WITCH HUNT IN KANSAS. The author comments: "[Kansas Rep.] Landwehr is right about one thing. This all is religious bigotry. But the bigotry comes from her side. Right wing 'Christians' have been trying to force their fundamentalist religious beliefs on the people of Kansas for too long now. When someone stands up to them, they cry foul and hide behind some bizarre banner of religious persecution. It’s a joke, though not a very funny one. "
Mark Goodacre on Paul Mirecki: assault, the media, and protection. He says, "Perhaps because I am now in American higher education myself, I find this report pretty depressing. The thought that a professor has now had to absent himself from class because of media harrassment, and that his colleagues and students are being interviewed on his character and integrity, is a very unhappy situation. I have long since ceased from releasing any personal information (address, phone number etc.) on phone-books, the web and so on (and I am surprised that Mirecki has been less careful) and this story hardly discourages me from that kind of course of action."
John Wilkins of Evolving Thoughts, a postdoctoral research fellow in the philosophy and history of biology, writes:
1. ID [intelligent design] is mythology. It is not only not science, but it fulfils one of the major functions of a mythos - to organise and unify a community against outsiders. Mirecki was right to teach it that way, and right to put it in religious studies, for there is no other motivation or feature of ID than the religious.
2. 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. The apology ought to have been enough to settle this, in a civilised nation. And it was in a private forum. He didn't broadcast it to the nation, Altevogt did. Is it a surprise that Mirecki thinks fundamentalists are often stupid bastards? I do, and many others, a lot of whom are Christians of a more reasonable kind, also do. So what is at issue? That he said to those he had a reasonable expectation shared those values what he thought? Bad man! Bad bad man!
3. Mirecki has academic freedom, or ought to, to teach what he wants without interference from lobby groups or the majority. His peers - those who are professionals in his discipline - are the ones who are fit to judge his actions; not some politician or religious opponent. Threatening the freedom of academics by withholding funding is the reason why universities got out from under church control in the first place.
Mark Maynard suggests, "Perhaps, it occurs to me, we’re entering an era in which the right not only demands more of a presence in academia (as we’re seeing more and more), but in which liberal faculty are 'held accountable' for their unpopular beliefs. This event in Kansas might not, in other words, be an isolated event - the work of 'a few bad apples.' It could be a harbinger of things to come." I certainly hope not, but it is also one of my fears.
And on Daily Kos, several postings about Paul Mirecki.