Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A comic panel with a woman praying: “Dear God, why am I here? What’s the meaning of it all?”]
I’m honestly bemused that “well, I made a universe and it was boring without NPCs in it” is considered a valid answer.
  • [] “Where Does Religion Come From? One Researcher Points To ‘Cultural’ Evolution”(Audio: 50:41)

    There’s been a lot of recent research overturning the long-held idea that civilization arose because of religion. The new evidence suggests the opposite: that civilization came first, and then religion was developed as a tool to control the growing populations. I haven’t found the time to listen to the audio, so if anyone finds anything really interesting in there, be sure to point it out in the comments.

  • [] Quebec’s Bill 21 misapplies religious neutrality principle

    This is the same point I’ve made multipletimes, but this time it’s being made by a legal expert in Policy Options. D’you think it will have any impact on believers now? (No, of course it won’t.)

  • [] Religious leader charged with sexual assault by London police

    Aaaand another one. This one is a bit unique in that it seems oddly numerically/temporally flipped. Usually it’s a long-serving priest charged with some abuse done decades earlier to a child. This time it’s a fairly recently-ordained priest, charged with assaulting an elderly woman.

  • [] Quebec’s Bill 21 is about values, but of a racist sort

    Rick Salutin takes a rapid-fire run through several problems with the arguments in favour of Québec’s Bill 21, but he touches on a few points I haven’t seen raised elsewhere.

  • [] Saskatchewan man rips down, burns Nazi flag flying on house

    We can’t really encourage a crime… but damn this story is hard not to cheer. The backstory is that some asshole in a small town in Saskatchewan put up a literal Nazi flag, and a Confederate flag. Neighbours complained… but the flags weren’t taken down. The man who put them up apparently lived with his grandparents and hadn’t got their permission to put the flags up… but the flags weren’t taken down. The police were called in and went to the house… but the flags weren’t taken down. The mayor called the asshole and got him to promise to take the flags down… but the flags weren’t taken down. There were vague promises that the flags would be taken down when the rains stopped… but the flags weren’t taken down. So finally, this indigenous man drives up to the house, climbs the pole, rips down the flags, livestreams burning them, then basically tells the cops and city, “come at me, motherfuckers!” If you’re going to do civil disobedience, you might as well do it in style.

  • [] “Meaning” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    This is one of those rare times where God actually makes sense.

  • [] How is conversion therapy still happening in Canada?

    It was a big disappointment when the federal government declined to do anything following a petition to outlaw conversion therapy in Canada. Luckily, Senator Serge Joyal stepped up, and introduced a cautiously limited bill that just bans advertising conversion therapy, or from profiting from doing it to minors. That bill saw its second reading last week. But it’s an open question whether this will actually have any meaningful effect, because as this item’s article notes, conversion therapy is usually done quietly, via word-of-mouth in religious communities. In other words, practitioners don’t need to advertise, and some of them aren’t actually getting any payment for the service – they’re doing it as free “camps” and such.

  • [] Kevin Johnston ordered to pay $2.5M for ‘hateful, Islamophobic’ remarks against restaurant chain owner

    If you don’t know the name Kevin J. Johnston, well, you’re lucky, but I’m about to ruin that for you. Johnston is a professional asshole: a provocateur who’s run multiple failed mayoral campaigns in Mississauga, while charged with hate crimes. He’s the asshole who offered a bounty for videos of schoolkids praying. This guy is such a piece of shit, that even Doug Ford – who will happily pal around with Faith Goldy – wants nothing to do with him. A while back, Johnston and fellow asshat Ron Banerjee made a video of themselves outside of a Paramount Fine Foods (apparently because Trudeau was inside at the time for a fundraiser), accusing owner Mohamed Fakih of being a terrorist and raping his (or other people’s, it’s not clear from the jibbering) wife. Fakih sued them both. Banerjee caved back in December, paid a settlement, and issued an apology, and has apparently been behaving himself since (at least, I haven’t seen his name come up). Fakih used $25,000 from that settlement as a donation to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network… not bad at all. Meanwhile, Johnston doubled down, and we saw this week how that worked out for him. Naturally, Johnston’s learned nothing, and has not only vowed to appeal, but within hours of the ruling, he was on YouTube, fantasizing about beating up Fakih’s lawyer, and possibly violating the terms of the ruling by making further stupid claims about Fakih.

  • [] Alberta School Officials Refuse To Say If Taxpayers Paid For Field Trip to Anti-Abortion Rally

    When these things come up in Ontario, the schools usually have the ready-made excuse that the money for the trip didn’t come out of their provincial funding, it came out of some other pot… even though it’s all income for the school in the end. It looks like the Alberta schools in this case were caught flat-footed. Have they never pulled this shit before? Or if they have, were they never called out on it until now?

  • [] A natural experiment study of the effects of imprisonment on violence in the community

    Our justice system is heavily based on ancient, Biblical notions of retributive justice – “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot”. Basically, criminals should be punished, and the threat of punishment will teach them the error of their ways and deter others from crime. Modern research is increasingly providing evidence that this just doesn’t work, and alternative ideals, like restorative justice and positive criminology are looking and more and more feasible. This latest research is another blow to the old “just lock ’em up” “logic”… there is no change in the probability of violence before and after imprisonment, unless you actually include the time they’re imprisoned (but obviously they can’t do a lot of violent crime while in prison).

  • [] Montreal councillors reject motion urging police to allow religious symbols

    Montréal has already rejected Bill 21, but this hot-button suggestion came up on the same day they were making their presentation to the province in Québec City (likely to be a quixotic effort; the province is probably going ahead with Bill 21 regardless of anything). The Council seemed to be broadly in support of the idea, and the Montréal police force is in dire need of some diversity, but councillors decided that this was just waving a red flag in the province’s face.

  • [] Man accused of vandalizing Edson courthouse with anti-Semitic slurs is an extremist rapper

    This story is amazing, not just for the story itself, but for the media’s response. Apparently, early on the morning of Saturday the 11the, Kelvin Zawadiuk stole a car from the parking lot of a utility company… then drove it through the provincial building and courthouse. And just to add some seasoning, he graffitied the damaged property with antisemitic slurs. It turns out that Zawadiuk… is a Nazi… rapper. Process that for a moment, but don’t take too long, because now we have to talk about how this story was covered. In the initial news report, the CBC journalist thought it would be worthwhile to give the first word about this attack from… no, not the Jewish community of Edson (who apparently number in the tens, if that)… no, not any experts on hate crimes or antisemitism… the journalist gave the first comment, in an entire section of the article, to some dude from the local Mennonite church. Other than padding out the word count, I can’t see any point or purpose to that entire chunk of the article. But that’s not all! Because at some point the CBC decided to at least pretend to do a little investigative journalism, and discovered that Zawadiuk is a Nazi rapper… but then devoted the last quarter of the article to giving the last word to some friend of Zawadiuk, who states that Zawadiuk isn’t really a Nazi – he isn’t really an antisemite – he just likes the Nazi aesthetic. So… maybe he wasn’t writing hate speech all over the courthouse, maybe he was just decorating, right? Except of course the fuck not! Anti-Racist Canada showed the CBC how to do real journalism, dug through its records, and discovered that Zawadiuk is a former member of the neo-Nazi group Blood & Honour.

  • [] Public benefits test for churches could be coming to Saanich after all

    This is really cool, because Saanich is not just deciding yay or nay on tax exemptions for religious properties, they’re actually going to do a full report on the idea. That report, if it’s well done, could be useful for other cities, and could help the idea spread more quickly. It’s also cool that the Saanich city council has made such an important point of inclusivity. This article doesn’t name them, but a follow-up article gives full credit to the BC Humanist Association.

  • [] News Release – SCC Cases (Lexum)

    Last week’s Update included an item about Clément Gascon, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the landmark secularism case about public prayer in Saguenay. Gascon had gone missing for several hours, prompting a police request to the public for help, before turning up – apparently in a hospital. For a couple days, there was wild speculation… but now Gascon has released a statement, explaining the situation. Just this week, Justice Gascon sat through his final hearing – he still has to do all the write-ups – before his retirement in September. Gascon is a hero to Canadian secularists, and a damn fine judge besides in general. I hope I can speak for the entire Canadian Atheist community in applauding his courage at speaking out about his mental health issues, and saying how thankful we all were for his service.

  • [] What does the term “Judeo-Christian” actually mean?

    This is a term I hear used often, and I’ve probably used it myself (though I prefer “Abrahamic” when talking about the religious family because it better describes their relationship, and includes Islam). I’ve never thought about it before, but now that it’s pointed out… yeah, the term really does sound like a dishonest joke. What people try to pass off as “Judeo-Christian” heritage or values is undeniably just Christian heritage or values. Lumping Judaism into the fold is denying the terrible treatment of Judaism throughout history (you do know we literally turned Jews fleeing the Holocaust away, right?), while also pretending that there is some kind of coalition between Judaism and Christianity against Islam. It’s really a terrible term.

  • [] Montreal woman says man tried to rip off her niqab, attackers now have ‘no age, gender or colour’

    It’s amazing how often this happens, and how rarely it’s reported, let alone given media attention. What’s really depressing here is that nobody else at the station did anything to help. Luckily there is apparently camera footage, so there’s a chance this asshole might be caught, however small.

  • [] Ontario’s highest court rules doctors must give referrals for services they oppose

    Splendid news! Not altogether surprising, though – the Christian medical associations were fighting a losing battle from the start. I can’t see the Supreme Court taking this case on (though if they do, marvellous, because based on recent history they’ll probably strengthen the decision, and make it effective nationally), so it looks like that’s the end of this problem in Ontario at least.

  • [] Religious symbols ban pits Quebec feminists against each other

    I get that there is plenty of dispute among feminists over whether a veil ban is feminist or not, but I don’t get framing it as 2nd wave feminism vs. intersectionality. Huh? This has nothing to do with intersectionality, and even second-wave feminism included ideas of “women’s liberation” that are directly contradictory to state-enforced dress codes. I’m open to the argument that women’s rights and gender equality should be given precedence over religious rights, but as yet I haven’t heard a single coherent argument as to why that’s even an issue here: a woman wearing a veil isn’t taking away rights from any other women, nor is she impacting their equality in any sense.

  • [] 2 new cases of measles in Montreal has public health scrambling to contain spread

    We had this eliminated in the entire western hemisphere in 2002. All new cases are imported – this one apparently from Paris – and almost always from someone who wasn’t vaccinated. That’s what happened in this case, which was the first time this year measles was transmitted from one person to another in Québec. This case is also unique in that one of the people who caught the virus was vaccinated, but of course the vaccination isn’t 100% effective.

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3 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Hey Indi,

    When you say you don’t get the framing of feminists supporting or not supporting the hijab ban, are you being rhetorical or transparently honest? If the second, I can perhaps help to clarify.

    First, I think it is accurately reflects the camps of the feminists. The vast majority of second wave feminists support bills like this. Most majority of fourth wave feminists / intersectional feminists oppose it. I don’t know if second wave feminists were divided on this point when it was leading edge feminism decades ago. But it seems that as many feminists evolved in different directions, there is a core contingent of second wave feminism that in this century has solidified very specific ideological position and they hate third/fourth wave feminists.

    So, when you mention second wave women’s liberation there was probably a lot of debate back in the day about what that meant. But in modern day that seems to mean uniformity. The feminists who haven’t evolved seem to feel that women must work and must not stay at home, sex work is always bad and patriarchal (SWERF), tend to by trans-exclusionary (TERF) and hijabs are always against one’s will unless they have been brain washed.

    In my mind the fourth wave feminists have evolved in the right direction. And their input in the conversation is basically saying that it’s more complicated than that. From an ideological perspective second wave feminists who actively resisted subsequent waves represent a specific and unified ideology.

    Fourth wave and intersectional feminists are for women’s choice. The modern battle within that group tends to be around choice feminism.

    • Oh, I was being honest, and I really do appreciate the answer.

      I suppose my thing is that the only feminists I hang around are all at least third wave… and probably all fourth in practice, but that’s such a recent thing not everyone’s identified with it yet.

      The only second wave feminist I ever really spent any time with would be my mother… but even then, she was way ahead of the curve, so she’d probably actually be third wave in practice (and I wonder if she might have even embraced the fourth; that only became a thing after she’d died). Actually, given the concept of feminism she taught me, I’d say she would very clearly count as third wave.

      So I guess my understanding of second wave feminism doesn’t actually come from real second wave feminists. Instead, it’s more of an academic understanding: first wave was about legal equality (voting rights, etc.), second wave was about functional equality (workplace sexual harassment, etc.), third wave was about cultural equality (patriarchy, etc.), and the fourth wave is about bringing feminist “wokeness” to the streets.

      So maybe it’s just that my experience that I thought was with second wave feminism really wasn’t. I always understood that the second wave feminist attitude about work was that if a woman wanted to work, she should be able to… but if she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, that was fine, too (and she should get legal protections if she chose that, like spousal support, etc.); being a mom is a job and just as important as what the working dad does. I got that from my mother, who was a stay-at-home mom for several periods in her life… and a hard-core, second-wave-identifying feminist. She also would have rolled her eyes at that simplistic notion of why people choose hijabs, the same way she rolled her eyes at the idea that women who choose to dress sexy and flaunt their femininity were brainwashed (that was a major issue for feminists at one point, and while she found the “Spice Girl” sex-positive thing to be a little over-the-top, she very firmly supported it as a valid choice and even a feminist choice when my sister got into it).

      But as I said, maybe she really wasn’t a second wave feminist… at the very least, not what second wave feminists have apparently become. Which means that the source of my confusion may just be that I’ve never really known what second wave feminism really is… or at least, what it’s become.

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