Friday, August 26, 2011

Raelian Madness at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

A copy of this blog post has been sent to Jeff Poirier, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Human Rights Commission. No reply.

In 1973, while wandering through the woods of France, race-car driver Claude Vorilhon encountered a UFO.  This inspired him to found Raelism.  According to the organization's website, the UFO occupants informed Raël (Vorilhon's cult name) that life on Earth was scientifically created by extraterrestrials.  The organization is currently looking for land on which to build an embassy for these visitors from space.

Among other things, Wikipedia tell us that Raëlians boast liberal views of sexuality which are shared by women who make up a significant number of the organization. These women are strong advocates of refinement and erotic sensualism, and participate in groups such as Raël's Girls and the Order of Angels. An off-shoot organization is the Raël Happiness Academy. On their own website, they describe themselves as a cult.

In November 2006, an Ontario school board hired three members of the Canadian branch of this group to provide "emotional pedagogy" training for its teachers. The cult delivered such sessions through their Academy of Pleasurology and Emotional Intelligence. Two months later, the board did some research and decided to end the contract.

The usual course of action would be a court action for breach of contract. But no, the Raëlians appealed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. On December 15, 2010, tribunal vice-president Michelle Flaherty ruled Raëlism to be a religion, despite the fact they claim to be atheists, and that the board in breaching the contract had discriminated against them the basis of their beliefs. It was not revealed how much the board was ordered to pay the aggrieved party. The OHRC is famous for over-the-top financial awards.

As for Michelle Flaherty, the OHR Tribunal website offers a biography indicating no experience in religious matters. Yet, her authority allows her to declare a religion what common sense and the plaintiff's website tell us is a sex organization with beliefs in matters extraterrestrial. According to the Toronto Star, "Raëlians consider themselves as atheists, but believe scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all life."

On August 26, comes news that this cult is involved with a proposal for women to march topless through a city park. In the belief that this promotes sexual equality, the men of the cult will wear bikini tops. Google Raelian sensual meditation.

The more one reads about Raelism, the more mind boggling the Flaherty decision becomes. Did she even check their website? Yet again, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and its Big Brother Commission stand on the wrong aside of common sense. How much longer must Ontario taxpayers support this nonsense?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Medieval" a Pejorative?

A quick summary of some of the massacres, slaughters and ethic cleansing in the twentieth century:

1.5 million Armenians (1915-23); 7 million Ukrainians (1930s); 6 million Jews (1933-45); 2 million Chinese (1937-45), 30 million (1966-76) and  6-8 million in Chinese slave camps; 250,000 Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945); 2 million Nigerian Ibos (1967-70); 1.5 million Cambodians (1975-79); 150,000 Iraqi Kurds (1988); 200,000 Bosnian Muslims (1994); 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis (1994); 200,000 East Timorese (1967-96); 500,000 Ugandans under Idi Amin Dada (1971-1979) etc.

Compared to these numbers, civilians killed during the Middle Ages would today be "collateral damage." Dare we use the word medieval as a pejorative?

To describe something as backward, murderous, torturous or insane, better to say, "It is so twentieth century."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

McLuhan's Message

Letter published in the Toronto Star, July 22, 2011

Re The fall and rise of Marshall McLuhan, Opinion, July 20:

Philip Marchand neatly encapsulates Marshall McLuhan's message: "With understanding, there is no such thing as inevitability."

Visual symbols are media techniques designed to paralyse the mind, McLuhan warned. In his first book, The Mechanical Bride, he instructs us how to read, study and understand 60 advertisements. It is a source of strength if we are aware of, and understand how, media attempt to manipulate us.

From this, we can each develop personal strategies for dealing with the messages that constantly bombard us. My former professor's reaction to all this was amusement.