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chansen

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Gay-Straight Alliances and Ontario Catholic Schools

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/debate-over-gay-suppo...

 

This is going to become a hot topic, I think, and one that will cause politicians to run for cover.  Some Catholic students are asking to set up Gay-Straight Alliances (clubs) in their schools to combat the bullying of homosexuals, which is allowed under the Equity policy of the Ministry of Education, and under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

Of course, joining a club that goes against Catholic teaching is grounds for excommunication, and TCDSB board members and Catholic parents are looking for protection from the equity policy.  Seriously.

 

At a TCDSB meeting last night, they "passed amendments giving religious morals and principles precedence over the equity policy mandated by the province."

 

http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/education/article/1047729--catholic-b...

 

Of course, the problem is that Catholic teaching equates "homosexuality" with other unfortunate personal attributes, such as "murderer".

 

When your religion is looking to be exempt from treating people equally, you should probably take a long look at your religion.

 

Is this the issue that will bring the idea of defunding Catholic schools into the discussion?  Will Catholics decide they want full funding more than they want to bully homosexuals?  Maybe the politicians will stick fingers in their ears and shout, "La la la la la!" until this blows over.  This could get interesting...

 

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Alex's picture

Alex

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They have more to worry about than their funding. McGuinty has already drawn his line in the sand, and says it will force the Catholic Board to comply with Ontario laws. 

 

He is hoping to use this as a wedge issue with Conservatives, during the election. many Tories of whom are against funding Catholic School Boards, and gay-straight alliances. Meanwhile the NDP and Liberals are 100% behind forcing the Catholic Schools to comply with provincial laws, and the constitutional rights of LGBT students.

 

What this means is that the Liberals could get re-elected on this issue, and then they would fine the individuals in the church who oppose them. The Catholics schools would have to pay massive fines, as well as the individual school board members, who would also be forced by law to resign.. This could set up a situation like what happened in  Montreal, where pro- secular Catholics, and progressive Catholics (i,e  Catholic Teachers Union) become the majority on the board. Which is what the church fears most, a group of catholics who take the side of liberal catholics and denounce the Bishops as being non catholics and bigots.

 

They would than make a lot of changes which would include other changes the Bishops are against.  Like Sex ed, condoms being made available etc.  The constitution guarantees Catholics a school board, it does not say that the Bishop or others are suppose to control it. The majority of Catholics in Ontario are on the left/liberal.  I can see new Catholic schools being named, Saint Jack.

 

 

 

InannaWhimsey's picture

InannaWhimsey

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The other issue is, can Catholics operate without the "moral authority" of the Vatican?

chansen's picture

chansen

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InannaWhimsey wrote:

The other issue is, can Catholics operate without the "moral authority" of the Vatican?

 

That's like asking if pedophiles can operate without the "moral authority" of NAMBLA.  Actually, it's exactly like that.

 

Yeah, yeah...I know it's not "exactly like that", but it's hard to equate "moral authority" and "Vatican".  The two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

chansen's picture

chansen

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Alex wrote:

They have more to worry about than their funding. McGuinty has already drawn his line in the sand, and says it will force the Catholic Board to comply with Ontario laws. 

 

He is hoping to use this as a wedge issue with Conservatives, during the election. many Tories of whom are against funding Catholic School Boards, and gay-straight alliances. Meanwhile the NDP and Liberals are 100% behind forcing the Catholic Schools to comply with provincial laws, and the constitutional rights of LGBT students.

 

What this means is that the Liberals could get re-elected on this issue, and then they would fine the individuals in the church who oppose them. The Catholics schools would have to pay massive fines, as well as the individual school board members, who would also be forced by law to resign.. This could set up a situation like what happened in  Montreal, where pro- secular Catholics, and progressive Catholics (i,e  Catholic Teachers Union) become the majority on the board. Which is what the church fears most, a group of catholics who take the side of liberal catholics and denounce the Bishops as being non catholics and bigots.

 

They would than make a lot of changes which would include other changes the Bishops are against.  Like Sex ed, condoms being made available etc.  The constitution guarantees Catholics a school board, it does not say that the Bishop or others are suppose to control it. The majority of Catholics in Ontario are on the left/liberal.  I can see new Catholic schools being named, Saint Jack.

 

This is one of those times that I hope you're right.

Alex's picture

Alex

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It is also possible the Bishops will ask the school board to back off. After all I can not imagine that the Bishops want everything from the Sex abuse cover up the number of teenage pregnancies and STDS  that happen because of poor sex ed to become the issue in the election.  But than again I can not understand what Bishops do in general.

 

 

Alex's picture

Alex

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http://www.xtra.ca/public/Toronto/Religious_rights_take_priority_over_other_rights_Toronto_Catholic_Board-10690.aspx

 

Before the meeting started, Queer Ontario’s Casey Oraa told Xtra that the board had refused to allow GSA activist Leanne Iskander and members of Catholic Students for GSAs to speak, even though the group filled out a form ahead of the meeting.

Oraa says it seems that the board stacked the list of 10 delegations with nine that were pro-Catholic, allowing only one space for anyone to speak in favour of the policy. 

When it was Oraa’s turn to speak, he graciously bowed out, offering his spot to the students and saying the board should really start listening to what students are saying.

“I have been watching. They gave Leanne and the students exactly three minutes to speak. Everyone else got much longer,” he said.

Emmy Milne, communications manager for the TCDSB, says each of the 10 delegates were permitted to speak for three minutes, reduced from the usual five.

Those who did speak objected to the equity policy in total, claiming it is just another way that “the homosexual agenda is normalizing a lifestyle choice.”

Student Kayla Martin called it an attack on Catholicism.

“Is the act of homosexuality something we support as Catholics?” Martin asked the board. “The answer is simply no.”

Meanwhile, anti-gay screams and shouts echoed from the gallery. 

The most controversial amendment, which would have blocked students from forming GSAs, was defeated. The amendment would have ensured the board only approve school clubs that "are consistent with Catholic faith and moral teaching on marriage and sexuality."

Witch's picture

Witch

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It might be different if these children were there by choice (ok probably not, but bear with me) but the fact that very few children have any say over which school they attend is a very strong argument for forcing the school board to adhere to the law in order to make sure that the students are provided the opportunity to exercise their rights under the law.

InannaWhimsey's picture

InannaWhimsey

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chansen wrote:

InannaWhimsey wrote:

The other issue is, can Catholics operate without the "moral authority" of the Vatican?

 

That's like asking if pedophiles can operate without the "moral authority" of NAMBLA.  Actually, it's exactly like that.

 

Yeah, yeah...I know it's not "exactly like that", but it's hard to equate "moral authority" and "Vatican".  The two are pretty much mutually exclusive.

:3

That's why I put moral authority in scare quotes; truly, the moral thing for the Vatican to do would be to stop hiding behind it's sovereignty and hand over it's gang leader and gang over to the proper authorities.

 

I was just wondering, well y'know one of the main differences between Protestants and Catholics is that Protestants don't have a Pope, so, does your average Catholic NEED to have the Pope etc to operate as Catholics?  So, do these Catholic schools (or that Catholic Youth Day in Madrid) need the Vatican?  If so, then these Catholic schools & Youth Day have no authority at all.

 

chansen's picture

chansen

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Here's a question for UCCan types:  Where is Mardi on an issue such as this one?  I mean, she has been pushing the environment, but that always seemed like a strange issue for a UCCan moderator to champion, as there is no clear connection between faith and environmentalism.

 

In this case, an entire denomination is using Christian dogma to justify their refusal to allow GSA groups in schools to work against the bullying of homosexuals and those who support them.  Here is a side (Catholic students that want GSAs at their schools) that needs more support, especially from within the greater Christian community.  Here is a shining opportunity for the UCCan to be relevant.

 

Will the UCCan do the right thing and step up to support these students, even with just words, or will the UCCan simply not weigh in, so as not to anger Catholics who hold on to the old bigoted beliefs?

Alex's picture

Alex

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Historically from what I  understand the moderator is not the same thing as a pope. It's like if we eliminated the position of of PM in parliament and the speaker of the house became the highest official. her job is to work to get people to work together.  The problem is that the progressive churches, and the Liberal churches, are not into attacking evangelical conservatives, and catholic Bishops anymore.  The old approach of doing this did not help. Those we had attacked in the past did not listen ad only took it as a claim that we were better than them. It would not make us more relevant, only our deeds can do that.  It is sad, but someday will come when we will have to do something or it will be too late to save the earth.

 

The environment is a much more pressing issue, and is one that actually directly effects everyone.

Also the moderator, actually has no power other than her own voice. It is possibly a wise decision to focus on one issue and be heard, than to raise several and be ignored.  

 

 

 

Also the left wing of the UCC and other churches help create the CCF which became the  NDP. Which is the voice that needs to speak out on this and other issues. 

EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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chansen wrote:

Here's a question for UCCan types:  Where is Mardi on an issue such as this one?  I mean, she has been pushing the environment, but that always seemed like a strange issue for a UCCan moderator to champion, as there is no clear connection between faith and environmentalism.

 

 

I think churches do not like to gang up on each other.  In the 1950's, the World Council of Churches was persuaded by the Russian Orthodox representatives (who, it would later turn out, were all KGB agents) to drop the Soviet Union from a complaint about religious freedom in the world.   

 

Apparently the churches value getting along with each other above human rights.  I could be wrong about the current situation, I have no idea was the official stance of UCC is.  I am just pointing to that one dismal (and old) example.

 

The separate Catholic school board that exists in Ontario does not exist in BC.   There are public and private schools.  Private schools can get some government funding if they meet various criteria, about teachers and curriculum.  I suspect that the BC govt would not force private schools to host this type of thing (the Gay-Straight alliance you are writing about).   

 

Personally, I think it would be very good for those students who are gay--it would obviously help them cope.  

 

But the stigma against homosexuality (however undeserved) is very strong, especially among the severe traditionalists.  (I am not one of those, by the way--the Orthodox church will not do gay marriages but neither do they carry on about in sermons or encourage people to vote certain ways).

 

And it not just Christians.  Conservatives Jews, Muslims and pretty much every other religion would oppose it too.   Sad to say, since I think homosexuality is beyond the control of the person and it is just ridiculous to carry on as a lot of people do.   It shows an ignorance of science in my opinion.   Why get all excited about something people have no control over, and which is furthermore not hurting you in the slightest? 

Alex's picture

Alex

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EasternOrthodox]</p> <p> [quote=chansen wrote:

  I suspect that the BC govt would not force private schools to host this type of thing (the Gay-Straight alliance you are writing about).   

 

 

Actually since this is a constitutional right, they would have too. The only way around it would be to bar all student clubs, since to allow some and not allow one for gay students is clearly unconstitutional and against  BC Human right laws and the Canadian Charters.  It has nothing to do with funding.

 

Like wise a private store can not refuse to sell wedding dresses to Lesbians. 

GordW's picture

GordW

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A private store can refuse to sell anything to anyone.  And is not required to give a reason.
 

I suspect any school can choose which clubs it will allow to form in the name of peace and order (remembering that Peace Order and Good Government are highlights of the Canadian Constitution).  Certainly it is much harder to force a privately funded school to allow specific clubs than publicly funded ones.

Alex's picture

Alex

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GordW wrote:

A private store can refuse to sell anything to anyone.  And is not required to give a reason.
 

 

Yes true, but when they do give a reason they are not allowed to if they say the reason is based on race, sexual orientation or other grounds prohibited by human rights laws.

 

Schools who have barred student clubs  from using  facilities available to other student clubs, and say it is because the students are either gay, or support gay students are not allowed under the law to do so. Also if the schools refuse to give the reason for not allowing it, and it comes to court they will be forced to admit why.

Whereas a store would not have any minutes of a meeting and decision, a school board will.

 

 

 Also from wiki

 

Section 91 authorizes Parliament to "make laws for the peace, order, and good government of Canada, in relation to all matters not coming within the classes of subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the provinces". This gives Parliament residuary powers to enact laws in any area that has not been allocated to the provincial governments. Thus, when analyzing each matter of jurisdictional dispute, it is with the mind that if it is not enumerated, then it is within the de jure authority of Parliament.

 

Thus only the Federal parliament may make rules for this reason, and only under certain circumstances.

 

 

Schools, and School boards are not the same as the Federal Parliament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chansen's picture

chansen

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EasternOrthodox wrote:

chansen wrote:

Here's a question for UCCan types:  Where is Mardi on an issue such as this one?  I mean, she has been pushing the environment, but that always seemed like a strange issue for a UCCan moderator to champion, as there is no clear connection between faith and environmentalism.

 

 

I think churches do not like to gang up on each other.

I'm quite certain they do not.  They love to have each others' backs, and the results are ugly, because religions often remain silent even in the presence of the most vile positions being put forward by other religions.

 

Churches and entire religions have absolutely no problem speaking out against atheists, which is probably one more reason that atheism isn't a religion. ;)

 

 

EasternOrthodox wrote:

But the stigma against homosexuality (however undeserved) is very strong, especially among the severe traditionalists.  (I am not one of those, by the way--the Orthodox church will not do gay marriages but neither do they carry on about in sermons or encourage people to vote certain ways).

 

And it not just Christians.  Conservatives Jews, Muslims and pretty much every other religion would oppose it too.

Yes, and their texts were all written thousands of years ago, and are full of arbitrary rules that the rest of society has outgrown.  We're slowly outgrowing this one, too.  This is one more example of religion holding society back.

 

 

EasternOrthodox wrote:

Sad to say, since I think homosexuality is beyond the control of the person and it is just ridiculous to carry on as a lot of people do.   It shows an ignorance of science in my opinion.   Why get all excited about something people have no control over, and which is furthermore not hurting you in the slightest? 

Well said, but even you belong to a church that will not perform marriages that are not hurting them "in the slightest."  And the reason people get excited is, of course, religious dogma and personal bias.  Hey, homosexuality is not appealing to me at all - I like women.  I reeeaaaalllly like women.  But to let some old book inform your opinion about what others should be allowed to do, and what groups students should be allowed to form to support these people and their inborn nature, is patently wrong.  We ignore lots of rules in those old books, and for good reason.

 

Again, here is a shining opportunity for the United Church of Canada to be a relevant organization by supporting these students.

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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I know that if there were a Catholic school near either of my churches, I would be finding a way to contact the students at that school, and offering them a place for free for their group in my church.

 

But I don't know what the denomination's position is on this, and I'm pretty sure we don't have one.  It's easy to beat up on churches for watching each others' backs even when we are in the wrong, and that certainly happens, but don't forget that we have been willing to risk universal scorn and condemnation several times before.

 

I would hope that, if asked, our National Church would reply that "we expect the equity laws to be upheld."

chansen's picture

chansen

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RevMatt wrote:

I know that if there were a Catholic school near either of my churches, I would be finding a way to contact the students at that school, and offering them a place for free for their group in my church.

 

But I don't know what the denomination's position is on this, and I'm pretty sure we don't have one.

But the UCCan has a position on a number of topics, both domestic and international.  Here's one that is playing out close to home, where homosexual students are not being supported by their school, which becomes indirectly responsible for the continued bullying and low self esteem of these students.  In fact, the school administrations even urge homosexual students not to date.  I guess as part of their "love the sinner, hate the sin" nonsense.

 

 

RevMatt wrote:
It's easy to beat up on churches for watching each others' backs even when we are in the wrong, and that certainly happens, but don't forget that we have been willing to risk universal scorn and condemnation several times before.

It's an easy position to argue, but it's not an easy position to take without catching a lot of flak, and it is not a debate that is well-publicized in the media.  I think that's because the media does not want to alienate viewers of any particular religion by highlighting the negative work that some religions engage in.

 

 

RevMatt wrote:
I would hope that, if asked, our National Church would reply that "we expect the equity laws to be upheld."

Even that would be something, but I have very low expectations because the forces of ecumenism generally have churches look the other way, as if nothing bad ever happened.

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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To be clear - I agree absolutely that we should have a position on this, and that it should be well vocalized.

 

And I agree with you about the power of ecumenism censorship.

EasternOrthodox's picture

EasternOrthodox

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Alex]</p> <p> [quote=EasternOrthodox wrote:

chansen wrote:

  I suspect that the BC govt would not force private schools to host this type of thing (the Gay-Straight alliance you are writing about).   

 

 

Actually since this is a constitutional right, they would have too. The only way around it would be to bar all student clubs, since to allow some and not allow one for gay students is clearly unconstitutional and against  BC Human right laws and the Canadian Charters.  It has nothing to do with funding.

 

Like wise a private store can not refuse to sell wedding dresses to Lesbians. 

 

You probably know more about than me.  If that is the case, then so be it.  No problem for me.

 

As for Hansen's complaints about me attending an Eastern Orthodox church: life is not perfect, sometimes you have compromise.   Do I always agree 100% with what a friend of mine thinks?   I doubt that.  Same with you.   Otherwise you will no friends and belong to no organizations because they all have flaws.

 

Or perhaps you think you are perfect.

LBmuskoka's picture

LBmuskoka

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What is being lost in the rhetoric, is that in Ontario the Catholic School Board is a publicly funded institution and therefore subject to full compliance with the laws of the province.

 

If the Catholic Board wishes to be exempt from both Federal and Provincial Equity Laws there is a simple solution; do not accept public funds.

 

They will then become a private religious institution and eligible for exemption.

 

ED Note:  acceptance of public funds is different from utilizing tax exemptions, and yes, this is why God created accountants.

 

 

LB

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No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.

    Theodore Roosevelt

BetteTheRed's picture

BetteTheRed

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What I find interesting about the Catholic position on this one is that, from their own moral code, homosexuality is wrong on really only one level, in that it CANNOT be procreative, and is, therefore, not open to life. It's exactly the same 'sin' as when a straight couple uses birth control.

 

So, given that the Church appears to have entirely dropped the ball on the birth control issue, for all practical intents and purposes, it looks even more like a witch hunt when they take on LGBTQ with such a vengeance.

 

(Edit: As an aside, chansen, if you're interested in the natural relationship between Christianity and the environment, check out Matthew Fox and his Creation Spirituality movement or Bruce Sanguin's ​Darwin, Divinity and the Dance of the Cosmos. ​This is the tradition in which Mardi is acting.)

Alex's picture

Alex

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Or any book by Thomas Berry

Alex's picture

Alex

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LBmuskoka wrote:

What is being lost in the rhetoric, is that in Ontario the Catholic School Board is a publicly funded institution and therefore subject to full compliance with the laws of the province.

 

 

 

It has nothing to do with funding. Every student is a resident of Canada and therefore protected by Human Rights laws, and the constitution.

 

The School Board claims the right to Catholic Schools in Ontario trumps the the equality rights  under the constitution. However the guarantees for a school board go to Catholics, and not the Bishops, nor just conservative catholics.

 

Also the guarantee was meant to protect a minority groups, which were catholics in Ontario at the time of confederation.  The courts have already said that one minority  can not discriminate against another minority, they can only promote their own rights.

 

i.e. Thus Catholic schools can decide to only hire catholic teachers. (promotion of a minority) However they can not say they will not hire gay, or divorced and remarried  catholics. (discrimination)

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revjohn

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Hi RevMatt,

 

RevMatt wrote:

To be clear - I agree absolutely that we should have a position on this, and that it should be well vocalized.

 

Maybe this is based on the fact that I stand inside the Church and have a vested interest in our history.  It may be that The United Church of Canada has not dared to make a comment on what the Toronto District Catholic School Board does or does not do.  Is there really any serious question about how The United Church of Canada lines up on this issue?

 

In 1988 we proclaimed that sexual orientation was not an impediment to ordination.

 

We are also on record as saying same sex marriages should not be outlawed in Canada.

 

It is true that not all congregations within the denomination agreed with or support what National proclaims.  Does that obscure where The United Church of Canada tends to stand with respect to our gay and lesbian neighbours?

 

RevMatt wrote:

And I agree with you about the power of ecumenism censorship.

 

Sometimes unity is a bitch, like when we are standing shoulder to shoulder with those we don't feel worthy.  Other times it is something we bitch about, like when we find out others for some reason or another don't feel us worthy.

 

I presume we participate in ecumenism because we feel we have something to contribute and we feel that there is something we gain along the way.  Silence is not consent no matter how much some might want it to be.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

LBmuskoka's picture

LBmuskoka

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Alex wrote:

LBmuskoka wrote:

What is being lost in the rhetoric, is that in Ontario the Catholic School Board is a publicly funded institution and therefore subject to full compliance with the laws of the province.

 

It has nothing to do with funding. Every student is a resident of Canada and therefore protected by Human Rights laws, and the constitution.

It has a lot to do with public funding. Equity statutes apply to agencies that accept government funding and therefore fall under government jurisdiction. (click here to see the distinction between Constitutional and Human Rights)

 

Under the Canadian Constitution section 93, education is a provincial jurisdiction.  Under the Ontario Human Rights Code section 19, the publicly funded separate board is allowed certain discriminatory exemptions but must comply with others.

 

That being said, there is legal precedent in Ontario that can be used to compel the School Board.  In Hall V Power, the case of the young man who wanted to take his same sex partner to the prom.  Note that when the Durham Separate Board argued that sections 93 and 19 exempted them from granting this, Judge MacKinnon ruled

 

¶ 16 When, as here, a publicly funded school Board establishes and implements policies of general application, it is subject to the Charter. Both the Principal and the Board purported to act on a matter of policy to enforce Roman Catholic teachings and in doing so have promulgated a policy of general application applicable to any students wishing to bring a same sex date to the Prom. This engages Section 15 of the Charter which provides that:


Every individual is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on ... religion, sex, or age. ...

 

Without the public funding, the Board could invoke the Freedom of Religion exemption from the Charter.

 

I will end with these words from that same case and suggest from both an ethical and legal POV they can be applied to the current attempts of GLBTs to find a voice within Ontario's Catholic School Board....

 

¶ 60 There are stark positions at each end of the spectrum on this issue. It is one of the distinguishing strengths of Canada as a nation that we value tolerance and respect for others. All of us have fundamental rights including expression, association and religion. Sometimes, as in this case, our individual rights bump into those of our neighbours and of our institutions. When that occurs we, as individuals and as institutions, must acknowledge the duties that accompany our rights. Mr. Hall has a duty to accord to others who do not share his orientation the respect that they, with their religious values and beliefs, are due. Conversely, for the reasons I have given, the Principal and the Board have a duty to accord to Mr. Hall the respect that he is due...

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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revjohn wrote:

Maybe this is based on the fact that I stand inside the Church and have a vested interest in our history.  It may be that The United Church of Canada has not dared to make a comment on what the Toronto District Catholic School Board does or does not do.  Is there really any serious question about how The United Church of Canada lines up on this issue?

 

Hi, John.

 

I think there is still significant public confusion about who we are or what we believe.  Some of that is inevitable - we are no longer a major force in the life of most Canadians.  Some of that is that many others work hard to define who we are in the way that best suits their agenda, not ours.  So of that is:

 

revjohn wrote:

It is true that not all congregations within the denomination agreed with or support what National proclaims.  Does that obscure where The United Church of Canada tends to stand with respect to our gay and lesbian neighbours?

 

I believe it does, yes.  Quite significantly.

 

revjohn wrote:

Sometimes unity is a bitch, like when we are standing shoulder to shoulder with those we don't feel worthy.  Other times it is something we bitch about, like when we find out others for some reason or another don't feel us worthy.

 

I presume we participate in ecumenism because we feel we have something to contribute and we feel that there is something we gain along the way. 

Not to get too far off track, but what do we contribute to international ecumenism?  Has there ever been a time when our voice has mattered?  I know we often play the role of whipping dog, but do we ever have a positive contribution?  Conversely, what has ecumenism brought to us, beyond the heapings of scorn?  I honestly don't know.

 

revjohn wrote:

Silence is not consent no matter how much some might want it to be.

 

The voices of the oppressed would generally disagree with you here.

Azdgari's picture

Azdgari

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Silence may not always equal deliberate consent, but it does equal effective consent.  At the very least, it says "I don't care enough to break my silence".  Not caring if X happens is the same as consent for X to happen.

revjohn's picture

revjohn

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Hi RevMatt,

 

RevMatt wrote:

I think there is still significant public confusion about who we are or what we believe. 

 

True.  There is that.  I think for the most part the confusion tends to be about how we still qualify as a church given the positions we take.  I don't know what criticisms you hear about us.  I know that I have never heard anyone criticize us because our theology is Reformation era or earlier.  The heaviest criticism I have heard is that we aren't Christian enough (Christian being misused to mean not literal enough, not conservative enough or not biblical enough).

 

RevMatt wrote:

Some of that is inevitable - we are no longer a major force in the life of most Canadians. 

 

As true as that is which of our ecumenical brethren is the major force in the lives of most Canadians?

 

RevMatt wrote:

Some of that is that many others work hard to define who we are in the way that best suits their agenda, not ours.

 

Which is probably not a new phenomenon. 

 

RevMatt wrote:

I believe it does, yes.  Quite significantly.

 

Fair enough.

 

RevMatt wrote:

Not to get too far off track, but what do we contribute to international ecumenism?

 

That would be a question better answered by one of our ecumenical partners than I.

 

RevMatt wrote:

Has there ever been a time when our voice has mattered?

 

If our voice carried absolutely no weight nobody would waste their time criticizing it.  We do not currently appear to hold much sway.  I suspect that is a better reflection of institutional slowness to adapt to change than it does any potential impact.

 

RevMatt wrote:

I know we often play the role of whipping dog, but do we ever have a positive contribution?

 

It is no fun to be the whipped dog.  Why is the dog negative for being whipped though? Are we being disciplined for disobedience or is the whipping a lack of discipline in the one cracking the whip?

 

RevMatt wrote:

Conversely, what has ecumenism brought to us, beyond the heapings of scorn?  I honestly don't know.

 

How many died in the wool theologians from The United Church of Canada are quoted and/or referenced here?  If we were as insular as some Christian denominations we would be dropping names from within the stable much more frequently.

 

RevMatt wrote:

The voices of the oppressed would generally disagree with you here.

 

The oppressed are not immunized against injustice of their own.  Arguments from silence tell us more about those who would fill the silence than it does those who hold their tongue.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

revjohn's picture

revjohn

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Hi Azdgari,

 

Azdgari wrote:

Silence may not always equal deliberate consent, but it does equal effective consent. 

 

I notice in your post that you failed to condemn pedophilia.  Should I presume that is you effectively supporting it?

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

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EasternOrthodox

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I can see where UCC is coming from on this.  After all, their position on gays is crystal clear. 

 

To start attacking the Roman Catholics over it would'

1) not help gays

2) not affect the RCC stand

3) cause bad feelings between the churches.

 

 

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Azdgari

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John, if the topic had come up, then yes, I would be.  Though for the record, I have vocalized my position on that topic elsewhere already.

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revjohn

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Hi Azdgari,

 

Azdgari wrote:

John, if the topic had come up, then yes, I would be.  Though for the record, I have vocalized my position on that topic elsewhere already.

 

So silence is only effective consent when those inferring a position have that inference agreed to by the one who was silent?

 

That isn't a very effective silence then is it?

 

And for the sake of discussion, why is my building an argument from your silence wrong if silence is effectively consent?

 

Granted we were not discussing pedophilia and I know that I was wrong to infer than any discussion of Roman Catholicism must automatically cover the issue of pedophilia.

 

If it is wrong to infer your silence on pedophilia was tacit approval of pedophilia perhaps silence on the part of those not present within a conversation should not be read as effective consent?

 

Arguments from silence are exceedingly poor arguments since they literally rely on nothing as proof.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

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revjohn

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Hi EasternOrthodox,

 

EasternOrthodox wrote:

I can see where UCC is coming from on this.  After all, their position on gays is crystal clear. 

 

Not quite crystal.  Institutionally we have position A.  Individually positions from B to Z exist and instruct persons B to Z.  Persons B to Z are allowed under our polity to hold positions B to Z only position A is the position of the institution.

 

Which reflects on Mely's thread with Karen Brothers since Karen is one of those in the B to Z category.

 

EasternOrthodox wrote:

To start attacking the Roman Catholics over it would'

1) not help gays

 

While I agree with you I don't think this is a given.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend may come into play.  If I am seen to attack the RCC then those who dislike the RCC might feel that I would be supportive of them and their position.

 

EasternOrthodox wrote:

2) not affect the RCC stand

 

Likely not affect positively the RCC stand.  It is reasonable to assume that because we are not RCC that the institutional RCC sees us as being somewhat less than the best Christians we ought to be.  Criticism from the fallen is effective when it targets how we fall short of our higher ideals.  Criticism from the fallen is ineffective when it appeals to us lowering ourselves to their level.

 

So, since we are not considered to be on par with the RCC any appeal for the RCC to resemble us is not, from the RCC's perspective, an improvement.  I suspect that the more we advocate for the RCC to adopt our position the stronger they will work to reject it.

 

EasternOrthodoxy wrote:

3) cause bad feelings between the churches.

 

I don't think either denomination lies awake at night wondering why the other doesn't like us as much as we wish.  Still, I believe that there is an awareness that visible acrimony between the two does not lead others to trust us when we reach out to them.

 

Which is fine if we only ever intend to be a grouping of people who think exactly the way that we think.  And the corporate we is a monolith.  Alas, such utopian dreams tend to give birth to dystopian communities.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

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EasternOrthodox

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Revjohn

 

Thanks for expanding on that.  I know nothing about inter-church politics and was only speculating.   I was just trying to think it through.    I completely agree with you about trying to reach Utopia, it won't work and may backfire totally.

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EasternOrthodox

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accidental duplicate

martha's picture

martha

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 If nothing else, The United Church of Canada would certainly uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Canadians.

The Catholic Board, when it accepted public funding 25+ years ago, may have thought it could avoid this issue entirely; that was then and this is now and A Lot of things have changed.

This is one they're going to just have to bloody well get used to, or refuse public funding. Which is Just Fine with me. If Catholics want to subvert the human rights of their children, that's not for me to judge. More money for public schools is ideal, in my opinion.

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Hi martha,

 

martha wrote:

If nothing else, The United Church of Canada would certainly uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for Canadians.

 

Well, to be accurate, we would advocate that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be upheld.  The United Church of Canada, as far as I know, has no operational jurisdiction over the Toronto District Catholic School Board nor, do we hold a lot of influence over them.

 

It might be our tax dollars initially, once our government gets its hand on our tax dollars they spend them as they see fit.  The Toronto District Catholic School Board is not accountable to me for what it does with tax dollars given to it by the Province.

 

It is accountable to the Province.

 

So the discussion here is not how The United Church of Canada would or will operate.  The question is really what will the Province allow.

 

martha wrote:

The Catholic Board, when it accepted public funding 25+ years ago, may have thought it could avoid this issue entirely; that was then and this is now and A Lot of things have changed.

 

Agreed.  For example, I believe that it is still accepted that Separate elementary schools in the Province of Ontario can discriminate against non-Roman Catholics when it comes to enrollment.  Separate secondary schools in the Province of Ontario cannot.  The funding dollars are not based on religious affiliation but rather enrollement figures.

 

martha wrote:

This is one they're going to just have to bloody well get used to, or refuse public funding. Which is Just Fine with me. If Catholics want to subvert the human rights of their children, that's not me to judge. More money for public schools is ideal, in my opinion.

 

This would mean that the current funding formula of X dollars per student would change.  Would that punish the Toronto District Catholic School Board or would it punish the students?  Hard to say.  I live two blocks from the closest Separate Secondary School and my kids chose not to attend it.  The cost of their education according to the province is X dollars either way.

 

I suppose the funding formula could be changed to more closely reflect the percentages of the population that are Roman Catholic.  I think that the enrollment figure is probably more just in that it guarantees X dollars for every student.  It would be nice if that X dollars for each student guaranteed that each student had access to the same experiences.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

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martha

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 When my friends had to subsidize their education, they paid $770/yr. to attend the Catholic high school (it was the early '80s). 

I have Absolutely No problem with parents paying money to send their kids to a school that promotes it's OWN agenda.

Like my friends who send their kids to Jewish day school. Or Greek school (it's an after school/language & cultural program), or any other culture/religion -based school.

From Day 1, when Premier Wm. Davis made this happen (I think I was in Grade 11 at the time) I've been Very Very Against this. It also managed to turn my family (hard core Tories from the womb) away from the PC part(ies) forever. (Kingston and the Islands).  It was his last move. And his dumbest, in my opinion.

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EasternOrthodox

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Alex thinks it is not about public funding. 

 

I know nothing about the laws, but see Alex's post dated:  

 

09/01/2011 17:47

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Azdgari

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John, I see your point.  But my post was rushed this morning and I hadn't really thought it through at the time.  Fact is, my silence regarding pedophilia is effective consent.

 

Through my silence, I effectively consent to how things are being done regarding pedophilia.  Through my silence, I opt out of participating in how the matter is treated in our society.  Acting out on pedophilia is illegal; I see no reason to speak up in objection to that.  My silence is, in this case, consent both in practice, and to a lesser degree, in principle.

 

This would be work differently if pedophilia was being allowed/promoted by our society.  Then, those acts themselves would be an issue (in the sense of their being two or more sides to it), and silence on that would constitute consent for those acts.

 

What is happening in the real world regarding a topic, determines whether silence on that topic constitutes consent, and/or what is being consented to with that silence.

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revjohn

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Hi Azdgari

 

Azdgari wrote:

Through my silence, I effectively consent to how things are being done regarding pedophilia.

 

For both good and ill.  You negate yourself.  Because your silence is effective consent of any effort to engage in further pedophilia while at the same time being effective consent of any effort to prevent it.  Congratulations, by keeping quiet you become all things to all people and until you say otherwise I can co-opt your silence for whatever agenda I please.

 

Imagine all the conversations taking place in the world at any given moment and how in all but the one you are having you consent to all points of view.

 

Azdgari wrote:

Through my silence, I opt out of participating in how the matter is treated in our society. 

 

True.  Though silence is not an absence of opinion it is an absence of action.  Sometimes in a conversation requires those listening and listening requires one to be silent.

 

Azdgari wrote:

Acting out on pedophilia is illegal; I see no reason to speak up in objection to that. 

 

And yet there are those who engage in pedophilia and take your silence on the matter as you effectively consenting to their agenda legality not withstanding.  How do I or any other know what you think about pedophilia if you will not say anything about it.  I note that you have yet to object to spousal abuse.  Your silence in the face of injustice is staggering.  I never realized how much of a monster you must be.

 

Azdgari wrote:

My silence is, in this case, consent both in practice, and to a lesser degree, in principle.

 

Then you had best start talking about everything because in your silence you make me think of a Stalin multiplied by a Hitler to the power of Amin.

 

Azdgari wrote:

This would be work differently if pedophilia was being allowed/promoted by our society.  Then, those acts themselves would be an issue (in the sense of their being two or more sides to it), and silence on that would constitute consent for those acts.

 

Then your argument is not for silence being equal to consent your argument is for silence being the champion of the status quo, subject to change as the status quo changes.  I don't find the position to be vastly different.  I'm still not convinced of the validity of the position either.

 

Azdgari wrote:

What is happening in the real world regarding a topic, determines whether silence on that topic constitutes consent, and/or what is being consented to with that silence.

 

Silence is silence.  It is nothing.  It is not yes, nor is it no.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

 

 

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Azdgari

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Quote:
For both good and ill. You negate yourself. Because your silence is effective consent of any effort to engage in further pedophilia while at the same time being effective consent of any effort to prevent it. Congratulations, by keeping quiet you become all things to all people and until you say otherwise I can co-opt your silence for whatever agenda I please.

 

Imagine all the conversations taking place in the world at any given moment and how in all but the one you are having you consent to all points of view.

Disturbing though that is, it is what is actually taking place, in-practice.  Most of us are silent on most topics, throughout what is by far most of the world.

Quote:
And yet there are those who engage in pedophilia and take your silence on the matter as you effectively consenting to their agenda legality not withstanding.

That is an unreasonable conclusion for them to come to, given the state of things in our society regarding general opinions toward the illegality of pedophilia.  We are not responsible for the stupidity of others.

Quote:
How do I or any other know what you think about pedophilia if you will not say anything about it. I note that you have yet to object to spousal abuse. Your silence in the face of injustice is staggering. I never realized how much of a monster you must be.

You are trying to turn something around on me that I never directed at anyone else in the first place, John.  This is 100% you speaking.  I never made an analogous characterization of anyone.  The implicit suggestion of such is dishonest and offensive.  Please stop.  You're better than this.

Quote:
Then you had best start talking about everything because in your silence you make me think of a Stalin multiplied by a Hitler to the power of Amin.

Consent does not equal support.  Again, you are foisting things on me that I never came within a solar system's radius of implying.  That is dishonest and offensive.  Please stop.  You're better than this.

Quote:
Then your argument is not for silence being equal to consent your argument is for silence being the champion of the status quo, subject to change as the status quo changes. I don't find the position to be vastly different. I'm still not convinced of the validity of the position either.

Given your characterization of what you supposedly think my position is, I'm not sure how to take this.

Quote:
Silence is silence. It is nothing. It is not yes, nor is it no.

You're right:  It's not yes, and it's not no.  It's "I don't care enough to break my silence".  That is a form of consent.  Sometimes this is reasonable.  Sometimes this is not.  Our radius of personal responsibility only extends so far in the first place.  The details matter to the moral judgment we apply to the silence, but not to whether or not the silence is a form of consent.

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Alex

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Azdgari wrote:

 

You're right:  It's not yes, and it's not no.  It's "I don't care enough to break my silence".  

 

It could also mean many other things. Like " I have confidence that our civil authorities and courts will do what is good and right and my intervention might divert the issue and and slow down justice. (i.e People and the media would stop focusing on the Human Rights issue, and see it as only a religious issue)

 

or

 

I have many issues I should take a stand on, but I know others who are more involved will be able to achieve justice, while other issues I can either be more effective in getting good results, and some other issue or group of people who have little or no support have demands that are also pressing. I can only do so many things well, and I need to prioritise or I will end up doing too many things, and all badly.

 

 

 

Myself I believe we should wait until people affected believe we can help andask us to take a stand.

 

 

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revjohn

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Hi Azdgari,

 

Azdgari wrote:

You are trying to turn something around on me that I never directed at anyone else in the first place, John.  This is 100% you speaking.

 

How is it more me speaking than it is your silence?  This is the point that I am labouring to make.  I do not know what you are thinking, until you tell me what you are thinking.  Anytime I fill your silence with my thoughts, whether they are good thoughts or bad thoughts I fill it with my stuff and you should never be held responsible for the meaning I attribute to your silence.

 

Even if I knew you well the best I could say on any given subject is that I believe that you would lean this or that way.  It would be folly in the extreme for me to say that because you don't challenge X then you must support X.  It presupposes that the world is only black or white and that is the way fundamentalists view the world.

 

If there was no such thing as nuance then I would be more inclined to agree that silence is the functional equivalent of consent. 

 

Adzgari wrote:

The implicit suggestion of such is dishonest and offensive.  Please stop.  You're better than this.

 

I am glad that you think so.  I regret that my tactics have made you uncomfortable.  I have no reason to believe that you are as monstrous as I have made you out to be.  If words can be dangerous things when twisted silence is more so because it is potentially twisted the moment any give it meaning.

 

Adzgari wrote:

Consent does not equal support.

 

You cannot have it both ways.  If silence is consent then silence gives support to whatever it is that we are silent about.  That is the peril of the this or that world that assigning meaning to silence constructs.

 

Adzgari wrote:

Again, you are foisting things on me that I never came within a solar system's radius of implying.  That is dishonest and offensive.  Please stop.  You're better than this.

 

Again, that was rather the point of the exercise.  Your silence cannot be honestly used to mean things which are patently not true about you.  To do that, as I have done is, as you rightly point out, offensive.  It is offensive when I do it to you and I promise that I will not do this to you again.

 

It would just as offensive and dishonest for you to do it to me.

 

It is still offensive and dishonest for others to do it to anybody.

 

It is a blatantly dishonest use of your silence to shame you and it is always wrong for me, or any other to do that.

 

Adzgari wrote:

Given your characterization of what you supposedly think my position is, I'm not sure how to take this.

 

As plainly as I possibly can put it I believe that your position is one that gives a definite meaning to silence and that definite meaning is consent/agreement.  I believe that arguments from silence are logical fallacies with some exceptions (because if there were no exceptions I would be arguing from a black and white world).

 

The bald statement "silence is consent" constructs a normative evaluation of silence and offers no grounds to perceive exceptions.

 

Adzgari wrote:

You're right:  It's not yes, and it's not no.  It's "I don't care enough to break my silence".

 

Even accepting the limitation of the third option you offer (I don't care to break my silence is neither yes nor no) all we know from the silence is that we don't know if the person is for or against.

 

It might be that the silent one is not yet yes or no.

 

It might also be that the silent one cares not to make a fool of themselves and refuses to weigh in on matters they are not familiar with.

 

Others could probably invent other possible meanings.  Not every invention is going to be kind, honest or fair.

 

Adzgari wrote:

That is a form of consent.

 

I'm still not convinced.  I believe many presume silence is equal to consent because it allows those who want their way to continue to get their way while on the other hand it allows those who are victimized by the will of others to widen the pool of their victimizers and in that way magnify the scope of the injustice done to them.

 

Either way both infer what they wish of those who may legitimately have no part in the conflict.  And both justify what they infer by making the silent responsible for not stopping them from making the inference.

 

If we watched someone steal something from another who offered no resistance to that theft has a theft actually happened or has the victim given the good to the one who has stolen it?

 

Do the insurers or the courts say, because you didn't object to having your goods stolen the they are now the lawful property of the one who robbed you?  People wouldn't think very highly of us if that was our response yet that is what we do with silence when we insist that it means something other than silence.  We commit theft.  We steal a person's self and we use it as ours.

 

Which is what I did to your character by insinuating a meaning into silence on a matter.

 

Which is what all of us do to the character of any who are silent when we place a meaning on it.

 

Even the third option which you lift up runs terribly close to an ad hominem attack by insisting that the silent one is silent due to apathy.

 

Azdgari wrote:

Sometimes this is reasonable.  Sometimes this is not.

 

Abductive reasoning is at best a guess.  In order for it to be reasonable the "cause" for any "effect" must be at least one of many possibilities.  For example, my dinner is gone, why?  Logically my dinner would be gone if I ate it.  Of course my dinner would also be gone if my dog stole it off of my plate.  The fact that my dinner is gone suggests somebody ate it though it does not dictate who actually ate it.

 

That somebody ate my dinner is a reasonable conclusion to arrive at when my dinner is gone.  Some would reasonably point out that it was probably the dog who ate it if I am upset with it being gone.  Of course it is just as reasonable to conclude that I ate it and the source of my disappointment is that there wasn't more of it.

 

Unless further inquiry is made either reasonable conclusion is a guess and while a reasonable conclusion would be to scold the dog for stealing food it may well be a cruel injustice to the dog who has done nothing to earn a scolding.

 

Guesses, even good ones can be wrong.

 

We flip the proverbial coin when we assign meaning to silence.  We might be right when we do it, we might also be very wrong.

 

Adzgari wrote:

Our radius of personal responsibility only extends so far in the first place.  The details matter to the moral judgment we apply to the silence, but not to whether or not the silence is a form of consent.

 

It is the moral judgment we apply which is the problem.  It is what we infer of the other and not the self testimony of the other.  We condemn based on the testimony of witnesses we invent.

 

I deeply regret the discomfort I have caused to you.

 

Though I have not been particularly graceful or peaceful it was not my intent to wound you.

 

John

 

 

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Azdgari

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RevJohn, the tactics you chose were based on a flawed interpretation of my position.  You continued with those tactics even after being corrected on that interpretation.  A reasonable conclusion is that you were trolling me and attempting to provoke me through deliberate offence, since you were informed of the mistake yet chose to continue in the same vein.

 

I find myself reluctant to take anything you've just said at face value.

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Azdgari

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Alex, both of the "alternate" motivations you gave for silence are still forms of "I don't care enough to break my silence".

 

In the first case - similar to what I was expressing to RevJohn - one is consenting to how things are being done.  This consent is expressed quite eloquently through silence.  "I don't care enough to break my silence" in this case can be elaborated into "I am comfortable with how things are happening without my influence; voicing an opinion about it is thus a very low priority for me, and thus I don't care enough to do so."

 

In the second case, one's priorities - one's relative degrees of caring - are expressed through one's silence, or lack of silence (without getting into the details of either).  Silence indicates lower priorities.  A lack of caring.

 

I realize this language I'm using carries a normative subtext.  That normative subtext is unintended.  I intend only to describe what happens, not to cast judgment about it.

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revjohn

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Hi Azdgari,

 

Azdgari wrote:

A reasonable conclusion is that you were trolling me and attempting to provoke me through deliberate offence, since you were informed of the mistake yet chose to continue in the same vein.

 

It certainly is reasonable.  Is it correct?

 

Azdgari wrote:

I find myself reluctant to take anything you've just said at face value.

 

Fair enough.

 

Grace and peace to you.

John

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