Charges Filed in Crackergate

WFTV has the story.

Basically, Webster Cook, the U. Central Florida student who
precipitated this whole mess, is filing charges against the church,
because the university’s rules on hazing prohibit the “forced
consumption of any food”. I’m sure that’s not what the rule was
intended for, but hey.

Just in passing, I think one thing bears repeating: as far as I know,
at no point in this whole sordid affair has the Catholic church, or
anyone else, presented what ought to be the most obvious defense of
their actions: that there’s evidence supporting their
assertion that a piece of bread is a god.

Until such evidence is presented, the assertion that a wafer of bread
turns into a god is just unsupported opinion. Which means that Bill
Donohue and his fellow subpontibians are going apeshit because someone
doesn’t agree with them, and has the unmitigated gall to say so
(granted, rather rudely, in PZ’s case, but still).

Recall the recent Texas Supreme Court case that ruled that freedom of
religion means it’s okay to subject an unwilling victim to an
exorcism, the church used all sorts of lines of defense, but never
once tried to establish that the victim was actually possessed, or
even that there is such a thing as possession.

I suspect that at some level, people who claim to hold these sorts of
nutty religious beliefs don’t actually believe them. Well, okay, maybe
the rank and file do, as evidenced by the people who were up in arms
about Cook holding their god hostage, or the ones who threatened his
and PZ Myers’s life (and you thought we’d left the “crime” of host
desecration behind with the middle ages? Ha!). But by the time it
percolates up the hierarchy, when it comes time to actually put up or
shut up in open court, suddenly they’re very quiet.

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8 Responses to Charges Filed in Crackergate

  1. rarus.vir says:

    Personally, it all falls apart for me at the supposed divinity of Jesus right from the beginning with the virgin birth. Read my post today.

    Like

  2. Fez says:

    Someone on PZ’s mail dump thread found a Florida statute that makes things look perhaps not-so-good for Cook. Oops.

    Like

  3. Eamon Knight says:

    It’s legitimate to prohibit people disrupting other people’s meetings (though I object to specifically enumerating worship services as being protected). However, I think it’s pushing it to call what he did “disturbing” the service — seems to me you could argue that the people who tried to physically restrain him were far more disruptive. But the devil is no doubt in the details of who did exactly what exactly when, and it would take a full court hearing to sort it out.

    This sucks, though: as a Catholic, Cook is legitimately subject to ecclesiastical discpline, up to but not exceeding excommunication. I strongly object to them taking it secular like this.

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  4. Eamon Knight says:

    One further thought: that FL statute sounds like it’s intended to prohibit busting up meetings and otherwise interfering with peacable assembly rights. Construe it too strictly, and we’ll have to start arresting crying babies in church.

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  5. Fez says:

    Eamon Knight,

    you could argue that the people who tried to physically restrain him were far more disruptive

    As the SO has told me multiple times, “I’ll tell you my argument as soon as you tell me if I’m representing the plaintiff or the defendant” 🙂

    w.r.t. the reporting on this case it could be argued that the priest having to pause the service to take the time to demand Cook put the frackin’ cracker in his mouth was willfully disruptive (and an interesting little legal weasel word ‘willful’ is).

    Construe it too strictly, and we’ll have to start arresting crying babies in church.

    The problem (in general) with the courts in the US is that this kind of complaint will most likely be heard by a magistrate rather than a judge, the problem arising from the interpretive latitude allowed magistrates being greater than that of judges. To put another way – nobody really has terribly high expectations of magistrates with the result that their qualifications are often minimal and their ideological suitability for such a position is not investigated. Strictness or looseness of statute applicability will be the sole purview of this individual thus it ends up being a crapshoot.

    My understanding is their decisions cannot set binding legal precedent, but their decisions can make one’s life ridiculously difficult until they are overturned on appeal.

    Like

  6. Oliver McCarthy says:

    Would you care to be more specific? What evidence would you like? You’ve got to remember that God is Infinite, and so a finite amount of evidence isn’t going to go a whole long way to proving He exists, let alone the veracity of consubstantiation.

    Why don’t you just accept the Church’s word on it? (It’s not as is you’ve got anything to lose.)

    Like

  7. Fez says:

    Oliver sez:

    Why don’t you just accept the Church’s word on it? (It’s not as is you’ve got anything to lose.)

    Yes I do – my sanity.

    Like

  8. arensb says:

    Oliver McCarthy:

    Would you care to be more specific? What evidence would you like?

    To give you some idea of where I’m coming from, ask yourself what evidence would convince you that Rumpelstiltskin can spin straw into gold, or that Athena emerged fully-formed from Zeus’s head, or that Muhammad broke the moon in two?

    I’m not being facetious. I assume that you believe these to be just stories. But if one or more of them were true, what would convince you of that? I assume that the fact that these stories have been around for a long time doesn’t cut it with you. The fact that millions of Muslims believe the bit about the moon, and have believed it for centuries, doesn’t carry much weight (after all, if a million people believe a wrong thing, it’s still wrong, right?).

    What if astronomers and astronauts found a fissure running all the way around the moon, and dating to the seventh century. Would that incline you, however minutely, toward believing that maybe the moon story might be true?

    But getting back to the host: one thing I’d love to see would be a double-blind experiment: get 50 hosts. Have half of them consecrated, then identify which ones are Jesus and which ones are just bread. I don’t care how you do it; you can use a mass spectrometer, prayer, or read tea leaves for all I care (although of course, peeking at the experimenters’ notes is cheating). If the experiment is set up properly (the James Randi Educational Foundation can help), and you manage to get 40 out of 50 right, I’ll be impressed.

    The various stories of eucharist miracles that I’ve seen would also constitute good evidence that Catholics are onto something with this whole transsubstantiation thing, if they were true. Unfortunately, all I’ve seen is people uncritically repeating medieval legends. When I read that some 11th century priest stole something and his hosts or crucifix suddenly started bleeding, I’m much more inclined to think that the story is made up, or that someone was either lying or mistaken.

    You’ve got to remember that God is Infinite

    What does this mean? Are you saying your god is infinitely wide? Infinitely thin? What?

    and so a finite amount of evidence isn’t going to go a whole long way to proving He exists

    Well, there’s the whole issue of how much evidence is necessary to demonstrate that a given event is caused by an infinitely-powerful god, rather than, say, by an immensely- (but finitely-) powerful alien. But that’s another discussion.

    Why don’t you just accept the Church’s word on it? (It’s not as is you’ve got anything to lose.)

    Why don’t you just accept the Quran’s word that anyone who worships Jesus as a god will go to hell? It’s not as if you’ve got anything to lose.

    Why don’t you just accept Scientologists’ word that your body is infested with body thetans? Why don’t you just accept the Tao Te Ching’s word that if you don’t follow the Tao, you’re doomed to a vicious cycle of reincarnation and suffering?

    Why don’t you just accept Marx’s word that communism inexorably leads to a paradise of equality and productivity?

    Why don’t you just accept the word of that nice African prince who sent you email about sending you $25 million if you’ll just send a letter on his behalf to the Nigerian consulate? Why don’t you just accept the word of that friendly New Yorker who’ll sell you the Brooklyn bridge? (He’s got a money-back guarantee, so it’s not as if you’ve got anything to lose.)

    Like

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