I listen to the CBC, and for that I am sorry.
My grandfather kept the station on all day long, and the frequent visits of my early youth were tinged with the gently monotonous opinions of future Canadian Governors General. My mother also listened to the CBC, though not as much, but during my teen years the quiet drone of Canada's most well funded social engineering firm was never very far away.
As an adult I suffer a love/hate relationship with the CBC. During the Chretien era, I chafed at the lack of anything that could be considered a second opinion ... anything that could challenge a Prime Minister who was eventually forced to endure a nearly decade long media honeymoon. The poor bastard had to go well out of his way to anger them (have you ever tried to choke a reporter?) and even then his successes were minor. Later, during the rise of Harper, the obvious bias made me wonder if perhaps the CBC had been taking lessons from FOX ... but later I realized the lessons in population manipulation were heading south, not north. Today they have settled nicely into their role as Canada's Bible Channel, and I am glad they are comfy in their golden years.
This blog post is not about the CBC, but it should be. If ever they decide to take up journalism as a vocation, I can assure them we Canadians will welcome them with open arms. I say that because I am finding it hard to forgive our semi-public broadcaster. They recently allowed the leader of a National political party to make a staggeringly bigoted statement on one of their daytime radio shows, and the statement has, to date, gone entirely unchallenged.
Hint to the CBC: If a national leader makes a comment that unfairly disparages a major percentage of the population, it is the role of a journalist, or of the corporation claiming to be practicing journalism, to ask them why. You didn't.
“Secular slash selfish”
What does that mean? To find out, let's play a game, shall we? We'll place different words in the slot secular occupies and see what it tells us.
Female slash selfish – That seems a bit nasty, eh? Let's try another ...
Male slash selfish – Not much better. Another ...
Religious slash selfish – <No Comment> Hmmm ...
This is taking too long. How about I just list a whole slew of words, and you go ahead and do the work of replacing one for the other in your head. Ready?
Black, white, oriental, native, rich, poor, ugly, beautiful, blond, brunette, Republican ...
Jeez. It seems whoever said that is not very nice, eh? Time for the reveal then. Please consider the next few lines to be addressed to Elizabeth May, leader of Canada's Green party.
Hello Elizabeth, Michael Leamy here.
Sorry for the roundabout means to get your attention, but I sent you a note a while back asking you to clarify the statement, a tweet as well, and so far you've not responded. I must admit I am sorry to see that, as I know placing such a huge portion of humanity into the moral dustbin was never your intent ... right?
In case you've forgotten, you made the statement “secular slash selfish” on February 27th, during a CBC panel discussion, in the context of the problem of growing religious fundamentalism and why people might become radicalized. Specifically you said people are tired of “secular slash selfish” society.
Let me tell you what I, an atheist, and one of those selfish secularists you mention, is tired of.
I am tired of those who believe in magic killing those who do not. I am tired of those who have granted themselves power through magical means taking away the rights of those who simply want to live their lives in peace. I am tired of the leaders of the magically minded threatening the welfare and safety of those who do not believe in magic through laws and worse. And most of all, I am tired of the leaders of political parties normalizing that bigotry against those who do not believe in magic ... as you have just done with that statement.
I am so tired of all of those thing Elizabeth, that I've spent the last few years of my life working with like minded selfish people ... I mean secularists ... to try and bring humanity closer to the real world. We have no problem with those who want to believe in magic, but we are moral people, and we simply cannot stand back and remain silent while those who worship magicians and wizards carry out outrageous and inhumane acts against humanity. After all, a species that wants to survive must protect itself from dangers both external and internal, is that not correct?
So, before I drag this note to the length of a novella, I will simply ask that you let us know you had no intention of deliberately marginalizing the last safe demographic to ridicule slash kill. Let us know it was an accident. All of those atheists of the world currently fearing for their lives might not hear about it, but those of us who are allowed to openly communicate with the outside world will, and we'll pass along the sentiment.
Thank you for your time, and good luck in your quest to become a Minister of the Anglican Church. I myself am an ordained atheist Minister, and I can assure you the title is a most empowering and satisfying one to have earned.
Sincerely, Michael Leamy.
For anyone who is curious, below is the text of the note I sent to her.
“Yesterday during a CBC panel discussion, while discussing religious fundamentalism, you used the phrase "secular/selfish." From that statement, broadcast nationally I should add, it would seem you are equating being secular with being selfish.
As an author and activist, working with organizations across the globe to protect atheists and secularists from religious persecution, I would appreciate of a response from you. Atheists die every day at the hands of the religious, and your statement was both chilling in its casual delivery, and sounded far too familiar to a person who openly lives without the gods.
Thank you for your time.”
So there it is. I got all huffy because Elizabeth let me see a bit more of herself than I suspect she meant. So what. It's not as if this is something that can affect me, right?
I wish that were true.
During those aforementioned teen years of mine, I would watch Canadian news conferences on the TV. Big 20” screens showing Mulrooney or Turner, standing in the middle of a group of reporters doing a typical Canadian scrum. They talked about all the things history has recorded. Free trade deals. Unemployment. Healthcare and the economy. Back then there was still just one economy, so news on banking or interest rates still applied somewhat to the middle class.
Once the scrum was finished, no matter how flustered the politician was, you could usually count on a kurt “thank you” before they left for Caucus, rushing importantly through the halls of Parliament. No more. Now we have a podium, flags, and a person could be forgiven if they thought they were watching an American Presidential news conference. They are nearly identical ... right down to the blessing at the end.
A lot of people have forgotten. Stephen Harper started the ball rolling with his blessing of the nation at the end of every media release. He began the job of normalizing his Christian god in our political spheres, and a decade later what has it gotten us? Politicians who are now openly stating they don't believe in evolution. A government that hates science of any sort, and proves the point by cutting funding to almost every major scientific field we once led in, especially those sciences that in any way touch on climate change. He has killed our census, thus blinding our population in its efforts to understand itself, and he has even created a new, religion based government agency.
The Office of Religious Freedoms.
Because ... why, exactly?
Is it to protect religion from criticism? Is it going to protect them from atheist terrorists like me ... sorry, I forgot to mention activists in Canada are now terrorists according to the government ... or is it simply another way to funnel government money towards religious leaders. Who knows. The 'Office' is never heard from in the media, and the CBC spent almost zero time debating the rationality of creating an arm of government specifically for religion.
Suddenly Elizabeth making a slur against non-religious Canadians, some of whom would have certainly voted for her, and the CBC not even noticing, makes more sense. She did nothing that hasn't already been sanctioned by the growing normalization of god in the halls of power. Parliament has become infused with Christian love, and like so much Christian love from so many other lands, once Christians start loving you, watch out. Especially you atheists.
Atheists are secular slash selfish after all, eh?