Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A man wearing a polo shirt and jeans follows a woman down the street. The woman is wearing a hoodie and is walking a small dog. The man is talking cheerfully, doing the “explaining with my hands” palms up gesture; the woman is looking back at him out of the corner of her eye and has raised her voice testily. POLO SHIRT: So you see, when you “transgenders” insist you're women, that's you forcing society to along with your delusions. Let's discuss this. DOG WALKER: LEAVE ME ALONE! DOG (in thought balloon): Jerk!]
This should be a joke, but it’s so true it’s hard to laugh.
  • [] “Debate Us You Cowards!” by Barry Deutsch (Leftycartoons)

    We’ve all seen these assholes. There’s this one guy on Facebook right now absolutely furious and raging because I told him that if he wants his white genocide, Muslim menace, or transgender theories debated, he should take them to more appropriate communities – for example, to discuss transgender theories he should be talking to communities that specialize in biology, sociology, psychology, sexology, and so on… not atheists. There are really only two appropriate responses to those kinds of assholes, one being what I just described, which is directing them to subject-matter relevant expert forums (where they’ll just be hilariously obliterated). The other, of course, as illustrated, is to simply tell them to fuck right off.

  • [] Motivating Parents to Vaccinate: A Quebec Initiative

    It’s a perennial question among activists: do “confrontational” (shaming) approaches work better than empathetic approaches? This study provides evidence that at when it comes to convincing new parents to vaccinate, empathy may trump shaming. But there are a few caveats here, most notably that we’re not talking about anti-vax advocacy – we’re not talking about people who are out there in public trying to convince others not to vaccinate, we’re talking about the kind of parents who are just confused and scared. Gently encouraging that kind of parent makes sense… while continuing to come out hard and shame the advocates also makes sense.

  • [] Eating placenta doesn’t prevent postpartum depression, B.C. study shows

    I never really got how this became a thing, but then again, there is a ton of woo surrounding pregnancy and childbirth.

  • [] MANDEL: Law Society of Ontario taken over by ‘right-wing, fundamentalist religious zealots?’

    This is something I’ve been hearing rumblings about for months now, but haven’t felt comfortable writing publicly about because so much of it is rumours and grumbling, because until the election it was all just “concerns” that may never have materialized, and because I haven’t been able to find a solid news source that I could link to for support. Well, the Toronto Sun isn’t the most solid news source, but close enough. What happened here seems to be more or less the same thing that happened in the provincial general election, and in so many other places: the far right nutters put together a slate and told their supporters to vote for that slate, while every one else just ran on their own merits or voted based on merit. As usual, an organized movement, no matter how small or fringe, was enough to steamroll the usually disorganized process. The question now is how much damage they’re going to do before the legal profession gets pissed off or embarrassed enough to vote them out.

  • [] Hate Groups At Toronto Pegida Rally Burn Quran and Set Off Smoke Bombs

    This wasn’t the largest right-wing islamophobic rally this past week, but it’s the one that got the most out of control. Oh, but I suppose burning the Quran and setting off smoke bombs was just perfectly legitimate, reasonable criticism of Islam, right?

  • [] “Waiting for the But” by Randall Munroe (xkcd)

    Funny, and sadly, true.

  • [] Government questioned about secular recovery options

    The BCHA has been fighting the good fight for secular addiction recovery options in BC for a while now, and it’s starting to look like their efforts are having an impact within the legislature.

  • [] COMMENTARY: We need better tools to track hate

    I was surprised to discover that Hamilton, Ontario, may be the only police force in Canada that actually reports hate crime statistics on an annual basis. We need to do better than that. The next major general safety survey is 2020… I’m dreading what the data will show.

  • [] What It’s Like Monitoring Canada’s Yellow Vest Movement Every Day

    We don’t talk much about Yellow Vests Canada here on Canadian Atheist unless they do something spectacularly racist… but they are very much a far-right, extremist group that trades in a lot of violent anti-immigrant and islamophobic rhetoric. You don’t even need to follow the group all that closely to catch glimpses of the virulently toxic memes they share about murdering politicians they disagree with. They pretend to be a “grassroots” movement focused on opposing the carbon tax… but even a peripheral view of the group betrays that lie. When they’re not talking about murdering Trudeau, it’s Muslims, Muslims, Muslims, and Islam.

  • [] Supreme Court Justice Clément Gascon has been safely found, police say

    This is a strange and concerning story about a man Canadian atheists should recognize as one of our heroes. Supreme Court Justice Clément Gascon is the man who wrote the landmark decision in the Saguenay case, a beautiful ruling against public prayer with reasoning that defined Canadian secularism… and that was the first decision he authored upon joining the Court. Recently Gascon announced he was retiring from the Supreme Court in September, only specifying personal reasons, despite being the second-youngest on the Court (he’s 58, Russell Brown is 53). Well, this week, he apparently went missing for a time, and reappeared, possibly in a hospital. Nobody’s saying what really happened. It may have all simply been a miscommunication and overreaction.

  • [] “Panel 19: Quebec’s Proposed Religious Symbol Ban”(Audio: 1:03:01)

    This is a nice panel discussion about Québec’s religious accessories ban between people coming from very different backgrounds. I don’t want to spoil anything because there’s a lot of surprising facts that come up, and of course plenty of good points. I strongly recommend a listen.

  • [] Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan arrives in Canada

    Canadian Atheist has been following this story for years now, and for most of that time it’s been a tragic tale. Finally it has a happy ending. “Asia Bibi” is a poor, illiterate, Catholic woman who lived in the Punjab region of Pakistan; her family was the only non-Muslim family in her village. According to the agreed-upon facts, in 2009 she was picking berries with other women, and used a cup she found lying around to drink some water from a well. One of the other women, who apparently had a long-running feud with Bibi’s family, freaked out – she told Bibi that Christians weren’t allowed to drink from the same cups as Muslims, that she was (basically) scum, and that she should convert to Islam. Bibi retorted that she didn’t see why she should be the one who had to convert, and that she was quite happy with Jesus. Not long after, a mob showed up at her house and beat her in front of her children, and she was arrested and accused of “insulting the Prophet”. She was eventually tried and sentenced to death for blasphemy. Hers was the case that Salmaan Taseer was murdered over, among others. Eventually, the Supreme Court acquitted her – in the ruling the judges noted that her accusers were bald-faced liars, but the key reason she was set free seems to be that she can’t be killed for insulting the Prophet because only Muslims deserve death for that, and she’s Christian. At least she was no longer facing execution, except… this is Pakistan we’re talking about. Which means that even though she’s been legally acquitted (and her accusers have been shown to be lying sacks of shit), there were still the angry mobs who want to murder her. It would seem the logical solution to that problem would simply be to let her leave… but no, the Pakistan government made a deal with the murderous mob’s ringleaders that prevented her from leaving the country (her lawyer, incidentally, had already left the country). She was finally allowed to leave Pakistan , and now it’s finally been confirmed that she’s here safe in Canada.

  • [] Quebecers support religious symbols ban, but are divided on how – or even whether – to enforce it

    This is more or less a repeat of earlier surveys Angus Reid has done, and the results haven’t changed. As before, support is strongest among older, rural, less-educated, and conservative Québécois, and even then, while many support the idea of a ban, they can’t seem to figure out how to implement it in practice.

  • [] Lynn Beyak suspended from Senate after refusing to take down letters condemned as racist

    She cried “free speech”. She cried “political correctness gone too far”. She even cited Orwell. Yup, she scored a douchebag hat trick. But here’s the really depressing thing about Beyak’s racist comments… you’ll find the same thing advocated not just by random atheists, but even as the official position of some major Canadian humanist groups. That’s truly embarrasing.

  • [] Hamilton Promises Investigation Into Employment of Former Neo-Nazi Leader

    When I first got wind of this story, I wasn’t planning on including an Update item about it. Lemire is one of the most high-ranking, most important neo-Nazis in Canada. But what really made this story intriguing enough for me to think it worthy of mention is the alleged cover-up. That Lemire was working for the Canadian government while actively trying to undermine it for years, and working alongside some dangerous people and outright criminals all the while, that would be bad enough… but what’s really worrying here is that it looks like the City may have gone to some lengths to hide his employment from the public eye. This is all still unfolding so we’ll see what the city does and says in the coming weeks.

  • [] Quebec Far-Right Hold Rally in Support of Government’s Law Against Religious Symbols – Canadian Anti-Hate Network

    Yeesh, you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, so supporters of Québec’s Bill 21 – the religious accessories ban – better take a long, hard look at who they’re marching alongside of. Of course, they might be hard to spot, because organizers apparently went to some lengths to hide just how racist their supporters were by insisting they only carry Québec flags, and not the flags of their own groups.

  • [] Pope Francis Issues Rules Requiring Priests And Nuns To Report Abuse

    I’m not overly impressed by the new rules. I mean, the tone is okay – at least it sounds like they want to take the issue seriously. But there’s no requirement in there to report any abuse or rape to the civil authorities. To be fair to the Vatican, they said they don’t want to require dealing with civil authorities because the Catholic Church operates in a lot of places where they are actively victimized by the local civil authorities, or where the civil authorities are actually worse than nothing. But on the other hand, that’s a bullshit dodge, because the rules could simply straight-up say, “report unless there’s a damn good reason not to.” On the plus side, the new whistleblower rules are not bad, and should make it easier and safer to report problems… at least within the Church. Will that make a difference? Personally, I’m skeptical.

  • [] Retired senator rebuked for linking hijab with female circumcision, forced marriage

    This needs a bit of ’splainin’. So as we all know by now, the majority CAQ government of Québec is pushing Bill 21, its religious accessories ban. In an effort to at least appear like they care about public opinion before going ahead and doing what they intend to do anyway and ramming their bill through, they’ve decided to hold hearings, where people can voice their support or opposition to the bill. Sounds like a good idea right? If you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention at all. It’s been a shit show. But amusingly, it’s been an entirely one-sided shit show. Opponents of the bill have all made well-argued, sound, and occasionally passionate cases against the ban. Supporters of the bill have been… predictably racist and vile. And they’ve been so bad that Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has actually had to step in repeatedly and tell them to tone it down. But the really crazy thing is that Jolin-Barrette has himself been guilty of going over-the-top, accusing bill opponents of opposing the legitimacy of government, or secularism itself. The hearings aren’t even over yet, so expect more lunacy in the coming week.

  • [] Your tax dollars at work: Looks like public funding for religious schools likely helped today’s large anti-abortion march

    I’m more familiar with the situation in Ontario than in Alberta, but I know we have the same problem here. I also know the schools generally indulge in creative accounting to explain away the expenses. I don’t mean they engage in actual fraud – it’s more like they say things like the funds for the trip came out of a different pot than the provincial funding… even though it all ultimately does come out of their operating budget.

  • [] What’s The Difference Between A Secular Society And an Atheist Society?

    Godless Mom Courtney Heard considers a question that I only rarely hear asked, and even more rarely hear asked honestly, but that I find fascinating. She takes a decent swing at it, and I agree with her through most of it… though she and I part ways about halfway through. Still, I think it’s an interesting question, and I think it’s something atheists should think about. Why don’t you try taking a swing at it?

  • [] What you need to know about Canada’s blood donation ban on men who have sex with men

    This is a truly messy situation. On the one hand, Canadian Blood Services can claim to be using evidence-based reasoning to justify its continuing ban on blood from men who have sex with men (MSM). 46% of new HIV cases in Canada in 2017 involved MSM. On the other hand, this still stinks of discrimination (it very recently used to be a lifetime ban, which was straight-up ridiculous and discriminatory), and CBS is using a fairly idiosyncratic way of collecting and interpreting the evidence. And there is data suggesting that the wait time does no good anyway. Personally, I’m not informed enough on the topic to be able to see what the right answer here is.

  • [] Islam Is Incompatible With Country-Western Culture

    This is absolutely brilliant satire, sending up the tired argument that “Islam is incompatible with ‘Western civilization’”. It’s pitch perfect – I don’t want to spoil any of it, but I just about lost it when it got to the part about square dancing and bowing.

  • [] Quebec’s Bill 21 is about fear of difference, not being secular

    Here’s an interesting perspective on Québec’s religious accessories ban, from the point of view of a life-long Québécois and his perspective on the province’s history with “secularism”. It goes all the way back to his personal experiences in the Duplessis era, right up to his modern experiences in a new, diverse Québec that is coming to terms with decades of immigration from Muslim-majority nations (because they were French-speaking nations). It’s a nice piece.

  • [] BC Liberal MLAs Shared Stage With Party Advocating Canada Be Ruled By Biblical Law at Anti-Abortion Rally

    I’ve been so focused on the cozy relationship between the religious right and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the Alberta United Conservative Party that I admit I haven’t been keeping a close enough eye on BC. I don’t think anybody is really shocked by this – I don’t think anybody expects much from the BC Liberals – but we should make sure these connections are public knowledge.

  • [] Kelliher, Sask. Mayor Darcy King Says Nazi Flag Will Be Taken Off House

    😬 Not gonna comment. The article speaks for itself, I think.

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