Sean Carroll on the PZ Myers Wafergate Controversy

Recently, a student in Florida took a consecrated communion wafer to show some non-Catholic friends.  Some local believers took this to be a “hate crime,” and the student even received some death threats (yes, death threats!).  PZ Myers then asked his readers to “smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I’ll send you my home address.”  This in turn has led to a response by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue that can only be characterized as wacko. Donohoe contacted the administration at the University of Minnesota and the state legislature to get Myers fired. He then got a RNC delegate to secure extra security for the Republican Convention for protection from PZ and his incitement to wafer-steal.   

Sean Carroll offers an interesting take on the whole affair:

There is no way in which PZ is comparable to the folks sending him death threats. I completely agree with him on the substantive question — it’s just a cracker. It doesn’t turn into anyone’s body, and there’s nothing different about a “consecrated” wafer than an unconsecrated one — the laws of physics have something to say about that.

But I thought his original post was severely misguided.  It’s not a matter of freedom of speech — PZ has every right to post whatever opinions he wants on his blog, and I admire him immensely for his passionate advocacy for the cause of godlessness. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. And there’s a huge difference between arguing passionately that God doesn’t exist, and taking joy in doing things that disturb religious people.

Let me explain this position by way of a parable, which I understand is the preferred device in these situations.