KU, Mirecki, Urban Legends, and Intelligent Design
Mike Gene has a noteworthy piece about the Mirecki scandal--and, in particular, about how various groups have reacted to it. He writes:
An urban legend is clearly evolving into place before our eyes, where many in the blogosphere now tell the story of a professor who insulted some fundamentalists and this caused those in political power to pressure his university to have him fired while taking away his free speech. But it's much more complicated than this.Read the rest here.
While the media has latched on to the "fundie" and "slap their fat faces" comments [made by Mirecki] for obvious sensational reasons, the other e-mails are what probably hurt Mirecki even more. They show a guy who was partying with his students and encouraging their anti-religious banter. For example, he schemed with them to pass out anti-Bible tracts and while Catholics mourned the death of their Pope, the religious studies scholar laughed with his students about "a corpse in a funny hat wearing a dress." What's more, he even told his students that most of his colleagues in the Religious Studies department were atheists.
Remember, this is not some professor with a pseudonym making obnoxious claims on the internet. This was the Chair of the Religious Studies department who certainly appeared to be encouraging anti-religious bigotry among his own students. The Chair is a leadership position and even Mirecki himself admits his failures in his own apology: "I made a mistake in not leading by example, in this student organization e-mail forum, the importance of discussing differing viewpoints in a civil and respectful manner."
But the problems with the e-mails go further than this.