Threats against University of Colorado Biologists

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My colleague, Michael Grant of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, was one of the victims of the recent harassment, reported by Steve Reuland here. Professor Grant tells me that he has “been receiving these histrionic emails and books and packages for a year; he even comes into my office when I’m not here. He started with me and Jeff Mitton [chair of EEB] but expanded to the rest of the department and may have crossed a legal line with the rest. I have a huge stack of emails and packages and even a big fat paperback book from him.” I think that, by legal line, he means the threatening tone of the last e-mail below.

“Among other things,” writes Professor Grant, “he identifies me as a ‘child molester’ for teaching evolution and threatens to get me fired plus he threatens legal action on that front. In the most recent communications, he writes words many of my colleagues consider death threats.”

Update, 13 July 2007, 3.55 MDT. The Colorado Daily has released the name of the alleged perpetrator here .

His full name is Michael Philip Korn. He sometimes goes by his Hebrew name, Menachem (not Menacher). He lives in Nederland, a small mountain community west of Boulder. His Web site is http://www.jesusoverisrael.blogspot.com/, but it has not been updated in months. He says about himself,

I was born in America, moved to Israel after graduating from Harvard, enlisted in the Ba’al Teshuva movement, and joined a Messianic Chassidic cult (Breslov) from 1990-1999. Through the help of South African missionaries, I came to see that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the World. I was baptized in a natural spring in the Israeli Galilee outside of the famous mystical city of Safed on 20 June 2000, and now I seek to introduce Jewish people to Jesus Christ, their Messiah whom they don’t yet know.

Michael Philip Korn is also cited at Southern Exposure here.

Further, as Steve Reuland notes, the story has been reported in the Denver Post as well as the Colorado Daily. The Associated Press has also picked up the story, as has Salon. You may find an earlier Panda’s Thumb report with comments here.

The affair is cited at Red State Rabble here.

I do not know what preceded the following, but here is an early e-mail sent to Professor Grant. The boldface and italics are in the originals, but I have spared you some very large typefaces.

Professor Grant,

your sarcastic attitude is not at all becoming to an Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education of a major american university. judging from your response to me, you dont seem very skilled in human relations. i thought universities respected and cultivated a diversity of opinion. in fact that is why it derives from the root word universe. but apparently you lived in a close[d] mental universe. by denigrating the diversity that the university should represent, you show yourself sadly unable to perceive the grandeur of the universe itself. and maybe that’s why you support the nihilistic concept of Darwinian evolution.

Po-fresser Grant [if you don’t understand the Yiddish pun, i shall be glad to enlighten you: it means “Here is someone who pretends to be a professor of higher knowledge, but actually is no more than an animal”], concerning what you have written to me here:

I do not know why he makes terrible Yiddish puns, but to fress is to eat like a pig. The harasser is, in fact, a Messianic Jew Hebrew Christian, but we prefer not to state his name until it is made public.

Michael Grant … wrote: Mr. [name deleted]:

Would you please remove my name and Dr. Mitton’s name from all of your e-mail lists? Neither of us has the slightest interest in your perspectives about evolution nor, really, about anything else.

Thank you,

Michael Grant

your attitude is simply unacceptable for an official of a PUBLIC university:

i happen to be one of the Colorado taxpayers who actually pay your salary, and therefore you should have some level of accountability to me and the rest of the citizens of this state.

therefore, i will be approaching Chanchellor (sic) Peterson to discuss your attitude to me. i spent a lot of my own money to collect SCIENTIFIC evidence debunking the major claims of evolution. statements from such eminent scientists as Francis Crick and Fred Hoyle are included, amongst hundreds of others.

you owe me the minimum level of courtesy of a reasoned response, and not just an arrogant withering insult. IN THE NAME OF THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, WHO CREATED YOU AND THE CHILDREN YOU ARE INDOCTRINATING WITH UNSCIENTIFIC UNSUBSTANTIATED DARWINIAN FILTH, I DEMAND A REASONED RESPONSE FROM YOU. you might laugh and mock at me, as you do to God who reigns above you. but we shall see who will be laughing after i speak with Chanchellor (sic) Peterson. i also will be approaching the Governor of the State, as well as the State legislature, who pay your salary and authorize your position, as well as the Regents. i will be speaking with my attorney as well, for i am planning to file legal charges against you, accusing you of child molestation. no, not of me, since although i am a child of God i also am an adult. but the children who attend your “university” and who are entrusted into your care, are being intellectually, morally, and spiritually molested by the bogus darwinian theories of nihilism and death that you teach in the name of “higher education”. young persons come to your university seeking guidance, direction and focus for their talents and energies. instead they find professors like you who teach them that life is purposeless, pointless, and meaningless. indeed i charge you and your devilutionist colleagues with being the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death, for the simple reason that you, the supposed elite of academia, teach our children that life has no higher purpose, value, or meaning. i charge you with being a murderer of souls. if you think i am joking, just wait till we meet in court. “Mr. Big Brains on Biology”: what a sad joke: the co-discoverer of a candidate for the world’s largest living organism, a grove of aspen clones in Utah, that led to a 1993 Discover magazine article titled “The Trembling Giant” can’t even see the forest for the trees. if you want to delude yourself, that is your tragic prerogative. but you cannot be permitted to defraud and deceive our children. you will be held accountable for your malicious actions, attitudes, and satanic beliefs. Sincerely in Christ, [name deleted] Cc: Chancellor Bud Peterson”

Finally, the following is an excerpt of what was recently sent to Professor Grant and several other faculty members in EEB. Many of the EEB faculty consider it very dangerous and possibly a death threat.

“Pastor Jerry Gibson spoke at Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church in Boulder. He said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society. But I believe it is far more effective to take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth.

President GW Bush II (sic) is waging a global war on terror. But it seems he has overlooked the terrorists operating in our own backyard!

He likes to say “God Bless America”, and our Pledge of Allegiance says “One Nation Under God”. And of course our Federal Reserve issued money says “In God We Trust”.

But the EBIO [now EEB] Department at CU Boulder denies a Creator God and claims that life evolved from inanimate matter without Divine Direction, Oversight, or Providence.

Many scientists today have denounced Darwinian theories as bogus science. Yet the EBIO department upholds it as the Gospel truth and hides itself in a false cloak of intellectual arrogance. www.scienceagainstevolution.org

Academic freedom does not include the right to lie, obfuscate, and prevaricate. Yet this is exactly what these arrogant atheist professors do in the name of “higher education”!

EBIO professors are terrorists against America and against the true spirit of humanity, which consists of created beings beholden to their Creator!

EBIO Professors are also intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students.

In addition, the New Testament states clearly that Adam and Eve were our original parents and that Noah’s Flood was an historical reality. So the EBIO department not only blasphemes God, who is invisible, but it blasphemes His Only Begotten Son and our Messiah, Jesus Christ, which is more unforgivable given the clear manifestations of His Godliness and Holiness and the confirmation of all He claimed to be through His historic Resurrection from the dead!

For all these reason all God-fearing and Truth-loving persons must say,

They must go!”

Robert Crowther of the Discovery Institute disbelieves the Denver Post story, suggests it is a hoax, and asks, “But where’s the evidence that the perps are actually creationists, or religious at all?” He likens the story to that of Paul Mirecki of the University of Kansas, who is alleged to have punched himself in the nose, no doubt to embarrass creationists.

Mr. Crowther’s “evidence” includes an interesting overinterpretation of a policeman’s comment, “It basically said anybody who doesn’t believe in our religious belief is wrong and should be taken care of,” which he conflates with something that the perpetrator wrote; need I add that the policeman was only paraphrasing?

If this is a hoax and the e-mails were not sent by a creationist, then the author is a veritable Alan Sokal.

74 Comments

unhinged loon Wrote:

indeed i charge you and your devilutionist colleagues with being the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death, for the simple reason that you, the supposed elite of academia, teach our children that life has no higher purpose, value, or meaning.

I think the Discovery Institute should sue this guy for plagiarism.

Before he or she continues attacking the biologists at CU, a visit to the English department first might be a good idea.

Evil™ Evolutionist

This is disturbing.

He is clearly a christian, clearly making threats.

He is also unbalanced. The question is, how unbalanced? There is a process of escalation going on and any psychiatrist can tell you, that is not good. One of the few warning signs when someone is going to really lose it.

There is a problem with people like Seung Cho. Quite often you can’t legally do much about them until they start shooting and then it is too late.

IMO, cops need to pull him in, have him evaluated, and explain the law. If he is smart and sane enough that should be enough along with a restraining order. Good luck to the faculty at CU, Boulder.

Robert Crowther has several allies on the Panda’s Thumb crew regarding Mirecki, Ed Brayton leads that particular pack. Since there is no suggestion the U. of Colorado faculty are all liberals, maybe Ed will believe this event happened.

I personally find the opening of the last Email very chilling: “Pastor Jerry Gibson spoke at Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church in Boulder. He said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”

Two articles are quite relevant;

“SEX AND DEATH” Science 22 September 2006 313: 1711 [DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5794.1711d]

and

“Scriptural violence can foster aggression” Heidi Ledford, Nature 446, 114 - 115 (07 Mar 2007) News (commentary on (B. J. Bushman et al. Psychol. Sci. 18, 204—207; 2007).

As in the Mirecki case, there are public statements by respected people demanding that “action” be taken aginst the Godless evolutionists and other enemies of America and/or God.

i spent a lot of my own money to collect SCIENTIFIC evidence debunking the major claims of evolution.

No more than 30 cents, most likely.

i charge you with being a murderer of souls.

Let us see the bodies. I think autopsies are in order.

He spouts nonsense, but sounds enthusiastic in his hatred. We’ve seen how such a ranter can be very dangerous; he needs to be placed where he will not harm others.

Loony, but not quite dangerous yet – he clearly feels compelled to escalate if ignored, so I’d suggest inviting him at a public debate on neutral ground and making sure the security is good.

F***ing Moron Wrote:

indeed i charge you and your devilutionist colleagues with being the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death

Right. Because drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death didn’t exist before Darwin.

I’m sure the university and the local law enforcement people are fully capable of handling the situation. What about getting a restraining order and/or surveillance cameras? By the way I am an ID proponent.

IE crashes every time when trying to read this! (I wrote this using old ascii-browser lynx)

“I’m sure the university and the local law enforcement people are fully capable of handling the situation. What about getting a restraining order and/or surveillance cameras? By the way I am an ID proponent.”

This is Boulder, CO police dept. we are talking about here. These are the same clowns who couldn’t tell if someone else had been in the Ramsey house.

i spent a lot of my own money to collect SCIENTIFIC evidence debunking the major claims of evolution.

I’m not Christian, but I think Christ would be appalled that someone would waste money on this when they could use it, for instance, to help the poor or the sick.

Craig Wrote:

I’m not Christian, but I think Christ would be appalled that someone would waste money on this when they could use it, for instance, to help the poor or the sick.

‘Followers’ of Christ such as this rarely worry about what Christ said or did - not if there’s a chance of bringing about a society where everyone does what Christ said.

Human reason is flawed, remember?

The DI’s take on this: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/0[…]he_poli.html

No surprises who they think is responsible.

My limited experience with this sort of thing suggests that there is a qualitative difference between your garden variety creationist propaganda victim and a genuine violent nutcase who latches onto religious fervor as a vehicle to further his lunacy. It’s not unusual for violent denizens of mental institutions to start building up to such violent states as hair-pulling, shit-throwing, or even starting fires by chanting prayers and using other quasi-religious props.

So the DI might well be correct, that religion as commonly understood and practiced really hasn’t any direct bearing on this case. The person could easily be suffering organic brain dysfunction, which is expressing itself as religious fanaticism. Religion fits within the flexible bounds of rational human behavior, this sort of thing does not. If this bomb goes off, I wouldn’t consider it any more religious than Cho.

Werrf wrote:

“‘Followers’ of Christ such as this rarely worry about what Christ said or did - not if there’s a chance of bringing about a society where everyone does what Christ said.”

Why do people insist on referring to Jesus Christ as if it was historical fact that he existed. There is NO evidence that he actually did.

I do not know why he makes terrible Yiddish puns, but to fress is to eat like a pig.

While German and Yiddish vocabulary do not correspond 1:1 and onto, it is possible that there is more to the bad pun than just fress—-“Po” or “Popo” in German means “ass”. I don’t know for sure that it means the same in Yiddish, but with an ~80% vocabulary overlap (loosely measured), it’s quite possible that it’s a two-way pun, with a hint of scat as well.

I certainly don’t have any information about why this person is doing this, but one thing I imagine will be investigated is the possibility of an escalating bipolar manic phase. More frequent wordplay is sometimes an indicator that caregivers look for to indicate escalation.

I know that people are taking this very seriously, as it should be–if it is escalating phase I, it could get even more intense, and the person can harm himself or others. I lost a friend to it almost exactly 3 years ago, so I take it extremely seriously. While I wouldn’t want to sound like a hammer looking for a nail–there are many other possible explanations–I am sure that those investigating it will consider this possibility as well.

Larry Wrote:

Why do people insist on referring to Jesus Christ as if it was historical fact that he existed. There is NO evidence that he actually did.

Largely because 1) I’m living with a Christian family (though not Christian myself) and don’t feel that insulting their beliefs is the best way to please my in-laws, 2) my understanding is that the Jesus-as-myth theory has been thorougly discredited and there is plenty of evidence that Jesus did exist (though little evidence that he was divine), and 3) I’d talk about a fictional character in the same way.

Any more questions?

What the heck is a Messianic Jew? Why would anyone Jewish make reference to Jesus?

Quick note: An actual Messianic Jew is not likely to use the phrase “Sincerely in Christ.” We generally eschew the term “Christ,” in fact. While this person may be a Hebrew Christian, they are probably not a Messianic Jew. There is a difference.

Oh, I realize I probably should’ve noted I found this person’s comments to be disgusting and utterly not in keeping with Scripture. I felt it went without saying… and then I realized, after hitting post, it probably should be said.

not in keeping with Scripture. I felt it went without saying

Given the vileness of much of scripture, it’s actually the opposite that goes without saying.

What the heck is a Messianic Jew?

What the heck is google? What the heck’s a brain? What the heck is intelligence?

my understanding is that the Jesus-as-myth theory has been thorougly discredited and there is plenty of evidence that Jesus did exist (though little evidence that he was divine)

Your “understanding”? How is this different from an “understanding” that, say, Saddam was connected with 9/11, or that walking under a ladder brings bad luck?

The fact is, your “understanding” is mistaken; it remains an open historical question, although there is no question that many of the claimed characteristics and actions of Jesus predated him. And you show little understanding of historical analysis – just what sort of evidence of the existence of Jesus might there be, when contemporary reports are absent? That’s right, there’s not a single document written during the period during which Jesus supposedly lived that mentions him. While this historical question will never be conclusively answered, the current best inference is that Jesus didn’t exist. For further reading:

http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm

I’m not sure how much time these letters cover or what was said between these examples, but from what you have given us, this guy looks very dangerous. Forget how laughable his arguments or bad grammar appear, he is clearly escalating toward violence. In these samples he goes from “I think you should be nicer to me” to “I demand you pay attention to me” to “I will report you to people who will end your career” to “I know people who think you should be killed.”

Having the police tell him how things work is not going to help at this point. This guy is on exactly the same trajectory as a violent stalker. He needs to be brought in for a psychological evaluation with the word “stalker” specifically mentioned.

I DEMAND A REASONED RESPONSE FROM YOU.

Get help.

ID The “Future”:

Something just doesn’t smell right about this story.

You know when you see this sentence at the start of a blog entry or message, it almost certainly means that the writer is hoping fervently that the story isn’t true…

…and it invariably is.

Loony, but not quite dangerous yet — he clearly feels compelled to escalate if ignored, so I’d suggest inviting him at a public debate on neutral ground and making sure the security is good.

what a horrible idea. what on earth would the point of a public debate be?

I have a far better idea:

invite him to a private debate, and bring people with nets and straight jackets.

So the DI might well be correct, that religion as commonly understood and practiced really hasn’t any direct bearing on this case. The person could easily be suffering organic brain dysfunction, which is expressing itself as religious fanaticism. Religion fits within the flexible bounds of rational human behavior, this sort of thing does not. If this bomb goes off, I wouldn’t consider it any more religious than Cho.

religion has as much to do with these cases as alcohol does to an alcoholic.

It’s merely an enabler of an already underlying psychological condition.

If there was no religion, it likely would be something else enabling his behavior, but the structure of religion lends itself to be used in this fashion.

Please do not take this amiss, but: I sincerely hope this person gets his day in court. His claims are so frivolous that it might actually be amusing to the legal system to place him in psychiatric custody.

Popper's Ghost Wrote:

The fact is, your “understanding” is mistaken; it remains an open historical question, although there is no question that many of the claimed characteristics and actions of Jesus predated him. And you show little understanding of historical analysis — just what sort of evidence of the existence of Jesus might there be, when contemporary reports are absent? That’s right, there’s not a single document written during the period during which Jesus supposedly lived that mentions him. While this historical question will never be conclusively answered, the current best inference is that Jesus didn’t exist.

As a matter of fact, while the historical question of the existence of Jesus is still an open one, there are several specific theories relating to the non-existence of Jesus which are largely discredited. I am no historian (though I have a secret love for history), but the largest portion of the reason these theories are discredited do not come from the presence nor absence of any documentation surrounding the person of Jesus, but from the fact that these theories rely upon the missing documentation. Case in point: there are no documents pointing to the existence of the Library of Alexandria from the time of the Library’s existence (those would have been in the library for safekeeping), but we have plenty of evidence for the existence of the Library nonetheless. With the Library, we have documents from the planning phase and events surrounding its destruction, pointing to facts; with a person, nearly all evidence pointing to his existence would be largely anecdotal and sketchy on the details - where they still exist at all.

I have no personal opinion on the matter of whether Jesus existed because neither am I an historian nor does it matter to my life. It doesn’t seem to matter what the facts are to the people who believe such a man existed, either, so I’ll just leave the matter to the professionals to have fun with.

It is the Jihadi troll from Kansas. Seeing as how your co-cultists have published their to murder lists, why don’t you publish yours? Since you are not very bright or sane, in the likely event you can’t write a coherent thought, just copy someone elses. Pat Robertson has dibs on Hugo Chavez, that one is off the table.

Pat Robertson: wikipedia Hugo Chávez” I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.

We will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. [Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, at the Aug 8, 1995 U.S. Taxpayers Alliance Banquet in Washington DC, talking about doctors who perform abortions and volunteer escorts My note. Terry’s sympathizers have, in fact, murdered more than a few health care workers.

“Pastor Jerry Gibson spoke at Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church in Boulder.

He said that every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.

bcseweb.org Rushdooney: Our list may not be perfect but it seems to cover those “crimes” against the family that are inferred by Rushdoony’s statement to Moyers. The real frightening side of it is the interpretation of heresy, apostasy and idolatry. Rushdoony’s position seems to suggest that he would have anyone killed who disagreed with his religious opinions. That represents all but a tiny minority of people. Add to that death penalties for what is quite legal, blasphemy, not getting on with parents and working on a Sunday means that it the fantasy ideal world of Rushdoony and his pals, there will be an awful lot of mass murderers and amongst a tiny population.

We have done figures for the UK which suggest that around 99% of the population would end up dead and the remainder would have each, on average, killed 500 fellow citizens.

Chalcedon foundation bsceweb.org. Stoning disobedient children to death.Contempt for Parental Authority: Those who consider death as a horrible punishment here must realise that in such a case as .…cut for length Rev. William Einwechter, “Modern Issues in Biblical Perspective: Stoning Disobedient Children”, The Chalcedon Report, January 1999

When The Hate Comes From ‘Churches’ ASHLAND, Ore. - A recent spate of crimes points up a growing connection between hateful actions and organizations calling themselves churches. Two brothers from northern California reportedly linked to such a group were charged this week with the killing of two gay men near Redding. Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams also are suspects in the firebombing of three synagogues in the Sacramento area last month.

According to personal acquaintances as well as law enforcement officials, the Williams brothers were involved in Christian Identity, a religion that holds Jews and nonwhites to be subhuman and is closely tied to the Aryan Nations white-supremacist group based in northern Idaho.

Meanwhile, officials are investigating the links between Benjamin Smith and the World Church of the Creator. Over Independence Day weekend in Illinois and Indiana, Smith shot Asians, Jews, and an African-American (killing two and injuring nine) before killing himself.

Fundie cultists frequently publish lists of groups they plan to or would like to kill. From above quotes, we have MDs, “enemies of christian society” (whoever they are), heresy etc., disobedient children but only by stoning, gays, Jews, nonwhites, the topic of this thread-scientists and others.

If the truth is ugly, way it goes. By their words, ye shall know them, The Book.

To make things worse, they occasionally do murder people.

This doesn’t happen with mainstream christian denominations that I know of. Our church always talked about world peace and eliminating poverty. If you would have suggested drawing up a list of groups to hate and kill and arms and ammmunition to buy, well, it would be inconceivable.

An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is

sounds more like the definition of terrorism.

However, seems plausible that subjecting children to terrorism constitutes abuse.

An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is

Yes, it is. I don’t consider it unethical to involuntarily “believe in” or “fear” hell, neither of which I do of course, but I do consider it grossly unethical to take any pleasure or satisfaction in the thought of another person suffering in hell.

sounds more like the definition of terrorism.

I agree that there is a possible weak analogy between terrorism as usually defined, which inflicts brutal violence on fairly random people who are either innocent, or guilty of some trivial, unreasonable offense in the mind of the terrorist (happening to live under a government the terrorist perceives himself as “resisting”, whether justifiably or not, for example), and the hypothetical idea of brutally punishing people for eternity after their deaths. In both cases, the people affected are severely harmed for no possible reason. However, in the case of hell, the harm is imaginary and comes “after death”.

Thus, there is an obvious difference. I don’t care if some guy tells me I’m going to go to hell, but I care very much about not being blown up.

However, seems plausible that subjecting children to terrorism constitutes abuse.

Subjecting children to actual, physical, worldly terrorism, as Timothy McVeigh did and as happens every day all over the world, is unspeakably despicable; “abuse” is a gross understatement.

Even merely threatening children with the type of physical harm associated with “terrorism”, eg threatening to kill them with a suicide bomb (or a “regular” bomb), or fly an airplane into the buildings they occupy, or any other such thing, would surely constitute legitimate psychological abuse. In the US or Canada, a parent who threatened to set off a suicide bomb at the dinner table or some such thing would be likely to be deemed unfit, and almost certainly deservedly so.

Telling children that, unless they obey some set of rules (or “repent” or “confess” when they break them), they face the risk of hell after they are dead, may seem rather regressive. In very extreme cases, I might call it “abuse”. If it were very extreme and the child was demonstrably psychologically harmed, relative to appropriate control children.

I understand, although don’t entirely accept, the argument that “involuntary religious indoctrination of children” is in itself, hell or no hell, a rarified form of “abuse”. (Of interest, the church I was more or less raised with as a child requires voluntary “adult baptism”, so technically, I have never been a member.)

This is all partially semantic. I agree that indoctrination in a single religion is suboptimal, as are “threats” of hell, all things considered. But I consider “abuse” to mean something so bad that it deviates from minimal social norms, not merely something “suboptimal”.

Thus, I don’t agree that every child brought up, for example, as a Catholic, is being “abused” or subjected to “terrorism”. (Sexual scandals involving Catholic clergy are not relevant as those are examples of abuse that, whether or not related to celibacy, or whether or not over-reported relative to similar abuse in other settings, is actually contrary to Catholic teachings).

If we lower the definitions of “terrorism” and “child abuse” to the degree that merely being raised in a Catholic or Orthodox Jewish home, for example, is “abuse” or “terrorism” for a child in and of itself, then a great deal of other quotidien things become “abuse” and “terrorism” as well. (Incidentally, although some branches of my family are Catholic, I have never been in a Catholic church except for a wedding or once as a tourist.)

Of course, “child abuse” is, from a pragmatic perspective, a legal term. It really doesn’t matter much if Dawkins thinks that taking children to Anglican Sunday school is deserving of the same condemnation as beating or sexually abusing them. Legally, a distinction is made.

I’ve googled “Dawkins” and “child abuse” a little now, and it seems that indeed I was initially half wrong, as Popper’s Ghost pointed out - Dawkins speaks of religion as psychological abuse, but does resort to hyperbole, as far as I can tell, and “equate” it with such things as beatings and sexual abuse. I consider this hyperbole to be ill-advised. It is appallingly insensitive to people who have suffered true physical and sexual abuse, and who would be delighted to have been “abused” merely by being exposed to the rituals of some tradional religion.

Wow, I’m a Christian and this is some sick shit! The bible doesnt teach to hate people who dont agree with you. I hope they catch this person and put their ass in jail for harassment!

harold:

Sorry, the usual weekend hiatus happened.

harold Wrote:

Whether it is “irritating” for others to do so is a subjective judgment; to me, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t, it depends on the context.

On the subjective judgment, agreed; but at the same time it is an objective reality that such habits is discussing like the reader is in the in-group, which is often a (deliberate) mistake and either childish or nerdy.

For example, between

”Followers’ of Aragorn such as this rarely worry about what Aragorn said or did - not if there’s a chance of bringing about a society where everyone does what Aragorn said.’

and

”Followers’ of Middle Earth such as this rarely worry about what Tolkien wrote - not if there’s a chance of bringing about a society where everyone does what Tolkien wrote.’

I prefer the latter which is an out-group, neutral description for the general public.

harold Wrote:

In very extreme cases, I might call it “abuse”. If it were very extreme and the child was demonstrably psychologically harmed, relative to appropriate control children.

I think Dawkins point is that it is threatening to a child, threats of violence no less (“burn in hell if you don’t do as you are told” et cetera), and systematic use of threats of violence (and violence) is referred to as terrorism. I am still trying to analyze this (I would prefer to have some research - for example, is this part of the explanation why religious groups fare less well in education and tests) but it seems to me Dawkins can be in the right.

It’s times like these that I ask myself, “Is civil war really THAT bad?” Those who have attended CU are likely to recall the fundamentalist that hangs out around the Dalton Trumbo fountain at the start of the school year proselytizing, berating, and generally humiliating himself. Perhaps that fellow should be looked into as well?

I think Dawkins point is that it is threatening to a child, threats of violence no less (“burn in hell if you don’t do as you are told” et cetera), and systematic use of threats of violence (and violence) is referred to as terrorism. I am still trying to analyze this (I would prefer to have some research - for example, is this part of the explanation why religious groups fare less well in education and tests) but it seems to me Dawkins can be in the right.

I am actually opposed to the use of the concept of hell myself, except by people who believe in it for some involuntary reason and can’t help themselves. Likewise I think that children should be raised in an atmosphere that encourages skeptical, independent thinking and is tolerant of diversity (whether or not they also attend some kind of traditional rituals). My apparent disagreement with Dawkins is not on these points.

If his view actually is that mentioning hell at all and/or involving children in the rituals of a traditional religion amounts to “terrorism” and/or “abuse”, then I must stick to my guns, and say that I see him as guilty, on this point, of exaggeration and hyperbole.

I think it’s obvious that people who were raped or beaten as children, or people who have been maimed or lost loved ones in actual acts of terrorism, would most certainly not see trivial verbal threats of post-mortem punishment (which can be avoided by “repentance” or “confession”) as equal to the abuse or terrorism which they have endured. “Abuse” and “terrorism” are strong words, and it doesn’t make sense to dumb them down to mean less, at least not in my view.

I’m by no means “anti-Dawkins”; I even own one of his books, but I do note that he sometimes seems to make use of intentionally loaded and exaggerated language to stir up controversy, especially when discussing other peoples’ religious practices. (My major complaint with him is not this, but his tendency to leave molecular biology out of his books on evolution, but that’s not relevant here.)

I also note that there is a fairly strong tendency by some posters here to perceive Dawkins as oppressed and unfairly attacked. (It is true that Dawkins endures a good deal of unfair verbal attack, but it is also true that he is a wealthy celebrity.)

Anything that can be construed as “criticism” of Dawkins, or “misrepresentation” of Dawkins, brings “knights in shining armor” riding quite vigorously to his “rescue”, and can lead them to strained defenses of his more deliberately controversial passages.

I actually already knew that and didn’t want to start a “Dawkins war”.

What happened here is that I corrected a creationist poster who implied that Dawkins accuses people of physical child abuse. But in correcting that poster, I said that Dawkins accuses the religious of “lesser” psychological abuse. Popper’s Ghost rather abruptly drew my attention to a subtle logical issue. Although Dawkins describes psychological abuse, and although I consider the type of activity he describes to be at most “lesser” than physical abuse, Dawkins himself does apparently imply that it is no “lesser” that outright physical harm.

Hence, I have conceded my lack of clarity in the original post, and I have also noted that I consider Dawkins’ apparent claim of equality between verbal threats (and not even verbal threats of physical harm but of imaginary after-death harm) and actual physical violence to be an exaggeration. This is despite my own disapproval of raising children with threats of hell or intolerant religious teachings.

just so you know, the link with text “disbelieves the Denver Post story” is wrong; it needs an “l” at the end (htm –> html)

Again I fail to check in timely on ongoing threads. Sorry.

harold Wrote:

“Abuse” and “terrorism” are strong words, and it doesn’t make sense to dumb them down to mean less, at least not in my view.

I agree that they shouldn’t be dumbed down - as I noted on another thread, conflating normal terrorists with nutcases means that the later can get the wrong treatment. (Normal terrorists works in cells, while violent nutcases can be immediately isolated if it is necessary.)

But following the agreed upon definitions for abuse and terrorism, it is cases of both. It is also indicative of the problems - psychological abuse is harmful for children as well as adults. And the most damaging part of physical abuse is the psychological part AFAIU, which shows why it is important to point it out.

What would remain is a discussion of degree of harmfulness between discussing sin and damnation et cetera.

Finally, I’m not sure why we need to go into Dawkins as a person. But for what it is worth, as most active atheists he is IMO often attacked as “militant” or something such for expressing his views instead of being aggressive.

It was with some difficulty that I controlled the rage that I felt when I saw myself compared to Mark Hausam

Yes, well, that’s part of your sickness and your intellectual dishonesty. I said there was a “very real sense” in which you are like him, and it isn’t the sense that you got so defensive about. Your rage is a very convenient way of missing my point.

My post was fundamentally correct, though. Dawkins does not, in this quote, accuse creationists of physically and sexually abusing children

No, it was not fundamentally correct, because the terrorist wrote “EBIO Professors are also intellectual and spiritual child abusers of their young and impressionable students” – nothing there about physical or sexual abuse – and Blasphemy Challenger wrote “Say, don’t atheists like Dawkins and Dennet label creationists child abusers?” And in that limited area, BC was correct. And yet you wrote

That’s odd, you forgot to include a quote from Dennet or Dawkins.

Because you’re trying to imply, lyingly, that they spoke of physical abuse,

Which was a completely false charge against BC. BC deserves many things, but not that response. You, in all your preening arrogance about what a Christ-like figure you are and how all those other “Christians” aren’t really Christians because they don’t practice all those wonderful principles – you who are so full of rage – felt perfectly justified in smacking around someone who actually made one valid point – that Dawkins uses language similar to the terrorist in that one instance. See, I like Dawkins and I dislike the terrorist and BC, but that doesn’t require me to be dishonest about them.

What happened here is that I corrected a creationist poster who implied that Dawkins accuses people of physical child abuse. But in correcting that poster, I said that Dawkins accuses the religious of “lesser” psychological abuse.

Here again you repeat the falsehood. The poster never implied any such thing … it was only your claim that there was such an implication, based on nothing at all. You have written nothing to support that claim, only to repeat it. Ah, but it must be true because you think it, just as it must have been true that Dawkins thinks religious indoctrination is lesser abuse, because you thought that’s what he thinks, not because you had any evidence of it. And yet you so hypocritically criticized Blasphemous Challenger for not offering a quote, when you yourself offered no quote to support your counterclaim. Who offered a quote? Me. I actually bothered to look into the matter. I actually believe in the importance of evidence, no matter whose position it supports.

But I believe it is far more effective to take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth.

I think you mistake this for a physical threat. He is saying he will do battle with the written word, not that he will stab you with a Scripto. And he has every right to pursue you as far as the courts will allow. I have heard that he has scared some folks, but if you ask me it, is his zeal, no matter how misplaced you deem it, that scares you, not the possibility of physical harm. Perhaps you should counter sue him and we could retry the Scopes matter again. LOL! I dare you.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on July 11, 2007 3:41 PM.

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