Today’s already written post will have to wait, given the response from Bill Donahue, the President of the Catholic League, to the desecration of a Eucharist by PZ Myers.
Donahue’s statement, in calling for the University of Minnesota to fire Myers, from MYERS DESECRATES THE EUCHARIST
“It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist.”
The important point to note here is that the Swastika and the burning cross (and the Confederate flag, for that matter), are symbols of actual violence committed against Jews and blacks. These are symbols of organizations that not only advocate, but who have actually committed, physical and violent crimes against the people involved.
Nothing in what Myers has done consists of a real or threatened act of violence against a human being.
So, what Donahue is doing in making this analogy to say that the act of putting a nail through a cracker is equivalent to the slaughter of 6 million Jews, the lynching and segregation of blacks, and a century of slavery.
To make such a statement, of course, is to denigrate - to utterly trivialize - the Holocaust, segregation, and slavery.
"Put a nail through a cracker, kill 6 million Jews, enslave blacks for nearly two centuries and continue to treat them as subhuman for another 100 years after that, it's all the same to me." This is, in effect, what Bill Donahue is saying.
His act of appropriating these symbols of real violence for his own purposes is an ultimate act of exploitation. He is, in fact, harvesting the suffering and harm that these people endured for his own political ends. As such, he is adding a new injustice against the injustices that these others have suffered. He is declaring that their deaths and their suffering is simply another resource that he can appropriate for himself and use at his will.
Furthermore, if Donahue's standard of morality were to be universalized, then we would reach the absurd state in which no action can be performed, because you cannot name an act that violates some religious precept somewhere in the world.
Is the act of eating bacon going to be made a hate crime? If we follow Donahue's line of reasoning, this would follow. For a person whose religion forbids the eating of pork, knowledge that somebody else is eating pork can be interpreted as "a statement that my religious beliefs are simply idle prejudices, of no real value". He can clearly argue that, "To show respect for my religion, you must refrain from eating pork. If you violate this prohibition, if you eat pork anyway, we may take this as a sign of hatred and hostility towards those who view the eating of pork to be prohibited."
The desecration of a Eucharist cracker is quite like the eating of pork, or the wearing of a bikini at the beach, or of working on the Sabbath, or of taking the Lord's name in vain. These are the types of acts that those who follow a religion that condemns these acts must nonetheless tolerate in others, because they have no right to impose their purely religious requirements or restrictions on others.
If we follow Donahue even further, we would be viewing the wearing of a bikini on the beach to be the same as burning a cross, or working on the Sabbath to be the same as hanging a swastika in one's cubical.
This is the absurdity of his moral position.