Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Tit and Tat

Over on Uncommon Descent* William "Wild Bill" Dembski** recently remarked on a comedy act that ridicules religious fundamentalists and creationism. Specifically, it mocks the sort of literal creationism that asserts that the Earth is approximately 20,000 years old. Dembski introduces this act with the statement, "For an excellent illustration of why we are indeed in a culture war, look here:"

As you might guess, Dembski's usual mob of sycophantic commenters has much to say on the subject, although they're more reasonable than normal. For example:

Bill Hicks has long gone to meet his Intelligent Designer. One hopes He appreciates his comedy as much as Hicks’ fans do.

Whatever the case, Hicks is a good example (at least to me) of how objections to things like ID, christianity, and religion are rooted more in emotion than clear thinking.


Leaving aside the blatant idiocy of the entire "Culture War" label (I mean, honestly, were the civil rights and feminist movements not worthy of that label? They were certainly far-reacing) I think we should try and keep this culture war in perspective. The literal creationists may get mocked in some circles, but apparently anti-Intelligent Design academics are getting assaulted:

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.

“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.


For those of you who are unfamiliar with the man, Paul Mirecki is a Kansas University professor who recently gained some notoreity for planning to teach a course that was to have been titled, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies." The course was approved, though its title was altered to only, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism." Given recent events in Kansas this course provoked quite an outcry- which is hardly surprising considering what the Kansas schoolboard is like. So, it would seem, matters have gone beyond merely mocking and crossed over into physical violence.

Now, Mirecki has done some things that do not speak very well of him, but that is no excuse for attacking him. Or, at least, that's what I as an Atheist say. Some of Dembski's commenters apparently don't agree with me:

Mirecki’s got a big mouth on him as demonstrated by the email about slapping fundies in their big fat faces. By his own admission he confronted those men when he could have driven away. Maybe he thought he was going to slap them in their big fat faces and instead got his own big fat face slapped.


Still, this doesn't characterize all of Dembski's commenters. Some of them don't think Mirecki got atttacked at all. For example:

Mirecki’s story isn’t passing the smell test. “White guys in pickup truck” is too neat, too stereotypical. It fits too neatly into the leftist playbook of gaining sympathy as victims of conservative right-wingers. Mirecki’s response when his version of the story — “the right wing wants blood, period. They’re not going to stop until they see blood. They’re not into anything else” — uses a political defense to a questioning of facts. My money’s on this being another hate-crime hoax…


So, it's been an exciting day. Now, I don't know if Mirecki was actually beaten or not. I confess I find it plausible, and see no reason to doubt the man until and unless additional evidence surfaces, but I don't know one way or another. I am comfortable going with the battlecry of one Dembski commenter who
remarked, "Intelligence to the rescue! Let us follow the evidence (or lack thereof) wherever it may lead." I must concede that I don't think the I.D. community has done a very good job of following the evidence so far but that's beside the point.

My issue is this: with the exception of the one commenter I just remarked upon, neither Dembski nor any of his commenters have condemned this beating. If it is true, then their "side" of this debate has just physically assaulted someone and they're apparently fine with it. I know Mirecki said some things that angered some folks but, you know what? I've been pretty pissed by utterances from Pat Robertson over the years, and I haven't gone and beaten him. Nor would I condone anyone who did so. As a result I'm more than a little unimpressed by Dembski's righteous indignation over the "Culture War."

Can we at least all agree that physical violence is a bad thing?

Well, I guess not.

UPDATE: Wild Bill has finally sort of responded to the alleged beating of Paul Mirecki. How has he responded, you ask? Oh- just by posting a link to another blog that speculates somewhat more elaborately on the possibility that Mirecki is lying. Otherwise, there is no commentary from Dembski. I am less than impressed.

* WARNING: Uncommon Descent is a particularly fragmentary pro-I.D. blog. Don your hip-waders before going in. **No, he's not really nick-named "Wild Bill," but, frankly, I think I like it.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter