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Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

KU withdraws intelligent design course

December 1, 2005

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A controversial class on intelligent design at Kansas University has been dropped from the spring schedule, the university announced Thursday.

Paul Mirecki, chair of KU's religious studies department, withdrew the class, "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design and Creationism," after controversy erupted over e-mails he had written disparaging Catholics and religious conservatives.

"My concern is that students with a serious interest in this important subject matter would not be well served by the learning environment my e-mails and the public distribution of them have created. It would not be fair to the students," Mirecki wrote in a prepared statement.

"It was not my intent when I wrote the e-mails, but I understand now that these words have offended many on this campus and beyond, and for that I take full responsibility. 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."

Provost David Shulenberger added: "I granted Professor Mirecki's request and agree with his recognition that his actions had created an untenable situation. We still think the course itself not only has merit but is important and should be taught at some point.

"While the e-mails were unquestionably offensive, I know that Professor Mirecki regrets the situation he created. He has taught biblical studies and other religious studies courses here for 16 years and has an international reputation for his research. I hope this serious scholar will continue his work."

The State Board of Education's conservative majority last month successfully pushed changes in the state's public schools science standards that critique evolution - with intelligent design at the heart of those standards. Mirecki's course was inspired by that decision.

Comments

mom_of_three 9 years ago

I am sorry the Professor thought he had to pull the course. Many were looking forward to it. I hope he decides to offer it in the future.

BunE 9 years ago

Another institution bows to folly of Idiot America. Cowards.

mom_of_three 9 years ago

Marion,

The last time I checked, KU is still a respected research and scientific university.

DuQuesne 9 years ago

I don't believe that Prof. Mirecki's emailed remarks were wantonly offensive. Having your emails published is something like having an off-hand spoken remark printed in large block letters and held up for everyone to see. Offensive? Probably, to some. Some folks are so thin-skinned, I fear for their health. I get offended at least as often as the wackos that got stirred up about the Professor's remarks. But, I've been watching the page of the paper with the weather forecast and statistics it has a section with the sunrise and sunset times. I notice that there seems to be no correlation whatsoever between how offended I am and whether the sun rises and sets at the predicted time.

Jean Robart 9 years ago

I am delighted to see the course withdrawn.

RayanaSandy 9 years ago

What a sad turn of events. It's comforting to see all these postive comments though..

-Rayana

b_asinbeer 9 years ago

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

badger 9 years ago

Odd to say this, but I agree with Marion.

This is another victory of Political Correctness and the refusal to engage in open discussion for fear you might offend someone.

I'm saddened at this. I am saddened that Professor Mirecki felt he had to do this to appease his critics, and doubly saddened that the University is working so hard to avoid offending people just because they're loud and threaten the loss of funding. One statement, for which the speaker apologized, should not have merited the fury that resulted in this case.

Educational institutions worth their salt will make a decision that may be controversial, and then back it completely, no matter how rocky the road. If the people who planned and agreed to this course in the first place weren't ready to withstand a firestorm of public opinion and maybe even face down a few fairly inevitable PR gaffes, they shouldn't have stepped up with it in the first place. All they've done is teach a bunch of knee-jerk blowhards that if they sneak around and dig to find something offensive that someone has said, and yell loud enough about discrimination, they'll get their way.

There are a lot of lessons conservatives can learn from liberals. That really wasn't one I was hoping would catch on.

cowboy 9 years ago

McCarthy , Delay , Bush , Cheney , State Board , Phelps , Kruschev , Hussein , Fundamentalists !

JazzEgle 9 years ago

I'm glad he made the decision, because from his email, it was obvious that he was not maintaining an objective stance.

badger 9 years ago

Yeah, Kruschev, shoe and all, still had nothing on Phelps, either.

It's just not fair to the dictators and tyrants of the world to expect them to live up to Phelps' standards of lunatic intolerance and hatred. He's a total overachiever!

ModerateOne 9 years ago

Regardless of whether you believe Professor Mirecki's email comments were offensive or not, they certainly did not seem to recognize the value of free flowing ideas and discourse, which value is one of the stated purposes of the University. To minimalize the importance of words or opinions based merely on the fact that they were uttered in private or appeared in an email seems somewhat hypocritical. Would DuQuesne think it is acceptable to utter racial epithets in private or in an email?

Although I agree with Professor Mirecki's sentiment that right-wingers have gone way too far overboard in pursuing ID, there must be a sense in which those who espouse the value of diverse viewpoints have to practice what they preach. Otherwise, they are subject to the valid criticism that "diverse viewpoints" to them means "diverse viewpoints that I agree with."

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Dr. Mirecki's "voluntary" withdrawl of his course is regrettable, but it is by no means a "win" for the christian right.

Forced censorship is always a losing situation for everyone.

Maybe Dr. Mirecki was foolish to have posted such comments, but forcing the removal of the class because of off-hand remarks posted on a listserv is unconscionable.

Hemenway and all of KU should be ashamed that they have bowed to the demands of intemperate idealogues and have displayed a lack of spine and resolve in the face of threats to academic freedom.

Shame on you KU.

badger 9 years ago

JazzEgle:

It was 'obvious', from one statement taken out of context in a discussion, that he wasn't going to be able to teach the class objectively?

While you're reading minds and having clairvoyant episodes, could you help me cheat at poker? I could really use some quick cash.

You can't make an effective judgment about someone's ability to handle this sort of subject matter based on what is essentially a single offhand comment, when you also have the example of cases in which the person involved has demonstrated that he can handle study of faith and Biblical issues with respect. How many years has he taught Biblical and religious coursework, to high acclaim from many former students and peers in his community, at KU? How well-recognized is he in his field for his handling of the philosophies and politics of faith?

These would be better questions to use to evaluate someone's fitness to teach than whether he thinks fundamentalists have fat faces.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

Does anyone know what he said to disparage Catholics? The director of the Vatican's observatory recently announced that the Church has no desire to undermine what Science has discovered about the world.

badger 9 years ago

ModerateOne said:

"Would DuQuesne think it is acceptable to utter racial epithets in private or in an email?"

I can't answer for DuQuesne, but I can for myself. Yes, it is acceptable to utter racial epithets in a private conversation, as far as receiving pressure with regard to your job performance and your professional decisions. If we're to have any free speech, people have to be able to say things I find objectionable. So, I can't make my uncle stop saying 'n****r' with regard to black people, and I won't support any legislation that bans words in and of themselves.

Don't get me wrong; I think it's personally unacceptable to say those things, and I'll tell people who say them in my presence (even my uncle) that I don't like those words, but that's really all the control I get there, and all the control over what people say that I really want.

What he said does affect how I think of him as a person. I think he's intemperate, may lack a certain degree of discretion, speaks before he thinks, and a little arrogant for assuming that even on that group he could be so sure that everyone agreed with him enough to keep his relatively private words private. I also think that if the purpose of proposing the course was just to stir up some fundamentalists, he should take up cross-stitch or frisbee golf or one of the many other fine hobbies out there.

However, the professional repercussions for a private discussion unseat me a little. I have some unorthodox political and social opinions. Would I want people who feels that certain of my thoughts and ideas are offensive to be able to lobby my boss to make substantive changes to my professional decisions based on things I said outside of work? Would I want the bosses to come say to me, "Hey, you said some things online about fundamentalism and gay marriage that one of our stockholders found objectionable, when the message was forwarded to all of them anonymously, so I'm afraid you're going to be taken off any project that might be connected to a church because we don't think you can be objective about Christianity as a whole in your job performance"?

No, I would not want that for myself, or anyone else.

ralphsantos 9 years ago

yourworstnightmare:

I sympathize with your point of view, but I don't think this can be characterized as censorship. I think Mirecki did the right thing not for any reason having to do with his credentials or the class, but for the simple reason that his offhand comment seriously damaged if not destroyed his credibility in the matter.

It goes without saying that in an academic environment there's a certain level of decorum, including respect for parties on all sides of an issue. It would be reasonable to expect that an academician of Mirecki's stature would be sufficiently professional to be able to separate his own personal feelings from the operation. On the other hand, given the extremely politically charged environment surrounding the issue he chose to confront, it would also be reasonable to expect such a person to acknowledge that even the slightest hint of bias or prejudgement on his part would taint the situation, no matter what he did in actually conducting it.

It goes back to the saying that in politics, perception is everything. Not that there's anything good or proper in that, but one has to deal with the situation as it is. Given the high profile that the course had attained (irrespective of who raised it to that level of prominence), it was reasonable to expect a comment like the one he made to have the explosive effect it did.

Which is a shame, because I think there's some important issues to look at in this whole mess. You don't see anything like the ID debate going on in other countries. I'm sure a lot of folks in a lot of countries must think we're all nuts here in the States. For my part, I would love to sit in on a class like what Mirecki had proposed, to understand more about this very strange situation we're all in.

Nonetheless, there isn't any censorship going on here. Mirecki blew it and he's taken responsibility. I have to respect Mirecki's decision to withdraw the class, because given the environment, it's quite likely that holding the class would risk tainting the integrity of the academic environment by putting a cloud of the appearance of bias over the issue.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Anybody who actually would believe this man was going to teach the course in an objective manner really needs a new brain.

I say this as a Christian conservative, but one who leans TOWARD evolution.

I am appalled by Mr. Mirecki's comments. Yes, ID is pretty much fiction. Though not as embarrassing as those morons who say the Earth is only 6,000 years old, those who advance ID really have limited evidence.

However, Mr. Mirecki needs to learn some manners and begin to act in a professional manner.

He was writing on a forum intended for any KU person, not just faculty, who are agnostic in some fashion. It is not like somebody stole his notes off of his computer or wiretapped his phone. There simply is NO right to privacy when you post something on the internet. The internet is a public space, and if you post something, don't be surprised if people read it and quote it.

How can a professor not understand basic rules of grammar? His post is so riddled with errors it is simply beyond comprehension! It truly is amazing.

Examples:

"nice slap in their big fat face"

When you speak of more than one person, you should kind of use the PLURAL noun FACES.

"The university public relations office will have a press release on it in a few weeks, I also have contacts at several regional newspapers."

When you have two independent clauses, you obviously have a semicolon, not a comma!

He also apparently does not realize that periods go INSIDE quotes. Several sentence fragments exist in his post as well.

If that is how he writes on his own time, I can't imagine how incredibly horrible he is in the classroom. Those poor students are in the hands of an incompetent moron who needs to go back to middle school English class.

He expresses his opinion regarding ID in a way that is simply unsavory and not fitting a man of learning. That is the real story in all of the fuss, that a supposed educator apparently does not have much of it himself.

I am not against higher education. I have no problem with higher education. It is vital to developing higher thinking skills and well-rounded individuals. What I object to is a professor who goes into a class with an agenda instead of doing his best to keep the material balanced to help students develop those skills. What this professor is doing is actually a BAD thing. Despite his protestations to the contrary, this class was added to fulfill his political agenda. His post makes that abundantly clear. The course would not be balanced. Therefore, it would not have served the critical thinking skills of his students. It would have served to indoctrinate. That is not the purpose of higher education. If he can't understand that, he should leave teaching as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow.

In a later post on the Yahoo message board, he says the class will "be a hoot."

Yeah, that really sounds like a person interested in teaching a scholarly course. /sarcasm

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Here is the full post he made to the board:

Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2005 Subject: I.D. & Creationism class to be taught at KU this spring! To my fellow damned, Its true, the fundies have been wanting to get I.D. and creationism into the Kansas public schools, so I thought "why don't I do it?" I will teach the class, with several other lefty KU professors in the sciences and humanities. Class is: REL 602 Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and other Religious Mythologies. Tuesdays 7:00-9:30pm. Smith Hall room 100. Open to undergrads and grads. Enrollment limited to about 120. 3 credit hours. 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". I expect it will draw much media attention. The university public relations office will have a press release on it in a few weeks, I also have contacts at several regional newspapers. Of course, I won't actually be teaching I.D. and creationisms, but rather I'll be teaching ABOUT I.D. and creationisms as modern mythologies, indicating that these ideas have no place in a public school science class, but can certainly be analyzed in humanities classes for their function in society. Basic approach is my usual: anthropology with a focus on religious thought and behavior. Any ideas for textbooks, guest lecturers and panels would be appreciated. So far, six faculty have eagerly signed up to lecture. I can probably pull Chancellor Hemenway into this also, especially in the light of his public comments supporting evolution. Doing my part to piss of (sic) the religious right, Evil Dr. P.

ModerateOne 9 years ago

Badger, you make very good arguments. The point at which we part ways on this issue, I think, is that Professor Mirecki in this case was KU's de-facto self-appointed spokesperson on the ID issue, and a person of his abilities and experience should have known as much.

To use your example, if you were your company's appointed spokesperson on a hotbutton issue (as opposed to the guy who makes the widgets or keeps the books) then I think that you should appropriately be reassigned if it became public that you uttered or wrote private comments that were diametrically opposed to your company's philosophy on that issue. The moral of the story is that the more responsibility one asks for, the more careful one has to be with one's words in that area of responsbility.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

That still doesn't expain why the LJ-W claims he disparaged Catholics...

badger 9 years ago

Pilgrim said:

' "There are a lot of lessons conservatives can learn from liberals. That really wasn't one I was hoping would catch on."

Can you say, "Double standard?" '

I can, but I'm not sure how it's relevant. Seeking out a reason to be offended (it's been reported here that the person who publicized the comment had joined that forum specifically looking for ammunition), and then painting your opponent as discriminatory because of one or two comments, taken out of context and blown up into a serious tizzy, using the language of the oppressed to obscure the majority of this person's other opinions, ideas, and actions in a cloud of 'He's oppressive and discriminatory and incapable of objectivity and THIS event proves it all and carries more weight than any of the rest,' has long been a trademark gesture of the far left, and one they've used to significant effect.

When politically motivated groups start learning tips on campaigning and courting public opinion from one another, why is it never the ethical, sincere, honest, issue-based habits they pick up, and always the sneaky, cheap, underhanded, hysterical ones?

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Badger, if you look at his whole post and also his later post that stated the course would be "a hoot," it is obvious that this professor was going into the course with an agenda.

Get rid of the fat faces comment completely, and it is obvious what his intent was.

You don't post it on the atheist site for no reason. He did it to GET THEIR INTEREST and receive congratulations for offering the class, which is what he received.

I doubt he has done the same for the IDers, however deluded they are scientifically. That shows a clear bias on his part.

Densmore 9 years ago

On Thanksgiving, I expressed my great displeasure with Mirecki in this forum, so I will not go on and on about it today. I simply want to say that this is not a right versus left issue. As a liberal, I found Mirecki's remarks objectionable and harmful to those who are attempting to prevent the inclusion of ID into science classes. I don't give two hoots in Hades if his remarks were "stolen" from a web site. Rwfromkansas and ModerateOne are right on target. We need people who can rise above this sort of behavior to lead the charge, not Mirecki.

badger 9 years ago

I see your point, ModerateOne, but I also think that his spokesmanship on this issue was much more self-appointed than official. He was outspoken, but so were many other people, and none of them is being considered the university's spokesman on this issue. He seems to have gotten appointed the 'official' spokesman essentially by people looking for a reason to assign his opinions to the whole of KU for one reason or another.

As such, has KU itself released an official statement regarding the BOE decision? Did that statement come from Dr. Mirecki? Professors are somewhat in the public eye, especially in a college town. However, if someone could find reasons based in his activities as an educator, not as a private citizen, that indicate he would be intolerant or biased, that would go a long way towards making me think that the assumption regarding his inability to be objective was justified.

People say a lot of things on message boards. Ten percent of it is honest, thirty percent of it is bluster, fifteen percent of it is urban myth they heard somewhere, twenty-five percent is outright lies, and the remaining twenty-one percent is inaccurate statistical data they just plain made up. One post on Yahoo doth not a curriculum vitae make, and should not be taken as the sum total of someone's opinions and professional experience.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

Arminius--I hadn't seen that yet. The only thing I had seen that was supposed to be Mirecki word-for-word was rwfromkansas' cut-past of the chat board posting.

And, it's really too bad that he said that, because I distinctly remember during undergrad/late high school (during the previous round of anti-Evolution talk in the KSBOE) hearing Fr. Vince Krische give an entire homily during 10pm Mass about the fact that the Catholic Church doesn't have any opposition to Evolution, which was a good move, because there were a handful of Biology faculty who were getting a little worried that the faith that had stood by them their entire lives was going to undercut their careers. And, since that was in the late 1990s, John Paul II was still quite alive.

avhjmlk 9 years ago

Arminius--forgot to mention, but thanks for filling me in on what he had said.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Certainly one post should not be taken as the sum total of a person, but I would expect a professor to try to conduct himself with some decorum due his position at all times, not just during class. He effectively made himself a limited public figure on this matter.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Thanks for the info on the Pope comment, Arminius (Calvinist here though, bud). :)

fossilhunter 9 years ago

Too bad they cancelled the class altogether. I can see changing instructors due to the uproar, but the class itself is still relevant and timely.

bige1030 9 years ago

They were not stolen from a publicly accessible web site. They were stolen from a restricted-membership, password-protected web site. Regardless of the presence of this protection, though, copyright protection still applies.

trinity 9 years ago

ok, his email was dumb&in bad taste...it's probably been said but sheeeez, have we not all at one time or another opened mouth only to insert foot?? i really feel badly that they pulled the course. shoulda just appointed a different professor, maybe.

on the other hand-has anybody read about the neocons who are going after full-on the priscilla's store in wichita, along with ALL the same types of shops?? now THIS kind of thing my friends is going wayyyy too far. and i consider myself a Christian! but this is just wrong wrong wrong.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Posts on a forum are not copyrighted.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Where is the line drawn? Would anyone doubt that every single professor at KU has at some point said or written something, in private or otherwise, that was terribly offensive to someone; something that would undermine their credentials to analyze a particular subject in an academic environment?

The sole difference here is that Mirecki was "caught" by a fundie mole trying to dig dirt.

The failure of KU to support faculty who have made offending comments that were ferreted out by a crusading idealogue is very troubling for the University of Kansas, indeed.

It will be interesting how this issue plays out in international academic circles and publications such as the Journal of Higher Education.

In failing to support a faculty member (see Hemenway's extreme comments about Mirecki on the KU website), KU risks yet another embarrassment to add to the embarrassment of the educational climate of the state.

ralphsantos 9 years ago

Trinity,

"have we not all at one time or another opened mouth only to insert foot??"

Yep. Been there done that wore the t-shirt ate the burger. Opened my mouth and shoved both legs in up to about the knees. Amazed I can still walk sometimes. Everybody's done it. But if one does it while putting together a high-profile course on an extremely politically charged issue, one has to expect such a comment to put a cloud over one's academic integrity, and one has to expect to pay the price.

I would have liked to see the course go on as well.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Anyone who thinks that just because Mirecki "pulled" this class that the issue is over is mistaken.

Intemperate idealogues do not back away from fresh blood. They attack even harder.

If KU and Hemenway thought they were throwing the christian right a bone by this, they are wrong. Pulling the class and using harsh language against Mirecki will only stoke the righteous fires.

bige1030 9 years ago

I heard hat no one else was willing or able to teach the course. That's just what I heard - don't go publishing it around the world as fact until it's official word.

Prof. Mirecki has done his part to right his wrongs. IMHO, it's fine time right now for Altevogt and his informant to be brought to justice. They both should be sued and prosecuted for willful copyright infringement, and his informant should additionally be prosecuted for circumvention of a copy-protection device (obtaining approval to join the listserv on false pretenses). They may or may not be guilty. Freedom of the press may or may not apply (since they're freelance informants at best, plain old citizens at worst). It's in the interest of justice for them to be tried, though.

Regardless of the Internet being public, it's not in the public domain (as legally defined). Everything on it is still subject to copyright.

grimpeur 9 years ago

Now that this Mirecki business is over, it's time to turn our attention back to the ongoing threat to our state's students--the continuing attack on education and science standards from the fundies Mirecki accurately described.

Let's be clear--this is a group whose members, in their crusade to inflict their personal religious beliefs into the public school curriculum, have:

1) made numerous statements clearly indicating ID is a religion-based belief (a, b, c, d), and then: 2) lied about its intentions; 3) changed its name to obscure those intentions; 4) employed phony scientists like Behe to shill for its mission; 5) lied in claiming that there is "controversy" about evolution among the scientific world; 6) lied in its denial of its religious agenda (e); 7) lied about ID's status as a scientific "theory";

Which is more damaging: a professor who dares to teach a course that puts ID in its rightful place as a myth and says so in a fit of poor judgment, or the stewards of our state's curriculum who promulgate lies and distortions of science in order to perpetrate their religious beliefs in our public schools?

Footnotes

a) "If the broader impact of Darwinism was to remove Christianity from the sphere of objective truth, then the broader significance of the Intelligent Design movement will be to bring it back"--Nancy Pearcey, Discovery Institute (from kcfs.org)

b) "Intelligent design promotes a rational basis for belief in God"--John Calvert

c) "Of course this is a Christian agenda. We are a Christian nation. Our country is made up of Christian conservatives. We don't often speak up, but we need to stand up and let our voices be heard."--Kathy Martin, asked by a Clay Center Dispatch reporter whether ID was just Christian creationism in disguise.

d) "...the members of the Creation Science Association of Mid-America were personally and intimately involved over the course of many months"--Tom Willis, Creation Science Association of Mid-America, author of 98% of the 1999 science standards submitted by Steve Abrams. Abrams himself falsely claimed authorship of the document.

e) "At no time have I stated or implied that I wanted to insert creation science or intelligent design into the science curriculum standards"--Steve Abrams (Wichita Eagle Op-Ed)

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

Those who want to pretend ID is not recycled creationism - 1

Those who tell the truth about ID - 0

Keep in mind this is only the first quarter.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Again, it is simply not true that a forum's posts are copyrighted.

Any suit brought against the people involved would be dismissed without even a hearing.

Now, it is true that anything you put on a website is considered by default copyrighted, but an internet message board is different. What I am posting here is not copyrighted. I would lose if I sued somebody for quoting me, even if this message board could only be viewed by joining.

ralphsantos 9 years ago

yourworstnightmare,

You make a good point.

There's something sad in the fact that the whole ID thing has taken on such a tremendous charge that a comment like that would have the effect that it did.

My perception of the pragmatics of the situation tell me that it's inevitable that Mirecki nuked his own credibility in doing what he did, even though I know that there's something extremely unrealistic in demanding that a professor teaching such a course to in effect be forced to be hyper-vigilant about even the least comment made.

That said, given that the situation exists, and there are so many people participating in the debate with such hair triggers that they cry victim at nothing at all, it's a tough environment to negotiate.

Godot 9 years ago

The Capital Journal has more details about the situation in its story headlined, "Religion e-mails called 'vicious.' At cjonline, choose news, then kansas. You should check it out.

Apparently the University researched at least three years' worth of Mirecki's communications as faculty advisor to SOMA, and what they found was that the kind of language Mirecki used in the exposed email is common place for him.

The problem appears to be deeper than this one email or even this incident. Take a hint from the part of Mirecki's apology that refers to "leading by example." His offensive language and outright bigotry toward Christianity, in general, and Catholicism, in particular, has been part and parcel of his communications with students in the SOMA group for a long time.

This article also quotes KU administration as saying that if the class is offered in the future, it won't be taught by Mirecki.

I wonder why the JW didn't tell the complete story on this.

What Hemenway did was a good start toward redeeming the reputation of the university.

DuQuesne 9 years ago

"Would DuQuesne think it is acceptable to utter racial epithets in private or in an email?"

Yep. Sho' 'nuff. In private and in person, anyway.

When I do "utter" in private, I know the people to whom I'm uttering, and I know their likely reaction and that they will understand my context. I'll also sometimes go to some extra effort to let my audience even in private jump to the conclusion that I'm expressing a racist sentiment, and thereby provide them an opportunity to display their own ignorance. I especially enjoy it when the under-informed take me to task for using the word "niggardly," as well as those who think "picayunish" is a religion.

I personally would be much more circumspect with email knowing as I do that it will probably resurface later ( at my Senate confirmation hearing, perhaps).

AbsolutLaney 9 years ago

Pork, you wonder how many public school teachers have agendas? Have you had a chance to look at the school board lately?

This is what this is all about in the first place. PUSHING an agenda. Mirecki's class was going to be an attempt to push back in the correct direction: ID isn't science and it shouldn't be touted as such.

However, you can't push an agenda at a university by instructing a class without people to take the class. You CAN push an agenda in a captive-audience public school. You figure out which is scarier.

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

"I wonder why the JW didn't tell the complete story on this"

JW dedicates alot of space to these issues at hand but their actual coverage has a lot to be desired. Their coverage is mainly "he said she said" stuff. So far that is about as detailed as they get.

This is such a fantastic subject and some newspaper in Kansas ought to give it justice.

DuQuesne 9 years ago

Well, now. I just got back from the article at CJOnline - "Religion e-mails called 'vicious'" My goodness. Prof. Mirecki was a bit . . . intemperate, wasn't he? I think his real mistake was probably in adopting a "just us guys" sort of attitude and then committing his remarks to the foreverness of cyberspace. So, I don't criticize what he said so much as his not-too-well-thought-out choice of where to say it.

As far as some of the content and I'm only able to remark on what's in the article I might express things a bit more carefully. I wouldn't, for instance, disparage Christians and Catholics as much as I would Christianity and Catholicism. Organized religion seems to provide more than adequately fertile ground for the growth of thought police as does any bureaucracy. And that seems clear from Sen. Brownlee's remarks. Perhaps Sen. Brownlee's remarks show only that she shouldn't be selecting faculty for the university. Hmm?

jayhawks71 9 years ago

As an alumnus of the University of Kansas, I am disappointed at the news of this class being cancelled. Universities are about the free exchange of ideas and I have no doubt a pro-ID viewpoint would have been welcomed in Mirecki's class with the provision that one is ready to intelligently address the topic. Everyone who teaches a course at any level has his/her biases that are directly relevant to the courses and topics being taught. That is human nature; most of us have no trouble setting those aside in the classroom.

To Provost Schulenberger, glad to see you going, don't let the door hit you on the way out. The earlier press release was the quintessential tail between the legs escape. I almost forgot to shake your hand at the doctoral hooding, now, I wish I had walked right past you; your behavior represents the opposite of what an education at a university (and specificially the University of Kansas) should be. All the best in retirement.

Biodude 9 years ago

Right. How could a professor use common language to try to communicate with students? What a sin! Moreover, how could he be critical of Christianity; one wonders if critisism of Islam would have received a standing ovation from the objective citizens of Kansas.

Kansas and KU are already discredited because they (Administration and Faculty) have put themselves above the elected primordia and not used their God given right to moderate academic programs in this vast wasteland!

Maybe some professors or administrators could have made it more clear to the State House that they were not going to put up with this stunt...again!

Maybe the scientific community could have showed up at the damn thing and made some coherent remarks. Maybe the NIH could have gotten involved to discuss the need for scientific truth in drug development.

Maybe several elite medical schools could have sent administrators to the "hearings" to explain to the primordia that evolution is a good thing and is really all warm and fuzzy and keeps millions of people alive everyday.

Maybe a national campaign for real literacy in biological science could be initiated whereby more US primorida become touched by Charlie's insight.

How may Kansas can tell you what a gene is, or how natural selection operates, or why this effects your prescription drugs?

But nobody cares enough! We would rather just complain on both sides and revel in the public's ignorance. Ask your self a simple question. Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Don't get me wrong, allowing political and cultural pressure to smear scientific truth is no small lapse in one's consciousness. Never, ever will this be okay!

Nevertheless, the primordia still do not see Evolution by Natural Selection as scientific truth...as say, gravity. Ask yourself why, then come up with some real ways of communicating the fact. Somebody...somebody...out there has the capacity to do this...I pray!

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Biodude,

I agree with most of what you say. However, ask yourself that question again: "Nevertheless, the primordia still do not see Evolution by Natural Selection as scientific truth...as say, gravity. Ask yourself why..."

I would put forth that one reason why is that "the public" believes that evolution conflicts with christian fundamentalist dogma. Period. They don't need to understand it. All they need to know, or want to know, is that it goes against their dogma.

There is indeed a problem on the part of scientists and educators to properly explain evolution to non-scientists. However, the audience is often not receptive, which makes explanation that much harder, as any educator will attest.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

Pilgrim,

You are more on-target than you probably realize. The christian fundamentalist right has indeed adopted the "persecution strategy", which was once the used by civil libertarians to combat racial and economic injustice. So, when you invoke "political correctness" biting liberals in the ass, you are dead-on.

The new political correctness is religious correctness. You're so RC, Pilgrim.

The difference is that, opposed to minorities and the poor, right-wing christian fundamentalists are not now nor have they ever been persecuted in the US and in fact control most aspects of this country.

har_de_har_har 9 years ago

Well, it's back to wiping me bum with pages torn out of a bible.

Mr_Christopher 9 years ago

hey har_de_har_har, don't squeeze the creation myth!

Biodude 9 years ago

Dude...they are persecuted by Darwininan fundamentalists, don't you read the Capital Journal?

Nevertheless, it is not enough to sigh and complain. Personally, I have not seen enough of the "suppression of scientific truth" approach. I guess because none of our "leaders" have the guts and/or knowledge to call it that.

Maybe...the rest of scientific civilization doesn't care?

Godot 9 years ago

What surprises me is to learn who "the fundies" are. I thought the phrase referred to fundamental evangelical Christians. Now, after reading just portions of Mirecki's emails, I learn that "fundies" are Catholics? Or is a "fundie" anyone who disagrees with him?

It is curious that, as Biodude tells it, scientists see the cancelling of a class in religious studies as an attack on science.

So, is Mirecki a scientist?

Kookamooka 9 years ago

What is so scarey to me, and maybe someone mentioned this, was that the Jworld got the email from a conservative who someone happened to get ahold of it. How many other emails are the conservatives privey to and how many more lives will they crush with their hatred of free speech? I believe they approach liberals with the same hate as the muslims to the US. It's a conservative JIHAD!! People who think they are the "chosen" have a tendency to believe that their hatred is justified in the name of God. They refuse to play by any sort of "rules". They are above the law of man. Is this not the case, conservatives? Why can't you just let God deal with the liberals when they come before God on the the day of judgement? Don't you trust God? Do you not think God will punish us effectively? Like another reader said months ago, if Fred Phelps is going to heaven, I prefer HELL.

rwfromkansas 9 years ago

Kookamooka,

In case you are not aware, it is LIBERALS who support free speech codes and try to shout down speakers they disagree with on college campuses.

Conservatives oppose free speech codes and believe free speech should be everywhere.

Just do a little searching on which side is the most open-minded. You just may be surprised the liberals aren't really that liberal.

yourworstnightmare 9 years ago

It must be tough on the right-wing christian fundamentalists to get everything they want.

This is why they must keep pushing their views further and further to the extreme.

MyName 9 years ago

It is curious that, as Biodude tells it, scientists see the cancelling of a class in religious studies as an attack on science.

So, is Mirecki a scientist?

No, I think the scientists see the attack on intellectual freedom as an attack on scientists. The only reason why this is a story is because his class offended the religious right. His bone headed comments may not have helped matters, but I think anyone interested in Academic freedom would be troubled by this development. The message that it sends is clear: If you do something in your work that offends a right-wing politician in this state, you will be subject to political attack.

I can only imagine the kind of fever pitch rhetoric you would have heard if a biology professor at KU had tried to teach or publish something that showed just how inadequate the science behind ID really is.

Godot 9 years ago

The only reason this is a story is because the LJW, or Mirecki, or his devotees, made it so. Read the archive. This is the first time I have ever read a press release announcing a new class offering at KU. If this had just appeared in the timetable as an elective, graduate level class, there would have been no public response.

I have a suggestion for those of you who are so outraged that this class offering became a public matter: find out who told the LJW about it in the first place.

Godot 9 years ago

Wendt: Are you referring to the original announcement of the class offering, or the revelation of the incriminating email that followed later?

Godot 9 years ago

OK. So, if no one had contacted the press about the class, if it had just been an innocuous entry on the timetable, as are all the other classes, no one would have taken notice. It would have been just another graduate level class at KU.

Why did someone feel the need to publicize the class in the first place?

Godot 9 years ago

Changing the subject doesn't work.

AbsolutLaney 9 years ago

That's easy, Godot. His name is John Altevogt, and he's been quoted heavily in these articles. Spiteful little man, that Altevogt.

Godot 9 years ago

Daily did not engage the local media to advertise his class. A student who was offended by Dailey's presentation exposed the class to public scrutiny.

This controversty is about a class that was designed to ridicule a particular religion, and to stifle dissent.

Should professors have students sign a pledge of loyalty that they will never divulge what is said in the classroom, or on "secret blogs?"

MyName 9 years ago

Godot:

KU publicizes a number of its educational and research activities. LJWorld often does pieces on them. Some of these, like the trips to Greenland and Antarctica even make national headlines, others do not. As I've said before:

The only reason why this is a story is because Professor Mirecki's class offended the religious right.

You asked why someone from the Sciences should care about this issue. I've answered it. Instead of responding to that, you're the one changing the subject by talking about who publicized or politicized this first.

The issue for me, and a lot of Kansans is clear: If you're at a university, and you do something in your work that offends a right-wing politician in this state, you will be subject to political attack.

jayhawks71 9 years ago

All the crying does not change its status. MYTH!

Reason McLucus 9 years ago

Allowing Prof. Mirecki to teach a course on Intelligent Design would make as little sense as having Fred Phelps teach a course on homsexuality.

Mirecki obviously has a religious bias against I.D. because it conflicts with his Darwinist religious beliefs. Although I would agree that religion courses would be the place venue for studying beliefs about the origin of life rather than science classes. Science deals with reproducable, or at least reobservable, events and the origin of life, or the universe for that matter, are not reproducable. I believe in the basic idea of the Big Bang , but I wouldn't argue that it is science.

Contrary to a popular myth, I.D. does come closer to being science than does Darwinism. If scientists can find a way to produce or significantly modify biological life forms they would demonstrate that some other Intelligence could have developed biological life.

Another misconception of I.D. is that it refers only to creationism. The Intelligence could also be an extraterrestrial. Advocates for this idea include Francis Crick who received the Nobel Prize as the co-discovered of the helical structure of DNA. Crick doubted that earth could have produced the necessary molecules for development of life.

LarryFarma 9 years ago

The exposure of Mirecki's message posted on a publicly accessible Internet forum was no big invasion of privacy. The information was not obtained by wiretapping his phone lines or bugging his home or office. In contrast, in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover intelligent-design case in Pennsylvania, testifiers were grilled under oath about private conversations in an effort to determine whether or not individual pro-ID school board members had been motivated by religion.

wonderhorse 9 years ago

Godot

"This controversty is about a class that was designed to ridicule a particular religion, and to stifle dissent."

I guess I still don't understand, but I thought that ID was not about religion.

Also, my experience has been that dissent in classrooms at KU is encouraged. I certainly engaged in dissent when I was attending class.

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