Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Myers on Taylor vs. the EHSC

Deep Rift in Chicago: "Shame on the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago."

I am pleased that the vast majority of Myers commenters support Sunsara Taylor and are disgusted with the EHSC.

A couple of items from my own personal experience:

I know Sunsara personally, and I've heard her speak. She's a terrific speaker and extremely smart and morally grounded. I don't know whether she self-identifies as a humanist, but she is most definitely passionately concerned with the well-being of all humanity, and that's good enough for me. Any organization that considers itself in the least bit open-minded and concerned about ethical humanism would benefit greatly from having her speak.

Unlike some of Myers commenters, I do not believe that there must be "something more" to the story concerning the assault and arrest of the videographer. The police are prone to excessive violence; its an occupational hazard. Oversight and disciple are honored far more in the breach than the observance. In any case of police violence, I presume the officers are guilty until proven innocent.

Basically the police shouldn't have been there in the first place; there was simply no good reason for them to be there in force, only the paranoia and hysteria of the EHSC.

Revolution Magazine and its writers, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Bob Avakian do not advocate a "revolutionary dictatorship" in the sense of putting one person with absolute power in charge of the government. They advocate the dictatorship of the proletariat in contrast to our present system of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, i.e. making the government an instrument of privileging the workers instead of the owners of capital. Whether or not you like the word "dictatorship" it's actually true that we do in fact live under a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; what rights the workers and ordinary people have are granted only by the sufferance of the capitalists. Communism aims to reverse this orientation with the ultimate goal of making a classless society where it becomes meaningless to talk about privileging one class over over another. Whether this goal can be achieved remains to be seen.

In all my dealings with those associated with or promoting the RCP, I have never once encountered anyone perpetrating an offense against reason or truth. I don't agree with everything they say (of course, I don't agree with everything that anyone says) in the complex and emotional field of politics, but they exhibit the highest standards of reasoned evidentiary argumentation and respect for truth.

I am quick and severe to judge offenses against truth without regard for ideology or position (as many atheists and socialists will attest); the RCP has never given me reason to judge them negatively on this issue of paramount importance.

I've actually been a member of a personality cult, and I can attest that while those associated with the RCP have a considerable amount of respect for, loyalty to and appreciation of Bob Avakian (well earned, I might add: Avakian is smart and eloquent, and goes to considerable lengths to substantiate his arguments), the RCP is definitely not a personality cult. I've seen them exhibit nothing more than the ordinary loyalty, discipline and solidarity common to any organization that aspires to effective, organized action.


  1. Communism is one of those things that so far works in theory, but not in practice. It requires everyone within the society to be willing to share equally, and treat each other well, but unfortunately as we've seen so far, people can be greedy, with politicians being no exception. Hence, a truly communist society may not work except in a 'perfect' world.

  2. First, as noted anonymous posts irritate me. Second, you don't know fuck all about communism. Third, neither the actual merits of communism, your opinion of the merits of communism, or the quality of your opinions about communism have fuck all to do with this topic.

    Seriously: go away and come back when we need exponential notation to count your brain cells.

  3. Our Sunday speakers are chosen by a committee of nine people. In July, at one of the committee member’s request, Sunsara was provisionally invited to speak on a topic of morality without gods on November 1. The formal invitation was withheld until the committee was provided with a written description of her talk.

    The formal description was finally received on October 13. Some of the committee felt that the description provided was far outside the topic that was originally proposed. Sunsara was contacted about adjusting her talk to fit what the committee originally thought they were getting. She understandably refused to adjust her talk. The committee decided by a vote of 9 to 2 to cancel Sunsara as a speaker and the cancellation, with apologies, was emailed on October 19.

    (As a side note, I disagreed with the decision to cancel but in a democratic organization the vote doesn’t always go the way you want it to. I even started a petition to reinvite Sunsara but only about 20% of the society signed)

    From October 19 onward Ms. Taylor and her people demanded she be given the November 1 platform. Attempt after attempt was made to find a solution that, although not ideal for either side, was palatable for both. The society bent over backwards to appease this woman. She was given an October 31 platform that was well attended and a member of the society offered her home for Sunsara’s “speech in exile” on November 1. The only thing we would not agree to was having her speak on November 1. All we asked is that she not disrupt the Sunday platform. She did not budge an inch; there was no effort at compromise from her or her people.

    One plain clothes police officer from the Skokie police department was at the society the morning of November 1 because some members felt threatened by the fact that Sunsara would not commit to not disrupting the Sunday program. We had no idea what a Sunsara Taylor inspired protest would entail so the decision was made to err on the side of member safety.

    When Sunsara and her camera man showed up on Sunday they were asked not to enter the building, they ignored this request but no action was taken by the society and they entered privet property.

    After entering the building and our auditorium, Sunsara started to give her speech and her camera man started taping. They were asked to stop and let us continue our event in our building repeatedly. They refused and it is then that we asked the single plain clothes officer for support.

    When the cameraman acted aggressively toward the police officer he called for backup on his radio. Uniformed officers responded to that call. It took five police offers using mace to subdue him. One police officer was injured.


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