Wilkins begins his blog by outlining the series of events, beginning with Paul Mirecki deciding to teach Intelligent Design as mythology. We at Telic Thoughts had supported Dr. Mirecki's right to teach this class when we heard about it . But apart from some lip-service, Wilkins fails to address the contents of Mirecki's e-mail, as it raised several red flags. In fact, Wilkins' entire blog has very little bad to say about Mirecki's e-mail. He describes it as "obnoxious," but its not hard to imagine that many atheists would proudly be obnoxious when dealing with those "stupid bastards" (as Wilkins calls them). So it's not clear if this is really a criticism. Other than this, Wilkins only laments that the e-mail was "ill-advised" and "bad manners."
Archive for the 'Paul Mirecki' Category
The blogosphere is buzzing over the reported assault on Kansas University's Paul Mirecki, who caught headlines for his e-mail about slapping fundamentalists in their fat faces. Mike has already mentioned that the biggies are weighing in, but many other bloggers are also commenting on this.
Considering the potential PR value, the intelligent design critics at The Panda's Thumb have been remarkably silent on the issue.
In Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau quotes one of his commenters, a semi-professional boxer, who believes that Mirecki's injuries "are consistent with a serious assault, not simply asking a friend to punch you a few times."
Steve Jones does what he's best at: Finding lots of news articles, and commenting on each one.
John Wilkins writes, on Evolving Thoughts: "Mirecki's email was obnoxious, but in no way unjustified or immoral or contrary to decent ethical standards. Religious people make much worse comments about "godless atheists" every day, and in America, they (and he) have that right constitutionally."
And of course, there are many other blogs simply linking to the story together with a brief comment.
The Daily Kos, one of the most popular blogs on the internet, has been trumpeting Thugs beat up evolution supporter – We're fighting back. Unfortunately, the Kos is a fountain of misinformation.
The Kos starts out as follows:
As you've probably seen on the top of the recommended diary list, today a pair of 'Christians' stalked and attacked Professor Paul Mirecki, the Chair of Kansas University's Department of Religious Studies. He currently sits in hospital recovering from his savage beating. [UPDATE: He's since been released from hospital and is doing fine]
The Kos also tells us:
but I'm incensed, outraged, ready to spit that so called 'religious' individuals think it's okay to spend days stalking a university professor (or religious studies, no less!), and then attack him in the early hours of the morning, leaving him within in inch of his life.
Here is a description of the "savage beating," where Dr. Mirecki is beat "within in inch of his life." As you can see, the Kos is peddling misinformation. The Kos backpeddles some, writing "This diary was written when news on the attack was sketchy at best – turns out the Prof isn't in as bad shape as I made out above." However, if you follow Kos' links, the sketchy information was the LWJ article we've all seen, where Mirecki says, "I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots."
The Kos transformed "I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots" into a savage beating that had Mirecki clinging on to life.
Let me share with you how I've experienced the events surrounding the alleged assault on Professor Paul Mirecki. I first heard about it when "Myrmecos" posted a link to a news story on the ARN Board, and my immediate reaction was, "Why did they have to do something so stupid? If you want people to take your position seriously, this is the very thing to not do."
But later, I started to get the feeling that we weren't getting the full story. First, PZ Meyers at The Panda's Thumb wrote a post, pointing the finger at "ignorant thugs with a bible". Later, he updated it, saing that he'd received an e-mail with "other details" on the attack, and that he wasn't going to say any more until he'd received "confirmation one way or the other". And finally, he deleted the post altogether and replaced it with this, refraining from taking a stand, and stressing the fact that all they had to go on was "a few second-hand reports".
Now, I don't have a firm belief either way. Mirecki's story could still turn out to be 100% correct, and we can all go back to denouncing the vile behavior of his attackers. But, as Mike has just pointed out, we only have one fact. There's a lot of unanswered questions about this case, and the one that's on my mind is this: What was in the e-mail PZ Myers received?
In light of all the outrage that has been sparked by Mirecki's story, it is important to remember that there is really only one known fact about this story – very early Monday morning, Dr. Mirecki checked in at a hospital with some minor injuries and was released.
The sheriff's report, which is classified as an aggravated battery, says that Mirecki suffered minor injuries. It says the incident started about 6:20 a.m. and was reported about 6:40 a.m. Here
"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he said. Here
KU religious studies professor Tim Miller said he saw Mirecki on Monday and that he looked "scraped up." Here
Meanwhile, Mirecki appears to be doing well after his hospitalization Monday morning. According to KU spokesperson Lynn Bretz, he even taught his class later that day. Here
Also, there were mistakes in the original reporting:
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office initially labeled the attack on Professor Paul Mirecki a hate crime. But the office removed the title today, calling the labeling a mistake. Lt. Kari Wempe said that the error occurred Monday morning when the attack was reported. Officers wrongly transmitted the information over the police radio, she said. It is not classified as an aggravated battery.
That's all we really know, people.
The Mirecki incident has made a lot of people very angry. Here's a sampling from the blogosphere:
Thugs beat up evolution supporter
And Another Witchhunt Begins
Beating Free Speech in Kansas
More about religious extremism
Professor beaten; attackers cite KU creationism class
Blackmail in the name of God
Nothing like a little blackmail to spread the love of God
Fundamentalists Will Be Fundamentalists
Theocratic Christians Continue To Spread Their Message Of Brotherly Love
Intelligent Design Goons Pummel Professor
Christians. You Gotta Love Them…
The Lawrence-Journal World has an update: Mirecki mum on details of beating.
Professor Mirecki, whose "slap in the face" course on intelligent design was recently withdrawn, alleges that he was assaulted by two unknown men. In an interview for 6 News, Andrew Stangl, the President of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, claimed that the assailants were creationists who were angry with Mirecki's comments. Like the writers on The Panda's Thumb, we'd like to have more than "a few second-hand reports", so we won't take a position on whether this is correct or not.
However, if Professor Mirecki was attacked over his remarks about intelligent design, then that's something that should be renounced by every civilized person. Disagreements over an issue like this should be resolved through discussion and arguments, never violence. We wish the police all the best, and hope that the case will soon be solved.
Via Darwinian Fundamentalism, I've heard that Professor Mirecki of the University of Kansas has canceled his course on intelligent design as mythology. After Professor Mirecki wrote an e-mail to a public list-serv, in which he referred to conservative Christians as "fundies" and announced that the course was intended as "a nice slap in their big, fat face", he was eventually forced to issue an apology and remove the word "mythology" from the course title.
But Professor Mirecki's situation only grew worse when more of his e-mails from the list-serv were brought to light. In one, he told of how he, following his first communion, had swallowed his own wommit, which he considered "a big part of the Catholic experience." He continued: "I don't think most Catholics really know what they are supposed to believe, they just go home and use condoms and some of them beat their wives and husbands."
To be honest, I'm a little dissapointed that the course will no longer be taught. After the change of course title, there was talk about putting the actual lectures on the internet, and I was looking forward to covering it. As I predicted in my first post about this, "the students at the University of Kansas are in for a spectacular display of an academic mind slamming shut at the mention of intelligent design", and the latest e-mail has only strengthened my suspicion. Goodbye to the greatest anti-ID course you never saw.
Update December 4th: Sahotra Sarkar is outraged at the evil University of Kansas for cancelling poor Professor Mirecki's class. Sorry Sarkar, but it was Mirecki himself who withdrew the class.
In the proud tradition of politicians and business leaders, Professor Paul Mirecki has issued an apology for his public e-mail, in which he referred to his upcoming intelligent design course as "a nice slap in [the] big, fat face" of "fundies". I don't have time to offer much in the way of commentary, but if you look below the fold, you'll find the text of his apology, as well as the full text of the original e-mail that got him in trouble. Among related news, the University of Kansas will be releasing the course description, reading list and syllabus, and is considering putting the course lectures out on the internet.
Let me provide a review of my response to this whole Mirecki show. I first brought attention to this news here. I simply poked fun of Mirecki in a way that turned out to be slap-in-the-face prophetic. LOL. In the comments section, I noted, "Professors of religion are free to critique ID all they want. As is anyone else." After Sal alerted me to the Provost's comments, I wrote, "The provost's comments are very interesting. He admits it is possible to misconstrue the title of the course, which argues strongly for the need to have this course clarify the use of the term "˜mythology.' In other words, Mirecki should begin the course by defining mythology, making it clear he is not passing truth judgments about ID, but only trying to understand it from within the confine of religious belief. This is what the course should be "“ "A myth refers to the common use of stories or rituals to symbolize in a meaningful manner the core beliefs of a religion." Mirecki has himself in a box." I then turned my attention of the issue of identifying the designer. Then Krauze found the article that discusses Mirecki's internet taunting. I provided a balanced and objective commentary here.
When I blogged about Mirecki's revealing e-mail, I noted: "In spite of all of this, I support Professor Mirecki's academic freedom to teach this course, and I'm looking forward to it starting." However, it seems that not everyone feels the same way. Mike has already pointed to Senator Karin Brownlee's disturbing statement that "[w]e have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America". And over at Thoughts from Kansas, Josh Rosenau is highlighting this passage, from the ID blog In the News:
It's this kind of activity that should cause some Kansas legislators to question the extent to which Kansas taxpayers should be funding state sponsored faith bashing.
While I have criticized Rosenau for his attempt to paint all ID supporters with his broad brush, I agree with him that this is a situation where ID supporters, of all people, should support academic freedom. It is simply hypocritical to use the principle of academic freedom to protect a controversial subject you agree with, and then turn around and demand government regulation when someone wants to teach a controversial subject which you disagree with.
If you think Professor Mirecki is bashing something you hold dear, the answer is not to have his course cancelled. Instead, find out what he is teaching in his class, and use your freedom of speech to explain the problems with it.
After Professor Mirecki at Kansas University announced that he was planning a course teaching intelligent design as mythology, his provost had to issue an official statement, explaining that the term "myth" should not be taken as an "affront", but as "the common use of stories or rituals to symbolize in a meaningful manner the core beliefs of a religion". However, Professor Mirecki is also faculty advisor for the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, which sells this t-shirt on their website:
I'm looking forward to Professor Mirecki's course on how Frankenstein's monster is used to "symbolize in a meaningful manner the core beliefs of a religion".
(HT: Steve Jones)
While Krauze has already offered some keen observations about this, I simply cannot resist further commenting on the article about Mirecki's class. I don't know about anyone else, but as I see it, both sides of this debate come across as children having tantrums. So break out the popcorn and have a seat.
Read the rest of this entry »
More news on Professor Paul Mirecki, who's planning a course on intelligent design as mythology at Kansas University. In an official statement by the provost, David Shulenburger regretted that "the course title's reference to mythologies' has been misconstrued", and that it shouldn't be taken as an "affront". But it seems that Professor Mirecki himself is of a different opinion. In an e-mail sent to the list-serve of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, he wrote:
"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology,'" Mirecki wrote.
He signed the note "Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P."