Are critical thinking and free speech being systematically destroyed?
BARRY NEUFELD—SCHOOL DISTRICT 33 SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE—SUBMITTED PHOTOS
just got home from the beautiful City of Prague, Czech Republic, where I attended the World Congress of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Related Professions. (More about that later) I was impressed by the youth and vigor of Prague’s Bohemian and Moravian citizens.
But I was also impressed with some of its historical figures, like “Good King” Wenceslaus (Václav the Good) who epitomized the High Middle Ages concept of the rex justus (righteous king), a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety as well as his princely vigor. St. Wenceslaus was murdered by his pagan brother Boleslav at the age of 28 in 935 AD when Christianity was only beginning in Eastern Europe. His statue dominates Wenceslaus Square in front of the Národní muzeum where demonstrations against the Communist regime were often held.
Neufeld stands in front of Wenceslaus monument.
Another inspiring figure was Jan Huss, a Czech priest, philosopher and reformer born in 1369. His last name Huss meant “goose” and he got teased a lot about his name in his youth. But he spoke out against some of the crazy ideas of the day, and for that Martin Luther later said his “Goose was cooked:” (i.e. he was burned at the stake in 1415.)
Neufeld tours the roots of democracy and free speech.
This was 16 years before Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in France. Huss was angering the powers that be nearly 100 years before Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation. The battleground was originally philosophical and moral arguments in the universities, and Huss spoke against the corruption he saw in society by preaching from the Pulpit of Bethlehem Chapel restored here in Old Prague. The idea that caused so much controversy was that people should be allowed to think for themselves and read the Bible and worship in their own language.
A letter of indemnity was used to lure Jan Huss to the Council of Constance to give an account of his teachings. But instead of listening to his reasoning, he was treacherously imprisoned for months and then burnt at the stake. This angered his Bohemian followers, called the Hussites and his memory is honored with this statue in the Old Town Square in Prague.
A recent Czech personality who inspired me was Vaclav Havel, also a dissident, who “articulated the power of the powerless,” by defying the totalitarianism of Communist rule. He is credited with bringing about the end of four decades of Communist tyranny with the Velvet Revolution, smoothly enacted with no armed conflict. His motto was that “truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred” and he struggled against “the tendency to make compromises with evil, to close one’s eyes to dictatorship, to practice a politics of appeasement.” He became the first president of Czechoslovakia in November 1989, eight days after the Berlin Wall fell.
I arrived in Prague by flying into the International Airport named after Vaclav Havel.
I believe our society is headed towards another dark age, where critical thinking and democratic debate are being systematically destroyed by political correctness and the tyranny of the minority. Instead of engaging in intelligent and respectful debate, and searching for workable compromises, radical new social engineers resort to name calling, character assassination and threats, which frightens most people into “Practicing a politics of appeasement.”
Lindsay Sheperd receives the Outstanding Student Award from the Heterodox Academy. Photo: Andy Ngo
My dissident ancestors came to Canada because they were promised freedom of conscience and religion. I will endeavor to ensure that Canada remains “Glorious and free” as we sing in our National Anthem.
Whether you agree with me or not on the controversial issue of SOGI 1•2•3, I ask that you support my efforts to be a dissenting voice in this matter of Public Interest. I was elected to represent my constituents. If you support my struggle for democratic principles, please consider donating to my legal defense fund, described here by my new friend, Lindsay Shepherd.Despite the fact that I have been the target of ridicule because of my age (i.e. Old Dinosaur, etc) it has been so gratifying that I have received the support of some very young people, like Lindsay who is only 23. Lindsay’s case is similar to mine because the CUPE Union was complaining that I was creating a toxic and unsafe environment for their workers. But the Tribunal hesitated to approve their complaint until they could actually NAME an employee who felt threatened by me. They could not come up with anyone.See Shepherd's article on Facebook here.
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