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Eric Blair's Profile

Eric Blair's Avatar Joined almost 7 years ago
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Go to: Adoption and religion (UK)

Eric Blair's Avatar Jump to comment 54 by Eric Blair

In Manitoba (Canada) where I live, 75-80% of kids in care are Aboriginal and, reflecting the social reality of their environment, most have either suffered physical abuse or neglect, or have major development and learning disorders like ADHD and FAS-FAE. If this weren't enough to make them less "desirable" as adoptees, many are taken into state care as toddlers, not infants (usually after a series of attempts to work with the mother and place the kids with other family members).

Theoretically, the agencies follow the principle that native kids should only go to native adoptive parents. But the sad reality is native adoptive parents are few and far between, and in fact there are few couples of any background seeking to adopt "older" children with such known and unknown disabilities.

My wife and I adopted a beautiful five-year-old girl 14 years ago and never regretted it. She has mild ADHD and a not so mild natural stubborn character. Both have made parenting her and pushing/dragging her through school an endless series of challenges. But she graduated high school and is now seeking a trade and job suited to her nature. We almost never think of her as adopted - she's just our daughter.

But had she, as a partly Aboriginal child, been routed through a different agency, she might have been lost in limbo for even more years, faced more challenges than she has.

We're just glad that one child slipped past the politics and bureaucracy.


Mon, 15 Aug 2011 04:23:44 UTC | #861147

Go to: Austrian driver's religious headgear strains credulity

Eric Blair's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by Eric Blair

Ha! That's sure using your noodle....

But the fact the government allows this exception for pastafarians - as yet unrecognized - raises the question why passport photos have this no headgear stipulation in the first place.

Put another way, if it's important for security or identification reasons that no one wear a hat, then no one should wear a hat. And if it's not, or if it's just a bureaucratic overstep, as it appears, then dispense with the rule.

I'm embarrassed to say that where I live Muslim women can have their driver's licence photo taken with a full-face niqab. Kind of defeats the purpose, and a waste of time and money. Why not just use a standard picture of a niqab with no one in it?


Wed, 13 Jul 2011 18:28:30 UTC | #849469

Go to: Tolerance versus Approval

Eric Blair's Avatar Jump to comment 179 by Eric Blair

The arguments supporting the bus driver, such as they are, have been quite shredded by others, despite the general agreement about the lamentable message of the burqa/niqab.

I think liberal principles - and not simply "PC" thinking - tell us the bus driver has no business refusing to allow the woman on his bus. They also suggest France's buqa ban is wrong.

The analysis that would allow either measure amounts to thinking a hand grenade is an ideal way to kill a flea; the result is a fully splattered flea and much collateral damage.

The true challenge that face-coverings reveal (... so to speak) are the oppression of Muslim women and the growing isolation of Muslim communities outside the Western mainstream. These responses do nothing to deal with either.

The burqa banners (on buses or elsewhere) will always be sorely tested by defenders of simple, pragmatic liberalism because such formal restrictions clearly impinge on individual freedoms, including religion. Such freedoms are not absolute, and, yes, there are several public situations (access to banks, public security systems, activity like driving where the veils endanger others) where people should not be permitted to conceal their identities.

But delineating and exempting these situations from human rights laws is hardly complicated, and once this is done, there is little to talk about besides prejudice and one's personal hopes for a perfect world where everyone is enlightened.

Enough said.


Tue, 12 Jul 2011 21:58:11 UTC | #849130

Go to: Sam Harris on accommodationism

Eric Blair's Avatar Jump to comment 36 by Eric Blair

It may be condescending to assume most religious people, when confronted with an intellectual choice between evolution (or science) and faith, will choose faith. But I think it’s presumptuous to say that such a choice must be made, or in fact that this is a new situation.

The potential for conflict between evolution (science) and Christianity, especially more literal interpretations, has been evident since at least Darwin’s time. Various strands of Christianity have been re-casting their dogma in light of evolution ever since and many found ways to square the circle.

(Whether atheists think evolution and Christianity are compatible – or whether Christians who believe so are “intellectually dishonest” – is irrelevant, except as an opinion. Many Christians (and Jews and perhaps Muslims) have accepted evolution and will continue to do, regardless of what atheists say.)

Obviously, no one should expect Dawkins or likeminded atheists to say anything they don’t believe in, in order to help smooth the acceptance of evolution among the religious minded. But then I don’t know why anyone would think those resisting evolution would be likely to be convinced by Dawkins anyway – quite the opposite, in fact.

From a strategic point of view, someone like Francis Collins or a conservative Christian leader who has accepted evolution, would be a more effective “converter.”

But I think this “crisis” is exaggerated. Denying evolution and reason is simply stupid, and will have pretty direct and immediate consequences on schools and communities that hobble their children in this way, especially those seeking to advance in sciences. Concrete limitations on the career plans of their children are more likely to have an impact on parents and school boards than talking about how old the earth is, and “gaps,” and non-overlapping magisterial and what Francis Collins believes is true.


Fri, 13 May 2011 22:02:02 UTC | #626591

Go to: Religious indoctrination of children - what should we do?

Eric Blair's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Eric Blair

Ignorant Amos:

But who decides what is detrimental to a child's health and well being?


Yes, in general. More specifically, a social worker (or perhaps the police). The dilemma, as I have said, will always be whether removing the child from their natural family is better than leaving them there. Adoption in such circumstances is actually fairly rare, with many of these kids languishing in foster homes for years - and often bouncing among temporary homes and institutions. The "solution" to abuse often just adds new problems for the child.

Is a religious upbringing really detrimental to a child's health and well being?


If you are saying that every form of religious upbringing is abusive, then I think you are wrong - or you are diluting the term abusive to almost meaninglessness. Your view would mean most of us, and certainly our parents and grandparents, were abused.

You may believe people are better off without a religious upbringing but that is quite different from saying it is by definition abusive.

And, of course, if you mean for this opinion to be the basis of policy, you would need to provide evidence both in general and for particular situations.

Just because we hold strong opinions about religion and child abuse should not mean we are complacent about how we would let the state intervene in people's lives.


Thu, 12 May 2011 18:30:07 UTC | #626265

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