The Frackin’ Cracker Tempest

July 25, 2008 | By | 6 Replies More

Communion WaferIn case you’ve been out of touch, a student in Florida took Our Lord Jesus Christ hostage a few weeks ago. He walked out of church with a consecrated communion wafer to show to a friend, rather than promptly eating the true flesh of the 2000 year old man. Ignoring the question of whether Jesus really did say, “Eat Me”, this little event became big news. First, the college and the church denounced and eventually impeached the poor kid. Demands that he be expelled and/or excommunicated flew. (Orlando Sentinel summary article).

Then famous rationalist and biologist PZ Myers got into the act. He published a post in which he suggested that those incensed need to get a reality-based life: “It’s a frackin’ cracker” said he. Myers even suggested that someone should procure for him one of these blessed wafers, so that he could personally desecrate it.

Then the spam hit the fan. Thousands of comments and emails and demands for his expulsion and his firing and even death threats followed. Well, back and forth over several posts. One woman made international news for being fired for using a company computer to send her death threat.

Finally, Myers posted “The Great Desecration” beginning with “It is finished.” He discusses the way the church has used just the allegation of wafer misuse in history to spur mobs to mass murder (with specific examples). He posts a few of the more lucid (and publishable) denunciations of his proposed desecration, with commentary. And finally, he shows a picture of the desecration itself. Not only does he drive a rusty spike through the cracker (wondering in print if Jesus has a current tetanus shot), he nails it through the Koran and into one of Dawkins’ books, then artistically covered it all with the traditional banana peels and coffee grounds.

Desecrating the Koran was a suggestion made by many of his Catholic detractors, who suggested that he didn’t dare offend the Muslims, but only picks on Catholics (the group from whom he received the most death threats) because they are so kind and forgiving.

Desecrating Dawkins is to point out that he is not selectively suggesting that the Biblical injunction against worshipping images be used only against Judeo Christian churches. But that all icons be examined from the point of view that the symbol is not actually the object. Or to quote Korzybski, “The map is not the territory, the word is not the thing”.

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Category: American Culture, Bigotry, Communication, Current Events, Food, Good and Evil, History, ignorance, Iraq, Religion, Science

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (6)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    "90% fewer death threats" is what Myers claims after the publicity of the florist being fired for her (or her husband's) threat.

    In published excerpts of the mail that gets through his filters, he is accused of being a Jew, a Nazi, a Wiccan, gay, a child molester, and (gasp) a Biologist! If you want to see some of the distilled stupidity for yourself, follow the link in this comment.

  2. Alison says:

    I'm a regular reader of Pharyngula, but I haven't commented there about this because there would be no point in getting buried by the thousands and thousands of other comments – as interesting as some of them have been to read.

    What has also been interesting has been following some of the blog responses and seeing how much or how little of the full story that people have absorbed. Myers was outraged not by the fact that the belief in the Eucharist exists, but that a young man was physically accosted, then threatened with expulsion, lawsuits, and physical harm for "kidnapping the body of Jesus Christ." Myers has, in the past, had these same kinds of threats directed at him, and I can imagine that had an effect on his reaction. People who didn't know these two things or chose to ignore them were his harshest critics.

    No matter how rational we might try to be, we find ourselves reacting strongly to things that have affected us personally. When I read his first post offering to do some host desecration of his own, it did seem a little over the top. If it had been someone else who was lower profile, or who had not had to worry about his own safety from the same type of people who had threatened this student, it could be called immature or any number of derogatory things. In this case I'd liken it more to any other person who'd been threatened by a specific group of people reacting in sympathetic anger at that same group targeting someone else. It's understandable in context.

    That it went as far as it did is just an example of mob mentality. Still, the death threats and calls for job termination came flying in from the other side. Melanie Kroll violated her company's IT policy, her husband violated any decent code of ethics (and has been found to have a history of this kind of correspondence) and losing her job was a direct consequence of these, not attributable to any kind of "atheist propaganda machine" or somesuch. Professor Myers might have handled it differently, but it's not likely that he would have been able to once all the emotional volatility kicked in. In the end, I think he actually came out looking better than the defenders of the cracker despite everything, because the belief's not-so-sturdy underpinnings came into public view, and the not-so-peaceful adherents of the religion of peace showed their true colors.

  3. Erika Price says:

    Myers should go down in the books as a fine example of how to respond to death threats and other serious harassment. The only way to respond to the sickening hyperbole of these types of people is to call them out of their anonymity, and show them how it feels to enjoy an open, public online presence. No doubt Melanie Kroll and her husband would never threaten a man's life face-to-face. Somehow the disconnect provided by the internet allowed these people to lose respect for a fellow human's life. It strikes me as pretty absurd that such people can lose respect for the life of a fellow human, all for the sake of upholding respect for a frackin' cracker.

  4. Paul Thoreau says:

    PZ Myers has committed the perfect crime. After all, PZ Myers Has Killed Jesus Christ, and seems to have gotten away with it.

  5. Ben says:

    "YouTube has pulled all of the eucharist desecration videos."

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/youtub

  6. Tim Hogan says:

    It's a "frackin' cracker" to you, got it! There is no reason to actively seek to ridicule the beliefs of others. Some people will react with extremism, some will say it's petty of someone not to at least respect the beliefs of others.

    If you go out of your way to antagonize the mob, don't be surprised if it gets angry and does something stupid. When I was younger, and played "the angry young man" to the hilt, I'd jump out of foxholes and yell; "Shoot at me!!" Damned if the twits didn't do just that and aimed at my big mouth! Now, safe in my foxhole, I blog and call and e-mail and leave when the kids get home from school and yell; "Daddy! Get up here and out of your cave!" I have seen the mob, and it is us!

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