Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

Fredericton shooting suspect Matthew Vincent Raymond was captured on video protesting M-103 by a blogger. The first petition on his board is about sharia law in Canada; the others are a hodgepodge of issues like firearms and nuclear regulations, and recall elections.

  • [] B.C. rainbow flag opponent wants own flag raised

    I’m always loathe to give Kari Simpson air, but gosh darn it, her publicity stunts are just so stupid, that it’s hard to let them go by without comment. This is the same woman who was trying to sue BC Ferries for their rainbow flag because it was traumatic and abusive. Now she’s saying: “well, if they did it, we should be able to do it, too!” Stop and think about that for a second. How fucked up does your mind have to be to see someone doing something “traumatic” and “abusive”, and decide, “hey, fairness demands you let me traumatize and abuse people too!”?

  • [] The movie bogeyman of the year? Fundamentalist religion

    I can hardly be the only person who’s noticed a surprising shift in the way religion is portrayed in modern media. While religion has always been criticized, it’s usually been either only imaginary or science-fictional religions (see any of a hundred Star Trek stories for example), or the most over-the-top and extreme manifestations of real religions (like the crazy, masochistic killer in The DaVinci Code), while largely leaving the mainstream off the hook. But recently there’s been a spate of films taking square aim at real-world religions, and not at the loony fringes of them either. And these aren’t fringe films, either: Spotlight, about the investigation into the Catholic Church’s sex abuse cover-up in Boston, won the Academy Award in 2015. This article suggests that there’s a demographic shift going on: younger filmmakers are baring their fangs toward mainstream religions and all the problems associated with them in ways their older contemporaries never did. If that’s really true, then we might be looking at a very interesting future in film, television, and other media, with regards to depictions of religion.

  • [] I’m a Burnside jail inmate, and also a human being. Here’s why you should care about our protest

    You could hardly be blamed for not hearing anything about it, given the paucity of coverage, but for the last couple of weeks there has been a massive, national strike by prisoners in the US to protest the conditions of their incarceration. Even some prisons in Canada have taken part. It shouldn’t have to be said to people who claim to base their beliefs on reason and not emotional or ideological beliefs, but people in prison are still people, and they still have rights. But if that doesn’t move you, then consider that the majority of people in prison are not there for violent crimes, but rather for property crime (like theft) or drug crimes. And if even that doesn’t move you, then consider the fact that, as mentioned in the piece, the majority of inmates at Burnside haven’t even been convicted of a crime. As Dostoyevsky said: The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. Our commitment to being better won’t be measured by how we treat the people we like, but how we treat the people we don’t.

  • [] Anti-abortion group kicked out of Acadia Students’ Union building

    If you’re one of those people, like the Conservatives these days, concerned that this move is a symptom of repressing certain opinions on campuses, read the article carefully. The anti-abortion group was not kicked out for being anti-abortion; it was being kicked out for lying to the students. Like so many “crisis pregnancy centres”, this outfit – secretly run by an off-campus Christian ministry – was pretending to offer help and counselling to women facing (usually unplanned) pregnancies, but then feeding them bullshit conspiracy theories (like that abortion causes breast cancer) and religious crap, trying to shame them into giving birth. They were even given a chance to shape up – I wouldn’t have given them that – but they ignored the request. This was not about tolerance of different beliefs, this was about kicking out a bunch of deceitful scoundrels targeting vulnerable students.

  • [] Canada’s complicated relationship with international human rights law

    That Canada is a worldwide leader in human rights is indisputable. But given current global standards, how good does one really have to be on the issue to be a leader? A lot of people don’t know that Canada is, shamefully, the only country other than the Soviet Bloc (the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Byelorussia, Soviet Ukraine, and Yugoslavia) to abstain from voting on the draft Universal Declaration of Human Rights – despite the principle drafter being Canadian John Peters Humphrey. This was a massive embarrassment to Canada, and, after being chided by their allies, they quickly got on board and voted in support of the final text. (The only countries that ended up not voting in support of the final text were: the Soviet countries, who probably objected to the “free movement” clause (though publicly, they claimed they were upset it didn’t explicitly condemn fascism); South Africa, who felt it undermined apartheid; and Saudi Arabia, who objected to the freedom to change religion.) That we’re among the best on human rights is something to be proud of… but no reason not to ask if we couldn’t be better.

  • [] B.C. court tosses lawsuit aimed at proving existence of Bigfoot

    This has to be the most Canadian wacky court case ever. The judge – who has way more self control than I ever will – could have just come up with a ruling that said, “are you shitting me?”, but instead actually gave it serious thought and came back with an intelligent and far-reaching decision. I can’t help but imagine, though, that the whole time he was writing it he was rolling his eyes and muttering, “are you shitting me?”.

  • [] Video Of Alleged Fredericton Shooter Protesting Immigration Reveals Mindset

    The Fredericton shooting last month happened just before the deadline for Weekly Update that week, and despite urging from some quarters (more on them in a moment), I declined to include it; my argument was, and is, that CA has never been a “breaking news” outlet, so rather than rushing to report on an event while the details are still fuzzy and shifting, I prefer to wait until the facts are clear. But right after the shooting, the usual suspects (Ezra Levant, Faith Goldy, etc.) were all over social media pushing conspiracy theories that the shooter was Muslim – and that police were withholding his name to hide that fact – and I was getting criticism (if you can even say being called a “cuck” is “criticism”) for not even mentioning those “theories” in the Update. Then, when the shooter’s name and picture was released, their “theories” changed to claims that he was a far left activist. (This tweet captures some screenshots to illustrate.) Well, as is quickly becoming the norm, it turns out – yet again – that the killer was a far-right fanboy of the aforementioned usual suspects, captured on video protesting sharia-law in Canada and M-103 as the lone member of the million canuk [sic] march.

  • [] “What I didn’t learn about gender in Ontario‘s sex-ed curriculum” (Video: 4:35)

    There have been people making comments that sex ed is a pointless exercise in any case, that they didn’t learn anything useful from it, and that kids can do better just googling. Now, obviously, that’s just ignorance talking; sex ed experts have unanimously stated that the 2015 curriculum was important, and that scrapping it was ideologically-motivated stupidity. But this video caught my attention because it coincidentally happens to mention and answer many of the “objections” raised by the ignoramuses.

  • [] Fox in the henhouse: Oversight of BC independent schools

    For the past couple of weeks I’ve been mentioning a series being published by the BCHA about tax exemptions for church property. This week, they released an entirely new bombshell, this time about oversight of the province’s private schools. What’s even more intriguing is that more is apparently coming out this week.

  • [] “We Are Here” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    As funny as this comic is on its own, what makes it even more amusing are the responses of real-world biologists and other scientists, many of whom are nodding along and saying, “yeah, that’s about right”.

  • [] Former member of Mission L’Esprit-Saint accused of sexual assaults dating back to 1960s

    Yup, another one.

  • [] ‘They’re less tied to religion’: Shift toward cremation causes shortfall in Saskatoon cemetery revenue

    I’ve mentioned before that (in a piece about organ donation) there is actually a serious issue in some cities of dwindling cemetery space, so a shift to the much greener option of cremation doesn’t sound all that bad to me.

  • [] Forced removal of Pope nearly impossible — despite call for resignation from within Vatican

    This may come as a surprise to readers, but I’m actually against having Pope Francis resign over the sex abuse scandal(s). Firstly, we have to keep in mind that while Francis has been objectively terrible at handling the issue, he’s still, astoundingly, actually been better than any of his predecessors, and most Church leaders. Secondly, it’s important to understand that a lot of the pressure against Francis is coming from factions within the Church that are much more conservative and regressive than Francis. They’ve been belly-aching in the background since his election. Deposing Francis is unlikely to improve anything; it’s actually more likely to make things worse. Do you agree? Or disagree?

  • [] Strathroy students joining walkout to protest sex-ed overhaul

    Even as the Ford government waters down its “scrapping” of the 2015 sex ed curriculum, teachers, parents, and students are stepping up their protests. There have been calls for people to use the “snitch line” as a way to express their displeasure directly to the government. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  • [] NDP tables bill banning gay conversion therapy in Nova Scotia

    This is really cool. Ontario and Manitoba are the only provinces that currently ban conversion therapy, which is the pseudosciencey face of “pray the gay away” that could be described as “psychologically abuse the gay away”. I don’t know enough about Nova Scotia politics to opine on the bill’s chances – the NDP is the third party in their Parliament – but the government’s comments seem to suggest they’re on board with it.

  • [] “What does Pope Francis need to do to restore the church’s moral authority?”(Audio: 34:49)

    I’ve mentioned in another item this week that I don’t believe that Pope Francis should resign over the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal… so what should he do? I honestly don’t know (and, frankly, don’t really care about “restoring the moral authority” of the Catholic Church – one can’t “restore” that which one never really had). This piece is worth a listen, though, mostly because it includes an interview with Walter Robinson, the leader of the Spotlight team (played by Michael Keaton in the film).

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