Tuesday, December 06, 2005

When rhetoric turns to reality

There's a reason, you know, why I've focused so much over the past couple of years on the eliminationist nature of so much right-wing rhetoric: namely, that this kind of rhetoric inevitably leads to concrete action.

Sure enough, a Kansas University professor who rather publicly raised the ire of the religious right has been beaten by a couple of thugs who assaulted him because of his views:
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.

"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.

"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he said.

Douglas County Sheriff's Officials are classifying the case as an aggravated battery. They wouldn’t say exactly where the incident happened, citing the ongoing investigation

The sheriff's department is looking for the suspects, described as two white males between ages 30 and 40, one wearing a red visor and wool gloves, and both wearing jeans. They were last seen in a large pickup truck.

Mirecki was indiscreet enough to post his views about "fundies" in a Yahoo chat room, saying he planned to teach intelligent design as "mythology" in an upcoming course. He wrote it would be a "nice slap" in the "big fat face" of fundamentalists.

Mirecki's remarks caused an uproar with the religious right in Kansas, despite an apology from Mirecki. Last week, the stalwart defenders of free speech at KU announced that the class would be canceled.

It's also noteworthy that one of Mirecki's harshest critics, and a leader of the torchlight brigade against him, is himself a firebrand of the most obnoxious sort -- one who, indeed, regularly engages in eliminationist rhetoric toward atheists and non-Christians. He was joined by right-wing Christians around Kansas, including Republican state Sen. Karin Brownlee, who remarked: "We have to set a standard that it’s not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America."

Obviously, someone was listening.

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