A clear case of differential negative treatment to Atheists on CityOnline

Let me begin by saying that I am not some hyper-sensitive cry-wolf kind of person. But a clear case of differential negative treatment was enacted on CityOnline’s Christmas Eve discussion/debate on whether or not people should be saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”.

In the panel were Mark Robinson of the Humanist Association of Canada, and Dave Menzies, a freelance writer. Menzies was in favour of “Merry Christmas” and Robinson was in favour of….whatever people prefer! Clearly this would not be a fierce debate.

So what was the differential negative treatment?

Midway through the interview Dave Menzies, who was Christian by the way, brought up a point that had no relevance to anything—not to recently preceding discussion, not to the discussion as a whole. What was that comment?

Well the last telephone caller and Menzies had been saying that some Christians today seem to be apologizing for their Christianity and in a way ashamed of it and that this and coinciding overly sensitive political correctness was a big part of what is behind some people censoring their “Merry Christmases” with “Happy Holidays”. So then Menzies says this:

“There is nothing shameful about being Christianity, and I feel that it is sort of unfortunate that Mark wears his Atheism on his sleave like a badge of honour, when if you look at the last century of history more than 100 million people have died in the name of Atheism, if we’re talking Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, it’s true that these, Mark, were all Atheist regimes that were responsible for the slaughter of tens of millions of people.”

The immediate aftermath of this was the host of the show Dwight Drummond citing the crusades and Drummond and Robinson both agreeing that this issue has nothing to do with anything in this discussion and had no place or relevance being there. Robinson also pointed out that Hitler was a Catholic (something that is debated, but there is indeed a collection of quotes from Hitler’s speeches and writings (including Mein Kampf) in which he cites God, the Bible, Jesus, and Catholicism as beliefs of his and as providing warrant for killing the Jews; Note to readers: I will be writing a post within the next few days on Hitler’s beliefs). Menzies was completely shut down on this. Completely.

So, why is this a case of differential negative treatment on Atheists?

Well, firstly it was clearly a shot at Atheists that was completely uncalled for. Menzies brought this up out of nowhere. It had no pertinence to anything. Moreover, he said that it was unfortunate that Mark was proud of his atheism. Could you imagine if he had said to a Muslim panelist “I think it’s unfortunate that Mr. Shahid wears his Islamic faith on his sleave like it were a badge of honour”, or a homosexual regarding their homosexuality, or a woman regarding her being a woman, or a Jew, or a Black person, or an Asian, or a Mexican, or any other minority–hell, even a White male!

Is Atheism something not to be proud of, Dave? Is it, perhaps, something to be ashamed of? Clearly you don’t think it’s something to feel very good about.

And consider the second part of his statement in which he cites massacres committed by Atheist regimes. Could you imagine, again, if his conversational partner had been Muslim and he had said “I feel that it is sort of unfortunate that Mr. Shahid wears his Islamic faith on his sleave like a badge of honour, when if you look at the last decade, Muslims have been the most feared terrorists in the world, killing thousands, and instilling fear in hundreds of millions”. And, moreover, imagine him having brought this comment up out of nowhere in a discussion that had absolutely nothing to do with Islamic international conflicts.

Am I saying that no one should ever be allowed to criticize another group? No, though if they’re going to do so they would be advised to make sure they’re not overgeneralizing. What would be nice, though, is if Atheists got the type of consideration that any other minority group gets.

I must commend Mark Robinson and Dwight Drummond for how well each of them handled this.

I submit these video files for your review,

part 1

part 2

part 3

The pertinent segment occurs at around 4:45 in part 2, beginning with the conclusion of the caller’s statement that many Christians, it seems, are apologizing for their faith, leading into Menzies comment.

If you want to commend Mark for his eloquent handling of the situation and the show as a whole—or if you totally want to slam him for some reason…—feel free to leave a comment as I’ll be sending him the link to this posting and I’ll make sure he gets all the comments.

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