Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

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"A religious song and dance routine!"

Shane Collens • 23 June 2005 • 420 words
Published in Trinidad Express, Trinidad Guardian, Newsday and Probe

What does interrupting a college students’ graduation dance and flushing the Qu'ran down a toilet have in common?

The blatant disregard for, and trashing of, a person’s right to pursue and enjoy the practices and rituals of their choice so long as they cause no harm to others.

I am referring to ASJA’s decision to send in security guards to stop a graduation dance of the Charlieville ASJA Girls' College, as reported in the daily press on Tuesday. ASJA’s grounds was that it was against the “religious teachings” of the school. Yet the students had obtained the principal's permission, and the dance, it should be noted, was not being held on an ASJA venue, but at the Center Pointe Mall auditorium. I wonder if it was the mall security who stopped the dance or members of “a well-known Muslim organisation”, to use the now-popular phrase. And, if it was the latter, was their action even legal?

Perhaps more importantly, the interruption of the ASJA students’ Graduation Dance was a denial of the students’ rite of passage. It was a denial of their right to choose how they celebrate a most important landmark of their life for which they can never revisit. No wonder the young women were in tears.

Also, can you imagine what a young man of sixteen, all dressed up and charged, hormones about to set off a chain reaction, possibly in front of his first date, would feel had it happened to him? It needs very little imagination to see that the cycle of violence, repeating amongst young people in our nation is also fuelled by the oppressive religious, politically inept ‘education’ authorities. Violence in young people, if I judge from my own youthful recollections, is as much to do with the lack of reasoning and rational explanations from authority when trying to impose unreasonable and irrational rules and dogma.

I will leave you with a history from Plato who wrote of Socrates and how he was sentenced to death for the charge of “corrupting the young”. I charge ASJA, from their behaviour above and their “religious teachings”, for being abusive as well as corrupting the young. For Socrates only had reason, ethics and compassion to ‘discuss’, not ‘teach’, but his death warrant was signed by the fact that he encouraged the young to question.

I think we adults had better start listening!

Shane Collens, Parent

See: TT Humanist : Views : Sexuality : Global Extracts

See: TT Humanist Statement on "Enlightened Education"



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