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 Saturday, Jan 2nd 2016
11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
519 Church St. Room 303
"Men’s Issues: A Closer Look"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

Warning: This is a potentially controversial topic. Participants are asked to consider it from a Humanist perspective with intellectual curiosity, open mindedness and fairness. If your history precludes you from being able to consider the topic and your own biases objectively, then you may want to reconsider your participation.

Men’s groups have been around for centuries. They have generally been formed around social activities (eating & drinking), common interests (business, hobbies) & pursuits (sports), service or business (networking). These groups were “of men”, “for men” but not about the experience of “being men”.
A new type of Men’s group has arisen over the past 20 years – The Men’s Advocacy group. This sees men and their allies deciding upon societal issues that affect men and then advocating for them as a societal class.
As in all social movements, there is a continuum from moderates who want to fine tune the system in certain areas to extremists who believe the whole system is corrupt/damaged and want to either scrap it all and start again or opt out entirely. Then there is the search for causes, for blame, for theories and following those, proposed solutions. These again fall on a continuum of moderate to extreme.
1.    Are there legitimate issues involving men’s treatment by society that need to be addressed?
2.    There is a thought process in certain quarters that because men have been the dominant force in our culture, any fallout from this is theirs to bear and their issues will fall very low on the priorities list for society. Discuss the legitimacy of this theory.
3.    Even the idea of an advocacy group for men rings as absurd or even obscene in the ears of some members of society. Explore your feelings about this concept.
4.    Another theory is that, in some ways, men have also been victims of patriarchy, biology and history. Rigidly defined roles have limited their options, their range of emotional responses, their expected behaviours and this has lead to stress, anxiety, unhappiness and all the accompanying phenomena (depression, suicide, addiction, violence, early death). Discuss the legitimacy of this theory.
Useful References:

HAT Forum
Saturday Dec 12
519 Church, Room 304 11:00 - 12:30
Freedom of Expression
the New Censorship on Campus
N.B. Speaker Event at OISE 1:30 p.m.
Please see post below

Freedom of Expression vs. the New Censorship on Campus: Safe spaces, trigger warnings, appropriation issues, and no-platforming 

1. What do you make of the following events that have happened on campuses in the last few months? (Please check out online info and numerous videos of some of these events on YouTube in advance if possible.)

- The University of Ottawa canceled yoga classes out of concerns about cultural appropriation.

- At LSE student union, the motion to condemn the Paris attacks failed to pass

- Some universities have allowed male and female divided seating at events on campus.

- Increasingly common free speech suppressing "safe space" policies and the increasingly common disparagement and denigration of the First Amendment on US campuses

- Many comedians, such as Jerry Seinfeld, no longer want to perform at college campuses due to the dampening effect on audiences of overly sensitive extreme PC climate there now.

- Safe space vs. The first amendment: Communications professor Melissa Click asking for "muscle" among the protestors to prevent the student newspaper photojournalists from covering a protest at the University of Missouri (see YouTube).

- Erika Kristakis and the Yale Halloween costume email incident (see YouTube)

- Attempted no-platforming of speakers Germaine Greer and Maryam Namazie (at Warwick University and at Goldsmith University, where the no platforming was supported by the Goldsmith feminist group and the LBGT group) among others - see YouTube

- "Brown University professor denounces McCarthy-like witch hunts." The Daily Beast

- Professor Boghossian, who teaches a course on atheism, now has a notice that on his course outline that reads: Trigger Warning: This whole course is a trigger warning. (He has received a fair bit of flak for this.)

- Mandatory indigenous studies courses at high school level are now also at the University of Winnipeg and Lakehead University (required for graduation)

- In the UK, there have been demands for lecturers to report students showing signs of extremism.

2. What are the merits of censorship? Of self-censorship? Of free speech? Of academic freedom? Of anti-blasphemy laws? Of hate speech laws? Of no hate speech laws? What are the drawbacks of all of these?

3. What is the place of freedom of expression in universities? Of identity politics? What do you make of safe spaces, trigger warnings, no platforming, and appropriation issues?

4. Students of the 1960s fought to have paternalistic constraints such as restrictions on their personal decisions removed from the role of university administrations. In contrast, many claim that today's students are fighting to have university administrations assume more control over their lives. What is the function of a university administration today? Thoughts?

5. There have been many grave problems around racism, sexism, and homophobia on campuses in the last several years, actions from students that have caused a great deal of pain and outrage. What should universities be doing about these problems and what are the limits to what they can do?

HAT Forum
Saturday, Dec 5 2015
11:00am to 1pm
519 Church St. Room 304
Topic:"Policing in Canada"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

Stats Canada's annual Police Resources in Canada report (2014) highlights the statistical trends in policing and crime in Canada. Some of the most interesting facts:
Canada's level of Police staffing has varied just above and just below the 200 per 100000 of population mark since the mid-1970's
this level is amongst the lowest of the world's developed countries
crime level (incidents per 100000 of pop) and the severity of those crimes has dropped dramatically since a peak in the early '90's.
crime is at a 1970 level, half of what it was in the early '90's
Compared to a decade ago, police expenditures in constant dollars in Canada have increased by 37%.
1 in 10 officers in Canada currently qualify for retirement
Outside of the statistics, several reports have been compiled questioning apparent biases in police behaviour against people of colour and people with mental health disabilities. Of particular concern are:
fundamental levels of disrespect toward groups (racial, from a particular locality, age) thought to be of a criminal character while ironically demanding respect from these same groups
insidious effects of certain elements of police subculture including "us vs them", "war on crime", "war stories" and "contempt of cop" as a crime in itself
a system that is heavily biased toward an assumption of police innocence and a lack of accountability. In Ontario, even if an officer is suspended, that officer still earns full pay pending investigation
The questions:
In light of this information are there actions we would expect our government to take that they are not taking concerning changes to policing?
In what ways can police be made more accountable without making their position untenable?
In what ways should our traditional view of police and the police's view of themselves modernize to better serve Canada's needs?
What personal experiences have you had with police and how does this inform your views?

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.