My last article wherein I put forward some thoughts on my atheism shouldn’t suggest that I feel solidarity with atheists everywhere. Like anybody, atheists are not immune from stupidity and boorish behaviour.
Today’s National Post reports the story of Ashu Solo, a member of Saskatoon’s cultural diversity and race relations committee. Solo was at a dinner appreciating volunteers like himself when a city councillor made him feel “like a second class citizen,” and “excluded.” The councillor’s offence? Saying a prayer which included “jesus” and the word “amen.” Solo says municipal officers should not use their offices to “perform religious bigotry” or to “impose their beliefs on others.”
Solo is a fortunate moron. Fortunate because, in another era, Spanish inquisitors made atheists actually feel like second-class citizens. The torture Solo suffered, hearing gracious appreciation before a meal he was to eat for free, was infinitely milder than crucifixion. He is a moron for believing multiculturalism to be simply everyone behaving like him. When someone’s religious freedom is infringed (and they’re not seeking the religious freedom to kill infidels), it’s no longer a multicultural world. Multiculturalism is a careful balancing of diverse beliefs, not a wholesale expunging of them. Does this really need to be said?
I don’t pray because I am an atheist, but praying is not illegal; we are guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Solo is the one in breach here, and he owes an apology. I couldn’t care less that he’s an atheist and so am I: for a member of a city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee to be in such an ugly breach of a basic human right is inexcusable. When idiots undertake noble endeavours, and human rights and cultural diversity people are frequently noble idiots, the results are ugly. The term “religious bigotry” loses all meaning when it’s associated with such irreproachable behaviour.
Solo is awaiting an apology from the Mayor and a promise there won’t be any more prayers at city events, or else he will go to the Human Rights Commission. Used this way, as it normally is, the HRC is just a tool for self-righteous fascists to impose their narrow mind on others. Freedom of religion is rightly one of the cornerstones of Western law. Solo has no case.
Randy Donauer, the alleged religious bigot, says he was surprised when Solo felt excluded, and never meant him any harm. His surprise is understandable. After all, Donauer never imposed his religion on Solo, he just imposed a prayer on some food. It’s a shame that the blameless Donauer will have his reputation besmirched. Being accused of a human rights transgression, even if wholly innocent, never does any good.
I hope his career as a councillor isn’t adversely affected by Solo in any way. Even though it would be understandable, I hope Donauer doesn’t bend before the HRC and issue an apology. He has nothing to apologize for. For being offended without cause, for airing his baseless grievances and threats so publicly, and for putting what seems like a good man through unnecessary hoops, I hope Solo comes out of this looking like the boor he is.
I hope we Canadians arrive at a collective understanding of multiculturalism more sophisticated than this. Imbeciles should think twice, or at least once, before issuing threats and serious accusations, and it’s a shame there’s a climate that so freely encourages overly sensitive people to vent before the country whenever their feelings are hurt, however ridiculous their feelings are. To be sure, this is a better problem than having actual human rights abuses, obviously, and recourse for an actual abuse is a wonderful thing. But absurd spectacles like this deserve scorn and condemnation nonetheless.
There are tickets issued for pulling fire alarms without cause. In Solo’s case, an apology and an admission that he is a stupid boor would suffice.