HumanistFreedoms.com is proud to have reported the activism of a dedicated humanist in organizing the first Russell Township Pride Week flag-raising ceremony in 2021.
During this year’s celebration, Dr. Richard Thain, one of the event’s organizers said he was proud to take some time to “stop and reflect about things which are important to us: community, inclusion and renewal.“
Two of Russell Township’s Councillors (Cindy Saucier and Mike Tarnowski) were in attencance. As was the Township’s mayor, His Worship Pierre Leroux who delivered a welcoming speech.
Other speakers included a local mother of two gay sons, and a high-school student who explained how in some local schools, 2SLGBQTQ+ students do not feel that they receive acceptance and support from the school administration.
Key organizers of the bi-lingual event included the KIN Club of Russell as well as Geneviève and Réjeanne Thain. Kinship, care and the passing of compassionate values from one generation to the next was clearly a theme of the activity. Geneviève commented that “…selon Statistique Canada, en 2018, les Canadiens de minorité sexuelle étaient deux fois plus susceptibles de déclarer avoir été victimes de comportements inappropriés en public, en ligne ou au travail. N’oublions pas que l’article premier de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’homme stipule que « tous les êtres humains naissent libres et égaux en dignité et en droits.“
According to Statistics Canada, in 2018, sexual minority Canadians were twice as likely to report experiencing inappropriate behavior in public, online or at work. Let us not forget that article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
A highlight of the event was the performance of Lara Fabian’s La Différence by local singer, Lise Dazé and a brief presentation by Mme Denise Latulippe.
In 2022, human rights and the warm inclusion of all people in our community remains both one of our most fundamental of Canadian values – but also something that individual and collective Canadians should take time to reflect on and contribute to in a meaningful way. There are so many wonderful communities throughout the country and all of them can only be enriched when their members take time to care for one another.
Well done to all those who gathered on a warm August day to remember where we’ve been, where we are and where we wish to go with UNIVERSAL human rights.
Miriam Beerman: 1923–2022 NOTHING HAS CHANGED Opens Fall Season at Monmouth University
Exhibition shines a spotlight on the late Miriam Beerman, a New Jersey artist whose works are included in the permanent collections of over 60 museums worldwide and a female pioneer in the 20th-century art world
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ—The Monmouth University Center for the Arts announces the launch of its fall 2022 season with Miriam Beerman: 1923–2022 NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
The exhibition showcases Beerman (1923–2022) as one of the 20th-century’s most provocative artists, whose humanist expressionist works highlight her talent as a colorist. A pioneer as one of the first female artists to be given a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Beerman is part of a canon of 20th-century women artists who were nearly lost to obscurity due to their gender in a male-dominated art world.
The show runs from September 6 to December 11 in the Rechnitz Hall DiMattio Gallery in the Monmouth University Center for the Arts. The opening reception is September 22 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Influenced by the social injustice seen around her, Beerman shines a spotlight on the horror and pathos of man’s inhumanity to man. The themes prove to be timeless, resonating today as much as when they were created in the 20th century. Her life and art were explored in the 2015 documentary Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos.
Nearly 20 large-scale canvases by Beerman will be represented. The show is guest curated by gallerist James Yarosh and draws upon the recent exhibition Miriam Beerman – REDISCOVER, shown at James Yarosh & Associates Gallery in Holmdel, N.J., which opened in spring 2022. The exhibition, Miriam Beerman, 1923-2022 NOTHING HAS CHANGED marks the second guest curator role at the university for Yarosh who curated Sheba Sharrow: Balancing Act in 2017. A companion show of Beerman’s works on paper and collages is simultaneously on view at James Yarosh & Associates Gallery.
“Living with Miriam Beerman’s paintings at the gallery with the current exhibit REDISCOVER, one cannot help but be both moved and stirred to be in the presence of the colossal works, heavy with paint, laden with subject. When you see these humanist expressionist works existing silently, holding the weight of the world, you begin to understand the gallery’s presentation,” says Yarosh, a gallerist fueled by curatorial activism in recent years. “As I described Miriam’s art with clients, it occurred to me that those words also described the role of female artists of the 20th century whose voices were more stifled in favor of male artists—and of women’s roles in a patriarchal society.
“If our art history is male-dominant, and the artists before us our teachers, we are only getting half the lessons to be learned,” he continues. “We have an opportunity to do better. This presentation with Monmouth University allows the conversations to continue and include a younger generation.”
“NOTHING HAS CHANGED picks up the dialogue from the 2017 Sheba Sharrow: Balancing Act exhibition. Although their art is different, the mission is similar: A female artist who rails against social injustices in her art as a call to action to evoke change,” says Scott Knauer, Director of Galleries and Collections, Department of Art & Design, Monmouth University. “Much of the subject matter that Miriam Beerman delved into is still so relevant and threatened today: political, social, religious rights, women’s rights and threats against minorities.”
The show’s title piece, Beerman’s 1999 canvas Nothing Has Changed (shown above) is described by Yarosh as “a later work, a portrait of a monumental female face, whose eyes are closed in resignation of her role. She disappears behind the facade of joyous yellows and pink, and yet her hopes are painted on the right—an abstract dream vision of her imagined joy, to run away, to color outside the lines and create her own ideas of ‘happy ever after.’ The archetypal portrait is Beerman’s Mona Lisa, except here, the smile is upside-down.”
Gallerist Mitchell Algus and artist Heather L. Barone (a mentee and longtime assistant of Beerman) and Corey Dzenko and Theresa Grupico in the Monmouth University Department of Art & Design are contributing to the catalogue. A smartphone tour is also being planned with a potential online discussion with artist, author and former Asbury Park Press art columnist Tova Navarra. Other planned events include a series of salon evenings, a Q&A evening with the Expressing the Chaos filmmaker and an event closing show. For details on upcoming events, visit the “What’s New” page on the James Yarosh Associates Fine Art & Design Gallery website: jamesyarosh.com.
ABOUT MIRIAM BEERMAN: Miriam Beerman studied painting at the Rhode Island School for Design, where she earned a BFA. Afterward, she spent two years in France as a Fulbright Scholar, working in Atelier 17 and having her painting critiqued by Marcel Brion. In New York, she studied with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at the Art Students League and Adja Yunkers at the New School for Social Research. She has had over 30 solo shows, including at the Brooklyn Museum, Graham Gallery, the New Jersey State Museum and the Everson Museum.
Beerman’s work is included in many major collections, including Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, LACMA, National Gallery of Art, Phillips Collection, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum in England, the MEAM in Spain, the Israel Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., among others. Beerman’s painting “Scorpio” is also currently on display as part of The Vault Show exhibit at University of Arizona Museum of Art through fall 2022. She has won many awards, including awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, RSID and others.
ABOUT MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY: Monmouth University is the region’s premier private coastal university offering a comprehensive array of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in a dynamic and personalized learning environment. Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University’s magnificent coastal campus is approximately one hour from both New York City and Philadelphia. Innovative academic programs, individual faculty attention, and nationally ranked Division I athletics make this private university a great place to find your future.
ABOUT JAMES YAROSH: Established in 1996, the James Yarosh Associates Gallery in Holmdel, New Jersey, was founded upon and remains loyal to its vision: to represent fine art for art’s sake and to curate gallery collections and thoughtfully present art and interior design specification with an artist’s eye and understanding. Yarosh, an artist and well- published interior designer, offers a full-scale gallery and design center where clients can associate with other like-minded individuals located just one hour outside Manhattan.
Yarosh advocates for what greatness looks like in the arts, showcasing at his destination gallery the works of both new and established museum-recognized artists of merit in a space designed to replicate the intimacy of an artist’s home. Current exhibitions such as Miriam Beerman – REDISCOVER (2022), The Humanist Show (2021), Sheba Sharrow: History Repeats (2020) and the NYC art fair Art on Paper (2021) help foster the idea of art as intellectual engagements that sit above decoration in design hierarchy, adding exponentially to the experience of living with art.
Citations, References And Other Reading
Featured Photo Courtesy of :
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following articles and studies were located on the APA website and in several online publications.
Self-referencing affects perceptions of workplace discrimination against atheists.
Cantone, J. A., Walls, V., & Rutter, T. (2022). Self-referencing affects perceptions of workplace discrimination against atheists. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000466
The number of self-identified atheists and nonreligious individuals is increasing, yet research examining discrimination toward atheists in the workplace remains rare. The present study expands prior work on religious hostile work environment complaints to one involving an atheist employee alleging discrimination. In the present study, 234 students and community members (gender: 133 women, 93 men, 6 nonbinary/transgender, 2 unreported; religious status: 126 religiously affiliated; 75 “none”; 10 atheist; 6 agnostic; 17 unreported) were recruited to complete an online legal decision-making study. Participants read the complaint of an atheist employee alleging that an Evangelical Christian supervisor’s proselytizing constituted discrimination. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions varying the complainant’s gender (male; female) and student status (student; worker) to examine the role of similarity. Participants completed legal measures from both the objective perspective required by the law and their own subjective perspective to examine the role of self-referencing. Participants’ subjective ratings of whether the conduct would constitute discrimination if it happened to them generally affected their objective ratings of whether the atheist employee had been discriminated against. Religious status similarity, as well as gender, affected participants’ legal ratings. In particular, nonreligious, atheist, and agnostic participants were more likely to see the conduct as discrimination, while Evangelical Christian participants were less likely. Results show that self-referencing and similarity affect how people perceive workplace discrimination faced by atheists. Recommendations for future research and workplace trainings are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
Being agnostic, not atheist: Personality, cognitive, and ideological differences.
Karim, M., & Saroglou, V. (2022). Being agnostic, not atheist: Personality, cognitive, and ideological differences. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000461
Why do several nonreligious people self-identify as agnostic and not as atheist? Beside epistemological differences regarding what is knowledgeable, we hypothesized that such a preference reflects (a) personality dispositions, that is, prosocial orientation, open-mindedness, but also neuroticism, (b) cognitive preferences, that is, lower analytic thinking, and (c) ideological inclinations, that is, openness to spirituality. In a secularized European country (Belgium), we surveyed participants who self-identified as Christian, agnostic, or atheist (total N = 551). Compared to atheists, agnostics were more neurotic, but also more prosocially oriented and spiritual, and less dogmatic.Strong self-identification as atheist, but not as agnostic, was positively related to analytic thinking and emotional stability but also dogmatism. Nevertheless, spiritual inclinations among both agnostics and atheists reflected low dogmatism and high prosocial orientation, and, additionally, among agnostics, social and cognitive curiosity. From a personality perspective, agnostics compose a distinct psychological category and are not just closet atheists. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
Explaining anti-atheist discrimination in the workplace: The role of intergroup threat.
Rios, K., Halper, L. R., & Scheitle, C. P. (2021). Explaining anti-atheist discrimination in the workplace: The role of intergroup threat. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000326
Based on the common ingroup identity model and Intergroup Threat Theory, as well as the fact that atheists are among the most stigmatized groups in the U.S., the present experiments tested whether and why people would be less willing to accommodate atheist (relative to Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) employees’ religion-related requests in the workplace. In three studies, participants responded to vignettes depicting an employee who requested to express his/her religious beliefs (or lack thereof) at work—for example, by displaying a quote at his/her cubicle or wearing a pin with a religious (or non-religious) symbol. As predicted, participants were especially unlikely to honor the atheist employees’ requests; this effect was driven by participants’ perceptions that the atheist employees posed a symbolic threat (i.e., were trying to impose their beliefs onto others; Studies 2–3) and, to a lesser extent, a realistic threat (i.e., jeopardized the organization’s economic status and resources; Study 3) in the workplace. Though the effects of participant religiosity were inconsistent across studies, the tendency for reluctance to accommodate the atheist employees’ requests was slightly stronger among religious than non-religious participants. Implications for how anti-atheist bias at work arises and can be mitigated are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
In the early 1990s the Humanist Association of Canada (HAC) created an on-line open discussion forum for people who believed in the free and open exchange of ideas and were committed to respecting the dignity of each individual. This forum moved to Facebook shortly after 2005, and the discussion group’s membership grew to more than 1,500. Then, in 2015 a re-branded Humanist Canada unveiled its new professionally designed Facebook page. Only board members could initiate posts on this new platform (although this right was eventually taken away from them as well). The old HAC listserve was allowed to continue. Although it was basically self-monitoring, board secretary Michel Virard was named administrator and I was named as one of three moderators. This article is about how this discussion group came to be viewed “problematic,” and was terminated.
The major part of my time as a volunteer Humanist Canada board member at the time was to research the need for ceremony in the lives of humanists (Robertson, 2017b). As a consequence, I was invited to participate in a HAC thread initiated by the Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba on the need for humanist ceremonies. As expected, the discussion was cordial, informative and productive. I returned to the discussion group site in 2019, but this time the language was anything but cordial. Some members were calling on the moderators to ban others they called “racists,” “alt-right,” “white supremacists,” and “anti-humanists.” I read the offending posts. No one had advocated racism, white supremacy or even conservative politics. Earlier, white academic activists who used such language to support what some called “cancel culture” had appropriated the term “woke” from black culture to imply those that did not share their views were “not awake.” I told these Woke to keep the discussion civil. A couple of weeks later I found the former victims giving as good as they got, so I admonished them all. Over time non-Woke stopped participating. With no debate, the only new threads on the old site were pleas for donations from a humanist school in Uganda that was, at the time, partially funded through Humanist Canada. To stimulate discussion, I posted an article by a police officer (Wilson, 2020) arguing against the then current campaign to defund the police. I invited comments, but as a moderator offered no opinion. One commentator stated that articles published in Quillette Magazine should not appear in a humanist forum. I set up a separate thread to discuss whether we should censor articles based on their magazine of origin.
Several articles from Quillette were posted but none promoted an ideology of racism, sexism or hate, and I refused to impugn motives based on some subjectively held notion of “dog-whistling.” One participant repeatedly expressed insult over my refusal to share my own views on the RCMP officer’s article. I agreed to do so, but under my own name outside of the moderator role. The resultant exchange was reasoned and civil.
Two posts in a different discussion thread implied, without evidence, that humanist Steven Pinker was associated with pedophilia. I viewed this as promoting hatred against an individual, and in the role of moderator, I deleted the posts. During the subsequent discussion, I informed one of the posters that he could appeal my decision to the site administrator, but he replied that he would approach “Martin,” the Humanist Canada president, instead.
During the ensuing months the HAC site generated more comments than the official Humanist Canada page despite having one third the members, and discussions were mostly civil. Then, in early August 2020, another moderator who had only recently become involved, cancelled a participant’s right to post under circumstances I challenged. The moderator explained:
The reason I blocked Ullrich Fischer form (sic) the HAC site had nothing to do with the nature of the content he was posting, but for targeting another member for harassment by systematically going through her previous comments on previous posts and replying to each one. (Sassan Sanei, e-mail, Aug. 6/20)
Ullrich had posted “five or six” replies to separate posts mostly responding to comments the other member had posted to him. For example, she had advised “Please don’t post alt-right material to a Humanist Group” to which he had responded, “Please don’t define as alt-right everything which disagrees with you about anything.” I restored Ullrich’s privileges because due process had not been followed. I explained that we could create a rule limiting the number of posts a member could make, but in fairness we would need to communicate such a rule to everyone in advance, and no one should be cancelled after a first offense. I also pointed out that the alleged “victim” here had called yet another member a “terrible human being” and had sent that member a private message calling her a “condescending bitch,” so if anyone should be cancelled it should be this alleged victim. Sassan then apologized to Ullrich admitting:
It was wrong of me to do that without informing you why the action was taken, giving you an opportunity to respond, or discussing it with other moderators. I’m sorry, and I promise you it will not happen again.
Sassan took exception to my use of the term “Woke.” While the term had been appropriated from U.S. black culture, he explained the word was now used as a slur directed against the appropriators. I agreed to use an alternate term “Identitarian Left” instead.
In early September I deleted four posts that consisted of name calling, swearing or belittling of people. In keeping with our protocol, I notified the other moderators. Sassan re-instated two of the posts explaining in an email, “The idea of a safe space does not extend to non-victimized or non-marginalized persons.” One member whose post remained deleted after calling another “a racist piece of shit,” declared that I, the moderator, favoured “raping and torturing children.” When asked for evidence, he posted that I had deleted the incriminating posts.
At a meeting that included the Humanist Canada president, Sassan and me, it was decided to remove all reference to Humanist Canada in the old discussion group as the discussions were “hurting our brand.” I thought it odd that the site administrator had not been invited to this meeting. Nonetheless, the Identitarian Left still insisted that anything stated on the site represented Humanist Canada policy. In keeping with the discussion at our meeting, I posted:
This is not the official webpage of Humanist Canada and the opinions expressed here do not conform to any official statement or position. This is an open discussion group for humanists with a wide variety of opinions and perspectives. We ask that participants to this forum talk to each other respectfully.
One poster became so offended by this statement that he called on the president, Martin Frith, “to do something with me.” In the meantime, Sassan suspended comments on a thread in support of ex-Muslims who had become humanists, and he suspended the person who started the thread for the next 30 days with the ominous warning “if another admin approves (his posts) I will remove them.” As it had become apparent that the two moderators were following different rules, I decided to bring it to the Humanist Canada board for resolution. I proposed that Sassan and I each resign to be replaced by a former Humanist Canada treasurer who could be seen as a neutral moderator using the following rules:
No racist, sexist or hate speech permitted;
Bullying including name-calling is not permitted;
Posts that contain racist, sexist or hate speech or otherwise exhibit bullying will be removed;
Participants who have posts removed will be advised of the reason for the removal;
Persistent abuse of the rules will result in an individual losing their posting privileges.
Sassan’s response at the board meeting was to demand an apology from me for using the term “Identitarian Leftist!” The board decided to refer the matter to its social media committee. I reverted to using the term “Woke.”
Four new discussion group members identified as transgender. When Sassan posted a “trans rights are human rights” banner in the forum, one trans person accused him of appropriating trans issues to advance his organization. He replied that his post was necessary because many humanists had been posting “transphobic” and “hateful” statements. I had not seen any such statements, and I asked Sassan to produce them. He said he had deleted them, but as moderator, I had access to all deletions, and found none. Sassan subsequently deleted as “transphobic hate speech” an article written by a transwoman, that was critical of J.K. Rowling. I did not consider her call for dialogue to be hate speech, so I reposted it under my name. The initial discussion on this article was civil, but it was interrupted by an individual who called me a transphobe and a bigot without any arguments supporting those assertions. Ze also contacted me on my private messenger service with threats to have me removed as moderator. Ze subsequently posted, on the personal Facebook of another member, “You are completely uneducated. Ignorant. Privileged and bigoted.” As this individual had six similar posts removed earlier, I cancelled the member’s posting privileges. Sassan reinstated the person without contacting me. I cancelled the person again. I then discovered I was cancelled as moderator. I appealed to the site administrator but he had been cancelled too! The president suggested we sort this problem out at the social committee meeting he would schedule.
The dam burst. Transactivists and their allies attacked non-Woke with the same derision that had prompted me to become an active moderator the year earlier. Three participants defended me saying that they had searched my postings and did not find any posted by me that were anti-trans. Woke replied that I had removed the offending posts. One of the Woke organized a letter writing campaign. Sassan defended this behaviour stating, “The member(s) in question was (were) not harassing anybody. They were standing up and speaking out against the endless stream of hateful, transphobic commentary and bullying that has dominated the group in recent weeks.” No examples of such hateful, transphobic or bullying comments were given.
The HAC discussion group was shut down with the rationale that social media necessarily degenerates into such divisive name calling. I believed this was likely true at the time, but the New Enlightenment Project (NEP) established its own Facebook discussion forum in 2021, and it has proven to be a safe place in which humanists can have respectful, informative and civil conversations about controversial topics.
Sassan had not been authorized to terminate a moderator or the discussion group administrator. President Frith was determined to ensure that this matter would not be discussed by the Humanist Canada board, and he invited me to attend a “discussion group post-mortem.” After waiting for Martin who failed to attend, Sassan apologized for his actions to the cancelled administrator and myself. I thought he should apologize to the board because he had broken a board protocol, but the former administrator suggested that we should move on to educate humanists about the threat of Wokism.
This was my first direct experience observing Wokism in action. The Woke accused those who disagreed with them of being anti-humanist. People who said Canada’s first prime minister should not be blamed for things that happened well after his death were accused of favoring the torturing and raping of children. Feminists who want to ensure biological females have safe spaces were accused of wanting to deny transsexuals right to exist. Those who defended their positions were accused of harassment or bullying. There were thus two types of humanists represented: the Woke who viewed freedom of speech, science, logic and reason as “white, male ways of knowing” in opposition to their “anti-racist” narratives; and, those grounded in the Enlightenment view that we can learn about objective reality through careful observation, science, reason and logic. To these Enlightenment humanists, freedom of speech acts as an antidote to dogma and is a means of checking our own subjectively held biases. Those who coined the term “The Enlightenment” implied that those who disagreed with their approach were unenlightened, but in my book, The Evolved Self (Robertson, 2020), I argue that these values flow from the individualism inherent in having a self,and that this self is both cross-cultural and ancient. The Enlightenment was not about educating unenlightened people so much as removing cultural constraints on the powers of mind. From this lens, Wokism is a reactionary movement seeking to re-impose such constraints.
I came to the conclusion that Wokism is not a coherent ideology but amalgam of partially assimilated and conflicting belief systems (Robertson, 2021). It replaces the economic ruling class of Marxism with the racial designation “white.” It uses anti-Marxist postmodernism to “deconstruct” all beliefs with no rationale given as to why its own dogma is exempt from such deconstruction. Its attack on science and reason is copied from Martin Heidegger (1962), but it claims to be anti-fascist. It claims allegiance to social justice but ignores the egalitarian basis of the civil rights movement upon which social justice is built. The Woke claim to be anti-racist but promote the racialization of society through identity politics. They claim to be anti-capitalist while being embraced by the largest corporations in the world. They are convinced of their moral superiority, but are prepared to act unethically to defeat their opponents. These contradictions help explain the psychology of the people I observed.
Sassan had been extremely deferential to the transperson who accused him of using trans-issues to further an agenda. Sometimes referred to as “victim culture” (Campbell & Manning, 2014, 2016; Gabay et al., 2020; Haufman, 2020), Wokism establishes a hierarchy of identity groups with members of some groups presumed to have suffered greater victimization thereby acquiring greater moral entitlement. One would think that white males would be at the bottom of this hierarchy, but they are given a special role. Several times white males in the discussion group would state that they were “giving voice” to those “without voice.” This gives them a leadership position in which they engage in aggressive attacks on others as evidence of overcoming their own “whiteness.” On numerous occasions I observed Woke amending their posts after the discussion so as to make themselves appear more effective.
Like a secret cult, Wokism may not be named and attempts to name it are deemed to be “slurs.” The Woke would prefer to be known as “Left” or “Progressives;” yet we know there are many people who identify with the Left who embrace science, reason and free speech. We also know that progressivism is an Enlightenment doctrine that peoples’ lives can be improved incrementally. By this measure a leading progressive is Steven Pinker (2012, 2018), a humanist whom the Woke have repeatedly denounced.
Every cult needs some means of identifying authentic members, and the Woke do this through the inventive use of language. For example, the word “Latinx” is not used by Hispanic people and it is not used by Woke talking to Hispanic people. It is used by Woke talking through Hispanic people to other Woke. The word “systemic” is thrown in before words like “racism,” “sexism,” and “oppression,” but it is not used as an adjective because the Woke never explain how systems work to establish these problems. The word “problematic,” is used in preference to the word “problem” so as to appear more “systemic.” Similarly words like micro-aggression, intersectionality, and cisgender are not needed for communication, but signify that the user is Woke.
In the final analysis, Wokism is about power. The Woke have taken over universities, school boards, media, non-government organizations and government agencies for the purpose of creating more Woke. Although they were successful in disabling and shutting down an open humanist discussion group, the Woke were not finished with Humanist Canada. Enlightenment humanists need to recognize the challenge to our movement and to update our understandings in light of modern conditions.
Campbell, B., & Manning, J. (2016). Campus Culture Wars and the Sociology of Morality. Comparative Sociology, 15(2), 147-178.
Gabay, R., Hameiri, B., Rubel-Lifschitz, T., & Nadler, A. (2020). The tendency for interpersonal victimhood: The personality construct and its consequences. Personality and Individual Differences, 165, 110134. https://doi.org/doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110134
Haufman, S. B. (2020, June 29). Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood: Focusing on grievances can be debilitating; social science points to a better way. Scientific American.
To all of Don’s many friends and family, HumanistFreedoms.com would like to express our most heartfelt condolences and sympathy. if you have memories or sentiments to share, please add them as comments or send an email and we’ll be proud to share them on this page.
Recollection by Eric Adriaans
A little over a week ago, I received an email message from an old friend that said simply, “Don died on Sunday. We’re all a bit shocked. I’ll let you know more soon.” Messages from old friends can be like that sometimes. There doesn’t really need to be more -every word carries its own freight of memory and significance. Old friends know how utterly, deeply felt and shared is the loss of a friend like Don Cullen.
I first met Don in the cramped and stuffy Toronto offices of Centre For Inquiry Canada (CFIC) at the corner of Yonge & College in the spring of 2014. I had recently joined the organization and wasn’t altogether certain whether I had gotten my myself and my career onto a pretty unusual path. Then Don popped-in for a visit, wearing what seemed to be a kind of trademark big-grin-avec-fishing-vest ensemble, and we chatted for quite a long time.
We chatted about the forming of CFIC and some of the other humanist organizations in Toronto and Canada; also about Don’s interests, career and memories. He told me about the Bohemian Embassy, about his poetry and about his deeply-felt and long-considered ideas about humanism and atheism. Don’s warmth, humour and intelligence were a welcome indication that I probably was on an unusual path – but there was wonderful company to be had. It was Don’s first of many gifts and lessons to me about humanism. It’s a gift I try to carry and share that gift of welcome and community with others.
I wasn’t aware at our first meeting, but Don was one of the people who helped to create CFIC. Later, I was able to obtain some recollections from him about this history and I want to recall some of that here.
In the late 1990’s, a vibrant American import name, Terri Hope, became coordinator of the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT). Membership was growing and George Baker became a life member. George was a non-academic intellectual. Because of the Great Depression, he had left school in grade seven. Tests for air crew in the Royal Canadian Air Force proved George to be above average intelligence. It got him interested in great ideas. He read, attended lectures.
At that time, HAT had no home base. There was a phone number and an answering machine, a fax number and a website. Many HAT members wanted a store-front, a gathering place….a home. Proposals were made. George Baker was more than interested. Hard work and good luck had brought serious financial rewards and he wished to do something for Humanism.
I had presided over four incarnations of the Bohemian Embassy coffee house where Margaret Atwood, Ian & Sylvia Tyson, Al Purdy, Gordie Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Bill Coshy and many more performed. I arranged a meeting with George. He and I had already become acquainted with the Centre For Inquiry in Amherst, New York. Paul Kurtz, the founder, Tom Flynn and Joe Nickell had spoken at HAT events. I had attended talks in Amherst and CFI presented a 2-day conference at the Ramada Inn on Jarvis Street. They indicated a desire for a Toronto location and sought cooperation from HAT. Nothing resulted. Some say it was apathy among HAT members, fear of American domination or was it that CFI Los Angeles had drained the exchequer!
HAT members Ron Burns and Jim Cranwell joined George and me. Using the CFI model, we envisioned an umbrella organization with HAT, HAC and the Toronto Skeptics sharing the same roof. We needed a location. Feeling a need for more youthful participation, we wanted to be close to the University of Toronto and consulted Neil Wright Real Estate. he found us a location on Harbord Street. It needed a lot of work. George hired an architect. Plans were drawn up. A strike at City Hall delayed approval month after month. George, in his 80s, couldn’t stand the delays. He sold Harbord Street and got out.
Robert Buckman, an internationally famous oncologist had come to Toronto. He had a lot of TV exposure in Great Britain, had partnered with Monty Python’s John Cleese in several projects. He did several programs on TV Ontario. He had a high profile and he replaced Henry Morgantaler as President of HAC. HAT and HAC presented some events under Rob’s direction. Membership at HAT soared well over 200.
Quite separately, things were happening at U of T. It was decided to create a multi-faith Centre. Two students objected. Independently, Jenny Fiddes and Justin Trottier felt that a university should be secular, supporting no religion. Religion might support colleges but not the university. Where did atheists fit !?
George Baker and I heard about it and gave them a couple of hundred bucks for stamps and envelopes. I was on the HAT Board of Directors and proposed for Jenny and Justin to make presentations on the U of T campus. They were successful with considerable interest in Humanism and Atheism. George and I arranged a lunch at Bumpkins Restaurant with Justin, Jenny and Rob Buckman. Rob imagined a Humanist Drop-in Centre near the university. A meeting with Henry Morgantaler, Rob, Ron Burns, Jim Cranwell and me occurred and we decided we would do it. I contacted Mr. Wright and he found 216 Beverly Street.
The umbrella organization idea began to unfold. The skeptics were skeptical and decided not to participate. The Humanist Association of Canada wanted their headquarters to stay in Ottawa. A vote of HAT members was 100% for moving in and the organization was set up. The student team at U of T was enthusiastic….(more on the CFIC website)
It is eminently fitting to re-share one of Don’s own stories. Whether it was the forming and re-forming of the Bohemian Embassy or helping to shape humanist communities – Don seemed always, when I was with him, to be sharing a story. But also creating a stage for those around him to sing just as purely, laugh just as joyfully, think and feel just as deeply and shine just as brightly as he did.
Don was a wonderful human and a wonderful humanist.
Reflections by Richard Thain
I first met Don at a Humanist Association of Canada (HAC) conference almost four decades ago, and it was a pleasure knowing and associating with Don through HAC (now Humanist Canada), Humanist Association of Toronto, Centre for Inquiry Canada, etc.
As most of us know, Don was a creative dynamo, entertainer, writer, and Canadian cultural luminary. In addition to his professional work, Don found the time to support numerous secular humanist organizations. He regularly attended and contributed to humanist conferences, was a founder of Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT), and Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFIC). Don was an articulate and staunch supporter of all our humanist causes. One of the last conversations he had, before he died, was about how extremely upset he was over the recent news from the USA, regarding the overturning of the Roe (v) Wade decision.
In recent years, while visiting Toronto, I occasionally was able to join Don, Jim Cranwell, and other humanist, atheist friends, at their Friday afternoon social and discussion sessions. The conversations were always fascinating and enlightening, to say the least. On one such visit, he passed me his brilliant Quotesanon pamphlet. The pamphlet included a poem which he had written:
A Found Poem by Don Cullen
An eye for an eye
Makes the whole world blind. *
Only human kindness
Will save humankind. **
* Accredited to M.K. Gandhi
** Accredited to Bertrand Russell
Don Cullen was a thoughtful, generous, creative, and compassionate man. Last week we lost a wonderful friend – a great Canadian humanist.
Citations, References And Other Reading
Feature Image Courtesy: Dr. Richard Thain
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
In August of 2021, the Board of Directors of the former Ryerson University voted to change the name of the institution due to (as one CBC story phrases it) concerns about the man the institution is named for and his links to Canada’s residential schools.
According to www.ryerson.ca, “Names matter. They tell the world who we are and what we stand for. They communicate ideas, values and aspirations. They speak to the future even as they acknowledge the past. A new name offers an invitation to be more inclusive, to imagine novel ways of thinking and creating — to open ourselves to new possibilities. This is a new chapter for our university, informed by the pages that come before but open to the opportunities that lie ahead. Now is a time to recommit to the values that define us, to invite our community to gather around our shared mission and to shape a future in which everyone belongs.” So Ryerson University is now the Toronto Metropolitan University where “It’s the many collisions between peoples and perspectives that take place in a metropolitan setting that drive innovation. As such, our name is as much a marker of location as it is a statement of identity, one that’s befitting of a thoroughly urban university.” Collisions? OK. We can take that as food for thought.
Since questions of a dead legislator’s legacy is not only fair game for consideration (Ryerson/TMU has a 131-page document examining the life and legacy of their former namesake), it is the inspiration for baseball bats and crowbars to be taken to statuary (per featured image), perhaps it is reasonable and even to-be-encouraged that all areas of that legislator’s legacy be examined.
Consider, for example the Common School Act of 1850. As spacing.ca explains it: “The Common School Act of 1850 set into law what was already being practised (sic) by local communities throughout Ontario. The act permitted any group of five Black families to ask local school trustees to establish a separate school. The law also permitted the creation of separate schools for Roman Catholic and Protestant families.”
Here in 2022, as ideas of how to implement contemporary values of diversity and inclusivity collide with the legacy institutions, it seems odd that those who are concerned with updating our systems to reflect the values of the present and our aspirations for the future haven’t decided that a certain elephant in the room needs to be addressed. The public funding of Catholic school boards in Ontario is the single largest and least supportable example of segregation and systemic faith-based discrimination (faithism) in Canada.
By all means, let us rename, rebrand, renew. A better, more diverse and inclusive future is waiting.
The Ontario Poetry Society has launched the Ellen S. Jaffe Humanist Award for Poetry. Open to everyone in Canada and the USA, the award accepts asuite of poems of no fewer than 12 pages and no greater than 15 pages on humanist themes of family, community, traditions and customs, social issues, peace and the effects of war, climate change, ecological issues and the healing power of poetry.
Ellen S. Jaffe was born in New York City, came to Canada in 1979, and became a Canadian citizen in 1993; she died in Toronto on March 16, 2022 at the age of 77.
A great deal more information about Jaffe and her writing at http://www.ellen-s-jaffe.com/. The website currently includes blog entries, the most recent of which is dated March 5, 2022 and says:
Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written, but a lot has happened.…Good news number 2: while he was here, The Ontario Poetry Society announced they are creating an award in my honour: the Ellen Sue Jaffe Humanitarian Poetry Award. This is a great honour and combines my two deep values in life. Thank you, Bunny Iskov and Elana Woolf, for arranging this. The award will be every other year, beginning with the deadline on March 15, 2023 (my birthday), with one winner and 5 runners-up. There will be a cash prize and a certificate, and my son Joe and I were able to drive to Willowdale to thank Bunny in person and give her some of my signed books to add to the prize.
Jaffe’s writing has been published in journals including Fireweed, Capilano Review, Kaleidoscope, CV 2, and Kairos, and in various anthologies; she was on the 2005 short-list for Lichen magazine’s “Tracking a Serial Poet” contest (the only person to have two entries short-listed!), and she was also on the short-list for the CBC Literary Competition in 1996. Recently two poems were published in Crossing Lines by Seraphim Press (2008), an anthology by poets who came to Canada during the Vietnam War era. She received the Orion prize for poetry in 2000, and has read at the Niagara International Festival of Chamber Music, as well as venues in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia.
Ellen was a member of The Writers Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, and CANSCAIP. She has received grants from the Ontario Arts Council for both writing and teaching. She currently works with Learning Through the Arts and Living through the Arts, programmes run by the Royal Conservatory of Music that enable artists to work jn schools and community organizations. She has also taught in many other school and community programs, and has been a judge for various writing contests for both young people and adults.
The Ontario Poetry Society Presents:
The $1000 Ellen S. Jaffe Humanist Award for Poetry
Contest held every second year
Open to Everyone in Canada and the U.S.A.
First Prize $500 & a Certificate Plus 5 Honourable Mention Awards of $100 each with a Certificate Signed copies of Ellen’s Book, Skinny-Dipping with the Muse, Guernica Editions will be awarded to the top 6 winners. Money prizes paid in Canadian Dollars.
Rules & Guidelines Accepting a suite of poems of no fewer than 12 pages and no greater than 15 pages on humanist themes of family, community, traditions and customs, social issues, peace and the effects of war, climate change, ecological issues and the healing power of poetry. The suite of poems to be on one continuous theme. No lewdness, no foul language & no heavy slant on religion. Free verse poems preferred. Each poem to be a maximum length of 60 lines and the stanza spaces count as lines. Line width should be up to 55 characters and word spaces. Poems must be unpublished and not sent elsewhere. Poems to be printed on one side of 81/2 x 11 plain white paper. Arial 11 Font size. Do not attach any pictures or artwork or biographical information. Blind Judging: No author ID to be anywhere on the poem pages. Include a cover page with Author name, mailing address, telephone # & e-mail as well as a vertical list of poem titles (or first lines if no titles).
Entry fee: $20 for the first suite of poems and $10 for each additional suite of poems. There is no limit to the number of submissions per entrant. Manuscripts are not returned unless a larger envelope is enclosed with sufficient postage.
Entries to be postmarked on or before March 15, 2023. Include a #10 s.a.s.e. for the winners list and $2 in coupons to spend on another contest sponsored by The Ontario Poetry Society. Contest entries to be submitted through Canada Post. No electronic submissions accepted.
Send your entries to: The Ontario Poetry Society #710 – 65 Spring Garden Ave. Toronto, Ont. M2N 6H9 Contest Judge is Elana Wolff
The concept of systemic faithism may not be familiar to HumanistFreedoms.com readers, so as a kind of preamble to the focus of this article, consider this definition of systemic faithism as presented by the Government of Ontario’s own Ontario Human Rights Commission presented in its 2013 Human Rights and Creed Research and Consultation Report.:
Systemic faithism refers to the ways that cultural and societal norms, systems, structures and institutions directly or indirectly, consciously or unwittingly, promote, sustain or entrench differential (dis)advantage for individuals and groups based on their faith (understood broadly to include religious and non-religious belief systems). Systemic faithism can adversely affect both religious and non-religious persons, depending on the context, as discussed in the examples below. Some forms of systemic faithism can be actionable under the Code (e.g. those amounting to “systemic discrimination”), while others may not be (e.g. those taking broader cultural or societal forms). This section looks more closely at two dominant forms of systemic faithism in the current era, flowing from the “residually Christian” structuring of public culture and institutions, and from “closed secular” ideology and practice...Among the most obvious examples of residual Christianity in Ontario…public funding in Ontario of Roman Catholic separate schools, but not other religion-based schools.
How is it that a provincial government is able to simultaneously identify, define and detail a form of systemic discrimination and continuously defend and perpetuate the abuse? It’s a puzzler.
The authors of upsetting.ca have decided to do their best to explore and communicate the lengthy and, well as the website says – upsetting history of ongoing privileging of a particular community within the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan (a bit of rough math reveals that roughly half of all Canadians live in a jurisdiction that continues to ensconce and fund a major form of systemic discrimination).
Upsetting’s authors make their position clear: On the practical side, the Ontario public has never sanctioned the public funding of separate school systems for Roman Catholic citizens, just politicians. The RC school systems (French & English) were foisted upon Ontario through two dictatorial moves by politicians. Skullduggery (trickery, dishonesty) in the highest places has maintained them. Each post in this series will tell a different story in order to reveal all the events and the characters associated with them. Posts will be every Sunday evening, Tuesday evening, and Thursday evening for several weeks.
Perhaps you’re interested to investigate systemic faithism from a distinctly different angle? Have a listen to a podcastfrom York University’s Critical Spirituality in Leadership who say that they recognize that “neutral” or “secular” views often privilege agnostic or atheist traditions and worldviews (Ontario Human Rights Commission, n.d.) and are “residually and normatively Christian” (Seljak et. al, 2008). This leads to systemic faithism.. we consider Seljak et. al’s (2008) analysis of the close connections between religion, ethnicity and race in the Ontario context and caution that Christian privilege can result in anti-religious sentiment, ethno-religious alienation, polarization, and alienation, rooted in the belief that religious practices and identities are incompatible with Canadian identity and citizenship (OHRC, n.d.). This encourages the creation of religious “ghettoes” that may lead to religious radicalization and disengagement from Canadian public life (OHRC, n.d.). We heed Butler’s (2000) warning that spirituality may be commodified in modern schooling, reducing it to individual approaches instead of situating it in larger contexts of social struggle.
One of Canada’s leading secular humanist organizations, Centre For Inquiry Canada (CFIC) has launched a new podcast titled ThePodcast For Inquiry. The podcast appears to be available on the CFIC’s website as well as Spotify.
Leslie Rosenblood, the podcast’s host and a long-time member of the CFIC community in the Toronto area has walked through seven episodes (to date) of conversation about such topics as freedom of expression, the state of democracy in the world and Quebec’s Bill C-21.
In the most recent March 23, 2022) episode, Leslie speaks with James Turk, the Director of the Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University about “the importance of free expression in a democratic society, the futility and counterproductive nature of censorship, and what limits on expression are reasonable and justified.”
We note that our friend and inspiration, Dr. Richard Thain’s experience of attempting to advertise in the City of Winnipeg, is featured during the conversation.
We hope CFIC continues to provide compelling and valuable insights into our most important humanist rights and freedoms.
Citations, References And Other Reading
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
The following article has been compiled from information provided by OPEN.
An application stating the current funding of Ontario separate schools violates s.15(1) of the Charter of Rights has been filed at the Ontario Superior Court and served on the Ontario government on behalf of One Public Education Now (OPEN) lawyers Adair Goldberg Bieber.
The two plaintiffs, a public high school teacher, and a parent of children in the French public school system, are founding members of OPEN (One Public Education Now). OPEN is a coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to challenging the current discriminatory funding of the schools of one religion.
Many people want to do something about this discriminatory funding of one religious school system, but don’t know what to do. Governments and political parties ignore letters, articles and petitions. But they can’t ignore lawsuits, and people can do something by contributing to our challenge. Our lawsuit is funded by the donations of many people and needs additional funding to continue our legal fight.
The Application states there have been sufficient changes since 1987 that the Reference re Bill 30 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the Charter does not apply to the funding of Ontario separate schools should be re-examined.
Therefore, the only rights protected from Charter challenge are those that existed in 1867 and are protected by s.93(1); and the public funding of non-Catholics at separate schools and the public funding of Grades 11 and 12 at separate schools, neither of which existed in 1867, violate the equality sections of the Charter of Rights.
Not only is the public funding contrary to the Charter of Rights, but it wastes money in duplicate administration and unnecessary busing of students at a time when money is needed for, among other things, protecting the safety of teachers and students. Estimating the savings is difficult because so many of the costs are hidden but it has been estimated up to 1.6 billion dollars a year could be saved. So many people think separate schools are funded by residential property taxes, not realizing just 7% of separate school operational funding, and none of the capital funding, come from the property taxes of residential separate school supporters.
OPEN’s Positions Regarding Funding of Catholic School System in Ontario
Separate schools were started under historical circumstances that no longer exist; for example, there were fights between Protestants and Catholics in public schools and Ontario agreed to protect separate Catholic schools in return for Quebec protecting separate Protestant schools; these circumstances no longer apply
So much has changed since the 1987 Reference re Bill 30 Supreme Court of Canada decision, such as Quebec abolishing its funding of separate schools in 1997, that the ruling the Charter of Rights does not apply to the funding of Ontario separate schools, should be reconsidered
Separate schools are not paid for by separate school residential property taxes.
Capital funding is paid for entirely by general provincial revenues. In general, only 7% of operating revenues of separate schools come from residential property taxes; 15% comes from business property taxes; 70% comes from general provincial funding.
By contrast, 15% of public school funding comes from residential property taxes and only about 60% from general provincial funding.
The current system wastes money. Boards of Trustees, Superintendents of Education, Board offices and administrative staff, are duplicated.
We don’t have two fire services, one for Catholics and one for everyone else. Think of the waste if we did.
Students are bused to the closest public or separate school, instead of walking or being bused to the nearest publicly-supported public school.
Local community schools are being closed that could be kept open if all local students went to a public local school, not split between public and separate schools
Estimating the savings is difficult because so many of the costs are hidden but it has been estimated up to 1.6 billion dollars a year could be saved.
One third of Ontario publicly-funded teaching jobs are denied to the two-thirds of the population who are not Catholic even though all Ontario tax-payers pay for these schools.
Of course Catholics who want to can pay to send their children to religious schools, just as Anglicans, Baptists, Muslims and others do. What is unfair is the government, for outdated reasons, funding one religious group .
People have signed petitions, written articles, and sent letters and emails. But because all the major parties support the status quo, nothing changes.