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PZ Myers Should be Fired for Labeling Aborted Babies as ‘Meat’: A Debate

Tomorrow night, Tuesday Feb 1st, for our next Knights of Contention, we will debate the following proposition:  PZ Myers Should be Fired!

[The debate is over.]

His latest incendiary remarks involve dismissing unborn children (he calls them fetuses) as mere ‘meat’ that practical, scientific minded individuals are indifferent to.   He also made news for his over the top, foaming at the mouth mockery of the Catholic faith regarding the elements of the eucharist smuggled out by what appeared to be a budding atheist activist.   PZ Myer’s frequently visited blog is permeated with crude, rude, crass and sometimes positively fascistic ravings.   Oh, and by the way he is professor at the University of Minnesota.

So, the issues to be debated are:  Are there limits to academic freedom?  Does a person or institution supported by the public dime have an obligation to show a modicum of respect to the public it allegedly serves?  Does the public have the right to speak to the values they want their public institutions to transmit- or not?  (PZ and his defenders are likely to manifest great hypocrisy on this point and others since they have no problem actively fighting and denouncing proponents of Intelligent Design and Creationism.)  Does it make a difference if a public university professor makes his asinine comments outside of the classroom?  Or does he still reflect on the institution he serves?  Does the public have the right to decide if it really ought to be the case- as PZ and many of the New Atheists seem to demonstrate every day- that one of the minimum requirements to be a scientist is that one also must be, well, an ass?

You get the idea.

The discussion will take place in our online conferencing software at 9:30 p.m. CST and run until people get tired.

This is the Direct link to the discussion room.

Allowed to speak:  atheists, theists, cynics, skeptics, knuckleheads, and the rest.  Basic rule:  behave as though you were in a public diner with friends and people they brought along but are strangers to you.

It’s a little ambiguous, but if you can’t be courteous in your passionate discourse, we just won’t allow you back.  On the other hand, if you have thin skin and are easily offended, this may not be the conversation for you.

The purpose of the event is not just to persuade, but also to cultivate good relations between people with disparate positions.

Click here for information about past Knights of Contention.

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13 Responses to PZ Myers Should be Fired for Labeling Aborted Babies as ‘Meat’: A Debate

  1. (PZ and his defenders are likely to manifest great hypocrisy on this point and others since they have no problem actively fighting and denouncing proponents of Intelligent Design and Creationism.)

    On the contrary, nobody has attempted to have Michael Behe’s tenure revoked because of his flirtation with ID. It is the fools who believe that creationists are “expelled” by academia and yet call for the firing of a professor because of speech they disagree with who are the hypocrites.

  2. No one said anything about Michael Behe being under attack, did they? I note also that Dr. Jimbo Bob’s tenure hasn’t been challenged, either. That proves that nobody’s jobs have been threatened, right? Riiiiiiight.

    Unfortunately for you, this is a blog where the main contributor takes the time to research his claims and knows what he is talking about. I didn’t need Expelled to tell me about the attacks on those who object to evolutionary theory. Here is a fun example,

    http://sntjohnny.com/front/climategate-to-be-followed-by-evolutiongate/735.html

    In one case- Richard Sternberg- it was a US Congressional Committee Report that declared, with emphasis theirs: Given the attitudes expressed in these emails, scientists who are known to be skeptical of Darwinian theory, whatever their qualifications or research record, cannot expect to receive equal treatment or consideration by NMNH officials.

    Let me spell it out for you. The US Congress is not the Discovery Institute. Are you aware of that? Ben Stein is not a Congressman. Right? You can disagree with the report’s findings if you like (I actually read the emails for myself. Bet you didn’t) but let’s not try to pawn this off as a creationist conspiracy.

    Moreover, since you did not attend the debate and have not heard any of the reasons you have no basis for calling anyone a hypocrite. Do you think it is only because I disagree with the speech? Do you always say such stupid things before bothering to inform yourself? Did you ask me my reasons?

    You are what is wrong with the skeptical community. You think you know everything already about the other side. You are not worthy of any more of my time until you show that you can actually think- cogently- for yourself.

  3. To turn your aggrieved tone back at you:

    Why do you think I’m ignorant of any of the hyped-up fictions surrounding Richard Sternberg? Regarding those “EvolutionGate” e-mails, I did read them and found nothing exceptionable in them. In fact, I doubt you did read the report you’re touting in full because if you had you would have noticed that the conclusions of the report are flatly contradicted by the evidence they gathered. In other words, this attack on the “politicization” of the Smithsonian was itself a political attack on the Smithsonian from the far-right members of Congress.

    Sternberg was not “fired” from his position as a research associate, because that implies that the Smithsonian paid him a salary. A “research associate” is simply a courtesy position at the Smithsonian which allows those on whom this title is bestowed access to the collections of the National Museum of Natural History. Sternberg’s day-job was at the National Institutes of Health, in a position completely unrelated to anything he might be doing at the NMNH, and he retained that job even after his unprofessional behavior as editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington came to widespread notice.

    …but let’s not try to pawn this off as a creationist conspiracy.

    Why not? The Republicans in Congress are lousy with creationists and even those who aren’t creationists are too cowed by the Religious Right to speak up in defense of science. Thanks to Reagan and Gingrich, the Religious Right is now the tail that wags the elephant, so to speak.

    Do you think it is only because I disagree with the speech?

    Yes, I do because you have nothing else to hold against him. You don’t know him personally, so you cannot observe his outward behavior. All you see of him is his blog, and that is written speech by definition.

    Do you always say such stupid things before bothering to inform yourself? Did you ask me my reasons?

    Oh, please do inform me of your reasons for wanting Dr. Myers fired aside from his speech or his beliefs (since the only way you can know about his beliefs is through his speech). I eagerly await enlightenment from you.

  4. “Why do you think I’m ignorant of any of the hyped-up fictions surrounding Richard Sternberg?”

    Because you say: “I did read them and found nothing exceptionable in them.”

    “Why not?”

    Because it ain’t.

    “Oh, please do inform me of your reasons for wanting Dr. Myers fired aside from his speech or his beliefs (since the only way you can know about his beliefs is through his speech). I eagerly await enlightenment from you.”

    Too late, pal. I don’t debate mind readers.

    http://sntjohnny.com/front/how-to-smell-out-a-bad-faith-debater-and-recognize-a-good-faith-one/865.html

  5. I missed this the first time around:

    He also made news for his over the top, foaming at the mouth mockery of the Catholic faith regarding the elements of the eucharist smuggled out by what appeared to be a budding atheist activist.

    Since you whined at me for allegedly not bothering to inform myself—though if you had something of more seriousness than his blog postings to kvetch about, it is reasonable for an impartial observer to expect you to lead with it—then you should take your own advice about accuracy.

    To wit:
    He also made news for his over the top, foaming at the mouth mockery of the Catholic faith regarding the elements of the eucharist smuggled out by what appeared to be a budding atheist activist.

    “By what appeared to be a budding atheist activist”? Au contraire. If you had bothered to get your information from those taking a dispassionate view and not foaming at the mouth, you would have found out that the young man was a faithful Catholic who wanted to bring the host to a fellow student who was curious about the religion. In other words, he was doing exactly what your Bible tells him to do: evangelism. Although for all I know he might be a budding atheist now—after the death threats that were launched his way by the oh-so-charming faithful such a turn of events could hardly be surprising.

    But I still eagerly await the facts about PZ Myers that make him unsuitable as a professor of biology and which do not turn on his speech—written, verbal, or symbolic—or his beliefs (which are necessarily conveyed to his audience by speech). Please, regale me with your well-founded, non-witch-hunting complaints.

  6. Whoops. Looks like I quoted that careless error twice. My own much less serious careless error could have been caught with a preview button. Maybe you should see if this software will support one.

  7. lol, looks like foaming at the mouth runs in the family. 😉 Next time don’t let the froth get over your eyes. 😉

  8. Why is it that the very people who make such a big deal of “defending” the faith are such intellectual cowards when a straight question or two has been put to them? You are one of the most singularly unimpressive gents I’ve ever seen.

    Now, there are several issues that have been left unresolved:

    Do you have any comment to make on the fact that the tale of the ‘persecution’ of Richard Sternberg is a politically motivated fiction and that he was not, in fact, fired from the Smithsonian because he was never employed by them in the first place? That, of course, did not stop him from misrepresenting himself as a member of the Smithsonian in the NYT. Do you have any comment to make on this act of dishonesty on his part? Lastly, do you have any comment to make on the fact that Sternberg bypassed the rules of peer review for the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington in order to shoehorn a completely irrelevant pro-ID article into the journal?

    Then, do you have any comment to make on your silly suggestion, which happened to be false, that the UCF student in question was a “budding atheist activist” instead of the faithful Catholic he really was?

    In all honesty, a second’s worth of thought would have revealed how silly it was to claim he was an atheist. What use do you think atheists have for communion wafers? Smear brie on them and make canapés? Perform a black mass over them? Nobody would care if your lot didn’t make so much stink about a stupid cracker. That’s all it was, even by Catholic theology, because the student had taken it away before it was blessed by the priest.

    But they didn’t care. It was the idea of the host that was more important than the life of this UCF student, so it was perfectly appropriate to make death threats over a cracker to them. Just like it’s perfectly appropriate to shoot adult abortion providers and make pregnant women’s lives a misery for the abstraction that is the “potential baby” in a fetus. And just like the ‘saintly’ Mother Theresa withheld medicine and palliative care from those unlucky enough to fall into her clutches so that they could achieve this abstraction of “grace” through suffering. This is what religion does when it becomes ideology: it makes people care more about abstractions than real human beings.

    And, most importantly, do you have any basis for wishing to see Dr. Myers fired that does not rest either on his speech or beliefs?

    I’ve been waiting for an answer to that for ages.

  9. 2. They constantly fail to respond to the point you’re actually making.

    Now, there are several issues that have been left unresolved:

    Do you have any comment to make on the fact that the tale of the ‘persecution’ of Richard Sternberg is a politically motivated fiction and that he was not, in fact, fired from the Smithsonian because he was never employed by them in the first place? That, of course, did not stop him from misrepresenting himself as a member of the Smithsonian in the NYT. Do you have any comment to make on this act of dishonesty on his part? Lastly, do you have any comment to make on the fact that Sternberg bypassed the rules of peer review for the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington in order to shoehorn a completely irrelevant pro-ID article into the journal?

    Then, do you have any comment to make on your silly suggestion, which happened to be false, that the UCF student in question was a “budding atheist activist” instead of the faithful Catholic he really was?

    And, most importantly, do you have any basis for wishing to see Dr. Myers fired that does not rest either on his speech or beliefs?

    I’ve been waiting for an answer to that for ages.

    Conclusion: you are, by your own standards, not debating in good faith.

    So, thanks, but I really didn’t need this tacit admission by you to realize that fact.

  10. You can believe whatever you want, pal. It was clear that was all you were going to do so, anyway.

    Regarding the ‘basis’ for my wishing to see Dr. Myers fired, you seem to inexplicably be unaware that we had a whole night of debating the issue. I note that you weren’t there. Now, I don’t hold that against you entirely. Perhaps you only learned of it after the fact. Still, let’s face it, you have absolutely no idea what my reasons are but you, with your high powered mind reading abilities, figured you already knew and had already rendered a judgment about them. That is the hallmark of a bad faith debater. When a person is already revealing himself as an arrogant know-it-all, it is obvious that it is a waste of energy and time to go further. Thus, I am happy to report that your opinion of me is skubala to me. I am a man, not some play thing that can be bullied about by your petty and erratic accusations. You don’t like it? Tough luck, pal. Take a hike, and if the door hits your backside on your way out, well, that won’t bother me any.

    You want to try your hand again at a meaningful conversation, that’s your call. But we both know that you won’t do that because you never wanted one in the first place. Peace out home slice.

  11. Actually, I would believe that you have some well-founded reason for wishing to see Dr. Myers fired that does not rest on his speech or beliefs if you were to present them.

    However, look at it from my perspective. You live in La Crosse, Wisconsin according to your Facebook page. Dr. Myers lives in Morris, MN. The chance that you’ve actually interacted with him in person is, therefore, slight. Thus the overwhelming probability remains, until demonstrated otherwise, that your sole basis for wishing him to be fired rests on his speech and his beliefs, which you have seen because he’s written them down on his blog.

    If you had some other reason for wishing him to be fired, then it could be reasonably expected that you’d lead with it. After all, wishing to ruin a person’s career is not something that most people take lightly, and only the most serious reasons could be advanced for going down that path.

    The fact that you not only didn’t lead with your reasons in the original post, but have refused to expand on the obscure but somehow very important reasons that do not rest on Dr. Myers’ speech strongly implies that these reasons don’t exist, or at the very least are not sufficiently important to justify having Dr. Myers fired.

    If it’s about the cracker thing, that is known in the trade as “symbolic speech”. Numerous Supreme Court precedents have upheld that symbolic speech is just as protected as written or verbal speech.

    So the ball has always been in your court. I’m not the one refusing to discuss things here. I’ve already shown the falsity of the claims surrounding Richard Sternberg, the fact that you were wrong about the religion of the UCF student accused of absconding with a cracker (which was a pretty silly misattribution in the first place), and I have also shown why I don’t think there are any other reasons other than his speech for wishing to see Dr. Myers fired, to wit: you have nothing else to hold against him.

    And all these good faith attempts at conversation have run into the brick wall of your intransigence. You have refused to explain the reasons for wanting Dr. Myers fired which do not rest on his speech (which you have strongly implied you have), nor have you chosen to address anything else I’ve put forth.

    Furthermore, you have the hypocrisy to accuse me of attempting to “bully” you by getting you to answer some simple questions, while at the same time using language like: “You don’t like it? Tough luck, pal. Take a hike, and if the door hits your backside on your way out, well, that won’t bother me any.”

    Hypocrisy, thy name is Anthony Horvath.

  12. By the way, if you don’t want to imply that your reason for wanting Dr. Myers fired is his speech, perhaps you shouldn’t have titled this post “PZ Myers Should be Fired for Labeling Aborted Babies as ‘Meat’: A Debate”.

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