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When people do not want to confront intellectual freedom issues


Okay, I have a column to write and then back to work, for sure. But this came up and someone finally just had to be the one to say it.

A reader writes,

I’m from New Zealand, but let me paint you a picture:
Arriving in small town U.S, Canada, an atheist couple enroll their daughter in the local school. She refuses to participate in class prayer, the school recognises her right and every morning she waits in the corridor as the class finish their unconstitutional observance.

Here is my question News, is the girl brave or cowardly for not recognising Christ?

I have read enough about the treatment of minority atheists in the US particularly, to know perfectly well who the braver of these two groups is, you should too.

Sir: One surely believes you are from New Zealand, as you do not know much about Canada (different pole; check latitude).

I would be interested to hear of any situation of the sort you describe that literally happened in Canada in the last decade or so.

A more serious problem in Canada today is government-paid workers’ accommodation of beliefs that degrade girls and centre out girls who are menstruating and fail to protect girls’ lives or health (all in the name of cultural diversity and other “secular saint” enterprises).

Is that okay with you? How do you feel about it? No really, do write back and tell us. We’d love to hear.

Okay, that stuff may not be the “real Islam.”

I don’t know. I don’t care. I also do not care about the “real Islam.” No, really, absolutely, honestly.

Get me right on this: I don’t care.

I have lived all my life in a country where this garbage was unheard of in the 1960s. Most of it would not be heard of in the 1860s or the 1760s, never mind today!

Put another way: In 1960, when Canada was considered fairly religious (Christian, Jewish), a woman would be hanged for murdering all her daughters for being insufficiently religious—and not a soul would pity her (except maybe a saintly Christian religious in a convent somewhere, who might get special permission to see her the night before her execution).

But a couple of years ago, women journalists trembled lest the judge be tempted to offer some accommodation of the murderesses’ religious sensibilities (multiculti, diversity, globalism, differing interpretations of women’s rights, yada yada yatter, etc).

Thankfully, it didn’t happen.  (She was sentenced to life in prison.)

So look, even today, not everyone in North America is a coward, an idiot, or a fantasist about this kind of problem. Some of us are actually traditional Canadians (oh heck, look it up if you care).

Survivor guide: First, cut the “cocktail napkin” new atheists out of the discussion. Their yatter helps American universities stay afloat on the serf-debts of artsie students who spend their later lives as low-wage baristas. And that is all they are good for. New atheists merit no more attention in principle than an interesting serviette design if they pretend that “religion” in general is the issue and not explicit beliefs.

Okay, I have a column to write and then back to work, for sure. But this came up and someone finally just had to be the one to say it.

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rvB8. your reply said it all. No more needs to be said about where your coming from(except to point this out). Robert Byers
Do you think that's brave? I wore Flyers shirt in Pittsburgh, that was brave. You seem unsure about your atheism rvb..... Eugen
Axel, I believe for every obfuscation there is a clear question. Your murkiness is a case in point, I have no idea where you stand on the atheist's bravery question. I believe that right and wrong do exist; I have no idea how a Christian thinks about this as so many do right, and so many other Christians do wrong. As you appear the only person to take the question seriously (albeit in a very unclear way), I will direct the question to you. An atheist, in a sea of believers says, 'I do not recognise Christ as my personal redeemer. I think that you are all deranged in your infantile wish fulfillment. There is no god.' He says this after being approached many times to 'witness', he simply refuses. Going against the tide like this is exceptional; Is s/he brave? rvb8
While there may be a case for saying Canada has conceded too much to Islamic practices on the treatment of girls and women, linking it to a horrific case of honor-killing is poor journalism. There is no evidence that Canada is excessively tolerant of such crimes or overly lenient in punishing them in the interests of political correctness. Fortunately, in the same paper that carried the editorial cited above there is an excellent article detailing the response of the Muslim community to that terrible tragedy, something that we need to see much more of:
Imam Sikander Hashmi, the newly-appointed imam in Kingston, took the lead the day the Shafia trial began. In no uncertain terms, he told the congregation that honour crimes were heinous, and forbidden by Islam. He reminded the audience that while such crimes were committed by different ethnic/religions groups, Muslims should step up to the plate and be part of the solution. That includes unequivocal condemnation of murder, and the establishment of resources to address family tensions. This was soon followed by a National Call to Eradicate Domestic Violence, signed by over 100 mosques and community leaders across the country, which stated: “Domestic violence and, in the extreme, practices such as killing to “restore family honour” violate clear and non-negotiable Islamic principles, and so we categorically condemn all forms of domestic violence.” As part of this call, imams across Canada gave sermons unequivocally condemning family violence. Signatories pledged to go further by raising awareness, and providing workshops in mediation, anger management and family counselling. Furthermore, a group of Muslim men launched the first-ever Muslim community White Ribbon Campaign at the Islamic Institute of Toronto. Men and boys pledged never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. It was also promoted at Toronto’s annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention, with an audience of 15,000. The White Ribbon campaign is scheduled to go nationwide on March 8, coinciding with International Women’s Day.
Mark, I believe that for every virtue there is a corresponding vice. The latter are simply deficient in terms of a charitable motivation - self-sacrificing love; in this case, 'recklessness' is the vacuous form of 'courage', in principle, warranting no admiration. In practice, however, most of us tend to have a sneaky liking for 'nutters', if only because, as Hunter Thompson and perhaps many others have pointed out, to be 'mad' in the eyes of a mad world, can't be all bad, or more to the point, all mad! Alas, Christian witness has often been scandalous throughout history - All human beings are hypocrites in some degree, and have certainly been degraded by the Fall - despite the countervailing heroic witness to Charity of countless Christians. However, it's a kind of murky area. In Matthew 25, Jesus states that not everyone who calls me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enjoy an eternity of bliss. Indeed, the one who was identified as one of God's sheep, as opposed to the goats, said he didn't even recognise Jesus! There are many agnostics who are Christian to their core in that way. And Jesus told some of the worst of the scribes and Pharisees to their face that their father was the devil. The very accusation they made concerning the people, whom they considered riff-raff! Hilarious knockabout stuff, when they got worked up! 'Why that spawn of Satan!' etc, etc. As for atheists, I suspect that would depend on their background. Many who had little chance in their early life, have later been converted to formal Christianity - a great blessing to the individual and to their progeny. As regards the 'holy nutters' (not all would be holy) , I loved the bit in Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, in which the bandit is dying, but all he's concerned about is advising the old priest how to avoid being shot by the police or militia! Meditating on The Last Things as he approached death, didn't seem to be high on his agenda. Very true to life, imo! The sovereign loyalty of 'rough diamonds'. I've experienced it myself in a modest way. So, the answer might best be framed: She might be recklesss, and being young and not knowing her backside from her elbow, might even be brave. Finally, she might just be like Abigail's first husband, Nabal, a cross-grained idiot (I Samuel 25). Axel
Barry and News (aka Denyse) You are blatantly ducking the question which was:
is the girl brave or cowardly for not recognising Christ?
The answer is either yes, no or I don’t know. You do believe in the law of the excluded middle don’t you? Instead we get a whole lot of stuff about Islam which may well be very serious and interesting but does not answer the question. Mark Frank
'Good guys' and 'bad guys'? At every step Robert you show an overwhelming ignorance of history, current affairs, grammar, and vocabulary. You don't have to ape GWB, you could say the 'oppressed' and the 'oppressor', or the 'dictator' and the 'dictated to', or the 'bullied' and the 'bully', or the 'persecutor' and the 'persecuted'. Anything but that infantile, 'good guy, bad guy' nonsense. I am not arguing that communism is good or bad, (I could go either way, I'm waiting for history to unfold) I'm arguing that 'bravery' is a human condition that can manifest itself in Christian, Jew, Communist, Muslim, any minority, and Atheists. I have no idea what you are arguing. The 'China heroes'(sic) who invaded N.Korea are today still considered heroes by the North.( A despicable, evil little turd of a country, and yet its citizens are still capable of bravery, do you not understand this fact?) The Viet Cong who drove US invaders from their soil remain heroes, and brave heroes in my book, considerably more courageous than the invaders. The Mujahadeen who drove Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the 1980s are also heroes in my book, and at the time America's book as well; they are now terrorists, what happened Robert? I do know something about minorities: The Maori are the native minority in NZ, they make up 8% of the population and 10% of the political representatives. What is the rate of minority representation in Congress? You say, 'evil white Protestants'? Going by the rates of representation in Congress of Asians, Blacks, Atheists, I think I will agree with you. Bye. rvb8
Actually Byers I'm talking about the poor treatment of abused atheists in your country, not voting for atheists was a sidebar. rvb8
rvB8 There you go again. Accusing Americans of not voting in identities because of being evil white protestant people. Ethnic peoples in america get more voted in then others. indeed by affirmative action deeds and spirit. On their behalf i plead NOT GUILTY and accuse as i just did. Atheists are not lynched in america and indeed Americans are apathetic about those matters in people regarding their jobs. by the way . your china heros probably were also the ones who invaded Korea and murdered the allies who were defending the S koreans. WW11 was just one bad guy hiting another as in the japan/China case. Please get right who are the good guys and the bad guys in the world. Robert Byers
Also your first line; "Sir; One surely believes you are from New Zealand as you do not know much about Canada(different pole; check latitude) Is the implicit meaning here that people from my country are stupid? That we don't know how to read maps? That our education system in some way denies us a reasonable input into your debate? Denyse you constantly go on about the greatness of the internet, how it has cut the ties that bind us to 'big media', now the world is free to communicate and share ideas. I'm sharing my ideas about the poor treatment of atheists in the US. (I can tell you that in NZ atheists are a respected natural part of the landscape. Our first female PM Helen Clarke was a devout atheist and was voted in popularly.) The chances of an atheist being voted into office in the US specifically, is below that of Catholic (1 so far), Black (1 so far), Jew, Mormon, Asian, and at the very back of the pack Atheist. Your title is; "When People Don't Want to Confront Intellectual Freedom Issues." Putting aside the clumsy wording, this is a wonderful example of the Pot Calling the Kettle... I think. rvb8
At the end of your piece you say that, 'not everyone is a fantasist about this problem'. I am glad you see it as a problem. I do apologise for lumping Canada in with the more egregious side of small town US life, no offense was intended. I think that we all can agree that when a minority is being persecuted, and that within that minority an individual or group of individuals take a stand, that that bravery is admired universally. All humans admire bravery. I am in China at the moment and my Political students are giving a rendition of the '4 Heroines'. A beautiful dance and song about the true life sacrifice of four young girls (none older than 17). They held their fox hole against a Japanese attack for 4 hours, thus enabling the retreat of more than 400 soldiers. Every schoolchild, and adult in China is familiar with this noble tale. These girls took a stand, any culture would admire their bravery, if not the cause. Denise do you admire the bravery of middle school atheists, in small town America, where they are a picked on minority, for standing up for their constitutional rights? rvb8
3. Women’s testimony in court only counts for half that of men. THAT you're arguing about? Two women's testimonies equal one man's testimony? Hell, here in the USA we got that beat. In Arkansas a million atheist's testimonies don't equal one Christian's testimony. You can rape atheists and as long as the only witness is the atheist you raped, you're off scot-free. Hell they'd probably give you a medal, a book deal, and an interview on Fox News. Arkansas State Constitution, Article 19, Section 1: No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court. Similar provisions against atheists holding office are in the Constitutions of North Caroline, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Diogenes
Thanks, Barry. The false premise is that religion in general is the issue. I only want to know about explicit beliefs. Religion in general says all kinds of things about a huge variety of questions. Encyclopedias ... By contrast, An explicit belief might be: 1. Men own their wives and daughters (and unmarried sister if their father is dead). Maybe the aunt too, if the grandfather is dead - look, hell, I don't know. (As it happens, I belong to a vast and very old kinship system that was never run along any lines like that. So I would just recommend to a threatened woman not submission but karate lessons at the local DOJO asap okay? If that fails and one is living in an enlightened country, 9-11) 2. Men are entitled to beat their wives and kill kinswomen who, they say, have dishonoured them. Whatever that means in the context. 3. Women's testimony in court only counts for half that of men. See 2. above for why that might matter. Now what do commenters think about that? In Canada, we just said, so far: No. News
Mark, you must have missed News' answer. She said the question could not be answered because it was based on a false premise. Barry Arrington
So what was your answer to the question? Mark Frank

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