Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Ontario should end religious exemption for vaccination

    Cool that The Star is taking a clear stand on this. Probably pointless, though, given the current government of Ontario.

  • [] Quebec to abolish ethics and religious culture course, to make way for ’21st-century themes’

    This is something secularists will need to watch very carefully. In theory, it isn’t a bad idea to reduce the emphasis on religion in a course that is ostensibly about giving students exposure to other cultures and worldviews. But there are a number of reasons to be suspicious about what is actually going on here. First of all, the course in question has been a target of bigots and xenophobes of all stripes for a number of years – most famously, it was upheld in a Supreme Court case despite an attack by Catholics who didn’t want their kids to learn about other beliefs. Religious people (and bigots in general) do not want their kids exposed to other beliefs, because it undermines their control over the kids; many atheists who grew out of religion started their journey because they learned about alternate beliefs. Second, there’s the issue of who is making these changes, and why. The CAQ is hardly a trustworthy actor in this kind of situation – it was formed from very explicitly racist and xenophobic roots, and still clearly shows those colours today. And this isn’t even the first time the CAQ has been accused of suppressing diversity in the province’s curriculum. Does this mean this move – despite the spin – is really about pandering to xenophobes and bigots, and reducing the exposure kids have to other cultures or ideas in the classroom? Maybe. On the other hand… it also may be a totally legit move to reduce the privilege given to religion, while at the same time adding some stuff that is terribly under-taught in most curricula today: civics, social responsibility, and so on. So, as I said, this is something we’ll have to watch very carefully.

  • [] Ex-Toronto pastor who killed his pregnant wife by drugging her is granted bail pending appeal

    This story is a truly disgusting case. Philip Grandine was a pastor, whose wife drowned in the bathtub. Karissa was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. The reason she drowned in the bathtub was because Philip had secretly slipped her lorazepam, which he apparently stole from the nursing home he worked at. The reason he roofied her with lorazepam, is because it would knock her out – or at least make her so disoriented she wouldn’t know what was going on – so that he could continue an affair, and feed a porn addiction, which Karissa had already discovered. Yeah. Oh, it gets worse. Karissa discovered his affair and his porn addiction, which forced him to resign as a pastor, but she forgave him and was trying hard to get their marriage back on track. He, meanwhile, wanted to continue the affair. Oh, by the way, the other woman was one of the parishioners in his congregation… that’s why he was forced to resign as a pastor. They screwed just days before her death, after he’d roofied Karissa the first time… and they screwed after her death, before the funeral. Oh, yes, I said he roofied Karissa “the first time”. That’s because he did it twice. The first time put her in the hospital. Then he did it again, and that time she drowned. Now, Grandine has been convicted twice for killing Karissa. He’s only guilty of manslaughter because he probably didn’t intend to kill Karissa when he dosed her then let her take a bath knowing the drug might well knock her out… but he probably did intend to kill her eventually, because he was googling stuff about whether lorazepam would be found in an autopsy. He’s out on bail right now pending an appeal; the first conviction was overturned on a technicality, which is linked to the basis for the new appeal.

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

    “… or other water-borne methods.” 😁 Of course, there have been plenty of flood-based mass homicide cases… so….

  • [] The Mass Psychology of the Religious Right

    This is US-focused, but there is an interesting point made that transcends the border. The point is that the religious right is not motivated by logic. I mean, obviously. But the point is that they are motivated by emotion, and thus if we want to turn them away from dangerous, stupid, and hateful ideas, we need to do so using emotion, and not waste our time making logical arguments. The author suggests that the best tool to use in the fight against “bad religious dogma” is “good religious dogma” – that is, progressive ideas presented as religious ideas. Religion, can, after all, be used to justify anything… so why not use it to justify good shit, and then weaponize that against regressive religious beliefs? That’s an interesting question: why not indeed? What do you think?

  • [] Tell the Government to expand access to MAID

    So, here’s a quick recap of the current state of affairs just to bring everyone up to speed: , the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the law banning assisted dying in Canada violated the Charter (this, after ruling that the ban was fine). They gave the government a year to sort a new legal regime for assisted dying, but the then-Conservative government did fuck-all, so when the then-newly-elected Liberals came to power, they had to request an extension. Eventually, they passed C-14… which, in classic Liberal tradition, was spectacularly botched. See, the Supreme Court, in their ruling, had basically outlined just about everything a new assisted dying law would need to jibe with the Charter, but the Liberals… well, they just went their own way, throwing in shit like a requirement for a incurable illness, imminent death, and a “reflection period”. The requirements are so onerous, that, in fact, Kay Carter – the named plaintiff in the Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on assisted dying – probably wouldn’t have been allowed an assisted death. (“Probably”, in quotes, because the law is weirdly vague – no one knows exactly what makes a death “reasonably foreseeable”… because everyone’s fucking death is absolutely foreseeable!) So, basically the same people who’d already won the 2015 Supreme Court decision gritted their teeth, and went back to the courts. And , the Québec Superior Court found the law violates the Charter. Again. So, once again, the Liberals are forced to write a new law for assisted dying in Canada. This time, let’s hope they get it right. Better yet, let’s help them get it right, via the public consultation questionnaire they have provided. The BC Humanist Association has a link to the questionnaire, and a detailed overview of how they recommend filling it out, which can really help sort out your thoughts. (You shouldn’t slavishly fill it out the way the BCHA recommends, of course. Think for yourself. But the BCHA comments might help you get a better grip on the issues and concerns.)

  • [] World Report 2020: Canada

    This is the Canada chapter from the 2020 Human Rights Watch World Report. Normally there’s nor much in the report that’s directly relevant to Canadian Atheist’s purview (though, of course, plenty that’s of indirect concern, as it involves women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and so on). This year, though, there’s a whole new section on religious freedom. What’s the reason? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Yup, it’s Québec’s Bill 21.

  • [] Former Manitoba reservist linked to neo-Nazi group arrested in U.S.

    Holy shit, this story is wild. Okay, the backstory: A few months back, following an exposé of Nazis in the Canadian military, a reservist named Patrik Mathews went on the run. Mathews had been a recruiter for The Base, a violent, extremist right-wing group. When the Forces found out, Mathews quit, probably under advisement so the Forces could avoid (more) embarrassment at the number of Nazis in their ranks. But prior to that, Mathews had been trained in explosives, making him extremely dangerous. So far, this is pretty run-of-the-mill story for a Nazi in the Canadian Forces (which is depressing), but here’s where it starts to get wild. While the Forces was washing its hands of Mathews, the RCMP were being uncharacteristically diligent in investigating the right-wing extremist. Somehow Mathews got wind of their investigation, and fled; the Mounties raided his home, but missed him, though they found a bunch of guns. They found his truck near the US border, and speculated he’d crossed over with the help of US members of The Base. Which we now know is exactly what happened. But hang on to your hats, folks, because it only gets wilder from here. Mathews had connected with a pair of Americans, and proceeded to work with them to train other members of The Base in explosives, stockpile weapons, and plan for acts of violence against people of colour (and Jews, natch). (All the media coverage says he made and successfully tested a “functioning assault rifle”, which I assume means he probably took an AR-15 and converted it to fully-automatic fire… something he could have learned enough to do from studying the C7 rifles the Canadian Forces use.) That put Mathews and his two friends in the cross-hairs of American authorities. They were arrested because they were planning to go to a pro-gun rally in Virginia next week… and shoot the place up. They figured this would trigger a “race war”. Oh, but wait, there’s more. You see, three other members of The Base were also arrested this week, this time for a plot to murder an anti-fascist married couple in their home in Georgia that they considered to be “high-ranking antifa members” (which makes no sense: “antifa” is not an organization; there are no ranks). Why is this relevant to the Mathews case? Buried in the article linked to in the previous sentence is this line: The defendants are also accused of discussing a separate plan to kill another The Base member who was aware of the plan, but was “too stupid” to keep quiet about it, the affidavit states. That “too stupid” person? Mathews. Apparently, the three Georgia Nazis thought Mathews was such a fucking moron, he would ruin their plan to murder the Georgia couple. Problem was, he already knew they were planning it, so they either had to bury the plan… or bury Mathews. Guess which way they went. So… yeah… Mathews may actually have been saved by being arrested when he was (although, if he went ahead with the plan to shoot up the pro-gun rally next week, he would probably be dead or in jail, and so probably safe from being murdered in any case). Whew… Nazis, man. Scary as fuck, but always fascinating.

  • [] I Survived Conversion Therapy. Here’s What An Effective Canadian Ban Must Do.

    The Trudeau government has recently made an about-face on banning conversion therapy; where they previously argued it wasn’t something that fit under federal jurisdiction, now they’re actively considering a law to ban it. But what should such a law look like? How should it be worded? What should it cover? Just performing conversion therapy on minors? Only when it is forced? This piece makes some good suggestions.

  • [] Hidden cameras capture misinformation, fundraising tactics used by anti-vaxx movement

    I haven’t watched the episode yet, but Marketplace infiltrated an anti-vaxxer event aimed at the elite of the movement, with an apparent focus on strategizing ways to undermine the science.

  • [] The Goop Lab : a scientific review

    You’ve probably heard that Goop has a Netflix series now, called The Goop Lab. Until , there was a media embargo on reviewers who’d been given a preview of the series. Now that the embargo is lifted, we’ll start getting the first reviews of the series. Here’s the first one I’ve seen so far and… the series sounds just about as bad as you’d expect.

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