Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh How Easy Violent Fundamentalism Can Be Stirred

lol. Just when you think people can't get any more ridiculous...

It seems that most devout Catholics believe smuggling an uneaten cracker is as bad if not worse than a hate crime. (blame Faux News for the poor grammar that follows:)

Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn’t eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.

Catholics worldwide became furious.

We don't know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was," said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. "However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it."

"It is hurtful," said Father Migeul Gonzalez with the Diocese. "Imagine if they kidnapped somebody and you make a plea for that individual to please return that loved one to the family."

For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage--regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance--is beyond hate speech.

Webster Cook, the student who stole the wafer of bread, has received death threats and now fears for his life. Do you hear the same eerie echoes of the Muhammad Danish cartoon scandal that I do?

PZ Myers has a nice write-up. Check it out.


SuiginChou said...

You may not agree with or respect their views, but you're as bad as Webster's enemies if you can't respect that these people were deeply offended, even distressed by what he did.

To approach it from a legal point of view, he caused the church members (and later Catholics around the world) extreme distress; he did so knowing that his actions would likely have this effect; and he did not do this with good intentions. In point of fact, that he managed to smuggle the wafer out of the church yet we know his story proves one thing: that he informed somebody. He was itching to brag about this. This wasn't about ideologies but about being a douche.

To approach it from a personal view: we either live in a world of absolute morality or relative morality. If the former, then what the majority believes today is likely closest to that absolute morality -- in which case you are considered immoral. If the latter, and we can agree that "goodness/rightness is in the eye of the beholder", then we must respect others' differences and recognize, "When I violate his beliefs, he suffers as badly as when somebody violates mine."

To put it into perspective, if I came home and you were in my house and you had a pillow in a blender (familiar?) and you started to blend it despite me pleading with you not to, you would be a cruel person and I would no longer be friends with you. I would also argue that what you did might be a "hate crime" insofar as you did it intent on torturing me and deriving pleasure from that torture. I recognize that "it's just a pillow" ; except to me (in my worldview) it's a horribly sadistic act and anyone who does it despite knowing my views is somebody intent on making me suffer.

Our society has confused "respecting others' beliefs" with "agreeing with others' beliefs," I fear. It's time we realized that we need to respect the pillow guy, the Catholic, the homosexual, etc. without necessarily agreeing with or condoning their behavior. Webster is not a man with a "live and let live" agenda. He's a man with a "my way or the highway" agenda. A dick like him has no place in a moral relativist-society and will be in jeopardy in most moral absolutist-societies as well.

SuiginChou said...

All that stated, yes, I am saddened and frustrated by the fact that the Catholics believe in the Holy Wafer.

But what frustrates me even more is the oft-quoted "religion has caused more suffering in the world than anything else" line. It frustrates me because it's missing the point. People don't kill over religion (too narrow!). People don't kill over sexuality (too narrow!). People don't kill over race (too narrow!). In one, all-encompassing sentence, people kill over beliefs. The fact is, I have seen as many hateful, blood-thirsty posts in Pharyngula's blog entry from angry, zealous atheists as I have anywhere else.

The internet is full of so much hate, the world is full of so much hate, and I tire of it. People so fucking arrogantly point the finger at anyone and anything else before it finds it mark and points back at them. Sick. and. tired. of it. The replies to Pharyngula convince me that if we lived in a world of 90% atheists 10% theists then we'd be hearing the exact same claims but with the shoes all on the other feet. (e.g. "lol did you hear? those atheist nutters are sending death threats to George Dawes because he snuck in to the school library one night and stole all the copies of Trenstein's Summa Atheologica! Man, atheists are fucked up. Did ya know that more people have died in the name of atheism than for any other cause? It's true!"

5% of people on this planet mean it when they say, "I am happy to let you believe what you believe so long as it doesn't harm me." The other 95% say "The knowledge that you don't believe what I believe is driving me crazy, so I'm going to try and convert you and I won't stop until you're dead or I am or one of us has changed his beliefs."

lots of writing. sorry.

Jay said...

I was hoping you'd voice that opinion --I basically agree. It's tough to defend a dick (even though, it seems, he was protesting a religious ceremony being performed on a publicly funded campus). What I find ridiculous is the reaction. This kid has got so many death threats that he fears for his life. Moreover, catholic leaders are equating his actions to hate crimes --you know, like dragging gays behind trucks.

Most of the time morality is a gray issue, but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. The catholic response is monstrous and a frightening reminder that the motivations behind violent fundamentalism can be so easily stirred.

Mike said...

I know people have done this didn't think it was a big deal to anyone.

SuiginChou said...

The thing is, Jay, the Catholics believe a man was dragged behind a truck. Worse: the Savior himself! Webster's actions are a 21st-century crown of thorns for most Catholics: as what he did is the ultimate humiliation of Christ, the ultimate declaration of lack of faith.

To restate, I think it's ludicrous that they equate a cracker to a human being. But am I surprised? Of course not: because I already knew, as you knew, as we all knew, that Catholics and many other Christians equate 32 pluripotent cells to an adult human life. That is to say:

non-Catholic: an abortion is like pulling out a hair from my head; destroying this wafer, however hateful the motive, is inconsequential to God Almighty

Catholic: an abortion is on the same level as Rodney King; and even worse than Rodney King is demolishing the Holy Wafer!!

Whether or not I feel their view is ridiculous, however, is beside the point: I defend their right to feel angry, just not their right to call for Webster's head. Similarly, I defend Webster's right to be angry at what he views as Catholic stupidity but what he did, frankly, deserves to be punished. He showed a gross disrespect for others' beliefs.

One last attempt to put it into perspective: you and I both agree that there's no Santa Claus, but wouldn't you say that Timmy needs to be punished if Timmy goes over to little Randy Jackson's house and tells Randy (in front of Randy's parents) "Hey, guess what? There is no Santa Claus! He's all pretend!" ? Webster could have made his anti-Catholic stand in a more acceptable manner; instead, he took advantage of their hospitality, essentially infiltrated their church, and made an open mockery of their faith.

I know I'm circular, but to conclude:
1) in my world, Webster would be punished. He committed a moral crime against his fellow man.
2) but I would make his punishment proportionate to his crime. If Catholics believe flushing a Koran down a toilet deserves only a fine and discharge from the armed services (if even!), then I don't see why their wafer should be any different. "BUT IT'S GOD!" yadda yadda yadda and the Koran is the impeccable testimony of Allah, what's your point? Hurts, don't it? Now you guys know what it's like when the shoe's on the other foot and people are flushing YOUR holiest of holies down the pooper.