Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Persecution - Overt/Subtle

In a posting earlier today about Said Musa, a Christian in Afghanistan, that is clearly being persecuted for his Christian faith, I intentionally made a concluding comment as follows:
Persecution of Christians, Catholic or Protestant, takes many forms. This is the most overt form, though the criticism that fundamentalist Christians level against Catholics and their faith is little different, just not as violent.

It has the same root cause, ignorance, and the determination to be right at the expense of others freedoms and beliefs.
My comment begat a particular response from Small Town Guy over at Father Tim Moyle's blog where I put a link to it, as I expected it would. It became all about him, and about his excuses for behaviour that is unpleasant at least, persecution at worst. 

I have been contending for some time that systematic highjacking of a Catholic blog by a fundamentalist claiming to be a Christian, wherein he makes fatuous claims about the Catholic Church, quoting his interpretation of the Bible, as well as presenting as fact the writings of Lorraine Boettner, Jack Chick, and now even Avro Manhattan, is a form of persecution.

Well, as expected STG has his own take on it as follows:
Unfortunately Michael sees any comments which are critical of RC teaching, doctrines, or the dark side of RC history as "persecution" and brands it as persecution of the same kind as the tragic real persecution of christians as in this article, only without the violence.

I don't think he really understands freedom of speech or the meaning of the word persecution if he throws the word around so easily. I could ask if he thinks it was right or persecution for a Danish newspaper to publish cartoons of Islam's prophet with a bomb tied to his headcloth?

If one believes in freedom of speech for himself, he should be willing to allow others to have the same right even if he disagrees with the comments, without crying persecution. Can he disagree? Yes of course.
Well, let's see if STG has grounds for his response.  Let's start with the definition of persecution.  Persecution means:
1. To oppress or harass with ill-treatment, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs.

2. To annoy persistently; bother.
Now, if I go on to a fundamentalist blog, and participate in a dialogue on equal footing with those there on say, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, where I express Catholic teaching as documented, and accept that that is not what our Protestant brothers and sisters believe, then there is not likely any persecution in that.  Difference of opinion is not persecution.

If however, I go to their blog site, and consistently hijack postings about topic A and turn them into my own fatuous ramblings about the truth of the Bible, and how those there don't get it, maybe we are moving into another arena, the arena of persecution.

That is ill treatment in my humble opinion, based solely on religion, and it also fits definition two, as I am both bothered by it and find it annoying with persistence.  Persecution has less to do with the persecutor than it does with the one or ones being persecuted.  I have very little credibility to say I am not persecuting you, whereas you as the recipient of my venom are the only one who can readily determine if persecution has occurred.

STG threw in the "freedom of speech" thing.  In other words, it is his humble opinion that he can say whatever he wants because in this country (both Canada and the USA) we have laws that protect freedom of speech.

That would be a good point if that were all there is.  With freedom of speech comes responsibility for the speech that we communicate.  But, if you cannot police yourself, in Canada, we have the Canadian Human Rights Act, and similar law in each of the provinces and territories.  The Canadian Act has a section, Section 13, that deals with abuse of free speech as follows:
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.


(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.
So, here's the deal.  If I consider that STG has been exposing Father Tim, and all Catholics who hang out at his blog, to hatred or contempt on the grounds of religious discrimination, I have the freedom to file a claim with the Canadian HRC.  By the way, I can file a claim with the Canadian Human Rights Commission even if I personally do not feel injured by his ramblings.

In reality, I am also free to not read what he writes, and to ignore it for what it is.  So, usually as soon as I see that he has written a comment on the blog, I move right past it, after checking for key words.  That is the higher ground.  It does not make what he is doing any less of a persecution, but it is a higher ground, and really the one we as Christians are called to. 

Of course, we as Christians are also not called to pretend that we are more righteous than others of God's children, but that's another story.

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