Friday, October 27, 2006

Pamphlet Held Up By Postal Workers

Bubbling around the news since yesterday is a story that Postal Workers Refused To Deliver The Mail - or more precisely, a 28 page "anti-homosexuality" pamphlet being sent around Vancouver.

As is true with all stories, there's at least two sides to this one.

Morally, I think the Postal Workers who protested "did the right thing" - I've had borderline hate literature arrive at my door via various delivery avenues, and I don't like it no matter who the target is. I would hope that similarly they would be equally offended by materials aimed at smearing or condemning specific faith groups as well.

Ethically, I believe that the Postal Workers involved blew it. They have the right to raise the alarm, not to refuse to deliver the mail (Unless it's actually hazardous to their health). Certainly, nobody I can think of has appointed Canada Post our nation's intellectual censor and watchdog. Put in context, I worked in a warehouse years ago, and a shipment of tobacco products came through (a large one). Tobacco is a known carcinogen, and on moral grounds I would certainly be justified in saying I didn't like the fact we were handling this crap, but ethically, I'm still bound to make sure the product gets to its destination intact.

To the "pamphlet" itself. I haven't seen a copy of it yet (if you happen to locate a copy online somewhere, please let me know), but I find it hard to believe that there's enough material lurking in the scripture to make a 28 page argument that's coherent (Even if you reproduced the entire story of Sodom and Gomorrah!). The CBC article makes a few observations about it's content that suggests it's fairly unhinged:

"The first words I saw when I picked it up were: 'The plague of this 21st Century: the consequences of the sin of homosexuality (AIDS).' "

When that's a title to a section, I'd say it's a pretty good hint at where it's going to head. (I'd wager that most of it is an aggregation of the usual talking points that are readily debunked - at least factually) {I'll reserve judgement until I actually see a copy of this thing, but I can suspect...}

According to CBC, it was being distributed by a Rev. Sterling Clark of Waterdown, Ont. I can't find anything about the man lurking on the Web (yet), but apparently he does these distributions quite regularly.


Scout said...

i'd say they were in 'the right', grog. to my knowledge the pamphlets were 'visible' and the cbc telltale header makes it quite obvious it's anti-gay. as bruce at canuk at canuk attitude points out, hate literature is a crime.

according to bruce the literature was being distributed by a man named ken campbell, and there's a link to him.

the tobacco analogy is a bit different in that the handling of carcinogens is not a crime, it would fall under safety as how to handle, which should be set out by world health. if there are no WHO guidelines then there's probably no federal guidelines and it's up to a union or company safety rep. to call the shots on that.

i say good for the postal harper continues to bulldoze his theocracy through the unplowed mists of canada it's giving the green light for every racist, bigot , sexist and homophobe to drive the highway of hate.

someone has to stand up to things....this was a grand gesture.

Grog said...

Morally, I agree with you, Scout. I am, however, cautious about condemning something like that as "hate literature" sight unseen.

I would like the opportunity to read it myself before I level that accusation at it. At the moment, my suspicion is that it is fundamentally the usual irrational ravings wrapped in the cloak of religiosity.

Anonymous said...

Ken Campbell, the homobigot from Ontario who moved out to Tumbler Ridge, B.C., died in September of this year I believe.

Sterling Clark was a favoured member of Campbell's inner circle though. Examples of Clark's writings are:

The unpardonable sin-- what is it? / [by Sterling Clark]. -- Waterford, Ont. : Fundamental Baptist Mission, c1978.

Ten rules for raising a Christian family / by Sterling Clark. -- Waterford, Ont. : Fundamental Baptist Mission, c1986.

The evils of sex education in public schools / [by Sterling Clark]. -- Waterford, Ont. : Fundamental Baptist Mission, 1984.

Does the Bible teach the Catholic mass? / by Sterling Clark. -- Waterford, Ont. : Fundamental Baptist Mission, c1983.

Which are all on file with Collections Canada (National Library of Canada).

The only other tidbit I've located so far was a blurb in a .pdf document on HIV in Canada:

Columnist Frank Jones writes an article responding to and refuting claims made by Rev. Sterling Clark that AIDS is the wrath of God. (18 September 1985, Toronto Star Jones A23)

As for what the Posties did, I don't personally want Canada Post deciding for me what I do or do not see, but in the same breath (and without knowing the contents of the brochure) if this was a piece of child porn or hate literature against a minority that was viewed accidently, I'd sure want that Postal worker to call in the RCMP and let them make the call.

Grog said...

Anon - um - wow! you've been much more successful than I have.

This Sterling Clark character seems to be "flying under the radar".

Anonymous said...

Search for "Pastor" Sterling Clarke