15 August 2008

CrackerGate - Finale?

I haven't posted on this before now, but I thought that since at least part of the original issue has now been resolved, this would be a good time. Over at Greg Laden's blog you can read a summary of the decision.

If you have no idea what CrackerGate is, well, you must be a bit blog-isolated. Short version: Through a strange series of circumstances, Cook wound up leaving a Catholic service with a consecrated wafer. He was charged with disrupting the service and a few other things (more detail at the link) and threatened with expulsion from his university. Then PZ weighed in and, well, the loonier side of Catholicism surfaced, complete with death threats. If you want a good discussion of PZ's actions, try Thoughts in a Haystack. I mostly agree with Pieret's position.

As for Cook, he's been cleared of most of the charges. There's still some stuff to be decided, but it seems that what really happened was that two church watchdogs overreacted to a perceived attempt to leave with the wafer, scared the hell out of him, and then he really did leave with it. Catholic hysteria ensued, with charges being brought by someone not even in attendance at the service. More details here (same as first two links).

From the comments at Thoughts in a Haystack:

I held out hope to the end that PZ would come up with some clever way to "abuse" the host(s) without actual harm and then return them to some church or to the moron-in-chief, establishing, if not necessarily his moral superiority, at least his greater maturity.

This, I think, is the most entertaining idea I've seen. Seriously. If PZ's goal was to show up the irrationality of the Catholics, that would have been beautiful. Instead, he descended to their level, aiming for the much easier goal of enraging them. Oh, they would have been enraged either way, but PZ's point would have been crystal clear.


Happy Bunny said...

I wonder what "without actual harm" would mean in this case.

It was a small piece of unleavened bread, maybe the size of a quarter.

What point would be made by returning such a valueless item except to reinforce the crazy belief that it held value by virtue of a priest saying magic words over it?

Qalmlea said...

Okay, you’ve found an ordinary item, like a cracker or a glove or someone’s lunch sack. You know it belongs to someone else. Do you (a) randomly attack it with sharp objects; (b) attempt to find the rightful owner; (c) stick it in a garbage bin and forget about it? (b) is consistent with not valuing the object yourself but knowing the owner finds it of value. (c) is consistent with seeing the object as intrinsically worthless and not worth returning. (a) says that you hate, loathe and despise the owner of the object and want them to know it. It also implies a valuation to the object, in the sense that it is worth the effort of destroying it to send your message. Either (b) or (c) is consistent with the "just a cracker" theme. (a) is not.

Happy Bunny said...

You don't appear to have been keeping yourself informed, Qualmlea. See It's a Phrackin' Cracker for details of PZ Myers' motives.

The wafer is valueless. It isn't a glove or a lunch sack. It's a bit of unleavened bread. PZ Myers' action was consistent with his disgust at the doctrine of the transubstantiation being used as an excuse to harass, bully, make death threats against, and attempt to have expelled, a student.

Myers' protest was apparently successful. The student conduct committee met, heard all the witnesses, and cleared Cook and his colleague Collard of all charges. The American Life League, The Catholic League, the Minnesota diocese of St. Cloud, and the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission all bayed for PZ Myers to be fired. They failed. The bullying was thwarted.

Qalmlea said...

Sorry... is there evidence that PZ's action resulted in Cook being cleared? PZ's attention and audience certainly had an effect. But show me where "attacking valueless cracker" even indirectly leads to "cleared of all charges." I'd buy "bringing massive attention to ridiculous case" as a contributing factor to the result.

Also, you haven't addressed the point. If it's a worthless cracker, why attack it? Would you attack a piece of bread someone dropped in the lunch room? I do not see this action as consistent with the notion that the 'cracker' was worthless. Subjecting it to scientific analysis and showing that, in fact, it was still made of wheat and water and whatever else would be more to the point of demonstrating it was worthless than attacking it as if it were not worthless.

Also, I'm not seeing any motive other than outrage in that post (which I had already read, btw), roughly along the lines of keying the car of the guy who filed the case in the first place. Childish and pointless.