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Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Mirecki resigns from KU department post

December 7, 2005

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The embattled Kansas University religious studies professor who drew ire from Christian conservatives for his derisive remarks on an online discussion board has withdrawn from his post as chair of the department.

"Professor Mirecki said he thought it appropriate to step down and did so on the recommendation of his colleagues in the department and I have accepted his resignation," said Barbara Romzek, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "This allows the department to focus on what's most important - teaching, research and service - and to minimize the distractions of the last couple of weeks."

Mirecki, a tenured professor who had planned to teach a course on intelligent design, came under fire recently when his remarks about the course and other statements made on the Internet became public.

Mirecki said the class would be a "slap" in the "big fat face" of religious fundamentalists. He later withdrew the course. And on Monday he reported to local authorities that he was beaten by two men who made reference to controversy.

For more on this developing story, watch 6News tonight at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband channel 6, and pick up a copy of Thursday's Journal-World.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

Many departments rotate the chairmanship fairly frequently, anyway. Not sure if anything more than the statement in the article should be read into this-- the controversy can't be making it easy to run the department.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years ago

That's a myth and you know it, Kevin. Either that, or you're the exception that proves the rule.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Posted by wendt (anonymous) on December 7, 2005 at 5:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"I hate to say this, but it looks like the beating was a hoax.

There is no reason for him to resign except in the instance of some malfeasance.

I hope I'm wrong."

Hi. I don't know if it's really fair to jump to the conclusion that the beating was a hoax. I agree with observer about KU not having the guts to stand its ground. Perhaps the department, including Mericki was afraid for his well-being if he remained as the chairman due to all the publicity he's been getting. I think they thought that the media circus surrounding him got out of hand.

It's very evident to me that Mericki didn't intend for that email of his to become public, and since the media incessantly quoted his notorious comments, the whole ordeal became more than what he and KU could handle.

raine 9 years ago

Good grief... why does it have to be anybody's fault but just not Mirecki making a decision.. if someone held a gun to his head and forced him to sign the papers then that would be an outrage.. and we should protest that. and if he WAS beaten then the perps should also be brought to justice. when these kind of crimes go unpunished it perputates the outlandish behavior. for each person here pointing a finger remember there are 3 pointing back at you, this goes for the other lengthy threads concerning this whole story.

Harry_Manback 9 years ago

I think KU should've fired him.

I'm not a "fundie," either. In fact, I'm quite liberal, and that's why his remarks were so embarassing to KU, in my opinion. He's just as bad as the "fundies" because he forgot to take into account that his class was discriminatory and prejudiced towards a large group of people.

Calliope877 9 years ago

I also think it would be unwise for the Christian right-wing to gloat too much over this situation. If there are any so-called Christians out there thinking to themselves, "Haha! That b@st@rd got what he desevered! God's punishing him for his sins!" Those so-called Christians may want to do a little introspection in regards to their faith. It's never wise to be self-righteous or wish another individual ill-will.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

When I read this article, the part about him doing this on recommendation of his colleagues... that leads me to think that he's doing in solely based on his own web postings. It looks to me as if the tone is "I screwed up", which REALLY surprises me. Was it really that bad? I was calling for some sort of censure, and after what the chancellor said, he did get a pretty good slap on the wrist. I guess I feel like "we" (him, the university community, critics, supporters, etc.) were ready to move on. Except for those two guys in that truck, of course.

No, in spite of this resignation, I just don't see this being a hoax. If his colleagues knew about a hoax, the rumors would already be public knowledge, not just message board speculation.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

Wendt said "At least, he's not trapped in a bitter corner of east Lawrence, railing against a President five years out of office."

I WONDER who that refers to?????

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

When I read Romzek's comment, I get the impression he may have been "told" that he needed to give up the chair.

Calliope877 9 years ago

Posted by Arminius (anonymous) on December 7, 2005 at 6:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

wendt:

"Somehow, I think he will survive."

Arminius "I guess you didn't read the article. Mirecki lost his position as chair. He did not survive the controversy, did he?"

You make it sound like he was fired. He wasn't fired, he voluntarily resigned. And yeah, he did survive the controversy because he isn't dead.

bige1030 9 years ago

Besides, that only means that he's stepping down as chair, not that he's going to leave KU.

I bet his colleagues wanted him to step down so that he could reduce his stress load.

Bob Forer 9 years ago

quite liberal, and that's why his remarks were so embarassing to KU, in my opinion. He's just as bad as the "fundies" because he forgot to take into account that his class was discriminatory and prejudiced towards a large group of people.

Harry., can you pleae tell me what you think your brand of liberalisam is?

So, if an employee of KU opens his mouth, does not illegal, and states an opinion, he should be fired ikf KU is offended????? What is your definition of KU?

You? Me?

He sure didnt't embarrass me. Now you're another story. I am not embarrassed by you. I am offended by you. We have freedom of speech in the United states. It is not limited to "non-offensive" speech./ American citizenship is a privilege. One cannopt live in freedlom unless without a basic understanding of what that freedom entails and the responsibiilty of citizenship.

First of all you are not a liberal nor a conservative because both of those points of view embrace the constitution. You sound like a communist,. fasciost, or taliban. You're certainly not an American and a discgrace to all who have worn the uniform. ,

At this point, I think you are lacking a basic quality for living in America. YOui have no love of freedom. freedom accepts and protects all points of views, not just yours. You have democracy and tyranny confused.

You probably fall under the diagnosis of second stage fascism, with fundemetal ideations. At ths p;oint in time, its too early to determine whether your inability to think on more than a primitive basic is organically induced or idealogoically inducedl, or a combinaton of the two.

IN summary, you are lackikng in the essential cjharacter for U. S. citizenship. I think it shold be revoked. WE are willing to send you to cuba or the taliban. they will abolustely love you.

YetAgain 9 years ago

Well, that's just EXCELLENT!!

The American Taliban at work!

Congrats, dudes!!

{{heavy sarcasm}}

Richard Boyd 9 years ago

I am afraid I saw this one coming, those of you who mentioned it earlier are correct. Dr Mirecki made the national news too many times in the last week. I am sorry our BOE does not follow suite... for the same reasons. All things considered probably his only choice

HOWEVER:

I must say, I am sorry to admit I am a Christian, My relationship with my savior has not ONE whit to do with a literal interpretation of Genesis. I am an academic however, while I see magnificent "finger prints", in NO way do I want religion of any type taught in public school science class.

Frankly, who can answer the question "Who caused the big bang", who or WHY was the key put in the ignition and turned, all the ages ago? My statement is based on some philisophical ground NOT science!

There is currently a revolution going on the the molecular biosciences, kids coming to college now are woefully under prepared, it has taken me nearly 6 years to scratch the surface. What benefit is it to us as a society to load up already inadequate high school science classes with ID? Like my first sentence NONE of it can be tested.

I would like to discover, if this does come to pass, whose version of creation will be taught? There are over 200 recognized protestant denominations in North America. I wonder if a consensus will be found? Will the BOE endorse one over the other? I wonder if the BOE would be OK with the Catholic view? The Episcopal view? The Apostolic view? LDS view? Pentecostal view?

I am embarrassed for the BOE, KU and the citizens of Kansas.

citizenx 9 years ago

This was the fault of Buddhist monks, George Bush, the Mongols, Christina Aguilera, and the Boston Philharmonic.

Bubarubu 9 years ago

Department chairs do rotate out with some frequency and they might have decided that Dr. Mirecki should step down a bit early. I would not think that an easy decision and perhaps that is what led him to go for a drive Monday morning to think about things. Let's not assume he resigned because of the attack simply because he did so after the attack.

http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/posthoc.htm

MadAnthony 9 years ago

Hmmm. Imagine a conservative Christian pastor who voiced disbelief in the Holocaust. After the media siege engines were set against him for that free speech, national cameras and all, and it looked as if he were about to lose his job and career, he reported that two middle eastern men with Brooklyn accents beat the hell out of him somewhere outside of town. You know the facts, fill them in. Scanty to say the least.

Now riddle me this: What would become of said conservative pastor? Toast.

I would have said conservative Christian prof at KU, but I wanted my parable to have some semblence of probability to it. Any KU prof who would speak against the Holocaust or non Christian religionists in the manner Prof M spoke against Catholics and ID supporters would lose their job, fast and period.

Prof M, on the other hand, will probably limp through this, his loyal followers willing to check their critical thinking at the door to rally around him. Liberals think critically only when they are critisizing conservatives.

citizenx 9 years ago

Okay, seriously, have any of you ever taken a class with Mirecki? I have, and while I don't agree with the controversy his comment has provoked, let me tell you that I was as shocked as anyone--because in class, he is not biased. He is as fair and balanced as any professor at KU I've ever had. The idea that a personal correspondance, which was made public without his permission or intent, is being used to ruin this fine teacher's career, is very bothersome to me. Before you attempt to assassinate his character, why don't you meet the man? Take a class with him. Then you can rant and rail to your bloody little hearts' content.

bthom37 9 years ago

I would guess his resignation might have had to do with a perception that given his lightning rod status and lack of support from the administration in recent months probably reduced his ability to serve as an advocate for his department.

Godot 9 years ago

Sabbatical is more likely to happen. Embarrass the University, get a really lon, paid vacation. Publish. Or not. Still get paid, still get to come back. No questions asked.

b_asinbeer 9 years ago

Very interesting. Let's see how it turns out. If he did lie, it's a shame. But, I'm going to wait and see until all the facts come out. If it turns out he wasn't lying, Mirecki let the fundies get the best of him....which also is a shame.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

RAB:

You said two things that I find interesting. First was "My relationship with my savior has not ONE whit to do with a literal interpretation of Genesis", the second was a question about when will all denominations find a way to agree. The reason why there is so much doctrinal division is due to 1) the self-centernesss of man, and 2) our failure to give the Bible the prominence it deserves in the life of a Christian. You don't want an literal interpretation of scripture*, but you do want common ground. The only sort of common ground that CAN be found is common ground that is founded on a firm principle or set of principles. That firm set of principles are the Bible. When we all establish that we are willing to abandon our own agendas and simply cling to God's Word, we'll find out what "church" is supposed to be like.

When we pick and choose which set of scriptures we will and will not call inspired or honest, we are tossing out our only hope of really understanding what God is trying to show us. Seeing the scriptures as truthful and literal is critical to seeing God for who He is.

*Keep in mind something: the concept of the world being made in 6 24 hour periods is NOT a part of the original hebrew text. The original text simply indicates 6 distinct periods of time. The word used for "day" is just as easily translated as "eon". A literal interpretation of Genesis is not only safe, it is essential, because only there do we learn that it was God's idea that we be made, and that we were made in His image. Those two things are FUNDAMENTALLY important to all the rest of God's scriptures. Have fun investigating that :)

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years ago

Macon:

I think you meant progressive, not pro-active.

Does it make you feel good to call other people jerks?

lindssucks 9 years ago

Hey madanthony,

you are perfectly right about the holocaust and the conservative proff, now Prof M is facing the same for saying something stupid, getting beaten neck and crop. As it is going, there is only buddhist that can be safely attacked and gotten away with as the Chinese are doing. Where are the the men of god here condemning what is happening to Dalai lama? nothing. Because they can do their f&&&&g business with the chinese. Shame on all the statnic men... I see no men of god here. Only cranks and hoodlums and thugs and crooks masquerading as belonging t this religion and that. F$%#K ALL!

lunacydetector 9 years ago

...i have a feeling the facts about the so-called 'red neck beating' will be coming out in the very near future.

timing is everything, isn't it?

lindssucks 9 years ago

If somebody comes chasing me and try to beat me up, be it a red neck or a dingbat, I will sock him in the eye, spit him in the face, kick him in the groin, pull out his tooth, take him by the ear and throw him into the gutter...

allateup 9 years ago

Question: since he was a tenured professor and if the beating turns out to be unfounded...wouldn't that be REALLY bad? Loss of retirement?

allateup 9 years ago

what i'm saying is.....it was much better for him to resign than to be fired!

wonderhorse 9 years ago

He didn't resign, he quit as chair of the department. This is somethng like taking a 200 lb. wight off of the top of your head. You really don't get anything as head of a department, except headaches.

wonderhorse 9 years ago

Wendt

Why would you say that it looks like the beating was a hoax? The broken tooth would take a lot of guts to take/fake.

lindssucks 9 years ago

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lindssucks 9 years ago

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lindssucks 9 years ago

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Harry_Manback 9 years ago

TheSychophant-

I am a communist, what? I believe 100 percent in free speech, as I am a journalist. I just think that you have to be careful when putting your org. in the spotlight because it can have poor results, as is the case here.

I just think that Mirecki should've been fired because his view points are prejudiced and don't go along with KU's mission. He doesn't fit their organization's values anymore and gives them a bad name. He could be driving away potential students. This is just going to make the public have bad views of KU cause all that's ever in the news about it are sports and bad events.

Firing him would be doing damage control to save the university's good name.

wonderhorse 9 years ago

Harry

He can't really be fired--he's got tenure. This is called "academic freedom". It encourages thinking that might not be mainstream, and thus challenges what is "accepted". Since approximately 80% (sorry, using somebody else's figures, so I can't cite) in this country are christian, he is challenging the majority viewpoint. Good work, Professor, you are doing your job.

He did not show prejudice--he just stated that he didn't believe in a god myth. I think he is entitled to his opinion.

What is going to give KU a bad name is a populace harassing professors who express opinions and then are beaten because of them.

lindssucks 9 years ago

I suggest that people stop attacking other people just bcasue they do not agree with their views. There s something called first amendment, that gives somebody a right to speak freelly of his views as an individual. Some idiots my not agree with this, but this is how our founding fathers did it./ Sorry for you morons

lindssucks 9 years ago

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lindssucks 9 years ago

Peace everyone. Let us ll love each other hug and kiss. Glory be to the lord. Bless all and bless the lawrence journal world for giving us the opportunity. What a great paper. You are all wonderful people. Good night

Sigmund 9 years ago

I find it hard to believe that the Chair of Religious Studies at KU would go out of his way to offend a large number of religious people of any persuasion. Had he pulled a similar stunt to offend or embarrass Muslims, Jews, or Native American religious beliefs, he would have been forced to resign. There is no reason why Christians should expect less fair treatment from the Department of Religious Studies.

On a broader level, why do we even allow KU to teach Religious Studies? Isn't getting pretty close to the State of Kansas endorsing or promoting religion? I'm not really comfortable with tax dollars being spent for this. Anyone else share my concerns?

CheyenneWay 9 years ago

Kansas Ranks Last in School Science Standards AP

A national education group says Kansas has the nation's worst science standards for public schools.

And the Thomas B. Fordham Institute condemns the state for rewriting its definition of science and treating evolution as a flawed theory.

The assessment comes after the State Board of Education approved the new standards last month. The Washington-based institute said Kansas' treatment of evolution "makes a mockery of the very definition of science.''

Supporters contend the new standards will expose students to valid criticisms of evolutionary theory and promote openness in the classroom. Board Chairman Steve Abrams called the institute's assessment "fraudulent.''

The institute described such changes as the result of a "relentless'' promotion of intelligent design. The concept holds that some features of the universe are best explained by an unspecified intelligent cause because they're orderly and complex.

Harry_Manback 9 years ago

"I find it hard to believe that the Chair of Religious Studies at KU would go out of his way to offend a large number of religious people of any persuasion. Had he pulled a similar stunt to offend or embarrass Muslims, Jews, or Native American religious beliefs, he would have been forced to resign. There is no reason why Christians should expect less fair treatment from the Department of Religious Studies."

I completely agree, and this is why I think he should be fired. To all those people attacking me, I am a college educated person, by no means "unintelligent," and I'm just stating my views.

KU is a business, a brand, and whether or not you agree, it has an image to maintain. Why do you think they basically made JR Giddens leave? Because his behavior did not agree with KU's beliefs. Granted, he did do illegal stuff, and speaking out isn't illegal, but just like JR, Mirecki is drawing KU into another poor light in the media. And why? Because he is prejudiced.

Believe it or not, liberal bigots exist too!

Harry_Manback 9 years ago

Wonderhorse-

"so I can't cite) in this country are christian, he is challenging the majority viewpoint. Good work, Professor, you are doing your job."

Well, how come people get in A LOT of trouble for criticizing minorities and their beliefs? I mean what if we made a class up criticizing the beliefs of another, lesser practiced, religion or homosexuals or African Americans? They would be in so much trouble!

He wasn't challenging a viewpoint, he was mocking it, under KU's name. There's a big difference.

I'm not Christian either, and I was quite offended by the comments about the class and e-mail.

wonderhorse 9 years ago

Because minorities are just that--minorities. They can't defend themselves as easily as a majority. Want proof? Just look at what happened when Miecki took on the majority view.

LarryFarma 9 years ago

From post by wendt, December 7, 2005 at 6:19 p.m.

Kansas is one of the poorest states in the Union. Lawrence is really it's only redeeming location.<<

Wendt, I'll bet that you did not know that Wichita, Kansas is a major center for the high-tech aircraft industry. A lot of states would be happy and proud to have a city like that (particularly my home state of California, where the aircraft industry has been gutted over the last few years). The optimists' creed is appropriate here --

As you go through life, my friend, whatever may be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole

Another version --

Twixt optimist and pessimist, the difference is quite droll, the optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole

Kansas does not deserve its image of a clodhopper state. And I think it is unfortunate that this clodhopper image has been a big issue in the controversy over whether to teach intelligent design in Kansas public-school science classes.

LarryFarma 9 years ago

From post of CheyenneWay, December 8, 2005 at 1:18 a.m.

Kansas Ranks Last in School Science Standards AP A national education group says Kansas has the nation's worst science standards for public schools. And the Thomas B. Fordham Institute condemns the state for rewriting its definition of science and treating evolution as a flawed theory.<<<

        The following critique panned the year 2000 state ratings of the Fordham Foundation  --

      http://www.asu.edu/educ/epsl/EPRU/peer_reviews/cerai-00-07.htm

"The Fordham Foundation has produced system for rating states' standards, the validity of which is not at all obvious. The procedures for determining the rankings are unclear and, therefore, difficult to replicate. The qualifications of the "experts" whose expertise was used in some unspecified way is questionable. If the system had some immediately obvious merit, these objections would be of no import. When one looks, however, at the most immediately obvious place for validating the system the academic performance of the states one finds absolutely no correlation. States with well received standards score low, states labeled as "irresponsible" because of their "lousy" standards score high. Taking this report seriously could well lead reformers down blind alleys or toward questionable ends."

           The year 2005 Fordham report on state science standards is on --

http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/Science%20Standards.Final%20(12-6).pdf

            Page 7 of this report has a USA map showing state(except Iowa)ratings on the teaching of evolution theory -- Kansas was the only state to get an off-the-scale rating of "not even failed" (LOL).     The individual overall state science standards report for Kansas, on pages 38-39,  was written before the school board's recent ruling on intelligent design,  so the state's rating on evolution was 3 points out of a maximum possible 3,  with the maximum possible overall score being 100 points.     The rating categories are mostly vague, e.g., quality,  seriousness,  and organization.    Evolution was the only scientific subject with its own rating .   Kansas's overall score was not anywhere near the lowest -- Kansas ranked about in the middle.    The latest Kansas evolution standards and the current Dover, PA lawsuit are discussed on pages 25-26.

              Let's face it -- state standards are just general guidelines --- there are so many other factors involved.     And the Fordham report was based almost entirely on vague,  highly subjective ratings.     I think that student scores on standardized tests are the only dependable measures of achievement.

CheyenneWay 9 years ago

excellent info LarryFarma.

I agree with you on many levels and do understand that Kansas school children, when tested scored average overall. The Fordham foundation failed Kansas based on the new standards. Its kind of like grading a students paper and they clearly know the vocabulary yet you have to fail them because they write something in their that clearly shows they have no understanding of the topic.

Off to shovel an old persons sidewalk!

Richard Boyd 9 years ago

Old Enuf..

While I appreciate your points, you have, by trying to answer my hypothetical questions, restated them much better than I could have hoped.

"Keep in mind something: the concept of the world being made in 6 24 hour periods is NOT a part of the original hebrew text. The original text simply indicates 6 distinct periods of time."

I assume this is your belief? But 6 literal days ARE written in King James, NIV etc.

According to who? I agree with you in theory, indeed my thinking is quite similar, but there are groups here in Kansas that absolutely teach it as six 24 hour days, and that what WE have done (thinking something other than 6 24's)is wrong and further we are probably going to hell for it:

"We believe that the Scriptures, interpreted in their normal, literal sense, reveal divinely distinguishable economies in the outworking of God's purposes. These dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purposes. Three of these--the age of law, the age of the church, and the age of the millennial kingdom--are the subjects of detailed revelation in Scripture", (Calvary Bible College Statement of Faith).

Calvary Bible College is here in Kansas City, students must agree to this as part of the "statement of faith" prior to graduation.

This is an appropriate debate among people of faith. BUT NOT is science class. Are you familiar HOW the present church arrived at the New Testaments 27 books?

squandra 9 years ago

"He's just as bad as the "fundies" because he forgot to take into account that his class was discriminatory and prejudiced towards a large group of people."

Well ... No. No, it wasn't. It aimed to study a set of religious beliefs from a scientific perspective, which is exactly what a course taught at a state-run university should do. Any set of religious beliefs would be treated as such -- Even our beloved Christianity. Academic standards aren't a function of majority rule.

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