Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson!
At the University of Virginia (U.Va.), today is called “Founder’s Day.”
At the same time that I temper my admiration for him with the knowledge that he kept people in bondage, bought and sold them, and abided their maltreatment, I also want to remember that Mr. Jefferson was among the principal architects—if not the lead author—of many socio-cultural, governmental, and philosophical constructs that I hold dear:
The list could continue….And I very much appreciate these contributions to the commonweal. So, it’s a b’day worthy of celebration.
Filed under Atheism, Birthdays, Civil rights, Education, Equity, Free speech, Humanism, Justice, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, UVa
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Many people who know me will know that I hold little truck with religion. At best, I consider religions woe-begotten variations on reasoned ways to live one’s life humanely. However, as much as I find religions untenable, I shall defend folks’ right to espouse religious—or anti-religious and especially non-religious—views. Thus I was thrilled to hear the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “Remarks at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report” in which she delivered one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom I can remember hearing.
Whether you might agree or disagree with Ms. Clinton’s political positions, I think most people will agree that the core of her remarks are a spirited defense of foundational principles of human freedom. I hope people everywhere, regardless of political stripe, can watch or read this talk. There are, to be sure, the usual segments of the talk that have to do with thanking contributors to the talk, thanking allies, and calling out miscreants. But there are, as I heard it live while driving home from a meeting yesterday AM, sections of the talk that discuss fundamental human aspirations. Reminders of the ideas of principles on which the US and other democracies were based hundreds of years ago.
O.K. I hope I’ve set this up correctly so that this delightful image by artist Sam Welty is linked to the page that will show the TJ Center muzzles when they are announced on Mr. Jefferson’s B’day, 13 April 2011.
HB, Mr. Jefferson. Thanks for thinking about things.
Wooohooo! I’ll just run the 1st three paragraphs of the press release here:
Ottawa, Ontario — (SBWIRE) — 09/30/2010 — Atheist Alliance International (AAI) in collaboration with Humanist Canada (HC) announce their joint convention, to be held October 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2010, uniting atheists and humanists in an international movement transcending political and cultural borders.This will be the first ever explicitly atheist convention in Montreal, as well as the first North-American AAI convention held outside the U.S.A. The event, organized with local support from Atheist Freethinkers and CFI Montreal, will welcome hundreds of participants and be held at the Delta Centre-ville Hotel on 777 University St. in the heart of the city.
This bilingual event will feature a plethora of both anglophone and francophone convention speakers. A partial list of those confirmed so far includes: anthropologist Daniel Baril speaking on the evolutionary origins of religion; Philippe Besson, French freethought leader; Daniel Dennett, celebrated philosopher and author of Breaking The Spell; Belgian historian of atheism Serge Deruette; Belgian philosopher and secularism advocate Nadia Geerts; Louise Mailloux, founder of Citizens’ Collective for Equality and Secularism; famous evolutionary biologist and Pharyngula blogger P.Z. Myers; Jeremy Patrick, legal expert on blasphemy legislation; screenwriter and comedian J.D. Shapiro; Skeptical investigator Karen Stollznow, a.k.a. SkepChick; Rodrigue Tremblay, economist and author of The Code for Global Ethics.
The 2010 Richard Dawkins Prize will be awarded to Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. Several other activities will take place in conjunction with the convention: for example the September 30th party to mark International Blasphemy Rights Day and underline the importance of freedom of expression; and an evening of stand-up comedy on Comedy Night.
I read with interest Damon Linker’s column in the Washington Post on Sunday 19 September 2010, “A religious test all our political candidates should take.” Given my resistence to mixing political and religious views, my first reaction when I read the headline was to disagree. After all, I know quite well that Article VI of the US Constitution very plainly states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification [for] any office or public trust under the United States.”
Just to the west of here, on the nearby ‘grounds,’ we’ll be celebrating the birthday of the university’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson, as he’s known around these parts, was born in 1743 in Shadwell, a few miles to the east of where I sit. In addition to the sensational references to apparent mis-steps and perhaps even one or a few about T.J. and the Revo (thanks, Parker), there are sure to be very many references to the many, many excellent ideas Mr. Jefferson provided to humankind and his accomplishments, including founding U.Va. It’ll be a wonderful day here.