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July 12, 2008

Bill Donohue and the Catholic League bully PZ Myers over Eucharist joke

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. 


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Too bad y'all can't read clearly. Perhaps that is where most of your ignorance lays -- Norman and I and others have repeatedly tried to debunk your myths about Catholics, but just as they persisted against our older brothers in the Jewish faith, some of you are just determined to cling to them.

Those words from Matthew are in no way meant as condemnations. Why would you choose to read them that way?

Again, you are always welcome to learn more, and stop spreading myths about Catholic views on women, homosexuals, and those currently outside the faith. That is what we are defending -- our right to present our beliefs truthfully, not with your "cracker" "Jew hater" (gay, women, etc) myths.

Once exposed to the light, they simply wither away because clearly you can't continue to misrepresent us when groups like Donahue's exist, and the faithful are willing to speak out and present you with evidence contrary to your pre-formed conclusions.

ps. The HTML seems to be working just fine here for me. Why do you continue to blame others for your troubles?


What's so generalized about you falsely accusing Pope Benedict of pedophilia?


I have this mental image of you holding your hands over your ears while others try to speak with you; and you, with eyes squeezed shut, are reciting with a loud voice, "La la la la la la, the church sucks, la la la la la la, dark ages, la la la la la la, Jew haters, la la la la la la, magical cracker, la la la la la la, catholics are stupid, la la la la la la, the pope rapes little boys, la la la ...".

You have no capacity for empathy nor the ability to view differences of opinion from another's perspective.

Society will never out pace religion because religion is part of the human psyche and, thus, part of human society. Both society and religion, I hope, can out pace their own bigotry, insularity, and intolerance.

There is hope, and I have seen it. I have witnessed a Jew rejoicing when a Catholic, who is faithful to his heritage, finds redemption and salvation. I have witnessed a Catholic priest and theologian encourage an atheist to be a good atheist without a requirement to convert as a precondition of salvation. I have witnessed an atheist rejoicing over the fact that a Christian can find enlightenment in the teachings of Jesus, and a Hindi in the Geta, the Upanishads, the Sutras, and the Mahabharata.

Here is something to consider. The Book of James in the Christian testament is very interesting because it is totally devoid of theology, unlike the writings a St. Paul, especially in his letter to the Romans. Let's make the assumption that this James is the brother of Jesus and the leader of Jesus' followers in Jerusalem, following Jesus' death. Then the Book of James may be the closest thing to the actually sentiments and teaching of Jesus. Making these assumptions then the message of Jesus becomes, be a good Jew.

Amusing defense of PZ
Woozle | July 14, 2008 at 06:09 PM
"1. He was writing before the riots and burning had taken place"

Then he quotes this.
"It also doesn't help that their riots are confirming the caricatures rather than opposing them. Once again, religiosity turns people into mindless frenzied zombies, and once again it interferes with progress.""

Now that the church's Achilles heel is exposed, it is spreading

The horror

Patrick O,

Now that anti-Catholic bigotry has been exposed and encouraged, it is spreading. The horror is the intolerance and the explicit ridicule of another religion's most sacred object of worship. I saw the video and encourage everyone to view it.

Think of the disgusting caricatures of European Jewry from the 1850s through the middle of the last century. Jews were mocked and ridiculed for their appearance, their traditions and rituals, their less than human mental abilities (compare that to the incessant insult, in this discussion, that Catholics are stupid, as demonstrated in their irrational expressions of faith.)

If you are going to encourage such bigotry because Catholic belief and theology don't square with your veneration of pure rationality, then why stop with Catholics. Be consistent with your own proclivity to ridicule and harass. Let's go out and insult Orthodox Jews and Hassidim in our streets and hurl insults at them for being irrational and stupid. Yell at them and tug on their beards to teach them a lesson about their views on homosexuality, artificial birth control, and requiring 'unclean' women to use a purifying bath before having sex with their husbands. Go mock their stupid rules about their behavior on the sabbath by driving a car through their neighborhoods and defiantly using your cell phones in front of them. Then when they get angry and throw stones at you for violating their sabbath in their own neighborhood, charge them with barbaric assault and denying your legal right to assemble in front of their synagog and drive your cars and blow you horn. They deserve it. After all they became violent, not you. Find a temple that provides copies of the Torah to worshipping Jews, then obtain the Torah by subterfuge (after all they were giving them away and it's not like you stole it.) Now stand in front of a temple and burn it and tear it to shreds. It's not a desecration. It's a fuckin' hunk of cellulose that is bound between two covers.

At least be consistent. From the verbal assaults on the Catholic faithful I've read here, you have to be equally unkind, intolerant, and disrectful to observant Jews in the most offensive manner possible. How many times do the offended parties have to tell you that it hurts, it is demeaning, it is shameful to them before you even begin to consider that you might stop - at least for a while. Then you turn to them and say, "I don't see what your problem is. I'm the rational one. You're the one who is stupid. I don't understand why you find it so painful to begin with. Grow up. Get rational."

It's really rather humorous to read all these logical hoops you're jumping through and dazzling displays of rationalization, to excuse PZ Myer's actions. You are revealing quite a blind spot, I must say. It reminds me of the knee jerk defenses parroted by the fans of Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, whenever they say or do something reprehensible.

I guess PZ Myers is so self important, such a defender of free speech and the separation of church and state, that he has the right to interfere in someone's private rituals and gatherings. He has the right to ridicule and insult entire chunks of the earth's population, for in that process he heightens his own tower of ego and amasses more adoring fans.

Desecrating of a groups religious symbols has a long history. What's next on the Atheist Supremacist agenda, bible burning? Oh Boy!!!

I guess the whole thing puts me in two minds. I loathe Bill Donohue, and I fully support P.Z.Myers's right to be as big a rhetorical bomb-thrower as he likes (rhetoric, unlike real bombs, should be largely unconstrained).

But the joke, if it was a joke, wasn't very funny. And in a more recent posting, Myers, who's evidently received a consecrated wafer from his fan base, as well as two Qurans from some Christian non-admirers, has intimated that he may do just what he was joking about doing. I hope I'm not the only unbeliever here who thinks that gratuitously wounding the sensibilities of the pious is either a pointless activity--or one whose point is to gratify some pretty unpleasant inclinations.

And, in a perhaps fruitless effort to forestall any misundertanding, I don't think anyone deserves death threats either.

If the author is serious about being a journalist, I would suggest that she learn factual information before writing about a subject.

You should take a look now at what PZ had done now... wow...

after reading all the anti-catholic hate comments on this subject I am more convinced than ever that the Catholic church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. Bill Donohue is my hero!

Webster Cook was not manhandled. Quit pretending that he was. By your apparant ignornace of the difference between a consecrated host and one that is, you reveal a total ignorance of what this is all about. If your did, you would understand that some Catholics would be glad to fight to the death to stop Mr.Cook. Your statement,"Cook is a Catholic and is entitled to receive Communion" is only half correct. Only Catholics who are properly disposed are to receive Communion. As a Catholic(?)Cook would know this. Please take a little time to bone up on just what the issue is before sallying forth with an opinion. (Fools rush in with gravy on their chin!) This whole affair is really an in-house issue that is really of no concern to non-Catholics anyway. No one is required to be a Catholic. And your use of the term "cracker" is about as low-brow as anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Jack Chick's famous little comic book "THE DEATH COOKIE". Actually, it's worse. Chick is at least motivated by money and Protestant ignorance. You,dearie, are motivated soley by snottiness, wouldn't you say?


Wrestler who discarded medal expelled from Olympic Games

(CNN) -- A Swedish wrestler who discarded his bronze medal in a protest during the presentation ceremony has been stripped of the award and disqualified from the tournament in Beijing.

The International Olympic Committee said it was also officially disqualifying Ara Abrahamian, 35, from his event, Greco-Roman wrestling.

Abrahamian was beaten in the 84-kilogram class by eventual gold medal winner Andrea Minguzzi of Italy. He complained that "blatant errors in judging" caused him to lose the match and said he felt that he deserved the gold.

The Swede shouted at the referee before confronting the judges. During Thursday's presentation ceremony, he took off his medal and left it in the center of the competition mat before walking off.

The IOC said Abrahamian violated two rules of the Olympic charter, one that bans any sort of demonstrations and another that demands respect for all Olympic athletes.

"The awards ceremony is a highly symbolic ritual, acknowledged as such by all athletes and other participants," the IOC said.

"Any disruption by any athlete, in particular a medalist, is in itself an insult to the other athletes and to the Olympic Movement. It is also contrary to the spirit of fair play."

Abrahamian never expressed regret or offered an apology, the IOC said. The international weightlifting federation was asked to consider further sanctions against him.

His medal was the third stripped at the Beijing Games.
On Friday, North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su had his silver and bronze medals taken away after failing a doping test. Also expelled for doping violations have been Spanish cyclist Maria Isabel Moreno and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do.

Abrahamian's case is not the first of its kind.

A weightlifter at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics was stripped of his bronze medal after rejecting it during the medal ceremony.

Ibragim Samadov, competing in the light heavyweight category for the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union, was upset with his performance and refused to have the medal placed around his neck and only accepted it in his hand. He then put it down and walked off.

Samadov later apologized, but the IOC decision upheld its decision to disqualify him, and he was later banned for life by the sport's governing body.

Where do we draw the line on desecration of ridiculous ideas.

Should we allow desecration of graves, as a joke or criticism against those buried or the community that buried them?
Is taunting a valid form of criticism?

If certain beliefs have no basis in reality (can we even all agree on reality?)
does that justify any mockery of them?

I can't comment on the alleged death threats, other than if they are real, then then the perpetraters should be prosecuted.

There was a time when religious felt they had a moral duty to try to save those in other religions (Northern Ireland comes to mind, with its parades), but for the most part in North America, they have learned to tolerate one another, while keeping their criticism to themselves and for the most part out of the public sphere. They maintain that the others might still go to hell, but it saving them against their will was not an option. Without this I am not sure that the nation would have held together during the times of religious ferver. Some atheists seem to feel it is their duty or right to save theists from the stupidity of their beliefs. For me it smacks of a bit of prostletising. I don't understand what is to be gained by mocking a group of believers, unless you believe that our own welfare is contingent on eliminating these beliefs. While I believe in the right to burn the American flag, I don't support anyone going around to stealing say somebodys school flag (to burn, or use in another form of protest) Now we can all agree that the flag is not Jesus, just some cloth with a pattern on it. And that death threats should not be involved. So if a group tells you that this flag is its most important symbol, then inciting people to steal it and burn it (even in jest) does not seem like a bright thing to do. If you can't criticize someones school or beliefs in a more constructive way than stealing and burning their flag, then you may have more problems with sanity, then those who hold the insane beliefs in the first place.

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