Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've changed my mind: these people are LITERALLY crackers

More on the magic biscuit fiasco. Here's a brief summary to get you up to speed:
  • Bloke attends Catholic mass on university campus in Florida, takes communion, but doesn't swallow (stop sniggering at the back); instead attempts to transport the small wafery biscuit back to his pew to show his curious non-Catholic friend
  • Outraged Catholics bar his way and attempt to relieve him of said wafery biscuit by force (by this time it was in his hand, as far as I can gather)
  • Bloke leaves church (somewhat hurriedly one assumes) and puts wafery biscuit in a plastic bag
  • Church demands return of "kidnapped" Literal Actual Son Of God ® (yeah, I know, but remember the transubstantiation thing. It's, like, magic)
  • Bloke returns biscuit
  • Atheist blogger and well-known religion-goading provocateur gets wind of story, threatens to defile further biscuits in unspecified ghastly ways
  • Entirely predictable flood of outraged e-mail results, including some genuinely disturbing death threats, which atheist blogger publishes, e-mail headers and all
  • The full awesome power of internet geekery identifies full details of account being used to send mail (a female employee of retailer 1-800-Flowers)
  • Female employee's husband (a thoroughly charming chap called Chuck Kroll) confesses to sending e-mail. Wife gets sacked anyway. Dinner at Krolls' place reported "quieter than usual". Chuck sleeps on sofa.
This is a rich seam of humour. Note how Chuck's confession is about as unapologetic an apology as you'll ever see; also if you dare dip a toe into the 1000+ comments on each of the Pharyngula threads I linked to above you'll note a disturbing level of cognitive dissonance among the Christian commenters - specifically, where they "dare" PZ to defile a Torah or a Koran. To which there are three very quick responses: firstly no-one's giving out individual copies of either of those with no requirement to give them back as part of some inane ritual (which is not to say that the Jews and the Muslims don't have their own specific inane rituals, because of course they do) so it's hardly the same thing, secondly, oh, so it's OK to do that to someone else's religious symbol, but not yours? And, of course, thirdly, well, actually that angle has already been covered.

Big internet shitstorm equates to minimal real-world impact, of course, though beyond the humour there is a serious point to this, which is that if you drag nonsensical flummery like this out into the light where people can look at it, more fence-sitters may start to say "whoa, you believe WHAT?" and the whole thing melts away in front of your eyes, or at the very least is revealed as some bloke behind a curtain operating some levers. Yes, it's just like the Wizard of Oz.

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