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Thursday, July 31, 2008

 
The Right To Be Offensive

by tristero

Ed Brayton is right. This is an excellent description of the recent Myers affair. Briefly, what happened was this:

A fellow attending Mass decided that, rather than swallow the consecrated Host, to take it home. This created a huge to-do about blasphemy which infuriated PZ Myers. In reaction, Dr. Myers offered to desecrate the Host himself and proceeded to do so.

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

This is about respect and tolerance which, among the lunatic fringe that drives public discourse on religious belief these days, simply doesn't exist. It is, as the letter writer points out, absolutely outrageous to publicly characterize as "an abomination" a loving relationship or anathematize contraceptive practices as "murder." And yet christianist goons do it all the time. And no one blinks an eye.

PZ simply gave them a taste of their own medicine. We should carefully note the christianist reactions. We should recycle them, with interest, the next time they blame a hurricane on a gay pride parade, as psychopastor Hagee did in re: Katrina.

Note: The last time I posted about this , some of you were curious why I didn't like what PZ did. As I said then, it's besides the point. I just didn't, is all. My friends often do things I don't like, but I still like them fine (and vice versa, I hope). I think it's silly to assume we must agree with everything our friends do.*

In PZ's case, whom I've met and who I like a lot both personally and intellectually, I think PZ's actions here pale in comparison to those of the lunatics arrayed against him. I support him and have written the president of his college a letter to say so. But more to the point, I am so thrilled Dr. Myers regularly gives us posts like this one which really stick it to the likes of Bill Donohue and his boring, bleak, and loopy worldview!

*Let's make this general for a moment. Disagreement is not that big a deal; if anything, disagreement is a good thing. OTOH, strong opposition to intolerance, ignorance, and other right wing lunacy is a very big deal. About this, I agree with PZ (and most likely, you, dear reader) 100%.


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