Weekly Update: to

by | November 19, 2016

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A photograph of the front of the Ottawa Muslim Association mosque, showing crude graffiti spraypainted in red. The graffiti is 'FUCK ALLAH', then a swastika, then 'GO HOME', then '666'.]

A sample of some of the graffiti at the Ottawa Muslim Association. The swastika might not be something you’d hear in the comment sections of this blog… but “fuck Allah” and the other stuff are. In this nasty new world, we need to be more more careful with our criticism.

  • [] Delegates say Peel board’s stance on censoring sermons troublesome for Muslim students

    This is a touchy situation. Unlike the Toronto District School Board, the Peel Board did the right thing in not allowing imams from coming in to lead prayers; they are entirely student-led – the only “official” acknowledgement of the prayers is the school lets students use a room to do them. So far, so good. But now the school wants to vet the sermons written by the students. Now we’re getting into murky territory… on the one hand, if the administration is going to be held responsible for what happens in the school, it seems perfectly logical that they should review the sermons… on the other, if the sermons are vetted, doesn’t that mean the prayer sessions are now “official” in a sense?

    h/t Derek Gray

  • [] B.C. mother takes school district to court over Aboriginal spiritual ceremony

    I don’t believe parents should have the right to pull their kids out of classes that teach about other cultures and tolerance for them… but the kids should notparticipate in ceremonies and so on during these lessons. They should be told about them, they can observe them… but not take part in them (not even optionally, because that would put pressure on the students that don’t want to).

    h/t Derek Gray

  • [] Conservative Party Leadership Profile: Brad Trost

    The “news” paper headed by Canada’s poshest aquatic rodent does a hilarious profile of Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost, the only current MP mentioned in the Bible.

  • [] ‘Muslim Suburb’ Proposal Has Quebec Politicians In An Uproar

    The proposal is for a housing development where all the houses are owned by the bank and the residents pay “rent”, because paying “interest” violates some Muslim’s beliefs. No problem there, but of course, it doesn’t end there. The person behind the idea also wants to restrict what women can wear in public in the area, among other things.

  • [] Ottawa Mosque, Church Hit With Racist Graffiti

    A church, a synagogue, a mosque – a total of five places of worship were vandalized just this week in Ottawa, tagged with racist and white nationalist graffiti and… unfortunately… anti-religious messages.

  • [] Lessons from the Trump election for progressives in Canada

    Think it can’t happen here? Think again. Trump’s victory might be a signal that it’s time to abandon neoliberal policies.

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7 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Randy

    “the school wants to vet the sermons written by the students”

    The prayers, like any other speech, should not be “vetted”. This isn’t abut endorsement, but rather about the purpose of the university, which is to explore and criticize ideas. Prayer is no exception.

    The university, in some capacity, certainly should listen to the prayers, and publicize anything particularly interesting. There should be no hiding place for hate. Because the prayers are probably not in any of Canada’s official languages, this role is more important than it might be for, say, United Church prayers.

    1. Indi Post author

      These comments are fractally wrong. It’s actually hard to find things in them that *aren’t* wrong.

      Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. There were no universities involved in the prayer vetting story. It was the Peel District School Board. U of T was mentioned only because one of the board delegates is a U of T student (and, really, there was no point in bringing it up at all). So we’re not talking about educational institutions at the level where students are expected to have their viewpoints challenged, we’re talking about high-school level students at the most, but also elementary and kindergarten students.

      Now about the “official languages” thing, i don’t see the logic in this argument at all. Are you suggesting the schools should police what students are saying to each other if it’s being said in other languages? Why? They don’t do that for English or French. This may come as a shock, but students are still free citizens of this country with the Section 2 freedom of peaceful assembly; they are allowed to hold discussions without government officials monitoring them (or censoring them). The fact that they’re Muslims does not mean that right is null and void. Either those prayers are school-endorsed or they’re not. If they aren’t, then it’s just a bunch of students getting together on their own terms to talk about some common interests… the fact that the common interest is Islam and the talk is (possibly) in Arabic should change nothing. If the prayers *are* endorsed by the school, well then we have a different problem.

      *IF* any of those prayers or sermons takes a troublesome turn, then it should be up to the students involved to report their concerns. If *nobody* hearing (and understanding) a dangerous or hateful sermon has a problem with it, that’s a problem, sure… but dealing with it by treating *all* Muslims as potential criminals under suspicion is not going to fix it; it’s only going to create other problems.

      As for the idea that letting kids participate in ceremonies will somehow make them realize those ceremonies are bullshit… that fantasy is at odds with everything we know about psychology and sociology. Religious ceremonies are *designed* to create a sense of awe and fellowship… people who partake in them routinely report feeling “connected” to something, even when the ceremony isn’t their religion. In fact, it almost *never* happens that merely forcing people religious ceremonies or practices turns them off the religion. For people to decide a ceremony is stupid and pointless, they either have to a) have a pre-existing bias; b) the ceremony has to be particularly bad or grating (which is *very* rare, because religions generally are smart enough to balance the investment cost of a ceremony or practice with how invested people already are… meaning the *really* painful ceremonies are reserved for people who have already sunk themselves really far into the religion); or c) something has drained the “awe” out of the ceremony (most commonly being exposed to it over and over and over, after feeling disconnected from it or the religion for a while).

      Letting young kids participate in religiously-charged ceremonies is a recipe for creating believers, not the opposite. Kids at certain ages are *desperately* looking for a sense of belonging, a sense of excitement, and a sense of being “in” on something that makes them special. Stories abound of kids with moderate parents getting sucked into fairly extremist things because they were exposed to some ceremony or other. The way to *protect* kids from those kinds of seductive influences is to either keep them away from them, or *very* carefully supervise them… specifically, by making sure the kids feel a sense of detachment from the proceedings – make sure they’re just watching something dispassionately and from a distance, and that they’re not getting sucked into it.

      As for “liberal” and “neoliberal”, both of those words have widely-understood and agreed-upon definitions. Those definitions may not have mathematical precision, but they’re clear enough to be serviceable in practice… and especially when given clear context, as in the Behind the Numbers article. Don’t confuse your own ignorance of the terms with any issues with the terms themselves.

      Everything else you wrote about Trump’s victory is just missing the point (when it makes sense at all). Yes, of course ridicule + job losses piss people off, and yes, of course the government should be working on our behalf. The *point* is, the job losses are because of neoliberal policies, and the reason the government is not working for us is because they are working under the influence of neoliberalism. Why are jobs disappearing? Because they’re going where labour is cheaper, or being outright replaced by cheaper practices (like automation, or even just “precarious employment”)… the “free market” at work. Why has next to nothing been done to staunch the losses (or find alternative ways to keep people well-off without jobs)? Because successive governments are all “leaving it up to the free market”; whenever they do try anything to fix the problem, it’s always about trying to make the free market “work better” (for example, by lowering taxes, and especially takes on the rich or corporate taxes). The *point* is: if you want to undercut the discontent that Trump milked all the way to power, you have to stop doing what’s best for business while leaving people in general to fend for themselves, and start doing what’s best for the average person. Contrary to neoliberal theory, what’s best for business is *not* always what’s best for the people in general. *That* is the point of the Behind the Numbers article.

  2. Randy

    “kids should notparticipate in ceremonies and so on”

    I disagree. By participating, the students can experience just what a load of b— these ceremonies are.

    Whether it’s communion, smudging, laying on of hands, or E-meters, I have no problem with kids participating, given the proper scientific context. (Obviously, I would not approve participating in anything likely to be harmful, like ritual genital cutting, even though it is still legal in Canada)

    In fact, the people most likely to be opposed to their kids participating in these practices are likely to people of other religions, genuine bigots against competing religions.

  3. Randy

    “Trump’s victory might be a signal that it’s time to abandon neoliberal policies”

    The word “liberal” is so flexible that it can be used to describe everything from Bernie Sanders to Dick Cheney. Adding “neo” doesn’t help me too much.

    But I do think that Trump’s victory sends the message that if you continue to demonize straight white male labourers, and continue to lie to them about basic concepts like equality and due process, you will eventually lose to them, and you won’t even see it coming.

    When you combine ridicule with job loss, whoda thunk, people get angry!

    Trump’s second message is that a country is not a shopping mall or hotel. It’s a place where people have shared interests, due to living together. The laws that we elect representatives to write on our behalf together should be to our benefit, and should be enforced. The power in civil disobedience is that you pay the price. If it becomes a way of life due to non-enforcement, it’s just lawbreaking.

    Having said all that, perhaps the most important message isn’t from Trump, per se. It’s from the Democrats. The problem is NOT something new on the right. Look at the exit polls. The left stayed home, in disgust, similar to happened to the then-popular NDP in Quebec, when they denigrated Quebec values. You can’t declare yourself to be morally superior to your own voters and expect to keep them.

  4. Tim Underwood

    Brad Tosh certainly could have benefited from some comparative religious studies. How a man, who is so clearly entrenched in delusions, can aspire to federal leadership is amazing. This is like in Saudi Arabia. The fact that he wouldn’t support multiculturalism shouldn’t be held against him. Nobody should support such a stupid idea. Cultures are in not equal unless they are the same. Some are equally bad and some are comparatively good. A totally secular culture is an ungainly compromise at best. Canadian culture should aspire to achieving a thoroughly compassionate humanism. Ok. Just because I said so.

    The capitalism idea that so compels the Toshes of our society isn’t a social system of any kind. It is nothing more than a privilege that our society thinks has some economic benefits in some cases. Because our industrial engineering has become so successful, and has created such productivity gains, work has to be deleted as the principle metric for wealth distribution. Think about it. The idle poor and the idle rich contribute the same actual measurable work. Existing capital is responsible for most of all production today. Brad Tosh is just another wannabe who doesn’t have a clue about the reality of industrial engineering’s success.

    If all work was accomplished by automation, computers and robots, only a few very specialized jobs would remain for the Earth’s 7 billion. Would this create euphoria or desolation? Are we really unable to cope with massive productivity success?

    1. Indi Post author

      > The fact that he wouldn’t support multiculturalism shouldn’t be held against him. Nobody should support such a stupid idea. Cultures are in not equal unless they are the same. Some are equally bad and some are comparatively good.

      You don’t understand the word “multiculturalism”.

      Multiculturalism is not “cultures are equal”, it is the acknowledgement that cultures differ and that’s okay, and that no culture is privileged. The idea that all cultures are indistinguishable from each other in terms of values is actually the *opposite* of multiculturalism. And no, multiculturalism does not equal cultural relativism. There is nothing hypocritical about celebrating the diversity of cultures while pointing to the problematic practices that exist in some.

      > A totally secular culture is an ungainly compromise at best.

      You don’t understand the word “secular”.

      Secularism isn’t the expulsion of anything religious from the culture. It is refusing to base social decisions on faith, and denying any religion (or non-religion) a privileged place. Religion can still exist in a secular society, and even thrive… it just can’t influence the lives of anyone outside the religion. Secularism is not only not “ungainly”, it is the only way to make a society work practically – *especially* a society with diverse faiths.

      > The idle poor and the idle rich contribute the same actual measurable work.

      The concepts you’re using are generally incoherent, but your concept of “measurable work” is particularly silly and impractical. What you’re basically saying is that anyone whose shoulder isn’t pressed to a plough is contributing nothing to society. Fuck all the artists, right? And what about the “idle” people – rich or poor – who are “idle” because they are physically unable to work? They’re certainly not contributing anything to “industrial engineering” (which, by the way, you keep using that term, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means).

      Ironically, Brad Tosh would probably agree vigorously with your economic assessment. That’s how incoherent it is.

      There is a very simple way to deal with the runaway success of our productivity technologies: share the benefits more. Right now, the benefits of any kind of productivity are delivered *very* narrowly – sometimes even just to a single person. She who produces the benefits reaps them, and fuck everyone else – that’s the philosophy of our economy. In a world where a single person can produce the benefits that would have taken thousands in the past, while simultaneously taking away the ability for those thousands to produce those benefits (because the amount of benefits that can be produced are finite, and that one person is already producing them), that has to change. How exactly? Good question. Right now, the most popular suggestion seems to be a universal basic income, where all production is heavily taxed and the proceeds distributed to everyone – those who actually produce still end up with more than anyone else, but those who *can’t* produce still get to reap some of the benefits.

      But of course, there was the dirty phrase “heavily taxed”. Our attitude to the t-word is probably going to have to change.

  5. Tim Underwood

    “There is a very simple way to deal with the runaway success of our productivity technologies: share the benefits more.”

    How? OK you did suggest one possible alternative.

    In most of my adult life ‘work’ was sitting at a desk solving problems. I went from slide-rules to calculating machines to mainframes to scientific calculators to personal computers. All this while I envied those lucky few who did physical things like the electricians and millwrights. I would be surprised if Brad Tosh is familiar with any of this.

    “Knowledge work is soul destroying.” I’ve heard many office grunts exhort this lament.

    ‘The Mythical Man-month’ is a good primer from IBM on the difficulty inherent in measuring ‘creative’ work.


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