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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The perils of taking psychic harm to be real harm: even Christmas Trees are harmful

"Stupid people are not necessarily hateful. In fact, some stupid people are quite nice." - David Low

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Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government

"Ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so"

To justify this, one could use research which 'shows' that seeing the objects of another religion harms one; when psychic harm is taken to be real harm, the floodgates are opened.

For example, take this wonderful study:

Christmas trees 'make non-Christians feel excluded'

"Non-Christians feel less self-assured and have fewer positive feelings if a Christmas tree was in the room... Christians, however, did report feeling more guilt when a tree was in the room, which, claim the researchers, suggests the holidays can be stressful...

"I don't think it's really going to undermine anyone's experience of Christmas to tone it down. We're not suggesting 'no Christmas' or 'no Christmas displays at all,' but in contexts where we really do value respecting and including diversity in terms of religion, the safest option is not to have these kinds of displays""

The best way to be inclusive and diverse, then, is to do nothing - so you don't offend anyone.

If exposure to manifestations of homosexuality raises some people's blood pressure, should we avoid such manifestations?


Even someone on the Sikh Philosophy Network was dismissive:

"One wonder what would happen if subjects were tested on a variety of other things that might make them feel excluded. After all, McGill University philosopher Charles Taylor, an expert on the 'politics of recognition,' says, we're all members of one minority or another.

It got me wondering about other things that can get people into a mood of feeling they don't belong.

Like being among university grads and not having a bachelor's degree. Going solo to a party where most people are couples. Being Somalian while living in a neighbourhood of ethnic Chinese. Being a female on a mostly male soccer team. Having a mental illness among people who are emotionally stable. Walking on a beach full of men and women with sculpted bodies. Being a boy at an elementary school where 19 out of 20 teachers are female. Working at a minimum-wage coffee shop job serving well-off Vancouverites...

It suggest a hyper-sensitivity on behalf of non-Christians, treating them as "victims" of so-called mainstream culture. Curiously enough, as a religion writer I almost always find, anecdotally, that Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are highly enthusiastic people about Christmas, which has become a giant secular holiday as much as a Christian one. These religiously active minorities sometimes seem to like Christmas's public trappings more than Christians themselves"
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