Barbara Kay at the National Post in Canada has had enough of atheists and their victimhood issues as noted in yesterday's "Full Comment" section. In response to a complaint filed by atheist Ashu Solo in which a dinner blessing by a councillor at the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan volunteer appreciation dinner made Solo feel "like a second class citizen," Kay reams him out, as well as every other atheist in North America–or possibly, the world. First, a little sarcasm to start the conversation:
Don’t you feel sorry for atheists? They’re so downtrodden. They can’t catch a break. People are always saying to them, “Oh sorry, no, you can’t apply for this job. You should have told me right off the bat that you didn’t believe in God!” When they get on buses, they’re directed to the back with disdain. Their kids are bullied in school.
When they go to fine restaurants, the maître d’ looks right past them or puts them at the table next to the kitchen.
They’re social pariahs. Their voices are chilled in the public forum of ideas. No mainstream media outlet dares to arouse their Christian readers’ ire by printing their views. Really, it’s a national scandal how frequently and with what cruel indifference atheists are denied their Charter rights and are so marginalized in Canadian society. It’s time we mounted a –
Brrrring! Oh, sorry, my alarm just went off. Just when I was in the middle of a hilarious dream about atheists needing their own civil rights movement.
Then, on to the main course of dripping antipathy:
Let’s see, what’s in the news today? Oh, what a coincidence. Here’s atheist Ashu Solo from Saskatoon, a member of that city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee, who intends to complain to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission because a municipal banquet at which he was a guest was introduced by a blessing over the food which included the words “Jesus” and “amen.” Mr. Solo is all riled up about this: “It made me feel like a second-class citizen. It makes you feel excluded,” he said. Mr Solo finds it especially ironic that he should have become “a victim of religious bigotry and discrimination” because the occasion was a volunteers-appreciation dinner.
Mr. Solo, can we talk? I have advice for you that you would be well advised to take. First, put away your religion-hating books by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and whatever other obsessive gurus fuel your dreams of revenge against Christians, and take a deep breath. During this deep breath, reflect on what your little diatribe about victimhood might sound like to, say, Christians in China or Egypt or Pakistan who have been imprisoned or even killed for having dared to poke tiny holes in the totalitarian clouds -– one atheistic, one hyper-religious — that hang over them.
Then take another deep breath and consider what our human rights commissions were really designed for. Your intention to use them for this beyond-trivial complaint will now be exploited by many observers, including me, as one more example of why human rights commissions should be abolished for speech purposes. They tend to encourage people like you, people with micro-grievances, to turn to official bodies for redress rather than working them out in a direct and reasonable and civil way.
Kay then suggests that Solo might instead have been to pull the host aside and make a little quieter complaint about the separation of church and state:
That way, Mr. Solo, you would indicate that your purpose is not to bring division and hostility to the table, but to look for a positive solution that is a win-win for you and your fellow citizens with opposite beliefs. That way you would spare your well-intentioned neighbour the public embarrassment he is presently experiencing. More important, that way you could have spared yourself the high probability that your name will become a Canadian byword for grinchdom, incivility and disrespect for the real suffering of the millions of people in this world who can only dream of the joy of sitting at such a table as you were at, and listening to any blessing whatsoever.
What do you think? Did Solo overreact, does Kay have a point? Or is this just another example of atheist bashing by the media?