Paul Mirecki -- the Kansas University religious studies professor who derided Christian fundamentalists as "fundies" -- is a strange man with strange tales of alleged persecution. Contrary to his knee-jerk defenders on the Left, it is not bigoted, hateful, or intolerant for me to scrutinize his story.
The professor first created controversy in November after penning an unhinged e-mail message expressing his desire to deliver a "slap" to the "big fat face" of the "fundies" by teaching an intelligent design course "as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology.'" The message was sent to the mailing list of the university's Society of Open-Minded (snort!) Atheists and Agnostics. Mirecki signed his taunting diatribe "Evil Dr. P." These are the words of an individual more than a few cards short of a full deck.
After his remarks were publicized, KU cancelled the proposed course. Mirecki was forced to apologize. And then, out of the blue, It Happened.
Last week, Mirecki claimed he was beaten by two mysterious white men on a rural highway. He says the unidentified assailants, in a pickup that tailgated him in rural Douglas County, Kansas, targeted him for his views while he was "taking a long, pre-dawn drive in the country to clear his mind," according to the student newspaper. Mirecki says he pulled over to the side of the road to let the men pass. He then said he got out of his vehicle. The alleged attackers got out of their truck and beat "the hell" out of him, reportedly using a "metal object," Mirecki said last week before abruptly clamming up about the attack and sequestering himself in his house.
News of the beating aligned perfectly with the mainstream media's template of Christian fundamentalists as right-wing vigilantes. Mirecki's liberal supporters on the Internet swallowed the story whole. The Wichita Eagle told those with questions about Mirecki's account to "give it a rest." A Kansas City Star columnist called allegations of a manufactured hate crime a "cheap shot."
Mirecki can't remember where the incident took place, according to local law enforcement, and has offered only the vaguest of suspect descriptions. There are conflicting accounts about Mirecki's physical appearance the day of the attack. While a faculty colleague claimed that "big swollen spots" had "transformed" Mirecki's face, Jesse Plous and Tiffany Jeffers, two of Mirecki's students, told the campus newspaper they didn't notice bruises or scratches when they met for his class six hours after the alleged attack. Lindsay Mayer, another student in the class, "said injuries weren't extremely noticeable." Mirecki did not mention the alleged beating in class.
Now, a week after the alleged attack with the alleged assailants still at large, Mirecki is poised to take both his university and the local sheriff's office to court for their insufficient support and investigation. The fundies! Academia! The cops! They're all in on it!
After university officials announced that Mirecki had voluntarily resigned as chair of the religion department, the professor came out of his shell to blast the school for forcing him to step down. The university stands by its account. Mirecki has complained that law enforcement officials have seized his car and computer, and doesn't like the direction of the probe. "If I have to sue, I will," he told the Lawrence Journal-World.
None of this smells right.
The truth is there are too many cases of hate crime hoaxers on campuses -- a phenomenon most left-leaning journalists are loathe to cover -- to dismiss the possibility in this case. Last year, Claremont McKenna College professor Kerri Dunn was sentenced to prison after she staged an anti-Semitic hate crime against herself. Earlier this year, a lesbian student at Mt. Tamalpais High School in Marin County, Calif., faked several anti-gay incidents to garner attention and sympathy. Leah Miller, a black student at San Francisco State University, admitted to scratching "NIGG" on a dorm room door and writing herself a note with the same epithet. Jaime Alexander Saide, a Northwestern University student, admitted making up anti-Hispanic threats against himself after the school rallied around him with "Stop the Hate" marches.
Strange, isn't it, how leftists on campus who sneer at blind faith are so often fooled by it themselves.