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» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » Dead Horses: Am I an extremist now? (Page 11)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: Dead Horses: Am I an extremist now?
LeRoc

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# 3216

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quote:
Steve Langton: I'm in two minds myself about the subject of that item, 'prayer rooms' in airports. I guess it's impractical to supply independent rooms for every possible belief and philosophy, but it does seem reasonable to provide in minimal form such a facility for those who might need it. Perhaps it should be more neutrally described as a "Quiet room for meditation and/or prayer".
I thought most were already called Ecumenical Prayer / Meditation Room, or something like that?

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Penny S
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There's one in my local shopping centre, which includes separate washing facilities for Muslims and (I think) Hindus. I have used it myself on occasions when I needed a bit of quiet, and I would have found such material as that man left in the airport room very offensive. If it had been simple stuff explaining the reasons for atheism, no problem, but what he left was deliberately offensive.

Which being said, I found the comment in the visitors' book from a Muslim stating that there was a need for a separate women's prayer room offensive, as well. Why not a separate prayer room for men who didn't want to share the shared space with women, if that was a problem?

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
It does seem implicit in such a facility that one shouldn't leave in it stuff such as the atheist did in this case, which very overtly insults potential users who hold other views; plural society implies I and other users shouldn't find it offensive that a Quran is supplied, or other faith's scriptures/prayer books, or people find it offensive that a Bible is made available in such a case.

This is one of the basic assumptions behind hate speech laws: what is "offensive" can be easily determined and universally agreed upon. Unfortunately that's not the case. You may feel that the Bible and Quran are inherently inoffensive and that atheist pamphlets universally offend, but that is not a universally held view.

In practice, enforcement of hate speech laws is dependent upon the sensitivities of the audience, which effectively limits speech to only that which is considered inoffensive by the most easily offended. They also tend to protect popular opinions and suppress unpopular ones. Something along the lines of "my scriptures are inoffensive, but his pamphlet/preaching is insulting".

quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
Which being said, I found the comment in the visitors' book from a Muslim stating that there was a need for a separate women's prayer room offensive, as well. Why not a separate prayer room for men who didn't want to share the shared space with women, if that was a problem?

Are you certain that the comment didn't come from a Muslim woman who didn't want share space with men?

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
This is one of the basic assumptions behind hate speech laws: what is "offensive" can be easily determined and universally agreed upon. Unfortunately that's not the case.

There is indeed a long and inglorious history associated with trying to define what is "offensive", "obscene" and so on, and we really don't have a better answer than "I know it when I see it."

That being said, common courtesy would seem to imply some fairly obvious guidelines associated with, for example, an airport multi-faith prayer/meditation room, which is that it must be fine to leave devotional books and materials, guides on how to meditate in a particular way, commentaries on religious texts by members of that religion and so on, in modest quantities.

It must not be fine to leave "attack ads". So books on atheist meditation and atheist mindfulness are fine; books on "why the Bible is a myth" are not.

Basically, courteous use of such a space requires it to be neutral ground, with no overt proselytizing allowed.

Mr. Taylor is clearly a boor. It does not seem to me that a single act of leaving offensive images should reach the bar of criminality. (Although a prolonged campaign of such might be harassment.)

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Steve Langton
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by Croesos;

quote:
You may feel that the Bible and Quran are inherently inoffensive and that atheist pamphlets universally offend, but that is not a universally held view.
Not at all what I said. The atheist pamphlets described in the original link were clearly intended to be outright offensive; I can well imagine serious atheist pamphlets or other literature which I would profoundly disagree with but which would be 'offensive' only in their disagreement, not in going, in effect, out of their way to offend.

The content of Bibles, the Quran and similar materials is well known - neutrally providing them in a general 'prayer room' for the use of the respective believers is not in the same league as what this atheist was reported to have done.

The important issue here is that what people find 'offensive' is indeed not universally agreed or indeed 'agreeable-upon' because different people consider different things offensive depending on their different beliefs. Once people get into the situation where "What might be offensive?" becomes more important than "What is (or at least might be) actually true?" this is entering very dangerous territory - the kind of territory in which the rabble-rousers and the supposedly 'offended' may win and the truth may very much lose. The 'blasphemy laws' of the distorted form of Christianity known as 'Christendom' were a pretty good example of the problem - are you sure you want to go there...?

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Penny S
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Langton:
It does seem implicit in such a facility that one shouldn't leave in it stuff such as the atheist did in this case, which very overtly insults potential users who hold other views; plural society implies I and other users shouldn't find it offensive that a Quran is supplied, or other faith's scriptures/prayer books, or people find it offensive that a Bible is made available in such a case.

This is one of the basic assumptions behind hate speech laws: what is "offensive" can be easily determined and universally agreed upon. Unfortunately that's not the case. You may feel that the Bible and Quran are inherently inoffensive and that atheist pamphlets universally offend, but that is not a universally held view.

In practice, enforcement of hate speech laws is dependent upon the sensitivities of the audience, which effectively limits speech to only that which is considered inoffensive by the most easily offended. They also tend to protect popular opinions and suppress unpopular ones. Something along the lines of "my scriptures are inoffensive, but his pamphlet/preaching is insulting".

quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
Which being said, I found the comment in the visitors' book from a Muslim stating that there was a need for a separate women's prayer room offensive, as well. Why not a separate prayer room for men who didn't want to share the shared space with women, if that was a problem?

Are you certain that the comment didn't come from a Muslim woman who didn't want share space with men?

No, I can't now be certain of that (can't remember the name that went with it). However, when the room is to be shared with members of other faiths who do not expect separate spaces, the assumption would be that women could be about in the main room, and I would have thought that a Muslim woman would have thought of that. Good point though.
I felt at the time, however, that the idea was to push me out somewhere else. I thought a lot about how I would react if I were in there when a Muslim man came in and was obviously uncomfortable. I suspect that the room would have been used mostly by Muslims working at the centre. Most of the comments at the time were from Muslims - there was an argument about the direction of the qiblah, with people taking on the imam concerned. (If people were using compasses in their mats, they would have had a false result, as the floor slabs were iron rich rock.)
I think there was, implicit in the structure of the comment, that it wasn't from a woman. I would have expected something identifying the writer as the person who would like to take advantage of a separate space, and I don't think it was there.
It was some time ago, though, and I don't feel I should go back and check. It would be the chaplain's job to sort it out.

[ 27. August 2015, 10:01: Message edited by: Penny S ]

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