Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
 Are anti-maskers the new anti-vaxxers? How a piece of cloth in the pandemic became so politicized
Masks became mandatory across much of Canada in the last couple of weeks, which predictably led to an outbreak… not of COVID-19, thankfully, but an outbreak of stupidity from the wackaloons who oppose masks. What exactly causes “anti-masker” attitudes? It’s an open question, and while I think a comparison to anti-vaxxers is interesting, I don’t think this article does a particularly good job of it. Personally, I think there is a certain strain of wilful stupidity that’s become fashionable among the kinds of people who trade in ignorance and conspiracy theories. I don’t think it’s anything particular about masks that they object to – in fact, I believe that if scientists and policy makers had come to the conclusion that masks shouldn’t be worn, these same “anti-maskers” would simply turn around and say, “fuck you, you can’t tell us to expose our faces and risk getting diseases!” I think the salient feature of “anti-maskers” is glorified ignorance, and the stubborn insistence on living by one’s personal worldview – even when it defies science and reason. Why? Well, that’s a good question, and admittedly deeper than my own analysis has gone thus far, but I suspect that it’s fundamentally a misguided attempt of people who formerly felt they had all the power (you’ll notice that “anti-maskers” tend to be white, of course) to regain control of a world that increasing feels like it’s being taken from them. But I’m open to alternative views on that point.
 Cancel culture isn’t new — it’s just been turned on the privileged for the first time
One of the bigger stories of the last couple of weeks was the Harper’s letter, which was a vague rant about “cancel culture” – although the letter didn’t use the term itself, but then, the letter was deliberately vague about everything, which really should have been a red flag to signatories. The letter itself is trite and ultimately pointless; if it raised even a single valid point, that was undercut by its refusal to provide even the slightest bit of evidence to support its claims. And some of the signatories have belatedly realized they were suckered – I have no sympathy for them, though. But the biggest boon the letter has brought has been the response, which has been deep, varied, and wonderful. Several people have observed that “cancel culture” isn’t really a thing, and insofar as there is some “new” phenomenon, the only thing novel about it is that elites are being held to the same standards as the proles always have (see the item link). But of course, no one has really been “cancelled” in any meaningful sense; either those whining about being cancelled have faced no real consequences or, in the very rare cases where they have faced real consequences, those consequences were not merely due to them having “unpopular opinions” (for example, the editor alluded to in the letter for being “fired for running controversial pieces” was probably James Bennet, the New York Times editor fired for not reading the pieces he published!). If you’d like to learn more about why all this “cancel culture” hysteria is bullshit, and why the Harper’s letter is so misguided, both the item article and the article linked earlier in this paragraph are a good start; if you prefer audio, I recommend both the Canadaland discussion between Jessie Brown and Nora Loreto and the Serious Inquiries Only discussion between Thomas Smith and Eli Bosnick as two very different takes that are both interesting.
 Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum For Human Rights Has Been Involved In A String Of Controversies
Yikes. Alright, you probably know the back story. A few weeks back, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights posted something in support of Black Lives Matter, and the Museum’s employees responded by publicly calling bullshit on them for the rampant racism within the organization. Then it came out that they were actually censoring exhibits on LGBTQ2S+ topics when religious schools requested it, which is how this all came on our radar. But it turns out that all that crap we’ve already heard about is merely the tip of the iceberg; the Museum has been criminally mismanaged pretty much from the get-go. Turns out the original CEO was a Conservative stooge installed by Stephen Harper despite having no relevant qualifications, expressly for the purpose of keeping the Museum from being too politically damning for the right. And the mismanagement may have had irreversible consequences, too – they apparently bungled an archaeological dig, irrevocably destroying the historical record of indigenous peoples.
 Quebec man accused of advocating genocide, making threats against Muslims, Trudeau
I have a confession to make. For several years now, I’ve lived in fear that one day there will be an act of horrific violence in Canada – most likely targeting Muslims – and that the perpetrator will be found to have been a prominent fan of Canadian Atheist. And that’s not an unjustified fear: we have had several very prolific commenters who have spouted some wildly offensive ideas – up to and including outright and unabashed white supremacy, but most commonly the nastier flavours of islamophobia – and even made openly threatening statements against Muslims or religious people in general. It’s been especially bad on Facebook, which is one of the reasons I have seriously considered shutting down CA’s Facebook presence entirely, to preemptively cut ourselves off from the worst of the bile-spewing hatemongers… but of course, that would ultimately just be selfish and irresponsible; a reflexive attempt to protect ourselves while not really fixing the problem. Risky as it is for CA, in the long run, it’s better if we stand our ground, face the hate, and push back against it, rather than protect ourselves at the expense of others, and pretend it isn’t our problem. And I’ve lived according to that responsibility; as much as I DESPISE Facebook, I have made a point of confronting the bigots and haters that try to poison Canadian Atheist’s comment sections. Unfortunately, there’s so much hate, bigotry, and ignorance on Facebook, I can’t come close to keeping up with all of it… but I try. The reason I bring all this up now is… I think this André Audet guy is one of our fans. I’m not 100% sure, because I’m really terrible at remembering names, and I’m not Facebook-savvy enough to do a full search on all of the comments we’ve gotten, historically… but I’m pretty sure that name is one of the ones I’ve noted among our Facebook commenters as particularly islamophobic. If so, then we got lucky this time, because this shithead was dealt with before he actually did any harm (that we know of; and of course, there’s always the possibility that even if he didn’t do anything himself, he might have inspired someone). But he is exactly the kind of asshole I’ve been dreading for years, and unfortunately, he is also the kind of asshole who is all too common among our Facebook commenters.
 Vancouver Pride ‘Shocked’ BC Liberals Have Not Sanctioned or Removed MLA Over Anti-LGBTQ Views
As I’ve explained in the past, the BC provincial political landscape can feel a bit weird compared to the “norm” in Canadian politics. There is no BC conservative party (at least, not one worth mentioning), so the political space that would normally be occupied by a conservative party – that is, the party of choice for religious bigots, homophobes, and generally know-nothing dipshittery – is instead occupied by the BCLiberals. Now, a couple weeks back we had our usual more-or-less-monthly scandal from the BC Liberals, where it turns out they were giving public money to run ads in an anti-abortion, conversion-therapy-touting, Christian magazine. The scandal unfolded as it always does, in the ol’ BC Liberal waltz: 1) BC Liberals caught playing footsie with religious bigots; 2) leader Andrew Wilkinson releases bombastic statement saying BC Liberals don’t actually support bigotry; 3) actual BC Liberal MLAs mutter under their breath to their religious constituents, “pay no attention to those public statements, we totally support your bigotry”. Lather, rinse, repeat. Well, this time, someone’s actually calling them on it. During step 3, MLA Laurie Throness (who, I should add, is the Child Care Critic, despite openly supporting conversion therapy! what the actual fuck, BC Liberals?!) muttered his continued support for bigotry a little too loudly, and the Vancouver Pride Society demanded that Wilkinson actually back up his claim. It shouldn’t shock anyone that Wilkinson actually isn’t doing that. But the Pride Society is not backing down, and they’ve actually just banned the BC Liberals from the Pride Parade. That’s awesome; that’s how it should be done. Lip service isn’t good enough anymore; if you’re not going to take action to remove bigotry from your caucus, then we’ll take action to remove your caucus from where your bigotry will be excused.
 Leader of Atheist Alliance International Doubles Down on Use of Offensive Slur
Ugh, okay, this was the big story within the atheist community this past week and… it’s pretty ugly. And it’s still unfolding, somewhat, and only gets worse the deeper you get into it. Michael Sherlock is the executive director of Atheist Alliance International, one of the biggest and most important atheist organizations in the world. Michael Sherlock is also an asshole, who gets his rocks off by saying stupid and offensive things in order to be “edgy”, because he’s apparently still a teenager in 2005 who thinks all atheism is about is bashing religion as outrageously as possible. But Sherlock really crossed a line when he used an ableist slur, and when he was quite naturally criticized for doing so… he responded by calling Kaitlyn Gleason a sexist slur. Twice. At this point, Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist joined the criticism, pointing out how upsetting it was to see the head of AAI behaving like a GamerGate dirtbag. And Sherlock had a complete meltdown, posting rants about how “the left” is ousting “heretics” from the atheist community for the crimes of… I guess, using slurs? AAI has since suspended Sherlock, and Sherlock issued a pretty standard non-pology (apparently when he called Gleason the c-word, he was just being chummy!), but it remains to be seen whether the organization will take any of this seriously. As Mehta points out, AAI doesn’t exactly have a good track record. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there, because it’s starting to look like Sherlock has become an asshole rallying point, with the incident further highlighting the “deep rifts” in the atheist community. For example, Yasmine Mohammed, current darling of CFI Canada (which, has its own problems of late), decided to jump into the fray to attack… Hemant Mehta. For… apparently having the temerity to call someone out for using slurs? And, not being nasty enough to Islam? Or, because Mehta only has a problem with people using slurs against Muslims… or something (even though none of this had anything to do with Muslims, except apparently in Mohammed’s obsessively fixated view)? 🤷🏼 Anyway, the atheist community will be watching AAI closely over the next few weeks to see how seriously they take their values.
 New mask exemption card indicates medical condition of being an asshole
If you haven’t heard about these fake mask exemption cards… brace yourself. The new wave of shitbags opposing mandatory masks is particularly horrible. There’s Letitia Montana, the woman who pretended to have a broken finger so she could visit a hospital emergency room in order to film them throwing her out for refusing to wear a mask. There’s Kelly Anne Wolfe, the wackaloon who was filmed handing out pamphlets and ranting about the holocaust while bragging about her IQ of 195 and her 13 degrees, including one from Oxford… no, no, not Oxford University in Oxford, England… Oxford School in Uttar Pradesh, India. And then there’s Chris Saccoccia, who first filmed himself shoving past a Longo’s employee who was asking him not to enter the store without a mask, and then apparently got into the business of making fake exemption cards, claiming that the bearer doesn’t have to wear a mask due to a medical condition. The cards (not sure if these are the same as the ones Saccoccia was distributing) apparently have the Red Cross logo on them, and a note about violating “disability rights” with the phone number of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to call for complaints. Now, the cards are bullshit on every level – no one is required to check for documentation before allowing you to go without a mask, so you don’t need any card or other paperwork if you really do have a medical need to not wear a mask – and pretty much every level of government has spoken out against them. I don’t work in retail, but if I did, and someone flashed one of those cards at me, I would not only kick the motherfucker out of my store for fraud – for faking a disability (which I’d have to check, but may actually be straight up illegal, in which case I would definitely press charges) – I would take their damn picture and post it publicly like they used to do for shoplifters, and ban them from the premises for life for endangering my other customers.
 Graffiti on monument commemorating Nazi SS division being investigated as a hate crime by police
🤦🏼 Okay, let’s set aside the fact that there’s a monument to a Nazi SS division in Oakville. I’m actually not shocked by that; this is the same town where a KKK mob set a cross on fire and kidnapped a white woman because she was in love with a black veteran… while the Mayor cheered the KKK on. So yeah, this is kinda par for the course in Oakville. No, what’s really infuriating about this story is that the police are blustering to the media about this being a hate crime. Their reasoning: it’s a crime that targets an identifiable group… therefore it’s a hate crime. I mean, we already had plenty of evidence that when it comes to hate crimes, cops don’t know their asses from their elbows, but wow, this is a new height of ignorance. And this is really within the Canadian Atheist wheelhouse, because hate speech and hate crime law are things that we necessarily have to understand if we are going to criticize religions and religious people… which is something that definitely needs to be done, and something we definitely want to do. We have to know what is kosher – we have to know what is valid criticism, and what is hate speech, and we have to know when the law is wrong; because if the law is too aggressive about what it calls hate speech, that will stifle valid and necessary criticism of religion. There are concerted efforts by certain groups to spread disinformation about hate speech legislation in Canada – to sow lies and confusion about what hate speech is, and what kinds of speech can be criminalized (or even just get you sued in civil court) – and, depressingly, some of the people spreading that disinformation are Canadian atheists, including some prominent names. That the police are willing participants in that disinformation campaign now is not surprising, frankly. But no, defacing a Nazi statute is not a hate crime. In fact, calling for all Nazis to be rounded up and jailed wouldn’t even be a hate crime. (Nor would actually doing it! Indeed, if the police were actually doing their fucking jobs, that’s something they should actually be doing!) And of course… and I can’t believe the goddamn police need to be told this… writing “Nazi war monument” on what is… literally… a fucking… Nazi… war… monument… isn’t a hate crime. Even if one wrote “Nazis must all die” on the monument, that still wouldn’t be a hate crime (though I wouldn’t recommend it), because for something to be hate crime, it’s not enough to merely be targeting an identifiable group… it has to be on the basis of one of the protected grounds, which are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, etc.. Guess what? “Nazi” ain’t a protected class. For the record, “police” also ain’t a protected class, should you get the inspiration to tag “ACAB” anywhere. Just sayin’.
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Having had the pleasure of interacting with the tin-foil hat/conspiracy theory crowd amongst family members I can share a few observations:
– They have a sense of having no control over the events that shape their lives, this provides them with a semblance of control.
– They have never made any meaningful contribution to society and they most likely never will (BTW I count myself in that cohort sans the, I hope, wilful ignorance) and this allows them to contribute, albeit in a negative and destructive manner.
– They invariably watch the awful dreck that passes for knowledge on the History Channel.