4 Philosophers: On Secularism XI

THIS shall serve as the final section of this series.

“Merely pointing out in a serious way,”

Michael continues, from the end of the section X,

“that this is non-sense,”

…’this’ referring to the recent Haitian earthquake deemed by that-gift-that-keeps-on-giving: Pat Robertson, as Haiti’s pact with the devil for their 18th century revolutionary war;

“imagine that God works in these ways, that is not necessarily the right response, that is one type of response but [another way] is to just make fun of him! Because he is saying something so outrageous. So the duty of civility is real and it is important and it is not unlimited…”

Muhammad: (do not deviate… not now…):

“It is one thing to say if a heretical Muslim writes a cartoon denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, in we’re all minority Muslims living in Canada. It would be another thing supposing that Muslims are a persecuted group [being a minority] and there is concerted campaign to strip them of citizenship rights; and newspapers are publishing denigrating things about the religion. In that case, I think there is a case to be made for the state to intervene to restrict the free speech of newspapers where it is being used to deny people their civil rights as part of a broader campaign of intolerance.”

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4 Philosophers: On Secularism X

We are coming down to it folks. The series will be finished by tomorrow. If you’ve read this far, don’t stop now! A quick review: last Friday, we were talking about the freedom of women who choose to wear head / face veils, and in contrast liberal-sounding governments who choose to legislate against them.

Arthur continues:

“given the centrality of the right to appear in public as an equal, — it is entirely possible, of course that if everything [Muhammad has previously] said is true, and [the] Nighab is a sign of voluntary separation — maybe we should not have worries….”

Sigh. Simone, on school prayer:

“Many people now argue that religion has become cultural. This is actually particularly true in the way people defend religious symbols in Europe [where there are] all these crucifixes on the walls, [and] there [is] religion — the Christian religion is everywhere, but the attendance has gone way down. And so people try and argue that it is essential to their cultural identity, but it is no longer a matter of religion or posing religion. It is […] equivalent to language. But from outside the culture, that kind of separation doesn’t really work, because it can make you feel not at home, [and] not welcomed. It can make you feel not as an equal citizen. […] I think in the case of the lord’s prayer, it was creating an environment, which was not at an environment for all people, all children feel equal and welcome. […] I think it was appropriate to get rid of it.”

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4 Philosophers: On Secularism IX

TO START off: the rebuttal from the previous section’s last argument on the Nighab and the merit of its freedom or imprisonment:

“I think the problem with that argument..”

Muhammad starts,

“…is that it assumes a lot of sociological facts, which are controversial to say the least. In the case of social Islam in Canada, or North-America generally the fact is a lot of women who — there aren’t a lot of women who wear the Nighab, but in the subset of — very small subset of women who do: many of them are converts. Many of them do not come from a history of thick social adherence, much less living in a closed cohesive community in which that story at all makes any sense. So I think in order to be able to justify an outright ban on the Nighab, one would have be able to take the position that the are certain kinds of conduct that seems to be totally limited to the self that nevertheless are so repugnant to personhood that we can’t allow. Now you would have to be able to know a lot about why a person is doing that, even to admit that as a possibility. But suppose a woman — all these people who want to ban the Nighab, I don’t know if they have actually talked to a woman who wears the Nighab — but suppose you did and she told you, you know what? I don’t like the values of the sexual evolution, I want to opt out of it and one way is I don’t want people to see me unless there is a really good reason to. And so, I want to be able to take walks free from prying eyes. That seems to be a reason that is perfectly consistent with ideas of individual [autonomy].”

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4 Philosophers: On Secularism VIII

ANOTHER example of where religion conviction invades the accommodating realm of secularism is brought up by Arthur and the Haderites in the province of Alberta:

“who didn’t want their pictures taken for their driver’s licenses; […] you have to be identifiable for all kinds of public transactions. And you’re not allowed to excerpt yourself from that. […] But knowing who everyone is for all legal purposes, that is something that is not just an incidental thing that a state does but a legal thing that a state does. So each of us need a public identity. Now the other sense: we as a collective need a public identity: Canada wins the gold at the Olympics, we all stand up and sing ‘O, Canada’ together. 30 million Canadians. That is a public identity. But of course that is a public identity we can have wearing all manner of different types of clothing. It isn’t that we have to all look the same to do that.”

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4 Philosophers: On Secularism VII

SIMONE takes us into a brief history on how secularism arose. She says that when we look back at the history:

“we see two main models of the rise of the secular state. One, [we] see in France [which] arose in opposition to a very strong and powerful church. So secularism was about distancing and pushing and about the competition of this power, whereas in the United States, there was no strong church, but only a multiple of protestant sects and it was really about the establishment of the freedom of religion among these sects, so that sees a very different type of secularism.”

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