Letters to the editors

Rogers’ actions a violation of privacy

Dear Editors,

Re: “Students under surveillance” (Journal, Sept. 16, 2008)

Although a great deal of that which was mentioned in the article regarding Don Rogers’ actions on behalf of Save Our Neighbourhood Action Group (SONAG) frustrated me, one issue stood out in the forefront. Mr. Rogers stated that he is “totally convinced that there’s nothing unethical” about photographing student parties and posting these pictures, along with the students’ home addresses, online. He seems to believe that he has every right to do so because the students are “visible in public spaces.” I feel Mr. Rogers is confused; what he means to say is that the students are visible from public spaces. The students pictured on his website are not out in Victoria Park or drinking in the streets; they can be seen standing on their own front porches or front lawns. While they can be viewed from the sidewalk or the street, they are situated on their personal private property. By Mr. Rogers’ definition, I can only assume that he also believes it is okay to photograph people through their bedroom windows—from the public street, of course—and post these photos on the internet. While that is not happening as far as I know, it is certainly not a stretch based on Mr. Rogers’ principles.

I can and do believe Mr. Rogers is being entirely unethical.  What people do on their private property is their private business.  If Mr. Rogers feels that what students do at their own homes is negatively affecting his everyday life, there are many ways to stand up for his rights and those of Kingston residents that do not involve an invasion of Queen’s students’ private spaces and personal rights.

Brooke MacKenzie

ConEd ’10

Dear Editors,

Re: “Students Under Surveillance” (Journal, Sept. 16, 2008)

Upon first reading this article, the actions of former city councillor Don Rogers shocked me. After accessing the web site “www.saveourneighbourhood.ca” I was absolutely appalled.

Don Rogers is a man who seems to be on a mission to exploit Queen’s students as party animals with complete disregard for the Kingston community and reputation of their school. He has such confidence in the morality of his actions that he provided the Journal with an unabashedly candid interview. Rogers boasts of his belief that he is doing nothing ‘unethical’ by wandering around the Ghetto spying on parties at night. He claims he is doing nothing illegal by taking snapshots, voice recordings and videos of students partying on their own property, then posting images online without their knowledge or permission.

He is deliberately sending a message to Kingston residents (and anyone with internet access) that Queen’s students are belligerent and disrespectful. Rogers is much more interested in exposing the negative actions of a few than mentioning the good that students do in the city. The Queen’s students depicted in Rogers’ photos are likely involved in extracurricular activities on campus and in the community. They also probably attend class, shop downtown and go to farmers’ markets. I’m tired of this perception that all Queen’s students do is play flip cup, relieve themselves in public and stumble to and from the bars. Rogers captures us at our worst and posts it online. For me that is a serious violation of privacy whether illegal or not. It’s no wonder students feel like we have big brother breathing down our necks; Don Rogers is lurking in the bushes at your next party, eager to convince Kingston that you are a bad person.

Katrina Clarke

ArtSci ’09

TAFA not a voice for TAs, TFs

Dear Editors,

Re: “TAs and TFs campaign to unionize” (Journal, Sept. 16, 2008)

TAFA has styled itself “A voice for TAs and TFs at Queen’s University.” This could either mean that TAFA considers itself to be serving as a voice for TAs and TFs at Queen’s, or, more charitably, that they aim to institute a process culminating in a structure that ostensibly provides such a voice.

But both of these characterizations of TAFA and its role in the unionization process are inaccurate. TAFA has never seen fit to formally seek a mandate from teaching assistants and teaching fellows for either representing them directly, or for serving as a vehicle for the institution of an entity that would do so.

The headline of your article is therefore quite misleading, as it creates the impression that there exists a grass-root movement of TAs and TFs with the aim of forming a labor union. It is TAFA and PSAC that are leading this attempt. Thus a more accurate headline would have been “TAFA and PSAC are attempting to unionize TAs and TFs.” Furthermore, TAFA’s attempt to borrow credibility from the SGPS and its democratic mandate is at best misleading and at worst disingenuous. Not only does the relationship between the SGPS and TAFA appear too close, creating at best, bad optics, and at worst potential for conflict of interest, but the SGPS also lacks a democratic mandate to sanction or lend material support to TAFA and PSAC. The SGPS councillors who voted to endorse unionization and the executive, some of whom have championed these efforts, niether sought this mandate from their constituents during their election process or through democratic means thereafter.

With such a modus operandi, I’m sure TAs and TFs can barely wait for TAFA and their comrades at SGPS and PSAC to be in charge of their academic, professional and financial well-being.

Arash Farzam-Kia,

PhD ’10

SGPS President 07/08

Do have a little faith

Dear Editors,

Re: “Don’t have a little faith” (Journal, Sept. 12, 2008)

Kudos to Mr. Fraser for his intellectual response to an oversimplified view on theology. As a person who believes in both Christianity and evolution without believing that the two contradict, I would like to respond to the comments made in the last paragraph of Mr. White’s editorial. To suggest that a believer interpreting religious texts must either be classified as a hypocritical fence-sitter or a fundamentalist is a narrow-minded and rather offensive view. I would also like to address Mr. White’s claims of religious followers citing faith as proof. With due respect to the creation museums, faith is not conducive to producing proof. As a Christian, I believe with all my heart in the existence of God. However, I have complete and utter confidence that I am unable to produce scientifically viable proof as to God’s existence. This does not contradict my faith in any way but is, in fact, the very definition of faith: belief without proof. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us, “a god who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” Lastly, in keeping with  Mr. White’s discussion of textual interpretation, let us look to another text: The U.S. Constitution. Critical analysis of this document has led to a number of amendments, some of which abolished slavery and gave women the vote. Seeing as pieces of the original Constitution which opposed these amendments were dismissed while a good deal of the original document is still upheld today, the U.S. could be seen as hypocritical by Mr. White’s definition. Why, then, does amending the Constitution not invalidate it? For two reasons: First, despite Mr. White’s suggestion, fundamentalist consistency would not be preferable to “picking and choosing;” in this example it would condone slavery and restrict voting rights to white men alone. Second, despite the flaws seen in the original Constitution, when it is viewed through the lens of today’s society, the current interpretation of the document can still be used as a guide on which American citizens can base their actions. Surely religious believers should not be ridiculed for interpreting sacred texts in a similar manner.

Joe Gabriel

ArtSci ’09

Dear Editors,

Re: “Don’t have a little faith” (Journal, Sept. 12, 2008) 

There are few things more sobering than reading an article and finding out that apparently the years I have spent studying how to interpret the Bible have led to conclusions which make me a “hypocrite” and that I have “little faith.” I wonder if the intent of the author was to stir things up. I do want to thank Mr. White for a great conversation starter. 

Every Monday night a number of Queen’s Theological College students get together for drinks. During this past gathering, the article came up in conversation. It sparked a debate, with some agreement and some disagreement.  Most of the discussion revolved around how we interpreted Mr. White’s use of the term belief.  Does belief in something mean I have to believe it to be factually true? Does belief in something mean I can read it as a true metaphor? When John the Baptist refers to Jesus as being “the Lamb of God,” did he mean that Jesus was an actual lamb? Did the author of John’s Gospel think this was what was meant? We are always interpreting—the question is where does one draw the line?  I’ve drawn mine in one spot, and other people draw their own somewhere else.  That does not make any of us more or less Christian; though where we have chosen to draw our lines may make us disagree over a number of things. It is not as simple as “picking and choosing.” 

I would love for the author (or anyone for that matter) to come on down to the Theological College. It would be great to have an informed discussion around hermeneutics and biblical criticism. We’re really nice down there, I promise. Just introduce yourself if we’re a bit shy and awkward at first.

Tim Crouch

MDiv ’09

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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