Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
I should’ve put money on this, because I knew something like this was going to come out. The background for this story starts in the House of Commons, when NDP leader Jagmeet Singh put forward a motion to condemn systemic racism in the RCMP, asking for unanimous agreement. It should have been a no-brainer, given the current social and political climate, and all that’s come to light thanks to the Black Lives Matter protests; who wouldn’t condemn systemic racism in the RCMP. Well, one guy, as it turns out: Bloc Québécois House Leader Alain Therrien. Why on earth would he oppose the motion? Because he says he doesn’t believe systemic racism exists in the RCMP. No, really. I mean, at this point even the RCMP admits they have a systemic racism problem, which is saying something. But somehow, Therrien just ain’t seein’ it. So, Singh called him a racist, and it turns out that being a racist is perfectly fine Parliamentary behaviour… but pointing it out… isn’t, so Singh was ejected from the House. Now, thus far, all of this isn’t really in Canadian Atheist’s wheelhouse, but, in a reveal that shocked precisely nobody, PressProgress discovered that Therrien isn’t just a racist… he’s also an islamophobe, too. Should’ve put money on it. The only thing that’s surprised me about this, somewhat, is how hard Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet is doubling down on defending Therrien. But then, Québec is apparently that magical little corner of the world where racism doesn’t exist. The fact that they merely appear to be the most virulently racist part of Canada? Well, that’s a complete mystère!
🤦🏼 Okay, here’s the thing with the Catholic Church and this (STILL!!!) ongoing rape scandal. I’m actually a very forgiving person, who – as a humanist – believes that people are generally good… but just sometimes… flawed; a lot of “evil” in the world really just comes from people trying to do the right thing, but finding themselves way out of their depth, and thus fucking up catastrophically. There was even actually a point, in the earliest hours of the scandal, where it was possible to believe that the Catholic Church was still essentially good (I mean, if you ignore pretty much everything else about the Catholic Church, which, for the sake of argument here, let’s do that for now); where the scandal was really just a few “bad apples” in the bunch, with local leadership just out of their depth on how to deal with such heinous and incomprehensible crimes, and due to the complex, stratified structure of the Church – with each diocese fairly independent and self-governing – no one really had a grasp on the scale of the problem. (To be clear, I am not apologizing for those who not only covered up for the crimes of rapists, but who actually put those rapists in other positions where they could rape others. Fuck those people; they should be charged criminally along with the rapists.) There was a point where it was possible to say that the Catholic Church had horrifically fucked up… but it was just human failings – mistakes upon mistakes – and they could, in theory, learn from their errors, and eventually redeem themselves. But as time has gone on and the scandal has continued to expand and evolve, that’s no longer the case. The news cycle has become almost depressingly predictable: 1) some Catholic diocese is discovered to have harboured a rapist in their midst, and covered for them; 2) the diocese profusely apologizes, says they will do better, and promises to cooperate with authorities; 3) the diocese refuses to cooperate with authorities, saying they’ve revealed all the crimes, so there’s nothing else to see; then 4) the investigation by the authorities reveals more rape went on that the diocese knew about but was covering up. Back to 1. After the fourth or fifth (HUNDREDTH!!!) time this happened, even my expansive forgiveness has been strained past the breaking point. At this point (actually, far before this point, but I haven’t seen many people spell it out this bluntly), the Catholic Church deserves no further charity or respect. They should be assumed by default to be lying at all times, and every accusation of inappropriate behaviour by their clerics should be assumed to be true by default. They should be required to wear body cams at all times when with their congregation, and their private computers should be subject to random, unannounced inspections to check for kiddie porn. Oh, and it should no longer be called a “church”; it should be called a “rape club”. Members of the congregation should be asked: “So how was the sermon in rape club this week?” Or: “Didja get through Sunday’s rape club without being molested? Lucky you!” And we should keep this up until the last of the flock is finally shamed enough to leave, or – at least – until the cycle above finally stops at 2.
Every year around Human Rights Day (December 10th), Humanists International publishes their Freedom of Thought Report, one of the most important and extensive reports on the rights of secularists, humanists, atheists, and freethinkers around the world. This past Thursday, HI (oh, I just realized that acronym! love it!) published a sort of addendum or extension to the Freedom of Thought Report, called Humanists at Risk: Action Report 2020. This report is a less “scientific” study of discrimination against freethinkers than the Freedom of Thought Report… but is actually, in a way, more interesting for that. Rather than focusing on statistics or on qualitative analysis of a country’s laws, this report actually goes to the streets to talk to freethinkers in eight countries, to ask them… what is it like to be a freethinker in that country. What are their actual experiences? They cover a fairly diverse set of countries and experiences, from Columbia to Pakistan, and tell the stories of dozens of fellow freethinkers… some of them, unfortunately, told posthumously. I think it’s well worth the read, for being less of an academic overview of discrimination against nonbelievers, and more of a personal look into what some of us are living through.
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