Category Archives: Uncategorized

CHPCA’s Ethics at the End of Life: Unaddressed Suffering Needs Exploration

Image Courtesty: Wikipedia

According to their website, The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is “the national voice for Hospice Palliative Care in Canada. Advancing and advocating for quality end-of-life/hospice palliative care in Canada, its work includes public policy, public education and awareness. Established in 1991, its volunteer Board of Directors is composed of hospice palliative care workers and volunteers from Canadian provinces and territories as well as members-at-large.

It is always interesting to observe an organization declare itself to be “the” national voice for this, that or the other thing. That particular phrasing seems to presume, preclude or presuppose a variety of details, matters and alternatives. While this article isn’t an exploration of how organizations may be created out of nothing more than a handful of individuals with a common interest to become The National Voice on a given topic, it is interesting to note that the Government of Canada says that applying to be a charity is a four-step process. You’d think it would be more complicated than that.

On a rather tangential detail, did you know that Sue Rodriguez was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — a quickly progressing neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscle movement in 1991?

At that time, medical assistance in dying was illegal in Canada.

While the timeline of CHPCA’s creation and Sue Rodriguez’s diagnosis may earnestly be assumed as nothing more than coincidence, it does make one wonder what CHPCA’s policies and attitudes may be about medical assistance in dying. Fortunately, CHPCA has a page on their website dedicated to ethics. On that page, it says:

Palliative Sedation

Palliative sedation refers to the use of pharmacological agents to reduce consciousness with the intention of providing relief for intractable symptoms when all other possible therapeutic options have failed. This intervention is only considered in a patient who has been diagnosed with an advanced progressive illness and typically the patient is perceived to be close to death (i.e. in the last two weeks of life). Generally, the goal is the lowest level of sedation required to achieve the desired comfort level/control of symptoms; therefore, specific pharmacological agents are generally started at the smallest possible dose and titrated upwards to effect. This therapy is distinct from medical assistance in dying, as the intention is not to hasten death or shorten one’s life. Common indications include intractable cases of agitated delirium or dyspnea, massive hemorrhaging, and refractory seizures—all of which are extremely distressing to a patient3. The role of palliative sedation in psychological, spiritual, or existential distress is unclear. Commonly, the experience of having a patient sedated can be a conflicting and emotional time for families and caregivers; it is therefore crucial to ensure they receive appropriate psychosocial and spiritual support.

Responding to requests for assisted dying

When patients are confronted by their life-limiting illness and experience loss of function in their day-to-day lives due to their disease, it can be very distressing. In their suffering, some patients become compelled to wish for a hastened death. Some of those patients may endorse some passive suicidal thoughts, whereas others are insistent about wanting to end their lives in a specific moment with medical assistance. With recent developments in the movement for medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Canada, it is important for healthcare practitioners to recognize these requests and respond appropriately. Regardless of whether an individual healthcare practitioner supports or stands against this controversial topic, it is important that patients are still heard. Perhaps patients fear a protracted disease course with intractable symptoms, or they are distressed by the disability that their illness brings—regardless of what is driving their request, it is crucial for healthcare practitioners to recognize that there is some unaddressed suffering at the root of this request that needs further exploration.

On another tangential note. It wasn’t our idea to place those two paragraphs together. That’s the way we found them. The bold font is, admittedly, our innovation.

Despite CHPCA’s suggestion that palliative sedation’s role in distress is unclear, it does seem clear that CHPCA’s ethics suggest that dosing someone into un- or semi-consciousness in the clinically-expected final two weeks of their existence is reasonable as well as clinically and ethically sound. It may also be observed that CHPCA understands that patients should be heard. One wonders how articulate an individual who has been medicated into un- or semi-consciousness may be.

For those who are able to communicate strongly enough that their care-takers hear them, CHPCA’s ethics also make clear that any unaddressed suffering still needs to be explored. Even during the clinically-expected final two weeks of life. Ethics is such an interesting term.

While still able to make her voice heard, Sue Rodriguez asked whose life it was to continue or end, if not her own. It would be interesting and informative if CHPCA posted a clear, direct and unequivocal answer to that question on their ethics website.

Until then we’ll just have to infer.

On an Unrelated Matter

Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) is the national human-rights charity committed to improving quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights, and helping people across Canada avoid unwanted suffering.

DWDC hosted the 2022  World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFRTDS) International Conference in Toronto from November 3 to 6, 2022. The event brought international delegates and local attendees together. It was the must-attend event for clinicians, lawyers, advocates, and supporters who wanted to learn more about assisted dying in Canada and around the world.

DWDC’s 2023 to 2025 strategic plan states that the organization will “lead national advocacy efforts to eliminate obstacles to end-of-life choice, including access to advance requests and end forced transfers.” This is in an effort to:

  • To protect the constitutional right of Canadians to MAID
  • To identify and remove new and ongoing barriers and challenges to choice-in-dying
    • To ensure accurate information is easily available

What is a “forced transfer“? It seems to be what may happen if you’d rather end any unaddressed suffering in the final days of your life rather than be medicated into unconsciousness or have your suffering otherwise explored.

HumanistFreedoms.com wonders how long it will be until some ethical folks take the necessary four steps to ensure that there are institutions and facilities in place that provide a straight-forward palliative care alternative to all this forced transfer bullshit. But we suppose that things are probably more complicated than that.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of
  2. https://www.chpca.ca/resource/ethics/
  3. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/rodriguez-case-1993
  4. https://www.chpca.ca/resource/ethics/
  5. https://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Dying-With-Dignity-Canada-2023-2025-Strategic-Plan.pdf

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.

Kaali: Screening out the Censors

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

In September of 2022, HumanistFreedoms.com shared information about Humanists International‘s expression of deep concern regarding what it has called “the judicial harassment of poet and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai” and regarding Humanist Ottawa’s subsequent letter to the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou.

Manimekalai, who has previously identified as bi-sexual, had been selected to produce a creative piece on multiculturalism in Canada as part of the national level academic programme ‘Under the Tent’ organized by CERC Migration – Toronto Metropolitan University. The film, ‘Kaali’ was launched at the Aga Khan Museum on July 2, 2022.

Soon the inevitable occurred. As the film came to the wider attention, some people were offended and began to express outrage and hate. This controversy led TMU and the Aga Khan Museum to pull Manimekalai’s film and to apologize to any (essentially anonymous) offended parties.

We have learned since our previous coverage, Kaali: The Short-sightedness of Censors and Kaali: Choose Love and Champion Humanity, that representatives of the Humanist Society of Toronto (HAT) and Humanist Ottawa attended a screening of Kaali on November 3 at TMU. Indeed, HAT was one of several co-sponsors of the event.

Richard Dowsett, HAT spokesperson was one of the scheduled speakers and delivered a “wonderful and incisive statement” which received enthusiastic applause. News of Dowsett’s reception at the event was shared with us by another humanist named Richard who was in attendance – Richard Thain.

Thain, who has his own experience with censors violating his charter right to freedom of expression, was also invited to speak when the event organizers learned that a Humanist Ottawa board member was present:

It is a pleasure to join you for this important event. I was just invited a few minutes ago to say a few words, so I don’t have a prepared statement, but I don’t need a prepared statement to tell you, simply from my heart, how proud I am to stand here, with all of you, ( with a gentle wave toward the audience) in support Leena Manimekalai. And I don’t need a prepared speech to tell you, Leena, how strongly we support artistic freedom and how much we, at Humanist Ottawa, admire your creativity and perseverance, in the face of adversity. (audience actually applauded several times). 

As an historical aside, in 1954, the Humanist Fellowship of Montréal was founded by a man originally from India, Dr R K Mishra, a professor at Universite  de Montréal. This became one of the founding groups of the Humanist Association of Canada in 1968 (now Humanist Canada). 

I drove here from Ottawa, not only to support Leena, but also to oppose those people who have given-in to the “Heckler’s Veto.” People who should know better!

Our Humanist Ottawa president, Robert Hamilton, could not be here this evening, as he is  presently out of the country, but he sends his warm greetings and support. 

Thain also read Humanist Ottawa’s letter to TMU and the leadership of The CERC in Migration and Integration.

According to BlogTO and other mainstream media outlets, the  “sold-outevent, which also featured another of the creative’s films, was sponsored by the Centre for Free Expression, PEN Canada, the Poetic Justice Foundation and other champions of free speech and creative expression as a protest against censorship.

HumanistFreedoms.com congratulates Leena Manimekalai for courage and creativity and all of the individual and organizational supporters who didn’t leave as unchallenged the censors and the un-named (and therefore un-identifiable) offended attempt to stifle the fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://hindutrend.com/images-of-maa-kali-face/
  2. https://humanists.international/2022/08/india-drop-investigations-into-filmmaker/
  3. https://www.blogto.com/film/2022/11/toronto-filmmaker-bombarded-death-threats-gets-revenge/
  4. https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/kaali-film-leena-manimekalai-screening-1.6638601

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.

An Unfulfilled Guarantee: OPEN Update to a Legal Challenge to Public Funding of Catholic Schools in Ontario

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

In January of 2022, HumanistFreedoms.com reported on a human rights challenge to the Province of Ontario’s public-funding of Catholic schools led by an organizations named One Public Education Now (OPEN). Recently, OPEN has sent us an update on their work.


Two members of OPEN are plaintiffs in a Charter of Rights challenge to the current funding of separate schools in Ontario. The lawsuit states the funding of non-Catholics in separate schools and the funding of Grades 11 and 12 are not protected from Charter challenge and violate the s.15(1) guarantee of equal protection and benefit of the law for all religions and beliefs (including beliefs in no religion).


The two plaintiffs are a teacher who cannot obtain a teaching position in one-third of publicly-funded separate schools because she is not Catholic, and a parent whose children must travel an extra 80 minutes per day in order for them to have a non-denominational public education, and not a publicly-funded Catholic education.


The Attorney-General of Ontario has brought a Motion to Dismiss the Application before it even gets to a full hearing. The Motion is scheduled for Friday, November 25, 2022 and we think it will not be successful for various reasons including that the funding of non-Catholics in separate schools has not been ruled on by any court in Ontario. But obviously it means further delay and further expenses. We have already raised over $175,000, but we know we need to raise more. People can find out more on our website, https://open.cripeweb.org/, where they can also donate through secure PayPal or by E-transfer to open@cripeweb.org.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/about/
  2. https://open.cripeweb.org/aboutOpen.html
  3. http://www.cripeweb.org/home.php
  4. https://humanistfreedoms.com/2022/01/19/human-rights-challenge-to-government-funding-of-catholic-schools-in-ontario/

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.

HumanistFreedoms.com Recognized

On November 16, 2022, HumanistFreedoms.com was notified by Feedspot.com that we made their list of the top 15 Humanist blogs on the web. According to the content reader site, HumanistFreedoms.com earned a #10 rating based on: traffic, social media followers, domain authority and freshness.

Feedspot further explains the basis of their rankings as:

  • Relevancy
  • Industry blogs (those not favoring a specific brand) are given higher rank than blogs by individual brands (who often tend to promote their own products).
  • Blog post frequency (freshness)
  • Social media follower counts and engagements
  • Domain authority
  • Age of a blog
  • Alexa Web Traffic Rank, and many other parameters.

Feedspot claims to routinely remove inactive blogs as well as those that aren’t relevant to any given list. Lists are updated as they receive new blog submissions to ensure updated rankings every few weeks.

When notifying us of this honour, Anuj Agarwal (a founder of FeedSpot) said, “I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 15 Humanist Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

Feedspot discovers, categorizes and ranks blogs, podcasts and influencers in several niche categories. We have curated over 250,000 popular blogs and categorized them in more than 5,000 niche categories and industries. With millions of blogs on the web, finding influential, authority and trustworthy bloggers in a niche industry is a hard problem to address. Our experience leads us to believe that a thoughtful combination of both algorithmic and human editing offers the best means of curation.

You may wish to view Feedspot’s top-15 rankings to learn about other leading Humanist blogs that you may find useful or informative.

We thank Anuj Agarwal and the Feedspot team for being recognized in it’s rankings!

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://techsmashers.com/how-to-choose-a-reliable-internet-connection/
  2. https://blog.feedspot.com/about_lists_and_ranking/?_src=menu

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.

Mahsa Amini: The Tragedy that Reminds the World Why Policing Must Be Secular

Image Courtesy Wikipedia

Amidst a set of global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic/epidemic response, the war in Ukraine and the so-called culture wars of right wing versus left wing politics, it is predictable, if not absolutely inevitable, that attention to the ongoing travesties and tragedies of violated fundamental human rights would be reduced.

It seems equally likely that faith-based authoritarians (or for that matter any ideologues) would take advantage of the distracted times to increase their entrenched influence and control.

HumanistFreedoms.com hopes that the distractions of the early 2020’s may finally pass and that secularist organizations may again be relied-upon to focus attention and action upon promoting humanist values and undertaking serious opposition to theocracies and religious police forces.

The tragic death of Mahsa Amini seems like an excellent matter to begin with.

Humanists International (Excerpts below from HI Sept 28, 2022)

In a statement made during the General Debate segment of the 51st UN Human Rights Council, Humanists International’s Advocacy Officer, Lillie Ashworth, responded to the recent murder in custody of 22-year old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini. Amini had been arrested by Iran’s “morality police” on 13 September for wearing her hijab “improperly”. She was accused of being in violation of Iran’s discriminatory compulsory veiling laws which require girls from the age of 9 to cover their hair completely. As several UN independent experts stated in the days following her death, there is evidence that Amini had been beaten and subjected to torture while in the custody of Iran’s theocratic regime. The Iranian police have claimed that she had suffered a stroke and a heart attack.

Ashworth’s statement reminded Iran that “compulsory veiling is a human rights violation, and that appeals to religious morality can never be used to police women’s choices, or to invalidate their equal dignity and worth.”

Since Amini’s murder, there has been widespread protests in Iran and around the world. In Iran, crackdowns by the theocratic state has resulted in further faith-based beatings and murders.

Religious Police

At this time, seven nations have formalized and explicitly-designated religious police: Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. These are a dirty seven which should be under international scrutiny and pressure to discontinue faith-based policing – a practice that is nothing other than state violation of fundamental human rights.

HumanistFreedoms.com looks forward to observing whether Canadian (in particular) and global humanist, atheist, secularist organizations join Humanist International in a re-focus on issues of this scope and type. We feel certain that there are still many other women, girls and families who might appreciate the kind of help from the international community that might have saved Mahsa Amini’s life.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: ttps://www.smh.com.au/world/acehs-religious-police-crack-down-on-tight-jeans-20100526-weap.html
  2. https://humanists.international/2022/09/at-un-humanists-international-calls-for-justice-following-murder-of-mahsa-amini/

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.

Philosophy Now Issue 152: God and the Philosophers

Back in the summer of 2020, we brought Issue 138 of Philosophy Now to HumanistFreedoms.com readers’ attention as we thought that the issue’s Table of Contents offers a number of great articles, including a feature section on religion and secularism. The periodical’s website appears to allow complimentary viewing of up to four articles per month.

This month, Issue 152 God and the Philosophers appears to be similarly thought-provoking:

God and the Philosophers

by Rick Lewis

Excerpt:

“Is there a God?” has been a central philosophical question since the earliest times. Don’t roll your eyes! These arguments should interest you too, and I’ll try to explain why.

The Philosophy Now editorial team includes both humanists and religious believers, but we agree that questions about God are tied up with a whole series of philosophical concerns of the deepest and most personal kind – questions which keep honest folk awake at night. How should we live our lives? How should we treat one another? What’s the point of it all? What happens when we die? Where did this world come from? Some say that the idea of God arises from our need to answer such questions. Others retort that without God we’d never have had the wit to ask such questions in the first place. The questions are difficult and the question of whether God exists – and what we mean by God – particularly so, which is why Benedict O’Connell’s agnostic article on ‘God and Humility’ is well worth a read.

The Ontological Argument Revisited

Peter Mullen explores the argument that by definition, God exists.

God & Humility

Benedict O’Connell argues we must recognise our limitations about knowing God.

Deism: Traditional & Contemporary

Robert Griffiths looks into an anti-religion, pro-God way of thinking.

How Theology Pre-Empts Philosophy

Tony McKenna relates how theology beat philosophy to fundamental metaphysics.

A Theological Self

Stuart Hannabuss journeys into the human condition with Søren Kierkegaard.

Faith & An Unreliable God

Patrick Wilson argues that it’s irrational to trust an untrustworthy God.

Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Kate Taylor recalls a ‘humanist’ classic by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Excerpt:

Sartre makes two basic claims – firstly that God is dead and this has consequences for the way we live; and secondly that all claims about humanity and the world must begin with human experience. Given these two claims, Sartre concludes that ‘existence precedes essence’. What he means by this is that human beings are without any pre-existing purpose or ‘essence’ which is not of their own making….In a post-God world, only human beings can choose what to make of their existence. Sartre in fact says that we are ‘condemned to be free’. Our freedom is a condemnation because we cannot escape having to choose, nor escape the responsibility that comes from having that capacity. We cannot deny the weighty responsibility that accompanies our freedom to will as we choose.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://philosophynow.org/issues/152

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.

Elected Office(s) and the Catholic School System in Ontario: A Match Made In…

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

There’s something about elected office(s) and democracy that doesn’t quite match-up well with religious prerequisites. The concepts are fundamentally opposed. Elected office and democracy puts the leadership selection process in the hands of the people that the system is intended to serve while religious prerequisites place the selection process in the hands of religious authorities, regardless of who may be within that system. That seems fairly obvious doesn’t it?

Canadian media outlets have recently reported the outcome of a legal case wherein an Ontario student sued the York Catholic District School Board after having been barred from running for elected office within the school system. It seems that Dasha Kandaharian, an Orthodox Christian (i.e. not a Roman Catholic), was not allowed to run for student trustee at the high school she attended because of that sectarian difference.

Media stories have referred to the case as a “landmark” – which it undoubtedly is. The decision undoubtedly addresses the situation faced by thousands of non-Catholic students who have attended publicly-funded Catholic schools in the past (clearly, Kandaharian was not he first and only student to be barred from the elected office) – and the thousands more who may do so in the future.

What the media have not (that we can find) spent much time in considering is where the Catholic School Board(s) of Ontario may have gotten this notion that a sectarian religious prerequisite for elected office is an acceptable thing.

Perhaps a peek at the Ontario Municipal & School Board Elections (2022) webstie might offer some perspective. The “Become A Trustee” page clearly states:

A person is qualified to be elected as a school board trustee if the person is qualified to vote in a school board election and is a resident of the school board district.

When filing a nomination a candidate must meet all of the following requirements:

  • a resident within the jurisdiction of the board;
  • a supporter of the board (“supporter” refers to the individual’s support for one of the four publicly funded school systems. A list of supporters for each system is kept by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation);
  • a Canadian citizen;
  • at least 18 years old;
  • Roman Catholic (if running for a Catholic school board);
  • not legally prohibited from voting; and
  • not disqualified by any legislation from holding school board office.

Note: A candidate, if nominated, must remain qualified throughout the election and, if elected, throughout the term of office. The term of office is 4 years. School board candidates should confirm that they have the qualifications described here and in section 219 of the Education Act. It is the responsibility of the candidate to determine whether he or she is qualified to be elected to and hold office.

In case you’re interested, Section 219 of the Education Act doesn’t seem to actually bear the qualification that we’ve bolded in the language above. Perhaps the argument is implicit or explicit in some other section of the Act. But for the moment, we can skip over that murky inconsistency and observe that the York Catholic District School Board (and any other publicly funded Catholic School Board) appears merely to have been applying the same criteria to the selection and election of Student Trustees as the Government of Ontario appears to tolerate for the selection and election of School Board Trustees.

Well, this landmark court decision rather brings to question whether what’s good for the goose (students) may also be good for the gander (adult politicians).

So let us consider, in the spirit of taking note of landmarks, an entirely fictional scenario: a hypothetical Secular Humanist who happens to be a (legally defined) ‘supporter’ of the Catholic School system in their area decides that they would like to be Board Trustee of that system. Regardless of how they might fare in an open election – how well do you imagine this hypothetical individual might fare in the qualification screening process?

Here is a separate and perhaps more fundamental question: Can you imagine any other elected office in a 21st-century democratic country named Canada where membership in a religious sect would be accepted as a pre-requisite condition?

And here, in an un-related way, is an observation from our recent Preamble, schmeable article:

Did you notice that the US Supreme Court Judges who turned against Roe v Wade are all Catholic? Well, according to Catholic News Agency, they appear to be. A coincidence, no doubt.

Clearly, religious sectarian membership and elected/selected public office in a contemporary democracy is a match made in….

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of
  2. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2022/10/13/teen-wins-landmark-case-against-york-catholic-school-board-heres-what-it-could-mean-for-others.html
  3. https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/10741916-teen-wins-landmark-case-against-york-catholic-district-school-board/
  4. https://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/BecomeATrustee/

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.

esSENCE Global: The World’s Biggest Atheist Meet in “God’s Own Country”

When was the last time there was a meeting of Secular Humanists in Canada, or indeed all of North America which could proudly affirm 10,000 attendees? Or even 5,000? The Reason Rally website (as of October 5, 2022) appears to still have branding from 2016 and proclaims “The Reason Rally is proud to have hosted the two largest gatherings to celebrate secular identity and speak up for reason in American history.” Despite a bit of mis-place modifier action going-on in that proclamation, we can take it that things were still happening in 2016.

In Canada, the most recent iteration of the Imagine No Religion conference (INR7) was held in Toronto during the summer of 2017. We remember it fondly as HumanistFreedoms.com stands as a product of friendships developed and sustained at that time.

Time has indeed passed and one must only wonder if it isn’t perhaps time for Secular Humanists in North America to look around and take stock. Where is everybody? Where is that solidarity to promote reason and secular values?

Maybe it’s also time to take note of undertakings on other continents.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The first edition of Litmus, the annual meet of esSENSE Global, was held in Thiruvananthapuram, India, in Oct 2018. The next one was held in Kozhikode in 2019. Litmus is noted for all round participation from the secular-atheist community and the general public in the state of Kerala. Expatriate Malayalees also participate in this annual event in large numbers.

According to TheNewsMinute.com, “Around 10,000 people gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Kadavanthara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on October 2, Sunday, to attend an annual meet named ‘Litmus 22’, pitched as “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country’”.

‘Let evidence lead’ is the motto of Litmus and stated on the event website that:

No pompous fanfare by parading of caparisoned elephants through packed streets.
No vengeful god with their inherent fury or priests with their greedy interests.
No eardrum shattering high decibel fireworks or loudspeakers.

Instead, this session entails a celebration that promotes the advancement of humanity through enhancing scientific temper and freethinking as per article 51 a(h) of the constitution of India.

esSENSE GLOBAL is a registered organization under the Registrar of Societies, Government of Kerala, India with ‘ESSENSE CLUB GLOBAL’ as the registered name. Via internet, social and printed media the organization is known as esSENSE GLOBAL.

The goal of esSENSE GLOBAL is to promote the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform in the society inspired by the Article 51 A (h) of Constitution of India which insists “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. esSENSE GLOBAL strives to liberate the society of Kerala from religious and secular superstitions, dogmas and intellectual bondage. Unbiased freethinking is the stand we espouse without flinch. esSENSE Global always holds the view that Kerala society requires a real handshake with science and its methodology so as to advance to the next level of human civilization. When we defend science, in fact, we defend our civilization.

esSENSE GLOBAL organizes Seminars, Study classes, Panel discussions, Presentations, Debates, Aid missions throughout the state of Kerala to spread the ideas and values mentioned above. All programs are recorded and published in YouTube and social media.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://essenseglobal.com/about-us/
  2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/around-10000-people-attend-atheist-meet-kerala-168536

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.

Kaali: The Short-sightedness of Censors

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Following Humanists International‘s expression of deep concern regarding what it has called “the judicial harassment of poet and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai“, Humanist Ottawa has issued a letter to the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration, Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou.

In the letter, Humanist Ottawa President Robert Hamilton expressed the organization’s “deep concern for the egregious actions taken by CERC Migration and Integration and Toronto Metropolitan University against filmmaker Leena Manimekalia and her short artistic film, “Kaali.

Image Courtesy of Humanist Ottawa

Humanist Ottawa asserted that CERC “asserted a privileged position of your organization over a person of colour and a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community – in glaring opposition to your own stated values of diversity, equity and inclusion. As well, these action unequivocally contravened Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights supporting freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Manimekalai, who has previously identified as bi-sexual, had been selected to produce a creative piece on multiculturalism in Canada as part of the national level academic programme ‘Under the Tent’ organized by CERC Migration – Toronto Metropolitan University. The film, ‘Kaali’ was launched at the Aga Khan Museum on July 2, 2022.

The documentary film documents Manimekalai in the guise of the Hindu goddess Kali wandering the streets of Toronto at night during a pride festival. Manimekalai observes groups of people out on the town, riding the subway, stopping at a bar, taking selfies with members of the public, and sharing a cigarette with a man on a park bench.

Humanist Ottawa pointed out in their letter to Dr. Triandafyllidou that CERC’s actions “directly empowered others who have disseminated hate speech posters and other social media advocating violence and death against Leena Manimekalai. Your actions have cause the perpetration of flagrant injustice and have forced Leena to take steps to protect her safety.”

Maintaining an intent to promote diversity and inclusive values, Maimekalai was quoted in the New Indian Express as saying: “Kaali, the film is all about choosing love and championing humanity. Trolls who are witch-hunting me are fueled by hate. They have nothing to do with faith. If they are patient enough to watch the film they might choose love. But that’s exactly why they want the film to be banned.”

Taking aim at CERC’s status as a federally-funded status, Robert Hamilton also wrote, “In addition, your acquiescent public apology to vague assertions of offence were not only short sighted, but were indeed corrosive to individual freedoms that Canadians cherish and have fought to preserve including the freedom to express artistic and religious idea.

Finally, you took quick actions against the filmmaker without due consideration to the foreseeably dangerous consequences that could ensue. This speaks to a failure in judgement and accountability unworthy of a federally-funded program and an institution of higher learning. Canadians deserve and expect better than this.

On 4 July, the High Commission of India in Ottawa issued a statement calling on the Canadian authorities and event organizers to withdraw her film. Her film was subsequently withdrawn and her name removed from the ‘Under the Tent’ programme by Toronto Metropolitan University, while Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum host to a screening of her film apologized for any offence caused by the film.In India, a de facto ‘blasphemy’ provision , Section 295A of the IPC allows up to three years imprisonment for “whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a class.”

To date, CERC does not appear to have provided any public statement of how it may plan to take accountability for its contributions to the risks faced by Manimekalai. Humanist Ottawa provided some expectations from the perspective of the organization’s inclusive humanist values:

Accordingly, we therefore urge you to:

  • Promptly express a public apology to the filmmaker, Leena Manimekalai
  • Publicly articulate support for the legal, free expression of thoughts and ideas
  • Financially compensate the filmmaker for the pain and suffering that she continues to endure
  • Financially underwrite all expenses needed to ensure the safety and security of the filmmaker

HumanistFreedoms.com encourages you to share your perspective on this situation with Dr. Triandafyllidou by writing a letter of your own – and by commenting in this post.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://hindutrend.com/images-of-maa-kali-face/
  2. https://humanists.international/2022/08/india-drop-investigations-into-filmmaker/

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.

Kaali: Choose Love and Champion Humanity

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 Humanists International website and in several online publications.

Humanists International is deeply concerned to learn of the judicial harassment of poet and filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, who is currently facing accusations of “hurting religious sentiments” in connection with her latest documentary short ‘Kaali’.

Leena Manimekalai – a published poet and award-winning filmmaker, who is studying for an MFA in Canada – was selected to produce a creative piece on multiculturalism in Canada as part of the national level academic programme ‘Under the Tent’ organized by CERC Migration – Toronto Metropolitan University. Her project, ‘Kaali’ was launched at Aga Khan Museum on 2 July 2022.

The short film shows the Hindu goddess Kali wandering the streets of Toronto at night during a pride festival, observing groups of people out on the town, riding the subway, stopping at a bar, taking selfies with members of the public, and sharing a cigarette with a man on a park bench. The poster for the film shows Kaali – played by Manimekalai – smoking, holding an LGBTI+ flag.

She is quoted in the New Indian Express as saying: “Kaali, the film is all about choosing love and championing humanity. Trolls who are witch-hunting me are fueled by hate. They have nothing to do with faith. If they are patient enough to watch the film they might choose love. But that’s exactly why they want the film to be banned.”

Manimekalai announces the screening of her film ‘Kaali’ on social media

Since sharing the poster which went viral on social media, Manimekalai has faced a barrage of death threats, a campaign of harassment on social media – with the hashtag #arrestleenamanimekalai trending on Twitter India – and legal complaints filed against her by right-wing Hindu nationalists in India.

On 4 July, the High Commission of India in Ottawa issued a statement calling on the Canadian authorities and event organizers to withdraw her film. Her film was subsequently withdrawn and her name removed from the ‘Under the Tent’ programme by Toronto Metropolitan University, while Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum host to a screening of her film apologized for any offence caused by the film.

Speaking to The Hindu, Manimekalai stated, “My intention is not to provoke. […] By succumbing to fundamentalist elements, Toronto Metropolitan University and Aga Khan Museum have compromised on academic and artistic freedom.

To date, Manimekalai is aware of at least nine First Information Reports (FIR) – an official legal complaint that initiates a police investigation – filed with local authorities in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Madhya Pradesh. The petitioners allege that Manimekalai has breached a range of laws, including Article 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

de facto ‘blasphemy’ provision, Section 295A of the IPC allows up to three years imprisonment for “whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a class.”

In addition, a court in Delhi has reportedly issued a summons for Manimekalai and her company to appear in court on 6 August in connection with a civil complaint filed against her.

Humanists International fears that filmmaker Leena Manimekalai is being targeted for her peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of religion or belief and expression. The organization calls on the Indian authorities to drop all investigations relating to the film, and to repeal its ‘blasphemy’ laws.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://hindutvawatch.org/film-maker-leena-manimekalai-gets-alleged-death-threat-from-rss-the-siasat-daily/
  2. https://humanists.international/2022/08/india-drop-investigations-into-filmmaker/

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.