Not the only person upset

PZ myersPaul Z. Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, has made his best effort at enraging as many people as possible by defiling that which is considered sacred by millions around the globe. Some are even considering how his actions could possibly impact the "future of life in our pluralistic democracy." Paul Walsh of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has one of the few news stories on the subject:

The chancellor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, is standing up for a faculty member's freedom of expression after the instructor posted on the Internet a photo of a defiled communion wafer with pages ripped from the Qur'an.

Paul Z. Myers, who teaches biology at the west-central Minnesota school, on his blog this week posted a picture of the wafer with a rusty nail through it and torn pages from the Qur'an. Also in the photo are tattered pages from a book by biologist Richard Dawkins that scoffs at the notion of a superior being.

This is the second time this month that actions such as these by Myers prompted a harsh retort from a national Catholic civil rights group.

Walsh's story is solid except for the fact that it seems to portray this "national Catholic civil rights group" [the Catholic League] as the only group upset in this matter. In fact, many people are upset about this, and they aren't all best friends with Bill Donohue:

Atheists have done better out of America's commitment to pluralism than any other religious group, so it's hard to see why any of them would now condone an attempt to break down the social compact that demands that we mostly leave other peoples' religious beliefs alone.

The larger story here is that there is a strain of atheism that has become much more aggressive in their, um, belief, that God does not in fact exist. They want you to know about it and want more agnostics to come over to their side. The likes of Sam Harris comes to mind.

Let us get back to Donohue. If this were all I could comment regarding Walsh's article, I would have a strong opinion of the piece. However, check out the last paragraph of the story, which describes Donohue's Catholic League:

The Catholic League at that time also called on the university to act against Myers.

Many rank-and-file Roman Catholics do not endorse the league, which has no formal affiliation with the Catholic Church, because they consider it a reactionary orthodox group run by publicity-seekers. It's president, Bill Donohue, has gone on record with inflammatory remarks about Jews, Muslims and gays.

Is that really the best way to portray the Catholic League? First, "many" is an interesting and unnecessary choice of words since the group is not affiliated with the Catholic Church. Second, reporters should be careful, to say the least, with the term "orthodox" and "reactionary." Third, what groups does not seek publicity? Lastly, instead of using the term "inflammatory remarks" about Donohue, can we just get a couple of quotes from the guy instead of generalities?

For the purposes of this post, I am not going to share my own personal feelings on Donohue, nor do I care what anyone else thinks of Donohue, his personal style, beliefs or overall life goals. I am hoping that most people can agree that this was not the best way to describe him in a news article.

Photo of Professor PZ Myers used under a Wikimedia Commons license.

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