Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A cartoon showing a man praying: “Dear God… why do people have to die?” God answers: “You ungrateful bastard!”]
“Do you actually want Jerry Falwell and Fred Phelps to still be alive?” “Wait, weren’t those guys on your team?” “…”
  • [] The battle against Quebec’s Bill 21

    This is a good article for getting a summary of the tactics being used in the forthcoming court challenges against Québec’s religious accessory ban.

  • [] “How can you convince a skeptic?” (Video: 11:58)

    This is a neat segment, not just because it’s a mainstream media outlet frankly discussing irrational skepticism, but because of the format. Andrew Chang brings on a panel of subject experts – one each for climate change, vaccination, and distracted driving – and asks them about denialism related to their respective fields. The experts have some very interesting and insightful thoughts on the topics, some specific to the issue, others more general, and each of the three offers a very different class of solution. There’s no effort whatsoever to present any kind of bullshit “balance” by giving deniers a platform to waffle or lie, and Change is pretty brutally clear that there is “no credible scientific dispute” to the “nakedly obvious” facts.

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

    Debunking political bullshit has been taking up so much of energy these days I feel nostalgic for those simpler times when we’d debunk Bigoot or Nessie or alien abductions. Be sure to check out the hovertext on this comic! Overall, this is an excellent way to look at the whole alien abduction thing… and (as the hovertext suggests) conspiracy theories in general.

  • [] Quebec pharmacist known as ‘The Pharmafist’ wins international award for defending science

    It just occurred to me that I’ve never featured one of The Pharmafist/Le Pharmachien’s pieces on Canadian Atheist. (Though there is actually a technical reason why: The Pharmafist is one of those websites that hasn’t moved to the secure web (it’s still HTTP and not HTTPS), and I’ve deliberately chosen to minimize the amount of non-secure sites I feature, in order to minimize the risk to our readers.) That’s something I’ll have to change in the future. Congratulations to Olivier Bernard!

  • [] The Freedom of Thought Report

    This has been a busy week for report releases! The 2019 edition of The Freedom of Thought Report was released by Humanists International. This is the first FOT Report since Canada repealed its blasphemy law. That alone seems to have bumped us up 6 ranks to #118 (though there’s something fishy going on there; I’ll dig into it more when I have time). Aside from that, the other notable thing as far as the report is concerned is the passing of Québec’s Bill 21. That gets a write-up, but it’s an oddly one-sided write-up that tries hard to justify the law while never even mentioning the fact that it’s a major violation of fundamental rights and freedoms (there is a dismissive aside noting that “many others” outside of Québec “consider” it a violation… and not a word about the fact that it’s so obviously a violation in undeniable fact that it had to have an escape clause written right into it to protect it from being shot down for violating the fundamental freedoms clause of the Charter)… which would seem to be something worth mentioning in a report whose primary purpose is documenting restrictions on freedoms. Weird. I’d really love to seem some more transparently on who is writing and editing these country blurbs. Anywho, I’ll read the report in more detail when I have time, but, like I said, there’s been a lot to process this week.

  • [] Evidence in Action

    Another big report released this week, this one comes from Evidence for Democracy. Its focus is on how members of Parliament get the information they use in their decision-making, how they assess information sources, and so on. I haven’t had a chance to read the report in detail yet, but it looks like the main takeaway is that the best way to increase the use of scientifically-valid information in government decision-making is to get more scientists and experts in front of parliamentary committees, and in direct contact with MPs.

  • [] Health minister uncertain about constitutionality of doctors’ conscience rights bill

    I’m not entirely surprised that this bill has attracted as much outrage as it has. It’s a pretty transparent attempt to attack abortion rights (not to mention medical assistance in dying and just about any other medical procedure there’s a religious objection to), and while Canadians bizarrely keep electing reactionary right-wing parties they don’t really like, on average, as a people, we’re really fairly progressive. What’s amusing, though, is the way the UCP leadership is falling all over themselves trying to pretend that this is all just an act of nature that they have no clue about, or understanding of. “So, Minister of Health, what would this bill actually do? Like, what purpose does it actually have?” To which Shandro just stares dumbly into the camera, drooling: “Uh, I ’unno.” Oh, please. Don’t be fooled; Shandro knows exactly what the purpose of the bill is. He voted for it.

  • [] B.C. mother takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging ritual in class

    This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened (or I may be thinking of the same incident, and it’s only now made it to court), and it’s always uncomfortably irritating when it does. I wouldn’t really want to take the side of a fanatical Christian against indigenous culture any day, even without the contextual baggage of colonialism looming overhead like a sword of Damocles. But… she’s not wrong. First we have to just throw away the completely bullshit argument of the tribal council that smudging isn’t religious, it’s cultural, and how dare you put a label on our thing. Yeah, fuck off. If it quacks, it’s a duck. The description of the ceremony given by the school itself says it’s about the belief that everything has a spirit, and smudging has some influence on them… those are undeniably religious beliefs. Also bullshit is the council’s histrionic claim that what the mother is asking for is the complete excision of all indigenous cultural expression in the province’s schools, and the end of reconciliation. Now, I haven’t read the actual claim by the mother, and this article has some dodgy wording that muddies things (the article says the problem was exposure to smudging, but the actual words from the claim quoted specify the problem was being forced to participate… which are two very different things), but I assume the only issue here is participation in the ritual. That’s what it should be, anyway. There would be no problem with letting (or even requiring) the kids to watch a smudging ceremony. But making the kids do a smudging ceremony is not cool. The same would be true for any religious ceremony – there’s also no problem with letting the kids watch the Eucharist, for example… but actually having the kids go up, kneel (or not), eat the cracker, and be blessed? Hard no.

  • [] Canadian Soldier With Ties To Neo-Nazi Terrorist Groups Arranged For Illegal Weapons Sale In Bosnia

    I think I say this every time I write about this topic, but every time it applies: holy shit. For years our security and law enforcement agencies harped on and on about the endless threat of Muslim extremists – they even straight-up invented some to keep the pressure on – while completely ignoring the much more serious threat of far-right extremists… and I’ve provided plenty of evidence for that claim in the past, but strap in. Can you imagine the Canadian Forces discovering a member of al-Qaida in their ranks, and responding by pulling that soldier aside and discreetly suggesting that they should leave that organization… and doing nothing else? And not only that! Then later, when asked if there were any CF members involved in extremist organizations, the Forces conveniently “forgot” to mention that they actually had a fucking al-Qaida operative in their ranks? And then… it turned out that even though the soldier left that particular organization, they not only got involved in more extreme organizations, they actively trafficked weapons with other extremists? Can you just fucking imagine the outcry there would be if that information came out? Well, the information has just come out about a far-right extremist that the Forces knew about… but not only didn’t they boot him from the Forces, they gave him a free pass provided he left Blood & Honour (which he was a leader in)… and then he hooked up with Atomwaffen Division (which has a body count)… and he arranged and may have actually carried out an illegal weapons sale with someone who was hinting he was intending to use them for some kind of violent political action! That information just came out, and what dominated the headlines this past week? Fucking Don Cherry’s racism, which even hasn’t been new information since as long as I’ve ever known of him.

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

    I mean… what did you expect? There’s a whole book that outlines in bloody detail how God solves problems. If God is a hammer, mass murder is really kinda his nail.

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One thought on “Weekly Update: to

  1. “This will be our opportunity to learn about Nuu-chah-nulth traditions and experience cleansing of energy from previous students in our classroom, previous energy in our classroom, and cleanse our own spirits to allow GREAT new experiences to occur for all of us,” Stacey Manson, the principal, wrote.

    Has the principle considered just running a vacuum cleaner through the classrooms ?

    If God is a hammer, mass murder is really kinda his nail.

    Reminds me of that Thor poster, “My God Has A Hammer, Your God Was Nailed To A Cross. Any Questions?”

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