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.