“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

334 Blog Posts by PZ Myers Funded by Taxpayers

Jacqueline Johnson, the chancellor of the University of Minnesota-Morris, recently refused to take corrective actions against P.Z. Myers, a biology professor under her supervision who publicly desecrated both a consecrated Eucharist and the Koran. Myers posted a picture of the desecration on his blog joking, "I pierced it [the Host] with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus’s tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash."

Johnson has issued multiple statements saying that Myers’ sacrilege was done by Myers "the individual" and not associated with the university. According to Johnson, no punitive actions were warranted.

Unfortunately, if Johnson were empathetic enough to the Catholic community to expand at least a moderate effort to investigate this offense, it would be clear the facts do not support her statement.

When considering only the days UMM was in session for the spring semester of 2008 and cross-referencing these with standard university hours (8a.m. to 4 p.m.), during this time Myers posted 334 times to his blog. That is Three-Hundred Thirty-Four Posts! He averaged close to five posts a day to his blog during university hours. Note to the chancellor: This information was there for the taking. I did not even have easy access to his Internet records as the university does.

Now, this gets a little more interesting when looking at Myers’ class assignments. Many times Myers posts just before class as well as in-between classes. Frequently there are posts during a three-hour biology lab that Myers was in charge of. Sort of, "I’ll keep the students busy and post on my blog." His professional duties obvious were secondary to supporting his hobby and hate-mongering.

U.S. News and World Report puts the yearly tuition of UMM at near $10,000. I wonder how the sacraficing parents struggling to pay tuition, trying to provide a better life for their children, would feel about the dedication in which Myers approaches his job?

Specifically, on Jan. 30 during university hours Myers engaged in Catholic-bashing with a post: "I’m just finding the old boy [Pope Benedict XVI] increasingly irrelevant as he continues his reactionary slide into medieval thinking. More and more it’s like hearing reports of what some random homeless man in a Philadelphia subway station ranted about."

On Jan. 25, also during university hours, he added to his sacrilegious offenses by posting a picture of a light switch depicting Christ with children that he inferred looked like Christ was aroused. Myers again joked, "I dare you to look at it and not have wildly inappropriate thoughts skitter through your brain."

Back to Chancellor Johnson. It shows a great dereliction of her duty not to access Myers’ Internet records to see if any of this nonsense has been going on during university hours and with the taxpayers' dime.

The correct questions for Johnson to have asked during this time were two-folded. First, and foremost, did any of this bigotry happen on university time and with university equipment? Secondly, if not, can any of these diatribes in anyway be connected back to the university? What Chancellor Johnson did in her actions was to completely skip the primary, most important question and jumped to the lesser, secondary question, in which the university took down a link from their Web site to Myers’ blog.

The ineptness of handling this situation now turns the focus to Johnson. She now comes across as coddling a bigot and not investigating fully as opposed to being a fiduciary to the university acting appropriately. Her defense of Myers that these bigoted views were his personal views and not related to the university no longer carries weight or truth. Yes, they were his views, but they were posted from the university grounds, with university property and, many times as it appears, during class on the taxpayers’ dime.

When coupling the bumbling of this situation with UMM’s past history of not being sensitive to the Catholic community’s outrage by putting on an anti-Catholic play last year, a new reality is obvious.

The time has come for Chancellor Johnson to be replaced with someone who can handle these offenses professionally, thoroughly and act appropriately in the best interests of the university, the 60 million Catholics in America and the people of Minnesota who are funding the chancellor's salary.


Anonymous said...

Dude! Forward your findings to the Catholic League, the Catholic media & the so called Chancellor.

She shouldn't get away with these excuses.

Anonymous said...

It may take someone with forensic experience, but it would be interesting to see if his blog posts or maintenance activity were issued through the university proxy.

It would also be interesting to note whether an archive copy of the blog is on a university server somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Nice witch hunt.

Scienceblogs uses Movable Type, which has a very nice "scheduled post" feature. Just because a post went live at 1pm, doesn't mean it was written at 1pm.

Also Morris is a small town, and Dr. Myers lives about a block from his office. Popping home for lunch and internet isn't difficult for him.

And most US professors are paid only for the classes they teach. What else they do during your "university hours" is not funded by taxpayers. Of course, I hardly doubt that UMM is funded entirely by "taxpayers". It, like most universities, is funded by the state, tuition, and endowments.

Besides, you're in New York, why do you care so much about the MN taxpayers. Oh yeah, witch hunt.

Alycin said...

So what can WE do? What is the next step? Are we still letter writing? This is so infuriating!

Alycin said...

Here is what I wrote. In signing, I included my last name, but I left it off here for obvious reasons.

Dear Sirs and Madams:

I am sure you all have been receiving several letters and calls about the situation concerning Associate Professor Myers and his desecration of sacred religious objects.

I am sure you are also aware of the fact that people nationwise, Christians and non-Christians alike, are now speculating upon the fact that your University has now had two instances of blatant disrespect toward Catholicism: last year's anti-Catholic play, The Pope & The Witch, and now Mr. Myer's desecration of what Catholics hold to be the center of our belief system, the Eucharist.

When the play was overlooked, it could be supposed that the University was simply giving those involved the freedom to put on the play of their choice, regardless of who it offended. Now, with this second offense, it can only be assumed that the university itself condones disrespect towards religion, especially Catholics, by its refusal to take any action regarding the blatant disrespect aimed at the Church.

Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson has refused to even investigate the matter, claiming that the University has no bearing on Mr. Myer's personal actions, but neglected to realize that three hundred forty-four blog posts were made by Myers during university hours, many during actual class hours. The university must not overlook this situation any longer. Action needs to be taken to ensure that all religions, or the lack thereof, are shown equal respect by the University of Minnesota as a whole, especially by faculty and staff, not excluding them.


Alycin said...

oops, nationwide** (I corrected the version I sent them.)

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Being a blogger, I am aware of scheduling “post dates”. If he is doing this, he is the most random person in God’s creation. Oh.. Sorry, Darwin’s creation. He has a day or two, no more, when the posts come: 1PM, 2PM, 3PM. This is a scheduled post. Most of his posts follow something like, for example, 10:43AM, 10:52AM, 11:04AM. He does not schedule post dates. They are way too random.

He also follows patterns. Not too many around dinner time. So his patterns must be scheduled as well, and the minority of his posts are done outside university hours. He doesn’t want to waste his own time posting.

He also must live very close to the school to be able to run home while teaching biology lab in front of a live class and post. I would think, despite your deflection, he must be paid for teaching this…

The reason why it is a “state univerisity”, is that it is supported by…. the “state”. Taxpayers. That is why in-state students pay less than out-of-state students when attending. They are subsidizing already with their taxes.

You are grasping at straws. I hope Myers has better arguments than you in answering these charges. He is done.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

Great letter Alycin.

This 334 is going to become an very import number in the life of Paul Zachary Myers.

Please everyone remember, I only looked at the Spring 08 semester. One semester. These university hour posts have been going on for years.

b80vin said...

I'm wondering something that maybe you can help me with. I'm trying to do my best not to get filtered out. There is a lot of talk that Myers showed a lack of respect for the Catholic church, and I understand that feeling. What I'm wondering is whether you feel that Myers' has been shown a lack of respect? It certainly seems that Myers merely exercised his free speech, and even explained himself saying he sees nothing sacred in the sacrement. When challenged to include some ephemera of the Muslim faith he did so. And in the end no one died, but Prof. Myers received death threats. Do you not consider the lack of respect for Myers' rights and safety?

As far as I can see I did not approach any subject within the Roman Catholic Church's Magisterium, was not in any way derogatory towards any one else nor did I promote anything. I seriously wish to know your feelings about this.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

I am totally against and denounce PZ Myers getting any death threats.

Some people could frame death threats as free speech, but as we see it as assault and free speech has its limitations.

You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, etc… You can’t malign others religion using public funds, which Myers did. Posting over university servers, their wireless networks, possibly a state-provided laptop, etc.., Compromising himself as a fair-minded educator that a university can't employ anymore. Free speech has its limitations.

Free speech also does not protect you against backlash from what you say. Catholics, Muslims and other have every right to demand punitive actions against Myers. Myers “free speech” evolved to action and cross the line, the same way hanging a noose on a locker in school does. Our “free speech” can now demand action of letting Myers go. I won’t even touch the Myers infringed on a Constitutional right to practice our religion without be maligned.

Lara said...

A Voice, there are copies of this information, yes?

As you know, blogs and information on them can disappear down the memory hole with just a few key strokes...

A Voice in the Crowd said...

There are about 10 people with copies right now. Most of them have a national voice.

A Voice in the Crowd said...

There are about 10 people with copies right now. Most of them have a national voice.

Lara said...

Good. Just didn't want the university (or him) to pull the quick disappearing act with this information that they pulled after the initial complaint against him was publicized.

Even better, of course, is that he lacks the sense to stop running his fingers. Or his mouth.