursuit of our goals and aspirations depends on allowing the freedom of expression, including such "sacreligious" acts such as using communion wafers for target practice if need be. We are not tramping on anyone's liberty, and there are actual hate crimes committed on a daily basis that go unreported while self-righteous hypocritic idiots inflame and conflagrate other weak willed self-righteous hypocritic idiots into a frenzy. Ultimately, I hope you will continue supporting PZ Myers as you obviously have so far in his tenure. He's more valuable to your university and community than these racist and hate filled idiots who oppose him.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Here's what I wrote (true story):

Dear Mr. Bruininks,

I am hoping that you will support PZ Myers in the face of the hate mail he has been receiving, and allow him to keep his job at the university.
I myself took hostage of a holy tasteless snack cracker during a service. The prospect of cannibalizing a two-thousand year-old guy turned me off to the ritual, so I pocketed it instead, fully intending to relinquish it at the door. However, the pastor then proclaimed "May the piece of the Lord go with you", so I took it under a direct order from the pastor. I hope you realize that I meant no harm to the body of Christ, as I was protecting it from being thrown away, and I even cleaned his crispy-crunchy earthly vessel by letting it inadvertently go through the washing machine in my pants pocket.

All the best,

By Evan White (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

The folks over at the Richard Dawkins web site seem to be sending in lots of supportive mail of both kinds. I am sure we will ALL be interested to hear if a count is done when the dust settles.

By rod-the-farmer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

As for knowledge of the universe - there is much more that we DON'T know than we do, so why the arrogance?

Hi there.

I'm God.

I do know, for a fact, that the silly crackers have nothing to do with Me.

And I'm arrogant because I'm God.

What's your excuse?

"Bill Donohue has a loud, braying voice"

Oy, tell me about it. I watched that video someone linked to on the other thread of him and Hitchens. GAH. And that "An Englishmen has to be quiet when an Irishman talks" crap. Go sit on a potato, Bill.

Starbuck the Crazy Death Cultist:
"Idiots, all of you."

HATE SPEECH!

"Do Judges send criminals to prison? No the prisoners send themselves, for doing the crime."

Nnnnooo [speaking slowly, as if to a child], judges do send criminals to prison. If it weren't for the judicial system, there wouldn't even be prisons. Just like how God supposedly does send people to Hell. He may give the speech about how it hurts him more than it hurts them, but he does it. I wouldn't be able to find Hell even if I wanted to go there.

Mark Dixon:
"For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree."

You keep using that word, "Tolerance". You use it as if it were some sort of magic talisman against liberals (which, in many cases, it can be, I suppose). I don't think you know what it means. Furthermore, I think you're incapable of separating a belief from a person. Funny how that sort of thing always comes from those in the group that bandies about the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Stephen Majewski
"Such a sacrilege would not only be deeply offensive to Catholics, but also to people of all faiths for such a blatant disrespect of a profoundly held religious belief."

Yet I notice you don't seem to have any concern for the fellow who's flesh is apparently manifested on Earth. Is he harmed by supposed desecration of the Host? Does he even truly care? No, from you, all I hear is about how it will offend someone. So ask yourself, does it really matter? Are you going to be offended merely because someone said you should be? Or because other people you ally yourself with are going to be offended? Do you really believe in transubstantiation at all? Do you merely believe in ritual and ceremony? Do you merely believe...in belief?

They're trying to control your mind, Stephen. They're telling you how to think about what is, in all physical properties, a wafer. They're telling you what should offend you. Don't let them control your mind. Set your mind free.

Message sent:
President Bruininks,
I am sure you have received a large number of email messages regarding the incident surrounding Dr. PZ Myers' posts about the UCF student's removal from the church of the consecrated communion wafer, so I shall be brief.

I am writing to express my support for Dr. Myers, and I wish to commend him. Through his site, Pharyngula, I have learned a huge amount about biology, skepticism, and much else about the world in which I live. His blog is a treasure. Were I once again a student, I would only hope to have professors with his wit, knowledge and ability to make me think. This includes his talk about religion and advocacy of atheism. I understand that the views posted on his Seed hosted blog do not represent the views of anyone but Dr. Myers, but I hope you understand that you have one hell of an educator in Dr. Myers. He taught me a lot, without ever having ever seen my face; that is a rare thing.

Thank you for your time,
Michael (redacted for teh intertoobs)
St. Petersburg, Florida

Personally, if I were a Catholic, I'd be angry at O'Donohue.

No official position with nor endorsement for the church, he's just hijacked the name of the church for his organization which he uses to self promote, get on TV looking like a jackass, act like a loud-mouth jerk, and generally make Catholics look like a bunch of angry hypocrites, if he's supposed to represent them.

A good move, honestly, would be for Catholics to disassociate themselves from this self-appointed scold.

Sent an email to your pres. PZ, keep up the good work.

As for knowledge of the universe - there is much more that we DON'T know than we do, so why the arrogance?

Or really? How did you measure that? How do you know how much we don't know if we don't know it?

Do you know more than Pascal? Or Mozart? Newton?

Immeasurably more. Anybody who has ever studied middle school science knows more than Netwon (at least that was when I covered basic mechanics). Mozart was a composer, I don't have any reason to think he knew much of anything. Pascal was even before Newton. Or are you honestly saying our knowledge has not progressed in the last 400 years?

By TheBlackCat (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Owl screeches:

"Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe could in any way, shape, or form, be harmed as a result of the cracker being damaged?"

What don't you understand about the freedom of religion and the right to the pursuit of happiness?

What don't you understand about respect for other citizens within the community?

Posted by: CDV | July 10, 2008 9:15 PM

What about Owlmirror's question infringed on freedom of religion or the pursuit of happiness? What about it was disrespectful? Is asking questions disrespectful?

Mark Dixon said:

The challenge comes when you have to tolerate those who don't agree with you and have differing opinions. For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree. A true intellectual, academician would see the inconsistency here.

Nonsense. Where is the evidence that PZ, or anyone else that reads this blog for that matter, does not tolerate people with opposing ideas? Or, did you really mean that we don't tell you how wonderful your beliefs are? If that is how you define tolerance, I don't want anything to do with it, thank you very much.

It is far more offensive to me that people are told that they cannot express themselves freely, as someone, somewhere, might not be intellectually and emotionally developed enough to recognize that criticism of ideas and beliefs is not the same as criticizing an individual.

And tolerance works both ways, does it not? The sooner that we can reach the point where there is an understanding that we would be far better off if people weren't so damn offended all of the time -- except, you know, when there are death threats involved -- the better it will be for all of humanity, in my opinion.

As for knowledge of the universe - there is much more that we DON'T know than we do, so why the arrogance? Do you know more than Pascal? Or Mozart? Newton?

Well, given that science has moved on since Newton's time, I certainly know about a great many things which Newton never even imagined, from quarks to quasars! Ditto for Pascal: he's famous for probability theory, but probability and statistics — not to mention the rest of mathematics — have continued their march ever upwards.

See, that's the thing about looking at religious scientists of centuries past: whether science has quarrels with religion today depends on what we know now, not what they knew then.

Besides, the real act of breathtaking vanity is to stare into the unknown and assert that it's all explained in a Bronze Age folk tale, or in some mysterious inner motion of one's spirit. (That's like pointing at a light in the sky, calling it a UFO and proclaiming, "The aliens are here!" Remember what the U in UFO stands for.) Imposing the fables of our ancestors on the Cosmos is not an act of humility.

@#450... you're claiming that athiests are irrational??? and how could you be a raving nonbeliever? There are more muslims than catholics, so do you believe that all women should cover their faces because a major world religion believes so? There are almost as many hindus as catholics, do you believe that no one in the world should advocate eating cows because it's against their religion?

I think it's really funny how so many people keep using phrases like, "Meyers is *physically* assaulting the *beliefs..."

Physically assaulting _beliefs_ ?

These people commit war crimes against language =/

What don't you understand about the freedom of religion and the right to the pursuit of happiness?
What don't you understand about respect for other citizens within the community?

I'm sorry, does trying to understand how beliefs arise in any way infringe on freedom of religion and pursuit of happiness?

Is asking questions about religion actually disrespectful?

The kid in FL has not be actively harassed - it was one or two of his classmates.

That appears to be a false statement. Why are you lying when the the report itself states that the Catholic League became involved?

As for the anti-Catholic bile on here....you people are sadly ignorant and indoctrinated in hate.

There has mostly been anti-religious sentiment, not specifically anti-Catholic, which is to be expected. And the ignorance and hate that you and the other anti-atheists project is rather unpleasant.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Mozart was a composer, I don't have any reason to think he knew much of anything.

Posted by: TheBlackCat | July 10, 2008 9:22 PM

I hope you mean Mozart didn't know much of anything about the universe. I assure you he knew quite a bit about music theory with regard to European music.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, FUCKERS????

I'm allergic to egg yolks. What's worse, is that it's a late-adulthood food allergy and I was ever so fond of DEVILED EGGS and even won some ribbons for my wonderful deviled eggs.

The kid in FL was harassed by one or two jerks - probably classmates.

You mean like Seung-Hui Cho?

There is no FATWA!

You're mixing your religions. Catholics don't do "fatwas." They send out the Dominicans. For big jobs they call crusades.

Catholics are not out to get the kid.

Bill Donahue, President and spokesman for the Hate Group "The Catholic League..." demanded punishment, including EXPLUSION. Plus the kid received Death THREATS (note plural).

Seems that Catholics ARE out to get him.

This incident was used by this douche-bag, no-name professor to try to drum up anti-Catholic hatred (and a bit of an bad boy atheist rep) and, judging by this blog, it has worked.

No name! No name! Dude this blog has had over TWENTY-FIVE MILLION HITS just since it came to Seed. He gets more hits in an hour than probably 90% of the fucking Internet gets in a day, if not a week.

Congrats on being IGNORANT ASSHOLES, gang!

Way to live the Sermon on the Mount there, Sparky! Turn the other cheek. All that "love and forgiveness" stuff there that gives you the "moral high-ground." LMAO.

PS - your letter [sic] SUCK...the university president will be able to see right through the anti-religious tirades that you have sent in.

Considering the character of your post... Eh, I think those letters are just fine...

I guess the art of persuasion is lost on assholes on here...

Posted by: CDV | July 10, 2008 8:56 PM

Oh, the IRONY. The IRONY.

From Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's first communion:

We arrived at the church just in time to see the last of the boys leaving the altar rail where the priest stood with the chalice and the host, glaring at me. Then he placed on my tongue the wafer, the body and blood of Jesus. At last, at last.

It's on my tongue. I draw it back.

It stuck.

I had God glued to the roof of my mouth. I could hear the master's voice, Don't let that host touch your teeth for if you bite God in two you'll roast in hell for eternity.

I tried to get God down with my tongue but the priest hissed at me, Stop that clucking and get back to your seat.

God was good. He melted and I swallowed Him and now, at last, I was a member of the True Church, an official sinner.

...

It gets even better from there.

@ #438

"Luckily, God is merciful, forgives all who seek His forgiveness, and doesn't hold our past transgressions against us."

Yeah, I think that's the loophole the paedophile priests use. Talk about a get out of jail free card.

By Bride of Shrek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

I hope you mean Mozart didn't know much of anything about the universe. I assure you he knew quite a bit about music theory with regard to European music.

Yes, that was what I meant, I just couldn't think of a good way to phrase it. Although today we know a lot more about the physiological and mathematical bases for western (and eastern) music as well.

By TheBlackCat (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

"The kid in FL has not be actively harassed - it was one or two of his classmates."
So he is being harassed, but not actively, by one or two of his classmates?
Apparently "one or two" people threatening to kill you is okay, as long as they're not active about it.

PZ-I wouldn't sweat the Catholic League too much. When Kathy Griffin told Jesus to "suck it" at the Emmys, Donohue also began his Pavlovian frothing and as far as I can tell, her career hasn't suffered as a result. By the way, in her act she said, "Do you know who the Catholic League is? It's one guy with a typewriter."

By Ken McKnight (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

People, this is so simple:

Human beings have rights. We have all agreed upon this, at least in our society. You can logically justify the basic human rights with little opposition [from the rational].

Ideas, on the other hand, do NOT. No matter how much a human loves their idea/belief, no matter how many people share said idea... the idea does NOT have any rights. You can ridicule and mock an idea, rip it to shreds in an argument, write it down on a piece of paper and wipe your ass with it, piss on it, fling it against the wall, burn it... perhaps in some cases it may be a suboptimal move socially, but it is still perfectly legal and ethically right. Ideas, which are mere neurological patterns in brain(s), do not have any rights. End of story.

Therefore, I'll say this loud and clear:

I respect the religious as human beings, but I DO NOT feel obligated under any circumstances to respect the beliefs they hold. The vast majority of the Christian beliefs and ideas are COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT, and I feel sorry for those of you who fall for it.

The Catholic belief in Transubstantiation is also a wad of unimaginative fairytale bullshit. That's my honest opinion.

I could privately provide you with the email of the president of my university/dean of my faculty if you would like, along with my full name so you can complain to the administration about my vile opinions.

And by the way, I'm using a university computer to type this. And my wages are paid for by Canadian and American taxpayers, so you should contact both government to inform them of this sacriligious misuse of tax money.

Enjoy =P

PZ, you have my support; although I'm not sure any more spam is needed in your president's inbox...

By PsiWavefunction (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree.

To put this politely:

Bollocks. I've said it before, but for those joining our program already in progress, I'll say it again.

News flash: if everybody here said only things with which I agreed exactly and could have said myself, the place would be boring. One of the important things which makes people here congenial is their willingness to roll up the sleeves and have a frank, evidence-based discussion of important questions to which the answers are not clear. We like to argue, and we're good at it. Sometimes, I even think we do good by doing it.

I've said before, on multiple occasions, that I have my disagreements with the people whom, if I were really a "fundamentalist atheist", I would have to follow slavishly. I disagree with Richard Dawkins about the reason why physicists are not gung-ho for Smolin's hypothesis of evolutionary selection of universes, about the role "Bible studies" should play in cultural education, and about the relative rhetorical strengths of the Ultimate 747 and the Problem of Evil. I disagree with Hector Avalos about the merit of Baudrillard and the religious content of The Simpsons. I disagree with Michael Shermer about most everything concerning economics, particularly when he yokes libertarianism to evolutionary psychology, and about the origins of religion.

See?

you have my sword, sir!

and my AXE!

Message of support sent from real-name email.
PZ has given me a greater understanding of Evo-Devo over the past year than all my previous education and private reading had ever achieved.
The man is education personified.
And rationality demonstrated.

By Charlie Foxtrot (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Is is me or do desecrated crackers taste better?

Only two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
- Albert Einstein

Another idea might be to leave feedback at the Catholic League: http://www.catholicleague.org/feedback.php

As with PZ's request, keep it clear, concise and rational.

I sent them the following:

Regarding PZ Meyers - http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1459

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

"The Myers blog can be accessed from the university's website.

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."

Yes, it's good to see you have your priorities right. Let's harass somebody, rather than engage them in a constructive dialogue. Almost as useful as this: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3142511.ece

Even if Myers was truly offensive, he has the right to free speech. By harassing him, you embarrass thinking Catholics everywhere.

Yet again, Donohue shows that no matter what bad things PZed says about him, he can always not only immediately confirm them, but actually be far worse than described.

Over a silly little cracker. Theistards like Donohue must think that god fellow must be *such* a emo wimp, if that actually bothers skydaddy. Oh wait, that's exactly as described, isn't it?

PZed, you're far too forgiving.

CDV #447 wrote:

"Why do you believe that the alleged creator of the universe could in any way, shape, or form, be harmed as a result of the cracker being damaged?"

What don't you understand about the freedom of religion and the right to the pursuit of happiness?

This is a very odd response to the question. If you want to call it a response. I'd call it a non sequitur.

I'd also call it nonsense.

How does asking a religious person to justify a claim that, quite frankly, doesn't make a lot of sense become a violation of the "freedom of religion and the right to pursue happiness?" Nobody is trying to put you in jail or take away your Bible or you RIGHT to believe.

You're hysterical that they're trying to persuade you to believe something else. Well, that's not a form of force. Even if it doesn't make you happy, it's not taking away your "right to pursue happiness." You don't have a right to BE happy, so that if someone makes you unhappy you're being unjustly oppressed.

You don't have a right to be free of critique. Not even in religion. Especially in religion. "Having faith" is just a way of ducking your responsibility to make reasonable sense.

Really now. Do you do this with politics, too?

"You shouldn't vote for Senator X, he's incompetent."

"I have the right to vote for whoever I want! You're taking away my political freedom! You're intolerant! And against democracy!"

This is all starting get a little... weird...
I think agreeing with a lot of people and doing the same thing as they are doing is starting to freak me out. If you see what I mean.

For all your talk of tolerance and free thinking, I can find no evidence that you or anyone else on this blog is capable of tolerating those who disagree

You don't mean tolerance. You mean capitulation. You mean that your beliefs remain respected and unchallenged without question. And that you, by your beliefs, occupy a privileged place in the hierarchy of society.

No can do.

The funny thing is though, while I'm an atheist, I do go to church nearly every Sunday. I am, despite my hotheadedness, a Unitarian-Universalist dedicated to social justice.

I am welcomed there, despite my beliefs. Which makes sense as the most recent survey of my Church indicated that NINETEEN PERCENT of us were Atheists/Agnostics. Nineteen percent of us, who are going to Church, tolerate the 81% who believe in some sort of supernatural being.

JUST AS THEY TOLERATE US.

I'm friends with many, many of them. I tolerate all of their lifestyles and the right for them to have and hold whatever beliefs that get them through the day. As long as they don't use their beliefs, however wacky, to hurt or control others.

They give me that same respect for my beliefs. Including my, often, hardcore atheism and though historical/archaeological rebutment of their cherished beliefs back to the origins of Judaism (or whatever).

So don't play that game. Not here. Not with me. Not with the rest of us on this blog.

We're not so blind that we cannot see what you really mean. Because we know that if you meant tolerance, instead of capitulation and privileged, you'd be on our side.

"Luckily, God is merciful, forgives all who seek His forgiveness, and doesn't hold our past transgressions against us. I'm pulling for you."

Sure Stephen, that is why he has this hot place where he can show his love by burning people in perpetuity.

I hope your pres. is ok with getting these email messages. I worried that this would do more harm than good, but ultimately sent a message:

Dear President Bruininks,

I am writing to tell you how much I respect UM's support of Prof. PZ Myers.

As you know, Prof. Myers writes a blog called Pharyngula that sometimes upsets people who disagree with him. Apparently, a recent blog post about communion wafers drew the ire of Bill Donohue and other Catholics, and apparently they have been urged to write to you. Prof. Myers has suggested that others might like to write to you as well.

I do not agree with everything Prof. Myers writes, but I do very much respect his courage in defending values he believes in. Even more, I am impressed that UM does not attempt to squelch faculty freedom to speak. Of course it is very clear that Pharyngula is not the official voice of UM. But at some universities, some faculty are afraid to speak out, even in their personal capacity, because they are afraid their administrators will not support their first amendment rights. That PZ Myers is not afraid is a credit to UM and to your leadership.

---------
Hope this helps. I would not want my bosses getting hate mail about me, either.

Sent a nice email, and pointed out that as someone with a soon-to-be college age child, UMinn is now higher on my list of "Places my child should go to college" because they have and support cranky bastards like you.

Having grown up with me, he'd be right at home with other cranky bastards.

(I left off the full title of the list: "Places my child should go to college that are too far away for him to stay at home and attend, so he'll have to learn how to survive on his own without anyone to clean up his messes.")

#367 Posted by: Stephen Majewski | July 10, 2008 7:58 PM

Dear Professor Myers,
I urge you not to desecrate the Eucharist. ...
//snippage//
Such a sacrilege would not only be deeply offensive to Catholics, but also to people of all faiths for such a blatant disrespect of a profoundly held religious belief.

Stephen, the whole point to all this is 1) no one ever considers the deeply and profoundly held philosophies of atheists - people freely insult and disrespect atheists continuously and completely, and 2) no one has a right to not be offended.

As I am offended daily by the insanity of Muslim suicide bombers and Christian Evangelicals alike, I am living proof of not having a right to not be offended.

John B. Sandlin

Email sent to the prez which both supports PZ's right to free speech on his blog and its great continuing contribution to the understanding of biology.

Timcol wrote: "...will the Catholic church promise to stop condemning to hell everybody who doesn't agree with them?"

The Church only affirms saints in heaven. It wisely remains silent about who might have willfully chosen eternal separation from God.
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CJO wrote: "Yes, we get this, @sO...."

Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. - Matthew 5:11-12
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Owlmirror wrote: "Why do you, personally, believe....that the alleged creator of the universe could in any way, shape, or form, be harmed as a result of the cracker being damaged?"

Those are good questions. When the Spirit moves you, I have no doubt that you will use your computer to find the answers.
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Wowbagger wrote: "Doesn't your god frown on that sort of thing? Sin of Onan and all that?"

You guys are tough!
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Rey Fox wrote: "Yet I notice you don't seem to have any concern for the fellow who's flesh is apparently manifested on Earth...."

I'm sorry if I came across that way.
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Cheezits wrote: "Why do they believe something so truly, really, substantially ridiculous?"

Because God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, said so.

I'd like to share a quote from Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the great Italian theologian and philosopher: "To disparage the dictate of reason is equivalent to contemning the command of God."

Time doesn't allow for me to present the many reasonable explanations for the existence of God. Faith is a gift offered freely by God to everyone. He calls each one of us by name to cooperate with his grace. The choice whether to do so is ours. Thankfully, whether one believes in God for a lifetime or takes a lifetime to believe, the eternal reward is the same.

Lastly, I apologize for being a "concern troll." Apparently, I've violated blog etiquette.

By Stephen Majewski (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

Remind me to never go into an old Catholic church again. On the off chance it catches on fire, and I pass out (a pretty unlikely situation, to be sure), the crackers would be rescued before I am, apparently...

From #450: You, Professor Myers are a damned fool. You are publicly advocating what one of the major world religions considers an act of sacrilege. All that a creationist need now do is point to these abysmally juvenile antics as evidence that adherence to evolutionary science is not based on cool, objective reasons, but on the fact that its most vocal adherents are deeply irrational, bigoted, raving atheists. Looking at all of these comments, I begin to wonder, myself. Thanks for setting back the cause, jerkwad. Posted by: Anand | July 10, 2008 9:17 PM

PZ set back the cause? Are you suggesting that creationists are more likely to attack science education because PZ pointed out the obvious fact that people shouldn't make death threats because somebody didn't want to eat a cracker?

Perhaps the next time Christians threaten to kill someone everybody else should just be quiet about it so the creationists aren't offended. Then the creationists will notice how nice the atheists are to be quiet about their death threats, and they will throw out magical creation and support science education.

Oh wait. That won't work. Appeasement of creationists was tried, and the creationists still passed a bill in Louisiana legalizing the teaching of magic in biology classes. The votes for the bill were 94-3 and 36-0, and the creationist governor, who may be our next Vice-president, signed the bill. Since appeasement isn't working maybe ridicule of religious insanity isn't such a bad idea.

I'm in IT. I tolerate stupidity and lies on a scale that a classroom full of retarded Eddie Haskells couldn't match.

I have to, else I'm unemployed.

However, "tolerance" doesn't mean I won't point and go "HA-HA" at stupid shit. It just means I accept that I have to put up with it.

Didn't any of these morons see the South Park episode on Tolerance?

Hopefully the poor student is OK.
Goodnight sweethearts. :)

Sam Harris said in The End of Faith:

"After this incredible dogma [of transubstantiation] had been established [in 1215], by mere reiteration, to the satisfaction of everyone, Christians began to worry that these living wafers might be subjected to all manner of mistreatment, and even physical torture, at the ends of heretics of Jews. (One might wonder why eating the body of Jesus would be any less of a torment to him."

Ah....thanks for posting that, #426. I had long suspected that Sam Harris was a simpleton. Now I know for certain.

Transubstantiation was not established in 1215. The word was coined then in order to attempt to describe more precisely the belief of Catholics, but the belief itself dates back to the time of Jesus, and this is known by anyone who knows ANYTHING about religious history.

By Dave Mueller (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink

As for knowledge of the universe - there is much more that we DON'T know than we do, so why the arrogance? Do you know more than Pascal? Or Mozart? Newton?

Posted by: CDV | July 10, 2008 9:15 PM

Actually, yes. I do know more about the Universe than Pascal, Mozart and Newton. Isn't that ironic? You meant to ask a rhetorical question and called into your argument authorities from the past...

Men who, during their time, were giants. But whose great accomplishments have been surpassed by generation upon generation upon generation of scientists.

All those greats would, literally, have to go back to school to keep up with just about any graduate student in their "knowledge of the universe."

Think of all the disciplines, and how far they've advanced, since those men. We're well beyond apples falling from trees in physics. I don't think Newton could pass a high-school final in physics at this point in time. I could easily kick Newton's ass there.

Mozart was a great composer, but that has little to do with understanding the physical universe. And while I've read he was a great math talent, I've gone further in calculus than Mozart and I've gone further in subjects that barely existed when Mozart was alive.

And Pascal, well, he was a giant. But like Newton and Mozart, he was a pioneer. I've probably learned more about geometry, trigonometry and statistics than existed in his lifetime. I would expect any graduating senior in mathematics, or any other math-intensive major, to out-class Pascal.

Just as I would expect any Medical Resident to be a better doctor than Galen, or Pasteur.

Seriously, get over your ancestor worship. These men were great, but we've gone so, so, so much further than their steps. To think that these men were the end of reason and achieved heights to which we cannot aspire or surpass...

Well, it's stupid.

I'll be sending my letter of support ASAP (by 'ol fashioned snail mail).

This all makes me ashamed that I was raised Catholic. And glad I realized that religion is bullshit a long time ago.

Yes, PZ, if you had lived during the Middle Ages, they would have burned you for having said what you said. Humanity has made some progress, hasn't it?!

By Donald E. Flood (not verified) on 10 Jul 2008 #permalink