Something's Fishy In Lawrence
As a KU grad, I'm very interested in this story on a University of Kansas religion professor who claims he was beaten by two men in a pickup truck, apparently because of his opposition to the "religious right".
"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.
"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.
"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.”
Prof. Mirecki had gained some national attention for an E-mail he sent out describing his aims in starting a class describing "intelligent design" as "mythology".
Now, I lived in Lawrence for quite a few years, and to be honest, there isn't much of "rural" Douglas County left; and, being a university town, they don't have much in the way of good ol' boys driving around in pickups. It could be that these guys started thinking about "Who Would Jesus Beat?", but I think it's more likely that an investigation might show that this case might have more in common with this instance of "violence" against a university teacher. The hoaxing college instructor in that case, involving her spray-painting racist slogans on her own car, is originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, my home town! It looks like old home week for me for potential academic violence hoaxers.
Now, it could be that Prof. Mirecki is telling the truth, and Kansas really is as screwed up as some say.
Staying at PD...
Update 0834 05 Dec: Re-reading, I guess I should say that one of the reasons I find the story fishy is that I don't see how someone who's done something controversial recently would get out of his car to confront people in the middle of a country road. In this case, when they pull up behind you, the accepted response is to wait until they get out of the car, then take off and spray gravel all over them.
Update 0650 07 Dec: In today's story in the Journal-World, the Professor's story is under scrutiny:
"Also, there was conflicting information about whether Mirecki reported it at the scene or at the hospital. In an interview Monday with the Journal-World, he said he called police from the side of the road, but sheriff’s officials said they were dispatched to the hospital.
"Mirecki declined to clarify the discrepancy when asked about it Tuesday outside the sheriff’s office.
“I can; I just don’t want to,” he said."
Update 0921 11 Dec: In yesterday's update in the Lawrence paper, it looks like the Sherriff's office is focusing more on Prof. Mirecki than any alleged assailants; in response, he's threatening legal action against pretty much anyone but his supposed attackers. (The comments at the bottom of the article have some discussions on whether the bruises in the picture are consistent with an attack as he described it.) He resigned from his department chair position earlier in the week; he now says the resignation was forced:
"He said he felt let down by the administration and colleagues who sought his resignation Tuesday.
"He said he had no choice but to sign the resignation letter, which was typed on stationery from the office of Barbara Romzek, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences."
Choice is an interesting concept here; I suppose a tenured professor, who knows he could get a lot of favorable support from his peers if he were fired as department chair in a case of academic freedom, could choose to meekly sign a resignation letter (and then complain about it later). Maybe they had the whole football team standing by to threaten to beat him up (not as laughable as it might seem -- KU actually had a winning record this year). Or maybe, like everything else about this case, it appears that anything that comes out of Prof. Mirecki's mouth is self-serving drivel of a deluded man. I've come to the conclusion that Prof. Mirecki completely lied about the attack, but we probably won't get him to admit it; unless the police can come up with his accomplices, he probably won't be charged with making a false report, and it'll slowly fade away.