07 December 2005

Violence in the name of fundamentalism

Yesterday I read a news report of a professor who was, in essence, carjacked and beaten by a couple of thugs who apparently were upset with his public statements critical of their particular fundamentalist religious viewpoint.

Where did this happen, you may ask? Iraq? Afghanistan? Iran? Perhaps even Syria or Egypt or Indonesia? Nope. Try Lawrence, Kansas, in the good old USA.

The victim is a professor at the University of Kansas who was planning to offer a course entitled “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies”, but that got cancelled once he shot off an email criticizing religious conservatives as “fundies” (he has since apologized for those remarks). On Monday, according to an AP report, this professor was driving along a rural road in Lawrence when he was tailgated by a couple of guys, and when he got out of his car to confront them, “they beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object” while referring to the aforementioned class.

Now, I’m not going to defend the guy’s email comments (neither did he), but according to the way I read the First Amendment, in America you have the freedom to sound like an ass without having to worry about getting your ass kicked.

Oh, and just what part of the teachings of Jesus were these carjacking thugs acting out? “Turn the other cheek, unless someone insults your notion of God, in which case you should whack them with a lead pipe?” Funny, I don’t remember that Gospel verse.

And for that matter, these thugs must worship a real wuss of a god, if their god needs them to do his dirty work for him. “Vengeance is mine, but I could really use some help with it down there, says the Lord”?? Can’t find that one in my Bible either.

This is one of those incidents that fall squarely in the category of “Seriously, what the heck?” (OK, so that’s not exactly the way I would normally phrase it, but I’m trying to keep my public writings PG-13.)

This is yet another example of people confusing the metaphor with the reality it’s intended to represent. More on that in a future posting – how metaphors, myths, and symbols are the only way for us to express ineffable truths, and how people forget about the meaning and start worshipping the metaphor instead.


Anonymous said...

Hmm. I guess fundamentalists in America are just as threatening to us as the death-cult Jihadists that are blowing up trains and buildings and pizza parlors. Thanks!

Dan said...

Well, fortunately this particular professor wasn't killed, only injured, so he's obviously better off than if he had been attacked by, say, nutcase radical Muslims with bombs. And obviously, there are a lot more victims of the latter kind of nutcase fundamentalists. But not all Muslims - not even all "fundamentalist" ones - go around killing "infidels", and there are "fundamentalist" Christians who do (e.g., abortion providers being gunned down, and some would include the victims of Oklahoma City in there also), as well as fundamentalist Hindus who kill Muslims, and so on. My point wasn't that all fundamentalist Christians are murderers - only that blind, nutcase fundamentalism of any variety can lead folks to do very evil things in the name of what's supposed to be a good religion.