Sunday, July 13, 2008

Support PZ

So PZ Myers, author of the world's most widely-read science blog, Pharyngula, wrote some mildly rude things about a cracker and as a result received death threats and campaign was launched by a bunch of Dark Age obscurantists at the Catholic League to have him fired. I suggest all of us who, you know, aren't utterly batshit crazy support PZ per his request. My letter to the President of PZ's university appears below, also check out the letter Dr. Spurt's mate wrote.
President Bruininks,

It has come to my attention that a campaign has been launched by the Catholic League to pressure you into taking disciplinary action against Professor PZ Myers for comments he made about a communion wafer on his weblog. I urge you, on the contrary, to follow common sense, stand by reason against obscurantism, respect Prof. Myers' free speech and academic freedom, and protect the pursuit of free inquiry at your insitutution by refusing to take any disciplinary action whatsoever against Prof Myers. Indeed, I urge you to go one step further: fight back against the forces of irrationality and censorship by publicly reaffirming Prof Myers' right to criticize and satirize those he disagrees with.

It has been suggested that Prof. Myers has violated your university's code of conduct by failing to be "respectful, fair, and civil". Whatever the merits of this argument (and I think these few), I note the self-same code of conduct adminishes admonishes faculty to "speak candidly and truthfully" and to "promote academic freedom, including the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write as a public citizen without institutional restraint or discipline" (emphasis added). It seems clear, therefore, that Prof. Myers should not merely escape sanction, but should be supported by the university administration.

Michael Meadon
University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Durban, South Africa


  1. Michael

    There are many frontlines in the battle for freedom of speech, but none are more ridiculous than this cracker controversy. It is fine if people want to attach symbolic value to a piece of biscuit, but then they must not expect the whole world to follow suit.

    I reaffirm your statement that PZ "should not merely escape sanction, but should be supported by the university administration." To sacrifice PZ at the altar of extremists would set an incredibly bad precedent for the integrity of academic institutions. Otherwise, what are universities for?