I generally agree with PZ Myers on the topic of Crackergate, but he has a post up today that makes me wonder a little whether he’s forgotten exactly what he did. He’s defending, by analogy to his own actions, the burning of the Koran that is scheduled to take place in Florida this weekend. I understand that he’s reacting to some statements that protest the proposed burning on ridiculous grounds. However, I don’t think that’s any excuse for underestimating the thought that he put into throwing a communion wafer (or whatever the exact appropriate terminology is) in the trash.
PZ didn’t just throw away a cracker and a rusty nail. He also included pages from the Koran and Dawkin’s The God Delusion. Those were critical to conveying his message that the authority claimed by the church was the problem, as is any authority, religious or secular, that can’t provide external justification for its actions. Admittedly, many people weren’t and still aren’t capable of understanding that, but that doesn’t change the fact that those pages were important to what he did.
Nor did he just post a picture of his trash can. The “offending” picture was accompanied by a history and explanation of blood libel–one cost of the authority of the church to those over whom it claimed that authority. Beyond that, the whole brouhaha occured in the context of the church exercising its authority over someone without consent.
That was the message I supported and still support.
That is not the message coming out of Florida. Jones will not undermine his own authority in order to call the authority of the Koran dangerous. In fact, he is claiming the authority for his actions comes from his god, and burning the authority of another is only intended to raise him further. This authority allows him to call Islam the “devil’s religion,” making believers not misguided equals or the blindly privileged, but a dangerous minority who are a threat not for what they do, but for who they are. And we know how that works, or we should.
That isn’t a sloppy version of what PZ said much better. It’s an entirely different animal, whether or not believers can’t see the difference. I would hope that the rest of us can.