The Lynch List, 14-Feb-2011

Ho hum, just another day in February… (What was that, honey?)

First: A Quebec mayor has been fined $30,000 for praying before council meetings, payable to an offended atheist city councillor. Strangely, the Quebec tribunal has termed these “moral” damages.

I submit this query as I always do – isn’t conducting meetings according to atheist, secularist, or humanist beliefs also discriminatory? There is no such thing as “neutrality”, despite QHRT claims.

Second: We now have an “unusual situation” in which the BCHRT has awarded costs to the defendant!

A woman who filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging sexual harassment by an employer has been ordered to pay the company $3,500 for dropping her complaint one day before a hearing…

A lawyer for [the respondent] claimed preparing the case cost more than $35,000 and wanted more than $5,000 in damages.

[The Tribunal] ruled $3,500 is sufficient to signal the tribunal’s condemnation of Ms. Samuda’s conduct.

Small price to pay for bilking your former employer for $35,000 in legal fees and dragging its reputation through the mud, but it’s a start.

Third: It’s an oldie but a goodie – if you haven’t read about the CHRC’s refusal to investigate Imam Al-Hayiti for a book with a long list of discriminatory statements, here’s a review. The book includes the approval of slavery, the claim of ethnic superiority, and a statement that a man’s intellect is superior to that of a woman.

The CHRC weaseled out of doing any sort of investigation. As the author states:

The purpose of my complaint was to test the objectivity of the Commission.

[…]

[In conclusion,] if you belong to a minority, you can with impunity propagate hatred and contempt against the majority. You are not held to the same standards of tolerance, respect and civility as the majority. Equality under the law, according to the Commission, does not exist anymore.

Fourth: Creepy. There is a lot in common between Sharia and Canada’s “human rights law”.

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5 Responses to The Lynch List, 14-Feb-2011

  1. Kevin says:

    Secularism is the belief that the state should not promote any religion, and that each religion (including non-religion) should be given equal treatment. Who does that discriminate against?

    Enforced-atheism would mean that councillors are required to disavow the existence of any god before council meetings. That would be discriminatory (and horrifying.) Luckily, no one other than Communists have ever argued for that.

  2. Kevin:

    That opens up a can of worms, but I’ll try to be brief.

    Secularism is the belief that principles by which a state is governed should not be based on any particular belief system – except secularism, of course. A paradox, to be sure. In practice, secularism has drawn an arbitrary line between some established religions (mostly deist) and other, less obtrusive, and exclusively non-deist belief systems (most notably humanism). The former is barred while the latter is not.

    Personally, I’d be more comfortable with pluralism than secularism. Pluralism definitely isn’t perfect but doesn’t have as many internal contradictions as secularism. Mayor Tremblay should be free to pray as he sees fit before council meetings, while his counsellors are free to plug their ears or make faces if they wish to be so impolite. Meanwhile, if Simineau ever became mayor, he would be free to recite some atheist pledge, though I doubt the Catholic voters of Saguenay would keep him in office very long…

    Pluralism can be consistent with the separation between church and state – in that the government is still barred from taking any action concerning the establishment of a religion/belief system or branch thereof.

    As a final note, Canada wasn’t based on the theoretical construct of secularism – it was “founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the Rule of Law”. While you might argue that God is also a theoretical construct, we do have a constitutional starting point that is neither secularism nor pluralism.

  3. Kevin says:

    I think you criticism of secularism is based on a straw man. Secularism doesn’t hold that government “not be based on any particular belief system.” That would be a ridiculous and self-contradicting proposition. Every government is based on a system of beliefs about government. In liberal democracies, those beliefs generally include democracy, the rule of law, and some version of secularism.

    Secularism isn’t about “no beliefs,” it’s a position specific to the relationship between *religious* belief and government. And secularism isn’t a religious belief–many Canadian secularists are Christians, some beong to other faiths, and a lot are atheists or agnostics. What they share is not a belief about religion, but a belief about the relationship between religion and government.

    As an atheist who is a secularist, I would be puzzled and perhaps horrified by the idea of an atheist somehow incorporating an atheist vow into his official duties as mayor. It’s equally offensive as the idea of incorporating Sharia law or a Catholic Mass into our system of government.

    Pluralism is a great notion of how a culture should operate, and how we should accommodate different religions into society, but it isn’t really a view on the relationship between religion and government. In fact, secularism and pluralism go hand in hand–when the state is truly neutral on questions of religion, we maximize the room for all religious beliefs to find their place in society.

    I agree that the reference to the “supremacy of god” in the Constitution is in conflict with a secularist view of government–and in fact, secularists have long favoured the idea of a constitutional amendment to remove that reference.

  4. Kevin:

    I appreciate the thoughtful response.

    I do think the crux of the matter is whether one’s “position” on the relationship between government and one’s beliefs is, in fact, a belief. I would insist that it is.

    I don’t think it’s possible to draw a line between religious beliefs and non-religious beliefs. They are one and the same. For a hypothetical example, if one person arrives at the Golden Rule through Christian (deontological) belief, while you arrive at the same point via a humanist (teleological) method, why should the first approach be rejected by the state while the second is not?

    My position on the relationship between religion and government might be called “secularist”, in that I agree with the establishment and free exercise clauses of the American constitution – as they were originally intended, and not how the courts and the ACLU have hijacked them. The state cannot possibly remain truly “neutral” on religion (beliefs) any more than a sentient individual can, since every decisions of individuals and of collectives are guided by beliefs and principles, whether they fall into the artifical categories of “religious” or “non-religious” beliefs.

  5. […] CANUCKI FREE SPEECH WARS UPDATE– The Lynch List, 14-Feb-2011 …. […]

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