It actually feels kind of good, considering that my job is secure, and that these critics are looking increasingly rabidly insane. I just sit back and watch their hysteria grow. Case in point: Rod Dreher, who seems to be crawling the walls and screaming right now. In his ‘review’ of the desecration issue, nowhere does he mention the cause: the violent over-reaction of Catholics to a student in Florida walking away from Mass with a communion wafer, and the subsequent uproar calling for expulsion and punishment from Bill Donohue.
His parting shot to believers: “Nothing must be held sacred.”
He doesn’t believe that, of course. The hateful Dr. Myers and his spittle-flecked supporters insist that their right to profane symbols that Catholics and Muslims hold most sacred is absolute and sacrosanct. To be sure, there’s little doubt that what he did – obtaining a consecrated Host and a copy of the Quran and defiling them – violates no criminal statute.
No, actually, I do believe that. Nothing is sacred; nothing receives its value from an imaginary connection to a deity or supernatural force. Objects and people gain importance to us from their human connections. But yes, I insist that no one can be forced to bow down to the symbols and dogma of a religion, especially a religion to which they do not belong. Jews cannot tell Catholics that they can’t eat ham, Catholics can’t tell Muslims to worship their cracker, Muslims can’t tell me to pray 5 times a day. When a religion oversteps its bounds and starts ordering people to respect their foolish rituals, it’s time for people to step up and demonstrate that no, they can’t do that. You can believe your god is a cracker in your church, Mr Dreher, but you can’t tell me that I must honor your crackers in my home.
Dreher thinks this is the first step in the destruction of society.
But his audacious act of sacrilege crossed an important moral, social and psychological line, one that calls up metaphorical demons that, once summoned, are difficult to control. It is one thing to say that belief in God is foolish and wicked and that Catholicism and Islam deserve scorn. It is quite another to physically desecrate the artifacts believers hold sacred.
Talk about hyperbole…this is a classic religious defense. Why, if we don’t keep cutting the hearts out of sacrificial victims, the sun won’t rise tomorrow. You want the sun to rise, don’t you? Throw a cracker in the trash (an act I did not consider audacious at all, but entirely trivial), and the entire social fabric will crumble! We must stop him!
It’s also supremely hypocritical. Only a few weeks ago, what was Dreher saying?
If P.Z. Myers had any guts, he would put out a call for someone to send him a Koran so he could blow his nose and wrap fish in it. After all, it’s nothing but frackin’ ink on paper, right? So what’s stopping you, Big Man? It’s easy to shit on what Catholics regard as sacred. But just try doing the same thing to what Muslims regard as sacred. Let’s see what you’re made of.
What? Mr Dreher! I thought that physically desecrating the artifacts believers hold sacred would cross “an important moral, social and psychological line, one that calls up metaphorical demons that, once summoned, are difficult to control”. Apparently, this is only true of the artifacts Dreher reveres.
Dreher is not alone. I’ve got way over 10,000 emails from devout Catholics shrieking the same old message — that Eucharist is literally the body of my god! You hurt me when you hurt that cracker! Here’s a Koran — destroy it instead! I want you to lose your job! I want you to die! You’re going to burn in hell! The monster from the id is out and exposed, and it isn’t the atheists who have crossed the line.
Here’s another example of an obsessed Catholic kook who has spotted a witch. He actually went through all of my posts from Spring term and noted the date and time.
When considering only the days UMM was in session for the spring semester of 2008 and cross-referencing these with standard university hours (8a.m. to 4 p.m.), during this time Myers posted 334 times to his blog. That is Three-Hundred Thirty-Four Posts! He averaged close to five posts a day to his blog during university hours. Note to the chancellor: This information was there for the taking. I did not even have easy access to his Internet records as the university does.
Now, this gets a little more interesting when looking at Myers’ class assignments. Many times Myers posts just before class as well as in-between classes. Frequently there are posts during a three-hour biology lab that Myers was in charge of. Sort of, “I’ll keep the students busy and post on my blog.” His professional duties obvious were secondary to supporting his hobby and hate-mongering.
Oh, my. What a remarkable exercise in futility. As I’m sure all of you other university faculty know, there is no such thing as 8-4, 5-days-a-week schedule for us. I’ve spent many weekends and late nights with my head buried in papers; even more time in prep work for lectures, which, when you’ve got 8am classes, gets done at all hours of the day; and as a developmental biologist, I am at the beck and call of embryos that develop on their own schedule that isn’t always in sync with mine. The university is not going to want to open the can of worms that would involve defining exactly when their salaried employees are on the clock and when they’re not — if professors could bill for overtime, universities would go bankrupt.
And, I’m sorry to say, I’m apparently much, much smarter than a certain devout Roman Catholic and social conservative. I know the stats on traffic to blogs: they peak in the early afternoon, my time. I know that to maintain interest it’s a good idea to have new posts up when people are looking in. And I also know how to use the post scheduling feature in MovableType to have articles magically appear without my immediate intervention at times when I am not online, such as when I’m in a lecture or lab.
I’m sorry to disillusion everyone who noticed the occasional nod to Oceania with posts appearing at 1 or 2 or 5am my time, and thought I was the Sleepless Brain, but those are scheduled, too.
Oh, well. They can keep on exposing their ignorance with their rants. I’m having a grand time, while they stare at the kerning in my articles.