2 min

Freedom of belief and valuable life lessons

A horrifying story from Australia, where the local bishop is calling a parliamentary inquiry into sexual abuse at a Catholic Church-run school unneccessary, despite investigators’ finding that as many as 26 of the victims have committed suicide.

Quoth Bishop Peter Connors: “I think we’ve learnt a lot of things about what is appropriate
behaviour and what’s not appropriate behaviour."

Of course. How could Brother Robert Best, at St Alipius Primary School in Ballarat, have known it was “not appropriate behaviour” to rape a nine-year-old boy in his office so hard that the boy later told the court that he thought he was going to die and passed out?

Connors’ statements to the Herald Sun only get worse.

"In the past a lot of ignorance was there on the part of lots of people.
Parents didn’t understand, sometimes bishops didn’t understand. We have
no excuse now,” says Connors.

Right. Blame should be spread equally among parents, bishops and the actual rapist-priests — and because of that, past sexual abuse can be “excused.” Oh, if only they knew back then that child sexual abuse was wrong!

From the opposite side of the world, and the other side of the belief spectrum, comes a bizarre-when-you-first-think-of-it story. A recent discrimination case in the UK centred on whether BDSM practice counts as a philosophy that is protected under employment equity statutes.



A midwife in Bedford was fired from her job after she wore a silver collar — an emblem of her beliefs — to work. Writer Jane Fae has an excellent account of her involvement with the case over at The Guardian

Philosophical beliefs are protected from employment discrimination in Britain — even when those beliefs sound more like political arguments, such as opposition to fox hunting, belief in global warming and support for public broadcasting (all three have been the subject of recent court cases). According to Fae, the judge seemed to agree that BDSM constituted a belief system that could be protected. The question eventually turned on whether or not the court could condone “consensual slavery,” and the court decided it could not. But do read Fae’s article, as it’s full of interesting questions about what “consensual slavery” is and how it could fit into polite society.

And just for fun, this handy guide to tying your own bondage harness, which I found on the Chinese University of Hong Kong Animation and Comic Society website:



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