Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Mirecki

Red Letter Day has some Mirecki followup:
[What TfK said before] may be true, but the emails were more than tasteless, they were downright offensive. I think those of us who make it our business to stand against bigotry must go out of our way to denounce it especially when it comes from those who are on our side.
True. I certainly am not defending the content of his emails, but I think it's easy to get distracted from the real issues by the his tasteless and offensive comments on a private listserve. Tasteless was too weak a word, and I may have been too dismissive of them. He was supposed to be an adult influence in the club, ideally a voice reminding these young seekers of truth that atheists can be fundamentalist, too, to no good effect. Instead, he aided an abetted their immaturity, and I don't excuse him for that.

That said, I think the best thing to have done would be to have him teach the course, live under the intense scrutiny that would follow, and show himself to be either the close-minded bigot his enemies have made him out to be, or a competent professor who can put his personal biases aside. Without that test, we'll never get past the fingerpointing and poo-flinging that characterizes these sorts of scandals, and get down to the real argument.

Without that test, this episode will come back to bite him whatever class he wants to teach next, even if he's taught it without incident before.

The question for me is whether the course he wanted to teach is at issue or whether his remarks are the issue. At the moment, the two are inseparable, and I choose to defend his right to speak even though his words offend me. The course was not, as the National Review claims "a ‘60s-style teach-in," but a look at an issue in the headlines from a professional standpoint. If we let these sorts of scandals derail serious debate, we all lose.