No, this isn’t about the shocking stuff that happens in public elementary, middle and high schools, that’s old news. It’s about the education we all respect, even homeschool libertarians, you know, college!
Pick a frame, any frame. What is a public university all about, really? Higher Education? Bwahahahahah.
And which is really the right frame for news like this to be understood and perhaps acted upon? Intimidation, hazing, politics, religion, minority rights, money, student conduct violations, hate crimes, tyranny? And who’s the victim, who’s the villain, who’s the governing authority, and if there were any actual crimes committed here (hate or otherwise) can you make the case without making it worse in the process? What would be justice, what would be a miscarriage, what would be a dangerous precedent? Is higher education still on the students’ side at least, or would that be bad business, now that even public universities are jockeying for money, clout, reputation and growth any way they can get it?
(No, it’s not about the UF student tasered by a six-pack of university police merely because an officious fellow student was annoyed that he disrespected a politician at a student-sponsored event, but you might want to consider the parallels, I sure am!)
“For a student to disrupt Mass by taking the Body of Christ hostage—regardless of the alleged nature of his grievance—is beyond hate speech. That is why the UCF administration needs to act swiftly and decisively in seeing that justice is done.
All options should be on the table, including expulsion.”
— Bill Donohue, Catholic League president, posted on the group’s Web site July 7
“UCF takes this situation seriously and we are glad to know the student has returned the Eucharist and written a letter to the Orlando Diocese. We encourage students to express their views respectfully, and we expect them to comply with university codes of conduct.
Any disciplinary action will be handled through the university’s student judicial system, per our published procedure.”
— John Hitt, UCF president
“The church feels that I’m the problem here. . .The problem is actually that this is a publicly-funded religious institution. Through student government here, we fund them through an activity and service, so they’re receiving student money.”
— Webster Cook, UCF student government rep accused of hate crime and receiving death threats
ORLANDO, Fla., July 14 (UPI) — A college student in Florida has leveled hazing charges against Catholic worshipers for allegedly trying to force him to consume a communion wafer. Webster Cook, a member of the University of Central Florida’s student government, filed the hazing charges with school administrators after admitting he took the wafer, considered sacred by Catholics, home after Mass June 29 over the objections of other worshipers, WFTV-TV in Orlando reported Monday.
Cook, who kept the wafer in a plastic bag at home for a week before returning it, said the school’s anti-hazing policy bans the forced consumption of any food as a condition of admittance or affiliation with an school group. While the rule generally is applied to fraternity pledging rituals, Cook contends it applies to all clubs, including the Catholic Campus Ministries.
Cook also maintains the Catholic club violates the school’s underage alcohol policy by serving communal wine to minors.
University spokesman Grant Heston said Cook’s charges are being reviewed. The Diocese of Orlando has not commented on the charges, though previously a spokeswoman said Catholic students had filed charges of disruptive conduct with the university against Cook and a friend of his for their “disrespectful” behavior during the June 29 religious service.
And now UM biology professor PZ Myers is the larger-than-life target. HIS public university is getting into the religious judgment and punishment act, too?:
Foley has asked the top GOP brass to provide additional security while in the Twin Cities so that Catholics can worship without fear of violence. Given the vitriol we have experienced for simply exercising our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, we support Foley’s request.
We already know that Myers lost one round: the university has removed the link to his blog from his faculty page. He should be prepared to lose a few more rounds.
“I think there’s also a growing discontent with what the religious have done in politics. The Bush administration is a perfect example of political cronyism and political advocacy built largely on the support of the religious right, and look where it’s gotten us. People are disillusioned. . .
We’re going to see an increasing weakness of the church. This is them lashing out. It’s a d[esper]ate ploy to be relevant and to be important again… They’re looking for somebody to take their ire out on.”
— PZ Myers, Pharyngula blog owner, UM biology professor and former Lutheran altar boy
Even (especially?) on campus.