Evolving Thoughts

Evolution, culture, philosophy and chocolate! John Wilkins' continuing struggle to come to terms with impermanence... "Humanus sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - Terence

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Who bashed Mirecki?

I have been thinking some more about the confiscation of Mirecki's computer by the Lawrence police. This is very suspicious. Apart from the possibility that he is being, in Australian and British parlance, "fitted up" (I wonder if kiddy porn will surface on his computer and be "leaked" by the police?), it suggests that the motives of the police here are far from pure. And this leads to a speculation...

Now I'm not usually a fan of conspiracy theories, but if anything generates them, it's religious conflict (vide the Gunpowder Plot against James I). The religious right-wing have been happily dancing around doing a Swift Boat attack on Mirecki in various blogs and no doubt media outlets. They suggest that Mirecki faked it, or got caught in some other dispute and blamed it on the fundamentalist backlash.

I'm going to hypothesise here. It's just musing, hypothetically, you know? But suppose the evidence, that is, Mirecki's testimony, is correct. Who might the police be protecting this way? It couldn't have been ... themselves, could it? A couple of off-duty cops couldn't have followed Mirecki or known his license plate, and decided to teach that atheist sumbitch a lesson, could they?

Is this likely? Well to decide this, we need to do a Bayesian analysis, and it will depend on what we know about Kansas police. And as I know nothing (which seems to be rather more than the ideologues who are claiming he faked it know) about them, all I can do is generalise from my knowledge of police generally when they are in a monocultural society. Yes, they could have done this. Yes, there is past history of such things.

Is it likely Mirecki faked his assault given that (i) he is a respected academic, and (ii) the behaviour of the police subsequently? I say it is unlikely. Equally likely or more so is that he was assaulted by cops. Or by friends of cops. Much more likely still is that the cops share the opinions of whoever beat Mirecki up, and so would love for there to be a reason to dismiss his testimony.

We'll see. But this exposes one thing about such cases - no matter what the evidence, if you really want to, you can make any kind of case you like. Or, you can just take the evidence as it comes and draw the obvious conclusions.