Sunsara Taylor stands up to EHSC! Cameraman arrested!
I feel the need to highlight the recent trials and tribulations of Sunsara Taylor with the Ethical Society of Chicago as she is a friend of mine, and this issue is of obvious importance to her. Sunsara has given me the fuel to give brief mention to a past issue I feel that the Ethical Society of Philadelphia helped hinder the advancement of non-believer unity in Philadelphia. If you can believe it Sunsara is even more of a rabble rouser than I am, while she staged a scene, I quietly backed away and just pretended it never happened. Today I speak up, because of Sunsara.
About two years ago a group was formed called PhillyCor, I'm close with quite a few people involved in the forming of the group. The group was formed to connect local freethought and humanist groups, and RRS is based out of Philadelphia. Being that we had the largest global presence of any of the groups in Philadelphia it made sense for us to be involved, and we would've embraced the role. We would've adapted to fit within the groups model, we would've helped raise money, and most importantly spread the word on a much larger scale than the group was capable of. In fact this is the first time I ever link to the group, because when the opportunity arose for RRS to be in the group, the Ethical Society essentially stated it's us or them.
If you're from the Philadelphia area you'd know well that the Ethical Society of Philly owns a gorgeous building in the center of town that is frequently used for freethought gatherings by the groups currently in PhillyCor, and this was considered to be an important piece of the puzzle. In fairness, this wasn't the only issue, there were also some rumors that muddied that waters, the point is I didn't find their ethics to be those I'd share. While it may seem understandable to exclude a confrontational group, it's not understandable that they never asked us to address their concerns which I believe were based on lies and misrepresentations made about us. Their action spits in the face of the inclusive nature that the group was designed for. It's hard to have a coalition when you exclude the largest and most recognized group from your target area. Today I'm actually glad I'm not part of the COR considering the recent acceptance of money and connection to Greg Epstein that is permeating COR groups. If you don't know about Greg see here: Humanist chaplain Greg Epstein wants you to join him, asshole - Greg Epstein ≠ humanism - Greg Epstein seeking further embarrassment?
Now with that little story out of the way, I bring you Sunsara's most recent blog on her issues with the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago.
On Sunday, November 1st, plainclothes and uniformed police who had been called in earlier by officials of the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) dragged out, maced and arrested a man for videotaping Sunsara Taylor as she stood near her seat and made a statement before the start of that morning’s program about the shameful cancellation of her long planned talk to EHSC that day on the topic “Morality without Gods.”
The shocking incident took place at the insistence of the president of EHSC. About 40 people witnessed the videographer being brutalized by the police in the foyer of the facility. An attorney demanded that the police stop brutalizing him when five officers piled on him as he lay face down on the floor. 6 police cars arrived within minutes.
The day before, during a workshop on the same premises which the president and other board members of the EHS were at, Sunsara explained very clearly that she would be attending the opening of the EHS's Sunday gathering and giving the EHS the opportunity to do the right thing and allow her talk to go forward, up until the last minute. If the EHS still refused to let her give her talk, she explained that she would leave and give her talk in “exile” at the nearby home of one of the EHS members.
The statement can be viewed here.
Also see Sunsara Taylor undeterred
In her brief statement at the EHS on Sunday morning, Sunsara Taylor challenged the very wrong decision to cancel her speaking engagement and pointed out how this is contributing to a chilling atmosphere in society as a whole and has happened all too frequently to people who challenge the dominant narrative (like Ward Churchill, Noman Finkelstein and the director of Milk who was recently “disinvited” from Hope College, etc.). Taylor stated that while the group had the “bureaucratic right” to disinvite her, it didn’t make it any more “right” than the voters in California passing Prop 8. She also invited those who wanted to hear her speak to come to her “talk in exile” at the home of a member of the EHSC.
At no point during her brief statement was Sunsara asked to stop speaking or to leave the premises. And at no point was anyone who was there to support her, including the photographer, asked to leave. It is telling that the only person singled out by the police, at the request of the president of the Society, was the man documenting what Sunsara was saying.
The videographer was simply trying to document and guard the truth of what Sunsara was saying in her brief statement. Sunsara’s words had been grossly distorted and taken out of context by some members of the EHSC who were the driving forces behind canceling her speech.
What kind of ethics and morals is the EHSC upholding and modeling through the great lengths it has gone to in suppressing Sunsara Taylor’s talk on Morality without Gods? A number of their own members expressed disagreement with the cancellation and a number of prominent people from around the country wrote statements in support of Sunsara’s speaking and called on EHSC to rectify its wrong-headed decision. Instead, the board fortified and increasingly defended its decision and created an atmosphere of anti-communist hysteria, fear and rumor-mongering that had no relationship to reality.
The EHS had no legitimate basis to feel the police needed to be there in the first place, except for the rumors and hysteria that they themselves had created. Then, by choosing to set the police upon the person filming they went after the one person who was documenting the truth of Sunsara's words and the fact that Sunsara and others there to support her were acting in no way to disrupt the replacement talk the EHS had planned.
What kind of Ethical Humanist group would create a situation that led directly to the brutal arrest of someone simply for filming Sunsara giving a statement at that point with simply a cell phone? In their zeal to suppress Taylor they went repeatedly against the stated purpose of the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago which includes “the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society...Our commitment is to the worth and dignity of the individual and to treating each human being so as to bring out the best in her or him.”
This attack was in stark contrast to the day before at the EHSC where Sunsara led a well-attended and lively discussion with much audience participation on "Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of Humanity." This whole program was videotaped by the same volunteer photographer.
To call upon the EHSC to drop charges against the photographer and to continue to express their disagreement with their decision to dis-invite Sunsara Taylor contact: 847-677-3334
To find out how to make contributions to the legal defense, contact: