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Sunday, 13 July 2008

Comments

Andrea

Oh good Lord. I missed this. But I agree. What a pile of wankers. I hope God puts them together in purgatory ;)

Scott

You said:

?But I draw the line when he starts encouraging people to come into my church under false pretenses to mess with something that I and my fellow Catholics consider to be one of the most holy and sacred things in our faith tradition."

Meaning what? You keep seeming to want the government to act (as in placing limits on speech). What would you have them do to PZ?

Michael

The government already has placed limits on speech, Scott. And PZ Myers blew right past those limits. I don't think he can reasonably expect prosecution, but I do think his boss should sit him down for a good long talk--and encourage him to take some time off to reflect on the firestorm he's created. That's the legal and official part.

The ethical and moral part is simpler--PZ was absolutely in the wrong to do what he did, and he should have known that and avoided doing it. Since he didn't, he now has to deal with all of the consequences--and he really shouldn't be whining about all the meanies in the world that are upset about this, since if he'd had half the brains God gave a goat in the first place, he wouldn't now be finding himself smack in the middle of this cauldron full of hot water.

PZ Myers can think and believe what he likes. He can mock my beliefs all he wants to. (Just as I can mock his--turnabout being fair play, after all.) But just as I have no inherent or other right to barge into his home or his office and try to force him to accept what I believe (or to make off with some object that he values highly for the sole purpose of destroying it to mock him and the regard he has for that object), neither does he have the right to come into my home or my office--or, most importantly, my church--and do those things to me. Neither does he have any right to send other people to do those things for him. It's called common courtesy--a trait which, for my money, needs to become a whole lot more common.

Scott

I know the government has placed limits on speech. I don't think they cover this particular case. The crime here is against your beliefs. You're offended. He advocated desecrating a wafer. And whatever you beleive about it, under the eyes of the law it is nothing more than a cracker.

The Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio struck down a statute that forbade advocacy of physical violence against the government whether or not that advocacy resulted in actual violence.

Well, we're not talking violence here. I know you consider it violence against a sacred object, but that's your belief and it has no secular legal basis.

But let's assume I'm wrong. You're saying that he should be prosecuted. Again...what law did he break?

Michael

You need to read more carefully, Scott. Nowhere did I say that Myers should be prosecuted. Disciplined, yes. Prosecuted, I can't see how that would happen.

You're also misreading the Court's decision in Brandenburg. The Court ruled in that case that the government could not restrict speech that advocated violence in the abstract--but that it could regulate speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action. And that, I continue to maintain, is precisely what PZ Myers's screed was directed toward. Even if his atheistic minions sneak respectfully into Catholic churches, when they are discovered doing what they are there to do, mayhem is absolutely likely to break out. PZ, as a reasonably informed person, should have known this and should have tailored his speech to avoid incitement of that lawless action. He did not. Ergo, I hold, his employer would be within its rights to tell him not to engage in that kind of speech any longer while using university resources (like a computer account or internet access).

If actual violence or other lawless action results from PZ's speech, then we're in a different ballgame. If, as I construe it, his speech is not protected under the First Amendment, then it might be possible (at least in theory) to charge him with incitement to riot or violence. It would probably be a long shot, but there would be precedent for the charges.

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