Tag Archives: Kansas

best commentary on right-wing frothing about Paul Mirecki

Love this quote on the right-wing frothing about Prof. Mirecki’s email [from The Panda’s Thumb]:

[T]hey hate “Hate Crime” legislation, driven to rabid frothing at the mere mention of “politically correct” language. They are such fierce opponents (they say) of limits to free speech intended particularly to block racist speech; the term “PC” in the mouths of the far right is an epithet. …

However, … we see that a minor slight of the American religious right by an obscure professor has provoked an event of international outrage.

If you don’t already know about the Paul Mirecki Incident, this is the short summary: Mirecki, a University of Kansas professor of Religious Studies, designed a course on “intelligent design as mythology” in response to the brouhaha about intelligent design “theory” in Kansas primary schools. He then sent an email to a closed list, discussing the course, and including this opinionated line:

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.”

and signing the email “Doing my part to piss of [sic] the religious right, Evil Dr. P.”

The religious right were indeed pissed off: Dr. Mirecki was physically assaulted shortly after this incident, and political and religious readers freaked out. (I previously quoted a Kansas State Senator whose response to the Incident was: “We have to set a standard that it’s not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America.”)

update 12/21: PZ Myers didn’t like the general commentary (or lack thereof) on Panda’s Thumb and points instead to evolve thought (more and more) and orcinus. Some quite pointed commentary on PT’s failure to strongly defend someone who wasn’t wholly politically correct on the topic of religion:

The Panda’s Thumb is a great resource for science and focused critiques of creationism, and everyone should keep reading it, but we should also be clear on what it is not. It is not ever going to address the root causes of creationism in our country: the virulent, pathological brands of fundamentalism that are growing in our midst. That would be…rude.

morning tea round-up

  • Yahoo!’s historically less-than-stellar track record of protecting user privacy is made much, much worse by this news: Yahoo! turned over a user’s identity information to the Chinese government, and now journalist Shi Tao has been sentenced to ten years for “e-mailing a government’s plan to restrict media coverage around the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre”. [SJ Merc 10/2 editorial; see also Xeni Jardin in the LAT 10/9; and Open Letter to Jerry Yang, Yahoo!, from Liu Xiaobo, 2005 Oct. 7. ] The Merc thinks it’s “hard to blame Yahoo!” for this but wants them to more aggressively lobby on behalf of human rights. Me, I don’t find it hard to “blame” Yahoo! for what they did. The individuals at Yahoo! who made the decision to hand over accurate information made a choice: company profits and business model over the freedom of a journalist. I guess they were just doing what they were told. [link from ping]

  • The Bush Admin. has never really had a sense of humor about parodies. The latest brouhaha is about The Onion’s use of the presidential seal. [cnn 10/26] White House spokesperson Trent Duffy:

    “When any official sign or seal is being used inappropriately the party is notified. … You cannot pick and choose where to enforce that rule. It’s important that the seal or any White House insignia not be used inappropriately.”

    The Onion editor-in-chief, Scott Dikkers:

    “I’ve been seeing the presidential seal used in comedy programs most of my life and to my knowledge none of them have been asked not to use it by the White House. … I would advise them to look for that other guy Osama … rather than comedians. I don’t think we pose much of a threat.”

  • George Takei - Live Queer and Prosper

    George Takei (“Mr.
    Sulu”) vamps it up.

    Mr. Sulu George Takei is gay! His new role in “Equus” apparently “inspire[d] him” to come out. I have to say, I am deeply gratified to finally have some queer representation on Star Trek. Although looking at this picture, it seems like the official coming out was, well, redundant. [Jason Schultz has a nice photo for Sulu fans, and SFGate 11/10 has a lot more details.]

    Between Mr. Sulu Takei and WNBA triple-MVP winner Sheryl Swoopes, National Coming Out Day came out a little late, but strong. [Women’s Hoops blog links to lots of Swoopes coverage.]

  • Research about five years ago showed that even as women athletes were setting records and breaking into new fields, sports photographers were increasingly minimizing and downplaying women’s athleticism. (Also at Women’s eNews. See also Womens Sports Foundation. That was in 2000, and a flurry of scholarship around that time evaluated that phenomena. A year or so later, the Smithsonian launched a traveling tour of sports photography of female athletes, Game Face (which I caught in DC at the time). Women’s ascendance in sports in the last five years has continued apace, and I wonder if there have been follow-up studies….

  • Chinese women bloggers are doing the sex blog thing. (This is at least the second or third such similar article on Asian women bloggers and sexuality that I’ve seen in the last year or so. News coverage about the Chinese government frowning or cracking down on this or that is fairly routine, I know. But I can’t help but wonder how much of the coverage is due to the starting! shocking! news that Asian women bloggers are blogging about sex, and how much of it is because white Western journalists are surprised to see such goings-on. Hey, I’m told that even in Boston, beans do it.)

  • Speaking of blogging, the NYT is trying to get “hip” to this newfangled “blogging” thing, and you can really see the results. In one article recently, the Times “jazzed up” their content with “hyperlinks”: the article included one link on the name of a state to NYT coverage about that state. And yesterday & today the coverage of the Scooter Libby resignation made me snigger with this bullet point: “Reactions: Bush. Cheney. Bloggers.” But I shouldn’t make fun, because the NYT also gave me a happy moment with its briefly-posted blurb for the Scooter Libby thing, which went something like this: “Scooter Libby indicted; steps down; Bush-Cheney no comment; Karl Rove not indicted.” The mere fact that Karl Rove’s non-indictment is news sends a warm glow all the way down to my toes, and I thank the NYT for that little moment of joy.

  • National science standards groups are registering their disapproval of Kansas’ new “science plus! religion” standards. Unfortunately, they’re using copyright to do so. [nyt 10/28]

  • The Washington Post trashes the E-Rate, the telecomm. tax-funded grant to schools & libraries for Internet access. [WPost 10/27]

raise your hands if you’re glad you’re not raising a kid in kansas

I’m just so sorry for the kids in Kansas, because their education is being screwed up by a bunch of not-quite-as-fully-evolved-as-the-rest-of-us folks with their heads up their nether regions. [The Kansas state board of education is holding hearings again on whether & how evolution should be taught in schools, and to what extent the religious convictions of some folks should inspire and guide criticism of scientific knowledge.]

Science education should be education about science. Period. If a person’s religious beliefs cause her to question evolution, geology, dinosaurs, or whether pi = 3.14…, then by all means, she can screw up her own kids’ minds & teach them whatever bogus facts she wants, at home. But don’t screw up the education of an entire states’ worth of kids. Geez.

Some part of me almost manages to feel sorry for the leaders of this initiative. They have built their house on the sand of fairy tale history rather than on a rock of faith. Consequently, when the fairy tale history butts up against actual history, their entire religious faith is shaken. I’m not religious — I’ve been an atheist for more than half my life now — but even I can appreciate that there’s something deeply sad about someone whose claim to a deep religious faith can be shaken by, well, scientific knowledge.

I said almost sorry. Mostly I’m just really POd at these people for being such bozos & inflicting their own pathologies & fears on the rest of the world. Retrograde jerks.

[cnn 5/5/; AP/kansas city star 5/7] And just because I love ’em, a link to the National Center for Science Education, who do great work.

And check out this great cover from a recent issue of Nature:
Nature Magazine April 2005 cover with a warning about evolution