When PZ Myers joking suggested that his readers steal communion wafers, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League went ballistic.
PZ made the joke because he was exasperated by media reports of a Florida university student receiving death threats for walking out of church with some unconsumed Eucharist. Ironically, PZ was standing up for the rights of a Catholic student who was being harassed by fellow Catholics.
For the record, the student, Webster Cook, didn't even steal the wafer, it was given to him. Cook is Catholic and is entitled to receive communion.
He says he didn't intend to desecrate the wafer. He just wanted to show it to his non-Catholic friend, whom he had invited to church, before consuming it. It was an unorthodox move, but hardly a hate crime.
Cook says he only walked out with the cracker after a church member saw him take the blessed cracker and physically assaulted him in an attempt to retrieve the wafer. If that's what happened, good for him for walking out. People are free to worship however they like, but that freedom doesn't extend to enforcing their own rules by force.
PZ was joking about desecrating the Eucharist. In his view, the sheer absurdity of death threats over a cracker called for an equally outrageous rhetorical response. Along the lines of: Oh, yeah, I'll desecrate ten crackers Live! on the Internets!!!, what are you going to do about it?
It's called hyperbole, a tactic often used in the these "jokes" the kids enjoy nowadays. Bill Donohue is from an era when any harsh word against the church was punishable heresy. Somewhere there's an Inquisition missing its Inquisitor.
PZ called out bullying by attempting to provoke an even more disproportionate response from the fanatics. He succeeded.
Donohue and his ilk wrap themselves in the mantle of religious freedom, but they don't give a damn about the other part of the First Amendment: freedom of expression.
Some well-intentioned liberals get sucked in by the Catholic League's
main rhetorical trick which is to construe any criticism or mockery as a hate crime.
The Catholic League likes to attack the livelihoods of people who criticize them, or run afoul of their proprietary vision of acceptable discourse about the Catholic Church. Donohue and his minions are doing their best to get PZ fired from the University of Minnesota.
Donohue has no religious credentials of his own and no official connection to the Catholic Church. He's not a priest, he's not a theologian. He's just a self-aggrandizing bully who likes to rail against celebrities and get bloggers fired. Why anyone takes him seriously is beyond me. Donohue managed to whip up a minor moral panic around Amanda Marcotte's joke about the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit--as if he and the Catholic League holds the copyright on the Virgin, like Disney does for Mickey Mouse!
For Donohue to construe that remark as hateful towards Catholics should be enough to permanently disqualify him as a cultural critic. Mockery isn't hatred. Being crass isn't a crime.
Clearly, Bill Donohue can't take a joke. He is the self-appointed defender of one of the richest and most powerful organizations in human history and he has assigned himself the task of policing snark by atheist bloggers. Donohue's complete lack of perspective makes him ridiculous in the truest sense of the word.
If he had more shame, or less money, Donohue would be totally irrelevant.
I wonder how the Catholic League feels about the sale communion wafers as diet snacks in heavily-Catholic Quebec...
Making fun of people who liken the removal of a communion wafer to kidnapping and hostage-taking is A-OK in my book--especially when these folks seem surprisingly unconcerned about the alleged physical assault that preceded the removal, or the death threats that followed.
The Catholic League claims to be a civil rights organization. Yet it consistently targets high-profile atheists like Amanda Marcotte and PZ Myers and attempts to get them fired. Draw you own conclusions.