The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

HAT FORUM, Sat March 31, 11am - 1pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street W

HAT FORUM,  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 414 (or check at desk to confirm)
DATE:  Sat. Mar 31, 11am - 1pm,
TOPIC:  What is preventing world peace?
The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto

HAT Book Group, Sat. Apr 7, 2:30-4pm OISE 252 Bloor

The April meeting of the HAT book group will take place on Saturday, April 7th from 2:30- 4:00pm 
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor St. W,   Room   4418    

We will be looking at the following book by Thomas King which has numerous copies in the library so is hopefully easy to access!

The Truth about Stories : a Native Narrativeby King, Thomas, 1943-
Comments from library review and

The Truth about Stories is a brilliant collection of lectures presented by Thomas King. Although this particular presentation has been done on the page, King still managed to maintain many of the qualities of an oral presentation. Drawing upon the strengths of storytelling, King succeeded in presenting material which is wholly relevant and very informative in a manner which is entirely accessible to the reader. Perhaps King's greatest strength is his ability to tell the truth in a way that does not offend, rather engages the reader and encourages meaningful discussion.
The book is a tremendous feat in every way; however, what I found most impressive was the way in which it challenged and changed my thinking about Aboriginal people in Canada. Furthermore, the information presented inspired me to learn more about Canadian and Aboriginal history in the hopes of better understanding the challenges faced by the today's Aboriginal people.
Stories shape who we are and how we understand and interact with each other, says novelist, short-story writer, and scholar King (English U. of Guelph), but they can be dangerous as well as entertaining and enlightening, and storytellers assume a heavy responsibility. He uses events from his own life as a Native American in California and Canada as examples. The book is based on the Massey Lectures he delivered on CBC Radio in November 2003. It won that year's Trillium Award, Canada's highest literary honor.

Assisted dying: Quebec committee report

from DyingwithDignity:
Quebec Endorses Medically-Assisted Dying.

"An all-party committee has issued a landmark report on Dying With Dignity in Quebec.
The Committee’s recommendations are excellent and we are particularly pleased to see that the report focuses on dying with dignity – in the broadest sense.  It recommends:
  • long overdue changes in and an expansion of palliative care
  • the strengthening of existing provisions around advance care directives
  • the issue of terminal sedation be addressed, an area which has been under-regulated medically assisted dying with safeguards in certain circumstances.
Medically assisted dying falls under the prohibition against assisted suicide, which is in the criminal code (section 14 b and c) and thus a federal matter.  However, the administration of justice is a provincial matter and the Committee’s report is recommending that the government of Quebec use its authority to issue prosecutorial guidelines about when to lay charges under this section of the criminal code."

see also:

Editorial: Assisted dying: it’s time for a discussion
(Editorial from Montreal Gazette)
Whether to allow people with terminal illnesses to die at a time of their choosing with the assistance of a doctor is a thorny issue in which Canadian politicians have been reluctant to engage, even as it becomes more pressing.
Canada’s Criminal Code now makes it an offence punishable by a jail sentence of up to 14 years to counsel or assist someone to commit suicide, or to agree to be put to death...Those in favour of assisted dying maintain that terminally ill people in the grip of excruciating pain should have the right to “die with dignity” should they so choose and have recourse to medical assistance if they wish it.

HAT Forum, Saturday March 25, 11am - 1pm

DATE: Saturday, March 24   11am - 1 pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W ROOM  4-414
Health care costs in Ontario are going through the roof. Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario say that a high percentage of deaths (and healthcare costs) - 79% - relate to chronic but largely preventable illnesses. These include some cancers, cardio-vascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.
Far too many people drink alcohol to excess, smoke too many cigarettes, eat too much sugar, fatty and unhealthy foods. Others engage in very risky activities, and dangerous sports. Many people do not exercise at all, and hundreds of thousands are seriously overweight.
These unhealthy lifestyle decisions cause serious illnesses and accidents, and cost the public healthcare system (you and me) billions of dollars. Our discussion will consider whether these people should pay a premium for their OHIP coverage, and if so, how would such a plan be implemented.
Car insurance premiums are much higher for people who own fast cars, for people with a bad driving record, people who are caught speeding, and for people who have had too many accidents. In other words, higher risk - higher premiums. Why should the rest of us pay for your bad decisions.
We will discuss whether or not that principle should also apply to what people pay for their health coverage.

The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto

Avaaz - Petition to Morocco re Amina's suicide

Avaaz - RIP Amina
Days ago, 16 year-old Amina Filali, raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist, killed herself -- the only way she saw to escape the trap set for her by her rapist and the law. If we act now, we can stop this unspeakable tragedy from happening to anyone else.

Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it hasn't happened.

Hundreds of Moroccan protestors are in the streets demanding real reform, turning up the heat on the Prime Minister and heads of other ministries, who write and sponsor bills and the international media has picked up the story. If we ramp up pressure, we can see real progress now. Sign the petition for a comprehensive law to stop violence against women, including repeal of Article 475. When we reach 250,000 signatures, we'll deliver it directly to the decision makers.

HAT FORUM, Sat March 17, 11am, OISE

HAT Forum, OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
Saturday, March 17, 2012, 11:00am - 1pm.
Topic: Reasonable Accommodation
Facilitator: Moses Klein
The issue of reasonable accommodation comes up whenever special arrangements or exceptions to existing policy have to be made to accommodate people with disabilities or with religious requirements. (For example, 20 years ago a decision by the RCMP to allow Sikh mounties to wear turbans with their uniform became an iconic example of Canadian multiculturalism.) When are such accommodations reasonable or unreasonable? Are there religious strictures that ought never be accommodated? If accommodations require extra expenses, is there some line beyond which you consider the expense unreasonable?

The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto

What If...There Was No Religious/Secular Divide? Mar 14, Hart House

What If...There Was No Religious/Secular Divide?
Medhi is debating on Wednesday at Hart House, 5pm.
He is taking the secular position, of course.
Come support him if you can!

Wednesday; March 14(PI DAY !!)
5:00pm until 6:00pm
Map Room, Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle, University

UK Catholics intensify campaign against same sex marriage

UK Catholics intensify campaign against same sex marriage
LONDON — The Roman Catholic Church stepped up its campaign against civil gay marriage, with a letter from two senior archbishops being read out at services in 2,500 churches on Sunday.
The letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Archbishop Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Southwark, said it was their “duty” to defend the institution of marriage.
“Changing the legal definition of marriage would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now,” Nichols and Smith said in the letter, which was being read out at parish churches in England and Wales.
“We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations.”
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government will later this month launch a formal consultation on plans to introduce same-sex civil marriages before the next general election in 2015.
One week ago Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said the plans were “madness”.
But a poll in the right-leaning Sunday Telegraph newspaper showed public support for the proposals, with 45 percent saying they supported the move to legalise gay marriage, 36 percent opposing it.

Religions taking advantage of children

Religions taking advantage of children | Terahertz
It’s an easy topic to write about and these three articles speak for themselves mostly, so I’m only going to give limited commentary on three pieces from the past couple days that definitely classify as religions taking advantage of (if not abusing) children.
First, the Vancouver Sun mistakenly takes the view that science and Christian lobby groups deserve equal weight when presenting research. Their article titled “Research mixed on whether parents should be banned from spanking” does a solid job of presenting the scientific evidence of the harms of corporal punishment of children, but then goes and quotes the homophobic Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (at least it identifies it as a Christian right group spun off of Focus on the Family) who want the right to beat their kids. It’s telling that the following day this article was republished on the Ottawa Citizen under the more accurate title, “Time for parents to disarm.”
Next, we have a good news-bad news story, also from the Vancouver Sun. The good news is that the Delta school board has kicked religious proselytizers out of its classrooms, while the bad news is that many volunteer evangelicals remain in schools across the province – including in Kitsilano Secondary School (near my home). The BC school act makes it explicitly clear that our schools are to be secular, so any move from volunteering to preaching will hopefully be rooted by our teachers and school administrators.
Finally, the British Humanist Association has highlighted some research undertaken by the Guardian which showed that publicly funded faith schools are discriminating against poor students.  This research is quite relevant in Canada where several provinces provide funding to private schools (BC and Alberta) and others provide full funding to separate Catholic school boards (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario). It would be interesting to do a similar study here to try to prove if such systemic discrimination exists here as well.

The Mormons and the Dead - and Romney and sluts

The Mormons and the Dead | Common Dreams
he good new is they’ve been told to stop. The bad news is that may prove to be impossible. Mitt Romney has no opinion. He’ll let the church speak for him. The issue goes back to 1995 and it was supposed to come to a halt then. The thing that was to have been stopped was posthumous baptism.
The Mormons believe that their beliefs are the only ones that guarantee their followers a decent seat in heaven. Being generous in nature, they are eager to share their good fortune with those who did not join them while on earth. To remedy the non-Mormons’ oversights, it was disclosed in 1995 that posthumous baptism had become something of a large-scale operation here on earth by Mormons eager to share their good fortune with non-Mormons. According to Mormon theology, former humans have “free agency” and the posthumous baptisms provide only an opportunity and not an obligation to join the church in the afterlife. The way it probably works is that once in heaven and baptized posthumously, the beneficiaries of the process are summoned by some divine being and told that as a result of earthly activities by Mormons, they have the opportunity to spend eternity in a different venue from that in which they were prior to the announcement. If the Mormon digs are more attractive they can accept the baptism and move in with the Mormons and, if not, stay put.
One of the things that was revealed in 1995 was that Adolph Hitler had been posthumously baptized. Mr. Hitler probably welcomed any opportunity to move from where he had thought himself destined to spend eternity and was happy to join the Mormons. (The only reason he might have hesitated was that the Mormons had posthumously baptized more than 380,000 holocaust victims, including, among others, Anne Frank, and Hitler might have had some hesitation about moving in with those who were there because of him.)..

Asked to comment about former drug addict, Rush Limbaugh’s comments that Sandra Fluke, a woman he called a “slut” and a “prostitute”, should be required to post online sex videos if taxpayers were paying for contraception, Mr. Romney courageously said, so as not to offend Mr. Limbaugh: “Well, that isn’t language I would have used.” Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate whose father was posthumously turned into a Mormon, asked Mr. Romney to denounce posthumous baptisms, a practice in which Mr. Romney said in a 2008 interview he had not “recently” participated. His campaign referred the question to church officials. As time goes on we will learn if the Mormons in fact abandon posthumous baptism. We will also learn whether Mr. Romney encounters something that he feels REALLY strongly about.

Mallick: We need a women's rights reawakening against imported hate

Humanist Feminist Circle
We Need a Women's Rights Reawakening | Common Dreams
Women in Canada and the U.S. have not been in this much danger for a generation.

Women have few public defenders right now and it’s our fault. As the years passed, we grew overconfident. We took our hard-won rights for granted, we assumed our enemies accepted our triumphs — abortion rights, equal pay, work equality, contraception — as a done deal. We underestimated how much we were hated, and look at us now.
American women are fighting a rearguard action for something as basic as birth control to be included in health-care plans. They are called “sluts” for doing so.
They are also fighting state government-mandated pre-abortion ultrasounds to shame them into cancelling the procedure. “I cannot believe I still have to protest this,” one woman demonstrator’s sign read in Virginia. The women were hauled away by police on Monday, the same way pregnant women who attempt suicide are arrested for child murder in the southern states.
A U.S. law student named Sandra Fluke recently testified before a federal committee about birth control not being included in university health plans, and was taunted by hate-radio host Rush Limbaugh as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”
Limbaugh, the man who once mocked Michael J. Fox’s limbs twitching from Parkinson’s and ridiculed Bill Clinton’s “ugly” daughter, said of Fluke: “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps.” He then told her he wanted to see tapes of the “paid” sex she was having on his dime.
His attack on Fluke was so violent that President Barack Obama telephoned her to thank her for her bravery and told her that her parents should be proud.
If you used birth control in the 1920s, even in its primitive form, you were a slut. If you use birth control in 2012 you’re still a slut. “Slut” clothing gets you raped, according to the Toronto police officer whose vicious remarks about rape victims sparked wonderful SlutWalk, a Toronto women’s rights parade that spread planetwide.
Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth is setting up a small committee of federal MPs to decide when “personhood” begins. He thinks it begins sometime after, or possibly before, the sperm meets the egg but he’s willing to let a gaggle of guys decide that. How generous of him!
A male Catholic high school student in Ajax deplores the makeup and revealing clothing of female students, preaching to girls as if he were a regulator of their self-presentation.
Where did this 17-year-old get the idea he could publicly assess female sexuality? Why do girls let him do it? Why does Woodworth think he can enslave all Canadian women with a magic committee to decide their uterine events? From boy to man, males still think they run the show.
I suspect this parade of male bullying marched north from the U.S., a nation that combines the licentious and the puritanical, but with incoherent rage. We Canadians can’t allow imported hate.
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.