Toronto neighbourhood confronts religious harrassment

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Slumberjack

Cueball wrote:
There is no evidence that prejudice, or the outspoken expression of it is limited to religious people. That is my point.

I agree there's no evidence for that. Thing is, the non-religious tend to be a rather disorganized bunch about it, except for the odd mass murdering individual for whom we could never claim as one of our own. On the other hand, the religious frequently provides more evidence than we can stomach that they have few qualms about it when it comes to idolizing one of their own mass murderers, even going as far as to bestow sainthood on several of them.

janew

Snert wrote:

Quote:
 I asked them not to post a sign right outside my front window and they insulted me about not caring about children because I objected to the biblical quotation on the sign. ( I can't remember which one it was now, but it was unfriendly.) 

 

Was it "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14)?

 

Ha...something like that but not quite that 'unfriendly'. 

I think this episode results in a build up of frustration from the neighbourhood.  It's a pretty liberal area with a high percentage of same sex couples.  We're all fairly proud (maybe even smug) about the fact that we are such a multi-racial, and gay friendly place.  It's irking to have this congregation (which meets several times a week) come in and be just nasty and self-righteous.  We're probably self-righteous about our liberal morals too - but it's our home.  We don't go to their homes and flaunt our ideas and try to convert them. 

Unfortunately this may have an unwelcome result, because they're here again tonight and showing up in even more numbers than usual.  Hopefully they'll at least stay inside the church this time.

 

writer writer's picture

janew, I love the fact that you are still a recent rabble rouser! Too funny!

... And hello, darling webwonder.

Unionist

Cueball wrote:

Like non-religious people are not homophobic, never deride gay people, use the word "faggot" or "gay" as a pejorative in casual conversation, or engage in gay bashing or oppose same sex marriage.

Gee, I'll have to check back and see where I said that. You've been visiting the straw factory again, Cueball. All organized religion is hateful, divisive, anti-human. There are no exceptions. To say, "well, some atheists are bastards too" is really a feeble answer to the horror that is religion in the 21st century.

Quote:
Fidel Castro once desfribed gayness as being a "bourgeois perversion".

Ah, well that proves that religion is a harmless cultural appurtenance. Thanks for the dose of logic.

Quote:
The reality is that people have a remarkable ability to find justifications for their prejudice and intollerance, even "sceince", so they can fulfill their desire to "humiliate other people - dehumanize other people - butcher and rape and slaughter other people".

Not people - imperialists, colonialists, oppressors, and their tools. And one of their "justifications" of choice is religion. What better way to dehumanize the "Other" than by soothing yourself that "well, God/Allah/Jesus told me they were cockroaches".

Honestly, is there some mystery here? Are we not all grown up and haven't we absorbed a little bit of history?

Quote:
Trying to pretend to yourself that this facility for justifying intollerance is peculiar to religious people is to delude yourself.

It's NOT, repeat NOT, peculiar to religious people. Just like dying of cancer is NOT peculiar to people who refuse real science-based treatment and take diluted water instead. But good "lord", are you lacking enough examples where "God", or one of "his" ugly variations, is used as justification to get people to murder and rape and oppress?

Anyone who suggests religion is the source of all evil is providing cover for imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, fascism.

Anyone who suggests organized religion can play a progressive role in today's world is doing exactly the same thing.

Now, see if you can quote those comments as a whole, without piecemeal visits to the straw factory.

If anyone makes noise in my street in praise of God - yes, even if their skin pigment is noticeable - they will feel the wrath of Allah in short order.

Unionist

By the way - what happened to Catchfire apologizing for his intemperate remarks, and TB and others making peace? What will it cost you?

 

remind remind's picture

Every municipality in Canada has a noise by-law that assures residents the right to peaceful enjoyment of their home space.
And crimina;l charges can eventually be laid for repeated breaches of it. As it becomes an issue of mischief and harassment.
 
Am sure the residents have looked up their rights but in case others are interested in looking at TO's here is the link below. It has an interesting by-law about people busting up a religious session... :D
 
http://www.toronto.ca/bia/pdf/SectionM.pdf
and
http://www.quiet.org/noiselaw/ca/on/cities.htm
jane why did you guys wait 7 years?

6079_Smith_W

@ Unionist

I think it's actually all my fault for using my old slide rule instead of a proper digital calculator. It's not that good at parsing multiple fields and fractions like .454545..

@ janew

Good luck dealing with the freaks. I read in the youtube post that the cops came.Who actually called them?

Unionist

@writer:

Indeed, you're in the clear. Now it's time for others to step up to the plate. Do you people have any clue how hard it is for me to play the peacemaker?

@6079:

I don't know about your infinite regressions and obsolete reckoning methodologies, but are you aware that 6079, besides being a prime number, is apocalyptic, deficient, lucky, odd, odious, and square-free!?

[url=http://www.numbergossip.com/6079]Source.[/url]

writer writer's picture

Unionist, this is starting to get a bit too 9-11ish ... Watch yourself.

writer writer's picture

I've already apologized, so I'm in the clear!

edited to add: And I did it before your nudging, Unionist!

6079_Smith_W

Speaking of the infinite wonders of the internet and 9-11, maybe if they showed the freaks one of those photos of the demons that really took down the twin towers they would go away and bother someone else's neighbourhood.

remind remind's picture

freaks and demons, 6079???

....those words rank right  down there with "snakes" and "snake-pit". Well freaks not so much, but used in conjunction with "demons"...well...

seriously, these religious, and extremely dehumanizing, code words being uttered here, more and more, are pretty damn disturbing.

Unionist

writer wrote:

Unionist, this is starting to get a bit too 9-11ish ... Watch yourself.

Right, sorry bout that.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Slumberjack wrote:

Cueball wrote:
There is no evidence that prejudice, or the outspoken expression of it is limited to religious people. That is my point.

I agree there's no evidence for that. Thing is, the non-religious tend to be a rather disorganized bunch about it, except for the odd mass murdering individual for whom we could never claim as one of our own. On the other hand, the religious frequently provides more evidence than we can stomach that they have few qualms about it when it comes to idolizing one of their own mass murderers, even going as far as to bestow sainthood on several of them.

Are you sure that "they frequently provide evidence than we can stomach" by manifesting their prejudice through oddball actions like standing outside some peoples homes in quite residential neighborhood (really, just a more agressive version of standing on street corners and handing out "awake" or knocking on peoples doors "witnessing" as it is called), or is it because the evidence we don't see is so integrated in our daily experience that it is harder to identify?

The whole "testifying/witnessing" thing seems to be something of a religious anomaly specific to evangelical Christians in my experience, and not a universal attribute of all religions anyway.

An easy target.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

[email protected]

Your observation about about Jehovah's Witnesses being "generally white" kinda made me raise an eyebrow... I did a little search on the demographics of JW congretations and while I could only find firm U.S. statistics (where 37.4% of JW adherents identified themselves as African-American - as opposed to identification as African-American by only 12.4% of the general population) which seems to indicate that, proportionate to their numbers in the population as a whole, POC are over-represented within the ranks of JW congregations. (Coincidently, the article that gave the demographic breakdown went out of it way to point out that JW Kingdom Halls are significantly more integrated than most other Christian denominations in the U.S.) I can see no particularly compelling argument to be made that, on this side of the border, that POC are significantly under-represented (again, proportionate to their numbers in the population as a whole) within JW congregations. Perhaps you could offer some sort of explanation of why you choose to describe JWs as "generally white". Did you mean disproportionately white? I find the use of this description a little "off" somehow. I could describe the prison population of Canada of being generally white (stats are hard to find on this, unlike in U.S. reports, but the 1996 figures I could find indicated that 73.3% of prisoners in Canada would be considered "white") does this mean I could describe prisoners in Canada as being "generally white"?

 

6079_Smith_W

@ remind #62

Well, at least it's not discrimination against innocent animals, like the snake reference. I wanted to be careful not to do that again.

I suppose now that I see the error of my ways I should have been clear that I was only refering to some of them as freaks - religious freaks, I mean. It was not a carny reference.

But the demon? That's no joke. See for yourself:

http://www.google.com/images?oe=UTF-8&q=9-11+demon&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=...

 

6079_Smith_W

On topic though, and seriously..

I remember when I was a little kid being invited by some people to come to a "fun puppet show" (back in the day when it was not odd for a stranger to ask a four or five-year-old to go somewhere). Turns out it was in one of the local churches, and the show was essentially these cute puppets telling us that if we were bad we were going to go to hell and burn forever in a lake of fire (with a diagram of a burning lake shaped like Italy... I thought they meant a leg-shaped pool of fire). Then they gave us candy and told us to bring more kids to another show next week.

I wasn't upset by it, and I don't recall telling my parents, but I never did go back.

We also had people from the local bible college coming to our door and telling us we were going to hell, so I had heard a lot of that stuff already.

I have run into some who leave when you ask them to, but it is odd how some of them basically force you to be rude to them, like they get to play the martyr for Christ.

wage zombie

Smith, that reminded me of this clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgstQDST-YA&feature=search

Cueball Cueball's picture

I prefer this classroom discussion: Fear and Love, and the problems of absolute dichtomies of good and evil.

6079_Smith_W

haha... both well-worth watching.

I also remembered going to see Bob Larson at the university of Winnipeg - to protest the fact he was speaking on campus, actually -  and in fact he was eventually prevented from speaking by the people who opposed him (which included me, though I don't know if there was any plan to shut him down beforehand).

Whether or not that was the right thing to do, it was a very interesting sight to see. WRT the religious people who were there, it was a predominantly white crowd, but not overwhelmingly-so. I do recall people of many backgrounds being there - some obviously from Caribbean, African and Latin countries. I did notice that there seemed to be a large Spanish-speaking contingent in the front rows, who had gotten there early.

And of course there were a lot of his "fans" who got off on his devil schtick - some dressed in black leather, but not all, of course.

Before the students who were protesting his appearance even started anything a few of these proto-goths got up and started acting like they were posessed - basically growling and screaming like demons and mocking some of these religious people in the front rows. These women (they were mostly women) started howling right back at them calling out to Jesus and waving their hands in the air, praying in Spanish, fainting, falling on the floor and generally carrying on like they were really being confronted by real demons.

Nobody got physically violent or touched anyone. Nobody ran away. It was like professional wrestling or some other piece of theatre. It was incredibly weird becaue it DIDN'T get out of hand, like both sides had some sort of understanding. Both sides definitely seemed to be getting off on it, and nobody else stepped in; none of the churchgoers, and the rest of us were just watching the show dumbfounded.

I know the obvious conclusion is that it was all an act, but somehow I don't think it was.

THen of course they announced he was coming out, and a whole bunch of people rushed the stage and basically prevented him from getting up there. After about half an hour it was all over.

Cueball Cueball's picture

I guess this should be posted:

Quote:
To Chiasson, however, they are the unthreatening "church people" - and they did not do anything wrong.

Chiasson, 45, said he believes Highfield parishioners only choose to read the Bible from a spot near their house because a fire hydrant prevents cars from parking there.

He said the parishioners preached on the street long before he and Collins, 47, arrived 13 years ago. Moreover, he said, he and Collins have never felt personally targeted by the parishioners, have never heard them say anything homophobic, and have not even been present for three years on the summer Sundays when the infrequent sermons occur.

He said the parishioners are "a part of the neighbourhood" with the right to speak freely. The neighbours who confronted them, he said, "overreacted."

[SNIP]

Asked about the Internet response to the video, most of which has assumed the parishioners were homophobic, he said: "Unfortunately the Internet is its own animal, and I can't control it. I just took a video of what happened, and the Internet did the rest."

Toronto Star

janew

writer wrote:

janew, I love the fact that you are still a recent rabble rouser! Too funny!

... And hello, darling webwonder.

...and hello to you...I'd love to see you sometime. I noticed that I'm a recent rabble rouser too.  I feel young again.  For those who don't know, I used to be the webmistress at rabble.  I love the changes on rabble. What a super job you're all are doing! I'm tickled to see the site looking so good.

janew

remind wrote:

jane why did you guys wait 7 years?

They seem to have stepped up their street preaching this year. They've been here since before we moved here (18 years ago) but I've only seen them do this kind of thing a few times. Usually we all go out and tell them they're not welcome and they don't stay long. This time I think one of the neighbours called the police.
We really are a pretty easygoing neighbourhood and I think we have a certain amount of respect for people trying to convince others of their point of view... most of us do that too. ;-).
I don't actually think they target same sex couples, which is not to say that they're not homophobic, but not in the blatant way the the media coverage suggests. They're just typical pushy, self-righteous religious fundamentalists.
It's odd that it's become a racial issue because even though their main spokesman on the video is black, the congregation is mostly white. The guy with the white hair in the video is the leader. That's the one good thing I would say about this group. They don't seem to be racist.

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Good luck dealing with the freaks. I read in the youtube post that the cops came.Who actually called them?

I think it was one of our neighbours who called the police.  This actually happened on the block north of me and even though I was home, I didn't hear it.  We saw the police talking with the congregation at the church but that was only for 15 minutes or so.

Even though I do think this is a tempest in a teapot, I'm also proud of my neighbourhood for showing that religious zealots are not appreciated in the community, because certainly everybody else is.

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

But the thing is if they were not doing anything other than being religious in public, and were not harassing people and being openly homophobic like the guy who lives in the house they were in front of says, and they aren't always there, I have a lot less sympathy for this action. It's a bit much just to assert that people reading from the bible are being homophobic just because they are reading from the bible.

Open harassment and abuse is one thing, but the Toronto Star report indicates that this is not what was going on, according to the person living in the house they were in front of. He sounds quite angry and says that the congregation are "a part of the neighborhood". That puts another light on this entirely.

People have a right to assemble and speak in public.

janew

Cueball wrote:

Open harassment and abuse is one thing, but the Toronto Star report indicates that this is not what was going on, according to the person living in the house they were in front of. He sounds quite angry and says that the congregation are "a part of the neighborhood". That puts another light on this entirely.

They're 'part of the neighbourhood' in the same sense that some arrogant, inappropriate uncle is part of a family.  They've been here a long time and we usually tolerate them, but they don't live in the area and they are never involved in street festivals, outdoor conversation gatherings, election campaigns etc.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

janew wrote:
I don't actually think they target same sex couples, which is not to say that they're not homophobic, but not in the blatant way the the media coverage suggests. They're just typical pushy, self-righteous religious fundamentalists.

It's odd that it's become a racial issue because even though their main spokesman on the video is black, the congregation is mostly white. The guy with the white hair in the video is the leader. That's the one good thing I would say about this group. They don't seem to be racist.

Thanks for your perspective, jane. It helps fill out the picture of what's going on here.

 

Pants-of-dog

Unionist wrote:

...Organized religion - and I mean every fucking single one of them (whew, sorry for shouting) - gives its adherents the crackpot delusion that they have a right and duty to bother other people - ignore other people - humiliate other people - dehumanize other people - butcher and rape and slaughter other people. Those in the ascendancy of political power just sometimes act a little more polite than others.

 

I am not so sure that is true. While many organised religions can be used, are used, and have been used as you describe, this is not universal. The peace churches are a good example of organised religious communites that are respectful of others.

 


Unionist wrote:
...

Anyone who suggests religion is the source of all evil is providing cover for imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, fascism.

Anyone who suggests organized religion can play a progressive role in today's world is doing exactly the same thing.

....

If anyone makes noise in my street in praise of God - yes, even if their skin pigment is noticeable - they will feel the wrath of Allah in short order.

I agree that religion, while it can be used as a justification for immoral acts, is not necessary for such justification.

I do not agree that organised religion can not play a progressive role in today's societies. Martin Luther King Junior's life and legacy disprove that, as does Arcbishop Romero. Even the Vatican (one of the least progressive institutions in the world) is criticising Sarkozy about French treatment of Roma.

Having said that, the history of organised religion is such that it is logical to assume that organised religion (especially if the more powerful clergy are friends with the secular powers that be) will be on the same side as the oppressors rather than the oppressed.

 


 

As to the OP, I would err on the side of freedom of speech. Yes, the "crazy old uncle" church group can proselytise, but the local community also has the right to assemble and speak out against the proselytisation. I have not seen th eyoutube video, but the articles seem to indicate that both sides are being respectful.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
People have a right to assemble and speak in public.

 

Would you say the same if people tried to shut down some Zionists? Just wondering.

 

That's happened at at least one Canadian university. Was this your response at the time?

6079_Smith_W

@ Cueball #74

As you said in #39 it was in some ways pretty simple.

Those people in the neighbourhood who did not appreciate the group's actions voiced their opinion and asked them to leave.

They complied (responding that it was the peoples' "choice" to not like the preaching, and pledging in the name of god to come back).

I know that many of these churches require that their members do this sort of thing as part of their duty to god, but if they are informed clearly that their message is not welcome it begs the question of what they think they are doing - trying to save others, or just working out their own religious trip at the expense of other people?

Is there some reason why they can't choose a truly public space like a park or downtown plaza like many religious groups do? Or do they choose a quiet residential street because they feel it is their duty to be persecuted by unbelievers while doing Christ's work? There are certainly enough stirring bible stories about that. On the other hand, god didn't make Abraham hang around in Sodom for seven years annoying everyone while waiting for righteous people. After one day he told him to get Lot and get out, then he fired up the BBQ.

I think I would give the feelings of the people who actually lived on that street at least as much consideration as people coming in from some other part of town who have plenty of choices where to stage their passion plays.

remind remind's picture

Thanks Janew, it had sounded like something had changed, component wise.

...perhaps the "end of days" preaching is getting to them, and they want to save as many souls as possible? ;)

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I don't believe this should be dignified as a "freedom of speech" issue - it is a bylaw/appropriate use issue and one in which it appears that, yet again, a religious group seems to think they are automatically worthy of some exemption from the regulations that apply to the population at large. From the video linked in the OP it appears to be a residential street and the "public" quality of such a street means that everyone has the right to unimpeded passage on the street and sidewalk and not a heck of a lot else.

If the group that had been disruptive had been a commerical entity, or a sports team, or even a political party I would assume that Toronto's bylaws are not so radically different from Calgary's that a commercial entity, sports team or party would be allowed to conduct their disruption without having first obtained a permit from the city to conduct their activity. This applies particularly to streets and pathways as well as areas where the "public" right extends beyond the right to unimpeded passage (such as a park). Why do religious groups seem to act as if these requirements for permits and the like don't apply to them?

I think this issue gets my back up based on my past experience of living in too close proximity to a couple of churches and having had their disruptive behaviour negatively impact me. The specific instance that is foremost in my mind involved a Baptist church of a particular evangelical bent that would, seemingly randomly, hold two and three day "revivals" in the parking lot behind their place of worship (and almost directly across the street from the building where I was renting an apartment). Working graveyard shifts at the time, you could imagine how pleasant it was to have amplifiers blare out the "non-normative Canadian accents" [in my experience they were usually American "southern" or "bible belt" accents - although the individuals possessing these accents were in my experience inevitably as "lily-white" as the congregants] shrieking about hellfire and damnation and the need to be washed in the blood of the lamb starting about 90 minutes after I had gotten home from my shift and was trying to go to sleep. Having contacted both local bylaw enforcement and the city police I was able to discover that no permit had been applied for or approved for the use of the outdoor sound amplification despite it being a requirement under local bylaws (and having looked at the links remind provided, it seems to be a requirement in Toronto as well) - and one that bylaw enforcement officers declinied to enforce "because it was a religious group".

Now I do accept that there are certain built-in disadvantages to living in proximity to a "place of worship" - at least one day a week there will probably be an issue about parking, a lot of Christian places of worship will insist on the loud ringing of bells for some of their ceremonies, and while I have not lived in close proximity to a mosque I can picture the adhan being a bit of an aural intrusion. But these are relatively predictable occurrences and to the extent one can afford the luxury of choice in where one resides, are something that one would factor into the decision of whether to rent or purchase housing in proximity to a place of worship. Loud outdoor "revivals", impromptu sermonizing sessions on the street and other noisy activities on the part of the god-ridden are not, however, predictable and I think expecting that they will go through the screening process of getting a permit to conduct these activities before indulging in them is not unreasonable. I also think that there should be no surprise if such permits are refused on the basis that a strictly or primarily residential street is not the appropriate venue for such outdoor activities.

I have no idea of the demographics of the neighbourhood along Highfield Road (whether they are in fact "white hipsters" as Catchfire describes them or "multi-racial and gay positive" as janew has mentioned), no idea if they are owners or renters, whether or not this is considered a desirable area to live (for whatever reason). In the final analysis it is not terribly important to me if it is made up of expensive owner-occupied single-family residences, or cheek-by-jowl studio apartments - the residents should still have the reasonable expectation of relatively peaceful enjoyment of their place of residence. Having a group sermonizing or testifying at the end of one's sidewalk is disruptive and is something that ought to be regulated.

As to the posters talking about proseltyzing groups bothering them at their doorways... strangely enough posting one of those "no peddlars or agents" signs is remarkably effective, adding the words "no proselytizers" even more so. Also, answering the door in your housecoat in the middle of the day, hair askew, eyes blurry and saying "this better be important, some of us work nights you know" not only will see them scurry down the steps, they often actually apologize for waking you up!

 

Cueball Cueball's picture

bagkitty wrote:

I don't believe this should be dignified as a "freedom of speech" issue - it is a bylaw/appropriate use issue and one in which it appears that, yet again, a religious group seems to think they are automatically worthy of some exemption from the regulations that apply to the population at large.

I am getting really tired of by-laws being used to shut down free assembly and speech. Didn't we get enough of that at the G20? Didn't we get enough whining from the press and the general public when the Tamils were protesting last year?

Reducing rights to "lowest common denominator" values, by which I mean any perceived harm to anyone is construed as reason enough to make a by-law (pit bulls is a good example) and then enforce it, is killing our culture and our society, and notion of freedom piecemeal, like an attack by Pirranah.

If the issue was open hate speech and other vulgar abuse of individuals, I would be more supportive, but one group of people, in this case the majority of people in a neighborhood should not have the right to simply bar people from being in their streets just because the majority (in this case) don't like their views. Indeed, its not even clear it is the majority, since we now see that even the person who was theoretically being "targeted" disagreed:

Quote:
"We don't even know the people that started this," he said. "So the people who are apparently our defenders, we don't even know who they are."

Homeless people are not technically residents of any neighborhood, but I don't think that means that they are not part of my neighborhood, and community.

ripvanwinkle

janew wrote:
They're 'part of the neighbourhood' in the same sense that some arrogant, inappropriate uncle is part of a family.  They've been here a long time and we usually tolerate them, but they don't live in the area and they are never involved in street festivals, outdoor conversation gatherings, election campaigns etc.

My friends and I do not have to live on your street or in your neighbourhood if we wish to peacefully assemble on your street or in your neighbourhood, and then proceed to preach whatever political/religious/social ideology we like. The street you live on is a public place, and no more belongs to you than to any other citizen of Canada. The question of where these preachers are from the neighbourhood is, I believe, a red herring: whether their actions are illegal or respectful or injunctionable or delightful or obnoxious is independent of whether they happen to live around the corner or across town. The right to peaceful assembly is not the right to peacefully assemble in only one's own neighbourhood.

 

I want to be clear: I am not defending the actions of this group, or attacking them. I am simply arguing that the question of what neighbourhood they live or work in is a red herring.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 The question of where these preachers are from the neighbourhood is, I believe, a red herring: whether their actions are illegal or respectful or injunctionable or delightful or obnoxious is independent of whether they happen to live around the corner or across town.

I think it speaks to their intentions. If all they want is some fresh air, one would think they might choose to go outside in their own neighbourhood. If they wanted a specific audience other than themselves -- say, a gay couple -- then they'd travel to that audience's neighbourhood.
If I just want to rant about God-botherers I can do so on my own front lawn. If I stand outside of their church to do so, doesn't that suggest I'm not just looking to get outdoors??
What you've said -- and I don't disagree -- is that neighbours don't "own" their neighbourhood and that non-neighbours can't, for example, be charged with tresspassing.

6079_Smith_W

Do we really need to amp up the rhetoric to ultimate expressions of free speech? Let's remember we are doing this on a website on which we have already all agreed to limits to that perfect ideal - with good reason.

There's a loosely-applied bylaw in our city that allows people the freedom to have backyard fires unless somebody objects to it. That seems to me to be a measure of reasonable accomodation. The alternative - if someone ever decided to act like a fucking jerk about it - would probably be an outright ban. Given the anarchist and common interest ideal which seems to prevail here is it really a good idea to take this one to the wall as an academic exercise on personal liberty? How about we transplant this line of reasoning to the gun control thread?

So again, before we turn up the heat on this issue let's remember that no one has actually infringed on anyone's right to do anything yet. The people in the neighbourhood told the religious people to fuck off and they complied. And let's also remember that these religious people have a whole great city with lots of spaces that have much higher foot traffic and out of earshot of people who are sleeping or might want to enjoy a quiet evening.

I would also submit that these religious people might be looking for bragging rights, and going out of their way to provoke a fight so they can fancy themselves walking in  the shoes of the great prophets of old, even though no one is likely to pull their teeth out, burn them, crucify them, or saw them in half.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I have to disagree quite strongly with you Cueball. I was tempted to suggest that you invite this group over to testify "Chez Cue" but realized that would not be a good equivalent... they would have been invited rather than simply appearing and the invitation itself would lessen what I consider the type of arrogance they are displaying.

More fundamentally, I think a large part of my disagreeing with you has to do with my belief that not all "public" spaces are interchangeable. To me there is a clear distiniction between say Nathan Phillips Square or Queen's Park and a residential street like Highfield Road. While I freely acknowledge there is a public right of way on the roadways and sidewalks through residential streets I do not think it is unreasonable to assert that not all activities are or should be permissible there. I think there are reasons that the kinds of marches and demonstrations you referred to (G20 and Tamils) tend to take place in Queen's Park and Nathan Phillips Square, or along primarily commercial streets, than through suburban subdivisions or urban residential streets. In such places (dare I call them capital P Public spaces) there is not the same expectation that the peaceful enjoyment of residency will not be disturbed - indeed residency itself is not a factor that need be considered in many of them. While the matter is complicated when there is mixed residential and commercial use of a street, (and assuming again the luxury of being able to freely choose where one resides) the expectations are at least partially different and more disruption by Public activities is one of those expectations.

While I recognize there is an assault of assembly and speech in captial P Public spaces, I don't think it is necessary to go so far as to assert that anythings goes anywhere that is even remotely public - I think there are also communal rights to be taken into consideration - whether the members of the community (residents) are owners or renters or affluent or not and that respectful compromise amongst neighbours within a community about what constitutes peaceful enjoyment is important... or as, to borrow 6079's phrasing, there should be reasonable accomodation... which in the case at hand would mean at least seeking a permit and public input before occupying space on a residential street and sermonizing and testifying. If the residents wanted to conduct a street carnival or party or the like, I am sure there would be consultation with those affected and a permit sought before assembling in the street... why should god-ridden interlopers be allowed to act differently? Why should they be given a free pass?

Cueball Cueball's picture

Snert wrote:
Quote:
 The question of where these preachers are from the neighbourhood is, I believe, a red herring: whether their actions are illegal or respectful or injunctionable or delightful or obnoxious is independent of whether they happen to live around the corner or across town.


I think it speaks to their intentions. If all they want is some fresh air, one would think they might choose to go outside in their own neighbourhood. If they wanted a specific audience other than themselves -- say, a gay couple -- then they'd travel to that audience's neighbourhood.
If I just want to rant about God-botherers I can do so on my own front lawn. If I stand outside of their church to do so, doesn't that suggest I'm not just looking to get outdoors??
What you've said -- and I don't disagree -- is that neighbours don't "own" their neighbourhood and that non-neighbours can't, for example, be charged with tresspassing.

Does this speak to their intentions (again from the "targeted" person who objected to their ejection) :

Quote:
He said the parishioners preached on the street long before he and Collins, 47, arrived 13 years ago. Moreover, he said, he and Collins have never felt personally targeted by the parishioners, have never heard them say anything homophobic, and have not even been present for three years on the summer Sundays when the infrequent sermons occur.

Seems to me that there is substantive evidence that these people go from their Church to do their "witnessing" thing in the neighborhood, and have been doing so for quite some time.

Cueball Cueball's picture

bagkitty wrote:
I think there are reasons that the kinds of marches and demonstrations you referred to (G20 and Tamils) tend to take place in Queen's Park and Nathan Phillips Square, or along primarily commercial streets, than through suburban subdivisions or urban residential streets.

Nope. The police attack upon demonstrator took place outside the detention center in a residential neighborhood, very similar to the one we are talking about. In fact, some of this stuff even drifted quite close to my neighborhood. Indeed Toronto is filled with such residential neighborhoods, and any public demonstration will, just as a result of the geography of the city intersect residential areas.

Sorry. Going after religious people for standing around on the street reading out loud is just not on.

Of course, the "left" always finds "good" reasons to abandon principles when attacking people it does not agree with. Unfortunately, they reap what they sow, in arguing for justifications that allow for increased state powers to limit their own free expression and their rights, in the name of the "majority".

milo204

i agree with bagkitty, and Smith's comment about the backyard fire rule is a good point of reference.

if you want to gather and shout about whatever myths you ascribe to, go for it.  But if you do it in a residential neighborhood where the only people who can hear you are the people who live in the surrounding houses, and they ask you to stop,  you should stop and go somewhere else.

the main issue here is why do the religious people feel it necessary to make a public display in this particular location.  if they can provide some reason maybe we can sympathize with them, but they haven't.  

 

ripvanwinkle

Imagine the following scenario.

Twelve or fifteen anti-poverty activists stand on a street corner in Rosedale, peacefully singing songs and peacefully reading allowed from Marx, occasionally muttering "hear hear". No bullhorns, no yelling. Justing singing and reading. Rosedalers approach them saying, "You're not from our neighbourhood, go away. Go do this in your own neighbourhood. This is not a (capital P capital S) Public Space. This is our street, our neighbourhood and we disagree with your ideals." Rosedalers call the police.

How would babblers respond?

milo204

that's a pretty hypothetical situation.  perhaps another example might be the protests outside the CEO of shell's mansion.

in that case, since it's a sprawling mansion, there are no neighbors to really disturb.  Also, they had some tangible reason for doing it as in the CEO of shell is responsible for untold environmental/human degradation.  In that case, they wanted to meet with the CEO as he had refused all other attempts to meet with them so it was a last resort.  When he met with them, they eventually left.

i think a more apt analogy for the religious folks is:

a gathering of 15 star trek fans decide to hold a weekly (for several years) convention with speakers and singers on a completely random residential street, and get all up in arms when the people who live there ask them nicely to leave for several years and finally tell them to fuck off when the trekkies refuse, although they proclaim "we'll be back!!"

i'm more sympathetic to disrupting people when there is a reason.  there is no reason at all why these folk need to yell about god on this particular street.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

ripvanwinkle wrote:

Imagine the following scenario.

Twelve or fifteen anti-poverty activists stand on a street corner in Rosedale, peacefully singing songs and peacefully reading allowed from Marx, occasionally muttering "hear hear". No bullhorns, no yelling. Justing singing and reading. Rosedalers approach them saying, "You're not from our neighbourhood, go away. Go do this in your own neighbourhood. This is not a (capital P capital S) Public Space. This is our street, our neighbourhood and we disagree with your ideals." Rosedalers call the police.

How would babblers respond?

Frankly, I would expect the police would have turned up without being called. Having been in non-demonstration settings where 4 or more people were "talking while not resident" on the street both in Mount Royal (in Calgary) and Westmount (in Montreal) [in both instances taking the route through the posh district was the most direct route to where we were heading]. I believe the constabulary (Calgary) or private security types (Westmount) were on the scene within about three or four minutes of us having coming to a stop on the sidewalk, hardly enough time for a local to have called and a unit been dispatched.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

@Post 88

Detention centers in residential areas? Damn you Central Canadian Overlords think of everything, good way of dealing with unruly house parties. Yet another reason I am glad I don't reside in Toronto.

janew

 

Quote:
My friends and I do not have to live on your street or in your neighbourhood if we wish to peacefully assemble on your street or in your neighbourhood, and then proceed to preach whatever political/religious/social ideology we like. The street you live on is a public place, and no more belongs to you than to any other citizen of Canada. The question of where these preachers are from the neighbourhood is, I believe, a red herring: whether their actions are illegal or respectful or injunctionable or delightful or obnoxious is independent of whether they happen to live around the corner or across town. The right to peaceful assembly is not the right to peacefully assemble in only one's own neighbourhood.

 

I agree.  I don't think neighbourhoods should be bastions that keep 'outsiders' away.  There are times when I might want to be able to protest in a residential neighbourhood as well.  I do think that it's confrontational though when the neighbourhood says they don't want you there.  You should still be able to do it, but if 'helping people' or 'sharing the love' or 'converting them to your cause' is the goal, I don't think you'll be very effective.  If on the other hand you want to punish them or embarass them then it might be an effective thing to do.  I think it's disingenuous of the church congregation to claim that their intentions are friendly when they are pursuing a blatantly confrontational tactic.  I think our neighbourhood has actually been very non-responsive to them (appropriately IMO) but I guess they pushed too many buttons on Sunday.

I think the earlier comment about them being part of the neighbourhood suggested that this was not an aggressive action but rather just a disagreement between community members.  That's not the case.  I'm sure they don't think of the residents as part of their community either.

 

 

 

Skinny Dipper

Mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi, comments about the occurence:

Rossi Defends Freedom of Peaceful Assembly

Toronto mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi has issued the following comment regarding a confrontation between residents and members of a church group Sunday evening in Leslieville.

TORONTO, ONTARIO-(Marketwire - Aug. 25, 2010) - People of faith have enriched Toronto. They put their faith into action. They make our city more compassionate and caring.

People of faith have every right to practise their faith in public, so long as they do so legally.

Last Sunday evening, members of Highfield Road Baptist Church were on a public street doing exactly that.

An altercation occurred between the church group and some residents in the neighbourhood.

An allegation has been made by one resident that church members focused their prayers on a house apparently owned by a gay couple, who were not home at the time.

Other residents, and several members of the church, have denied this was the case.

The incident ended with church members being asked to stop their lawful activities and being made to feel unwelcome in a community they have served for more than 70 years.

I believe this is a very slippery slope.

Toronto is the most diverse city on earth.

We cannot shut our ears to different opinions.

We must open our ears and our eyes to the variety of beliefs and lifestyles that have come here to live in peace.

I want Torontonians to know that when I am mayor, I will stand up for their beliefs.

I stood up for Pride. I marched and sang and rallied for hours on end.

My support for gay rights is clear and on the record.

And when I'm mayor, I'll stand up for faith.

When I'm mayor, people will never have to apologize for what they believe.

And when I'm mayor, people will never have to apologize for their sexual orientation.

So far as I know the other night, no laws were broken and people dispersed peacefully.

It was a minor incident on a small street in the east end.

But it has major implications for every street in our city.

The motto of our city is "Diversity is our Strength."

We are a city of immigrants, of different beliefs, colours and sexual orientations. Living together and accepting one another is key to our prosperity. Recognizing everyone's right to assemble and gather peacefully is key to our living together in harmony.

That's how we will co-exist in this city when I'm mayor.

By sharing rights - - Not taking them away.

Do the religious people have a right to peaceful assembly? Sure, they do?

Do people have the right to voice their opposition. I think so too. After all, Rossi did mention, "We cannot shut our ears to different opinions."

While Rocco Rossi was marching in the Pride Parade carrying his Pride and Israeli flags, advocates for the current pro-apartheid state of Israel were advocating that those in opposition to Israel had no right to peaceful assembly in the Pride parade.

I do think that one can support a multicultural society while thinking critically about different cultural viewpoints. While I can tolerate a woman wearing a niqab, do I accept it? No. I think it dehumanizes that woman. Do I tolerate someone who opposes abortion? Yes, I do. I would rather have someone verbally express his or her opposition than act physically to harm women and abortion providers. I can tolerate other people's opinions even though I may not accept them.

If the religious wing-nuts can freely spew their garbage in front of someone's property. Other's should be allowed to challenge their filth. Today, it's religious wing-nuts; tomorrow, it might be McDonald's giving free samples to the neighbourhood children. That corporation can argue that it is not commerical if their is no exchange in money.

Cueball Cueball's picture

janew wrote:

 

Quote:
My friends and I do not have to live on your street or in your neighbourhood if we wish to peacefully assemble on your street or in your neighbourhood, and then proceed to preach whatever political/religious/social ideology we like. The street you live on is a public place, and no more belongs to you than to any other citizen of Canada. The question of where these preachers are from the neighbourhood is, I believe, a red herring: whether their actions are illegal or respectful or injunctionable or delightful or obnoxious is independent of whether they happen to live around the corner or across town. The right to peaceful assembly is not the right to peacefully assemble in only one's own neighbourhood.

 

I agree.  I don't think neighbourhoods should be bastions that keep 'outsiders' away.  There are times when I might want to be able to protest in a residential neighbourhood as well.  I do think that it's confrontational though when the neighbourhood says they don't want you there.  You should still be able to do it, but if 'helping people' or 'sharing the love' or 'converting them to your cause' is the goal, I don't think you'll be very effective.  If on the other hand you want to punish them or embarass them then it might be an effective thing to do.  I think it's disingenuous of the church congregation to claim that their intentions are friendly when they are pursuing a blatantly confrontational tactic.  I think our neighbourhood has actually been very non-responsive to them (appropriately IMO) but I guess they pushed too many buttons on Sunday.

Indeed protest against Ernst Zundel were organized outside his house, in a residential neighborhood.

As for these people, again, all I can say is that so far I haven't seen any evidence that they were being confrontational in this manner. As I earlier referenced, the people living at the house supposedly "targeted", didn't feel "targeted", felt these people were part of the community, and indeed noted that these people had been doing their "witnessing" schtick long before they moved into the house.

As far as these evangelical types are concerned they could go onto any street in Toronto and be preaching the gods word in the face of sin. To my mind, unless there was something openly agressive and or homophobic that targeted persons in the community, or the community as a whole, these people get a pass.

milo204

i would disagree.  i think coming into an area and shouting about your religion when clearly the people there don't want you to and have asked you to leave is confrontational.  not physically, but i imagine if this were happening on my street i would see this as confrontational the moment someone said "please don't do this here" and they responded "we'll be back!"

why this street?  why target these people with their religious ranting?  i mean, it seems to me they are looking for confrontation.

still i'm not sure why they insist on doing their ranting in this spot.  someone raised the issue of freedom of assembly, but a protest would have a specific reason if it was to take place on a particular street, like someone mentioned with zundel.  in this case they have absolutley no reason for choosing this street as opposed to the one over.

i mean i'm all about exercising the right to assembly and i do it all the time, but if someone held a WEEKLY protest in solidarity with palestinians in the OT on a random residential street completely unconnected to the conflict, i'd understand when after a few years the residents said "okay enough, can you do this somewhere else now we'd like some peace and quiet"

 

milo204

not to mention it must be weird for any kids that live on that street to have to see that week in and week out.  Really religious people always freaked me out as a kid.

Cueball Cueball's picture

milo204 wrote:

i would disagree.  i think coming into an area and shouting about your religion when clearly the people there don't want you to and have asked you to leave is confrontational.  not physically, but i imagine if this were happening on my street i would see this as confrontational the moment someone said "please don't do this here" and they responded "we'll be back!"

People keep insisting that these people specifically targeted this neighborhood. Yet, the very people most directly affected by this, the people who live right where they usually come to stand, say that they did not feel targeted, and that these people had been doing this since before the couple moved into the house.

I have Jehovah Witnessess and the Muslim Brotherhood in my neighborhood all the time and I don't feel particularly targeted. Now, if they started coming after me personally, that would be a different story. But no one is saying these people were doing anything other than reading from the bible in public, in an orderly manner.

Saying that the confrontation begins when the guys says "we'll be back next year" amounts to the begining of the confrontation, when peoples right to free expression is being opposed, is precisely the same argument being used in the USA to suggest that Muslims are causing the problem, because they are being disrespectful by not relenting to the demand to move the Muslim community center at ground zero.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

milo, it seems that their church is on the same street from what i've read or is named after it anyway.  that's why they're on this street.

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