Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mirecki hospitalized after beating

As the subject line says, Prof. Paul Mirecki has reportedly been beaten up by two men unknown to him. My comments are bold and in square brackets.

Mirecki hospitalized after beating,
The Lawrence Journal-World,
Ron Knox, Eric Weslander
December 5, 2005

[Also at ABC News, Kansas City Star, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wichita Eagle, and no doubt many more to come.]

Douglas County sheriff's deputies are investigating the reported beating of a Kansas University professor who gained recent notoriety for his Internet tirades against Christian fundamentalists.

[While I condemn this resort to physical violence against Prof. Mirecki, it should be a wake-up call to those in positions of authority and power like him, who launch into "tirades against Christian fundamentalists" (i.e. anyone who thinks that the Bible and Christianity really is true). Mirecki's own university's Chancellor described his comments as "repugnant and vile", and there inevitably are going to be a tiny minority of real "fundamentalists" out there who are so outraged at a perceived injustice not being addressed that they decide to take matters into their own hands.]

Kansas University religious studies professor Paul Mirecki reported he was beaten by two men about 6:40 a.m. today on a roadside in rural Douglas County. In a series of interviews late this afternoon, Mirecki said the men who beat him were making references to the controversy that has propelled him into the headlines in recent weeks.

[Initially I was hoping against hope that it was unrelated to Mirecki's inflammatory comments. ]

Mirecki "I didn't know them, but I'm sure they knew me," he said.

Mirecki said he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.

"I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind," he said. "They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."

He said the men beat him about the upper body with their fists, and he said he thinks they struck him with a metal object. He was treated and released at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he said.

[At least Mirecki was thankfully not badly hurt. I must say that I am surprised that after two "men beat him about the upper body with their fists, and ...struck him with a metal object" that all he has to show for it "is some bruises and sore spots." I therefore would not be surprised if there are some who question whether it really happened. However, I assume it did.]

Douglas County Sheriff's Officials are classifying the case as an aggravated battery. They wouldn't say exactly where the incident happened, citing the ongoing investigation

The sheriff's department is looking for the suspects, described as two white males between ages 30 and 40, one wearing a red visor and wool gloves, and both wearing jeans. They were last seen in a large pickup truck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS or the sheriff's office at 841-0007.

[I have just prayed that the police will be able to find and then prosecute these men. If they are in fact Christians, then their resort to violence against perceived persecution is not Christian. Jesus command is for us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us:

Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. .]

Mirecki recently wrote online that he planned to teach intelligent design as mythology in an upcoming course. He wrote it would be a "nice slap" in the "big fat face" of fundamentalists.

[The term Mirecki used was "fundies":
"Critics: E-mail reveals intent, The Capital-Journal, Ric Anderson, November 24, 2005 ... The fundies want it [intelligent design] 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,' " the message said ...
which was deliberately derogatory. As Kansas Senator Kay O'Connor observed, Mirecki's comments were "hateful" and revealed that Mirecki "obviously has a hatred for Christians":
"If a person has hate in his heart and says something hateful and later apologizes, do you think the hatred in his heart has been mended?" State Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, said Tuesday. "I'm surprised that something more severe isn't happening to this teacher who obviously has a hatred for Christians."
O'Connor's "I'm surprised that something more severe isn't happening to this teacher who obviously has a hatred for Christians" seems in retrospect almost prophetic! It may be that this physical attack (reprehensible though it is) on Mirecki is motivated by a feeling of injustice and outrage that "something more severe isn't happening to this teacher" for what he said.]

The remarks caused an uproar, Mirecki apologized, and KU announced last week the class would be canceled.

[But unfortunately, as Mirecki has found out too late, inflammatory words once spoken, cannot be unspoken, and they have consequences. As Senator O'Connor pointed out, "You can't kick sand in someone's face and then expect a positive":

"Why poke a stick in somebody's eye if you don't have to?" she said. "If you're going to have an intelligent design course and call it mythology, I think in the very least it's a slap in the face to every Judeo-Christian religion that's out there. ... "You can't kick sand in someone's face and then expect a positive." ...
It is going to be very important how this is handled by leaders and spokesmen on both sides and by the media that this doesn't spiral out of control. But since there are zealots on each side who are quick to blame the other side, while not accepting any blame for their side, I don't hold out much hope of that. The University of Kansas has a crucial role to play here in diffusing this situation. If it had taken more tangible action against Mirecki (instead of merely criticizing him and cancelling a course of his that never existed) then maybe this would not have happened. But again, in case there is any misunderstanding, I condemn this resort to physical violence against Prof. Mirecki.]

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
"Problems of Evolution"

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