Monday, July 14, 2008

Freedom to Be An Ass

Some circles are abuzz with the 'Crackergate' scandal, in which militant atheist blogger PZ Myers is soliciting consecrated hosts from Catholic churches in order to perform a public desecration of the same.

Observing the similarities between this and the Danish Mohammed cartoons, I have to adopt a consistent position and fully support the associate professor's right to freedom of expression. Although, as a Catholic, I find his writing and this act to be deeply offensive, nonetheless I fully support his legal right to this form of expression. Further, in a brave move and one that deserves wider exposure, he has been entirely consistent and previously threatened to desecrate the Koran. He has integrity, even if he is a nasty piece of work. Feel free to pass that last link on to any Muslims you know, especially radical ones.

However, many of his supporters seem surprised and even upset that there have been numerous calls for his dismissal (sadly, unlikely, since he has tenure). But this is exactly what the whole free speech debate is about. There should be no government role in telling Mr. Myers what he can and can't say, but he should expect to be challenged and debated, and he should accept any consequences, whether professional or personal, that flow from what he does and says. Society will self-regulate hateful speech and hateful acts such as Mr. Myers'.

There are definitely grounds for concern in his professional life; clearly any students who are anything other than secular humanists could expect nothing short of ridicule, bullying, intimidation and low marks in one of Prof. Myers' classes.

There have also been more extreme reactions; obscenities and death threats. Those are to be condemned. It would be nice to see those on the Canadian left-o-sphere who have covered this story adopt a consistent position; they condemn Ezra Levant and yet celebrate PZ Myers. Instead, we should all be defending both men's legal rights to freedom of expression and defending society's freedom to respond appropriately.