Turning inner space into outer space

August 17, 2011

Online petition works with a push from PZ Myers

When University of Minnesota professor PZ Myers visited Kamloops back in May, he set off a firestorm of controversy in the evolution vs. creationism debate. His view is that creationism and intelligent design are bunk and should not be considered science.

By taking a strong stand in such a polarizing debate, he has placed a target on his back. Most of the people who oppose him try to at least sound reasonable, but there are some on the fringe who go over the edge.

One such person is a Montreal resident who goes by the online handle of David Mabus. He is alleged to have made threats against atheists and secular scientists, including Myers, for the past 20 years. Lately, it has escalated to death threats.

Myers has said on his blog that deleting these threats had become a part of his daily routine. But when an online petition was started to put pressure on Montreal police to investigate the matter, he encouraged his readers to join in. Apparently, past requests for action had fallen on deaf ears.

The thing about this petition is that every signature automatically triggered an email to the Montreal police. This resulted in them being inundated with thousands of complaints. It got so bad that they pleaded with the public to stop and promised that they would investigate.

Today came word that they were true to their word. In a curt news release, Montreal police say they have made an arrest. There were no details.

No doubt Myers is relieved, but I have a feeling there are plenty of other bizarre threats out there to fill the void.