Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Vote Science

    I’d like to believe this kind of campaign will have an impact, but it looks like the next election, like those before it, will be based on fear. Because we still have the old winner-takes-all electoral system – despite Trudeau’s promise that we wouldn’t – once again it looks like it will pretty much come down to either voting Conservative out of (irrational) fear of immigrants or Muslims or just progress in general, or voting Liberal out of fear of a potential Conservative government. I still hold out hope for a third option, though, and I have just enough optimism left to believe that this campaign might at least have some impact, even if only scaring up politicians enough to pretend care about science… which would be a start.

  • [] The problem of mindfulness

    I’ll admit that I never really took the whole mindfulness thing seriously. It struck me as something that was fairly harmless, had some potential benefits, but had a woo-ey culture associated with it (much like yoga or tai chi, for example, which do work as exercise and stress relief, but also come with woo-ey baggage). This piece not only gives a very nice introduction to mindfulness, it also describes the Buddhist notion of anattā in great detail. For me, it made me wonder about whether the existing concept of mindfulness is compatible with humanism, and if not, how it could be made more humanist – in particular, I wonder if the idea of completely dissociating oneself with the reasons for why one might be upset or anxious makes sense in a humanist framework, which, as I see it, more or less requires engaging with the people and environments around us. I’d be curious to read others’ thoughts on that.

  • [] Statistics Canada takes second look at ethnicity question on census

    There’s a lot to unpack here; I could easily put together a series on the issues surrounding the religious affiliation question on the census. But the key thing I wanted to use this item to focus on is that asking for religious affiliation isn’t a pointless question, nor is it an inappropriate question to ask on the census. This article was actually inspired by a relevant case that came up in the last couple of Weekly Update instalments. The reason why this is such an important issue for atheists is that the current census wording also results in a massive underestimate of our numbers. Unfortunately, it’s too late to fix the problem for 2021 (and we tried), but let’s keep the issue in our minds in hopes of fixing it sometime in the future.

  • [] Catholic says Khalsa Credit Union denied her membership because of religion

    Well, this is a tricky situation. In theory, we already litigated this with the Trinity Western University law school ruling, as the article mentions. In reality… I don’t think that’s necessarily true, because around the same time as that ruling, the Supreme Court also made a ruling that Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t obligated to compensate disfellowshipped people for the business they lost when their Witness customers shunned them (well, technically that’s not what they decided, but let’s not get into the details here). I think the main difference here is that the law school wasn’t just providing a public service, it was providing a service necessary to start a career in a secular field unrelated to the TWU’s religious beliefs; being denied access to TWU’s law school meant being denied access to the legal profession, so by refusing to allow out and active gay people specifically, TWU was actually making it harder for them specifically to become lawyers. In contrast, being denied membership in a credit union doesn’t have any further implications, which makes it hard to make a public benefit argument. On the other, other hand, how is this any different from a shop saying “no blacks allowed”? Khalsa Credit Union is a business open to the public… should it be allowed to discriminate on a protected ground? I should note that I’ve heard rumours that KCU actually does allow non-Sikhs to join, and it was only one asshole who caused the issue here, and that person is gone… but that contradicts the stated purpose of the organization, and there does appear to be a faith test to join. We’ll probably be hearing a lot more about this case.

  • [] The hypersane are among us, if only we are prepared to look

    This is an interesting concept about reason and rationality. The “hypersane” (as I understand the concept; I haven’t read the book) are those whose reasoning is completely detached from the burden social consensus, which has the unfortunate side effect of making them appear quite insane. We already know that a lot of our beliefs and “reasoning” are shaped by cultural norms, but the concept of “hypersanity” really raises the question of how much “rationality” itself – or at least, what we consider “rationality” – is culturally determined.

  • [] Federal funding for private schools: a cautionary tale

    It should come as no surprise that Andrew Scheer is promising to fund sending kids to religious schools. This piece uses what happened in Australia when a similar policy was implemented to explore why that kind of promise is the thin edge of the wedge to destroying our public school systems.

  • [] Canada falling behind in response to far-right security threat, experts say

    This is an issue I’ve been writing about for some time now, spurred on by researchers like Perry and Scrivens, and journalists like Balgord. It’s just baffling how stubborn Canadian law enforcement is when it comes to the far right. They have actively disrupted the far left in Canada, to the point where there really isn’t any far left in Canada anymore. They have gone after Islamic jihadist extremists like rabid pitbulls – even manufacturing threats where they didn’t exist – to the point where the only Islamic-inspired attacks we’ve had in Canada have been one or two lone wackos who could only manage to take down a single police officer or soldier before being stopped. But the far right? They have a death toll in the dozens – and that’s just in Canada, and just in the last decade, and probably an extremely low estimate because most far-right violence doesn’t get classified as such – and the RCMP’s response? A shrug. While it’s true that things are beginning to improve – law enforcement has finally listed some of the worst offenders as terror groups, and made noises about actually doing research into far right extremism – this article makes the point that so much more needs to be done.

  • [] Satanic Temple to hold first ‘black mass’ in Canada

    The Satanic Temple have had a good run of taking a piss on American theocrats, so it’s fun to see them bringing their comedy act to Canada. But this article… man, the Global News coverage, including this article, is wild. Before bothering to explain that the Satanic Temple is mostly about trolling Christian supremacy (way down at the end of the article), they conjure up lurid details of alleged historical black masses, as if the publicly-advertised black mass planned in Ottawa might involve human sacrifice. At one point they even get a Toronto satanist to say with a straight face: “Nobody’s eating any babies; nobody’s sacrificing any animals.” (Oddly though, they get most of the historical details wrong. For example, at one point they claim Louis XIV sacrificed a baby to get his mistress to love him… which is just back-asswards. It was the mistress who allegedly performed black mass involving a baby sacrifice to prevent Louis XIV from moving on to another woman… but all that is highly suspect given the only evidence of the claim came from a drunken, fortune-telling murderess who provided inconsistent testimony under torture.)

  • [] Vancouver doctor cleared of wrongdoing in probe into assisted death at Orthodox Jewish nursing home

    This is a happy ending to a shitty story. In my opinion, the nursing home acted absolutely despicably over this whole affair. At the start, they did allow Hyman to get a medical assistance in dying assessment, which he cleared. But then they refused to allow the procedure to actually be done, because of their faith. However – and this is key – they allow(ed) doctors to come on site to perform medical procedures on the residents without requiring clearance or approval. So Dr. Wiebe did just that: she came to the nursing home, and helped Hyman die… and the nursing home lost their shit. They not only accused Wiebe of “sneaking in” and murdering Hyman, they even raised the spectre of the Holocaust to make her sound even more evil. Now, Wiebe did do the procedure after regular visiting hours… because she had a regular job during the day, and could only do house calls in the evening. But other than that, Wiebe did absolutely nothing wrong. And now she’s been exonerated. Did the nursing home learn anything from all this? Ha, ha, fuck no; the only thing they changed was that they now require doctors to check in with them before treating anyone on site… or in other words, they just made things a little harder for their residents.

  • [] Deniers deflated as climate reality hits home

    One can hardly fault David Suzuki for feeling a little bit vindicated for all the years he struggled to get people to take climate change seriously. Kudos to him for continuing the fight, and for calling out the religiously-motivated denialist bullshit Postmedia is pushing.

  • [] Edmonton imam barred from community hall amid investigation into allegedly anti-Semitic sermons

    The item title pretty much sums it up. The ban is temporary until the investigation by both the Edmonton cops and the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council wraps up, at which point it will either be lifted or made permanent.

  • [] The pro-choice movement will defeat any threats to abortion rights

    This is such an uplifting article. It’s nice to know that, with all the regressive shit we have to struggle against day-in-day-out, that this is a battle we’re decisively winning. But as Joyce Arthur reminds us, that doesn’t mean that it’s a battle we can stop fighting.

  • [] Québec’s Bill 21 may embolden religious bullying in schools

    I haven’t been following the Bill 21 story as much as I probably should, mostly because I’m so fucking sick and tired of the hate and ignorance I run into every time the story comes up. Also, there’s so much happening that if I were to report on every development, then there’d be two or three items in every Weekly Update about it. I suppose the only big news since the last time I wrote about it is that the legal challenge that was dismissed has been “un-dismissed”. Originally, the judge threw out the legal challenge against Bill 21 because the challenge was filed hours after the law was passed, and there simply hadn’t been enough time for it to have caused any harm. That’s apparently changed. Already. (Hard to say for sure, because the judge to “un-dismissed” the challenge didn’t give reasons that I’m aware of.) This article gives a bit of an update, in addition to offering yet another perspective about why the law is so problematic.

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