Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
The BC Human Rights Tribunal has been on fire the last week or two. It’s had to deal with a flood of anti-mask douchebags, and it’s handled them all admirably, as should be expected. But they’re apparently pretty fed up with the idiots, so they decided to do something about it. Normally when human rights complaints are dismissed out of hand, everything is kept private—complaints don’t become public unless they advance to the hearing stage; basically the trial stage, to use an analogy to a regular legal complaint—and these anti-masker arguments are so blitheringly stupid, they don’t get past the screening stage. That’s good for the legal system… but doesn’t really help the general public. So what the BCHT has done is taken the complaints that were just too dumb to be taken seriously, anonymized them to remove any identifying information, and then published them. This item involved a man trying to claim he didn’t have to wear a mask for religious reasons; his argument went:
To cover‐up our face arbitrarily dishonors (sic) God.He doesn’t explain how, of course, and instead goes on to rant about how
forced mask wearing does not help protect anyone from viruses… which… I don’t see how it matters whether the mask is forced or not. Needless to say, that kind of incoherent bullshit just won’t fly, so the Tribunal dismissed the complaint. And the religious argument is the only one the Tribunal is not taking seriously; they’re also taking a dim view of people who claim “health issues” prevent them from wearing masks. To be clear: If someone tells you they can’t wear a mask due to “health reasons”, you shouldn’t interrogate them on what those health issues are—health is a private issue, and you have no right to know what someone’s health issues are. However… claiming “health reasons” is not a free pass; you can choose to accommodate that person by telling them to stand outside while someone gets whatever items they want—that’s a reasonable accommodation for that (alleged) disability in this situation. If that person then raises a stink, and challenges you, refusing your accommodation and accusing you of discrimination… well, then, now it’s open season… and now they have to put up or shut: they have to explain, in detail, exactly what those “health reasons” are, and provide evidence for them. So it’s becoming increasingly hard to claim random bullshit as “reasons” why you “can’t” wear a mask in British Columbia, which is coming a little late in the pandemic, but better late than never.
To briefly recap what we knew leading up to this week: Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias died in May of last year. A few months after he died, allegations by multiple women—all allegedly employees at a pair of day spas Zacharias owned—were published, detailing sexual abuse, harassment, and intimidation. The allegations are horrific; I’ve been writing about scummy religious leaders for two decades now, and even I was appalled by how exploitative and manipulative Zacharias was in the claims. At first, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries denied, denied, denied… but in late December, they abruptly changed their tune, and admitted the accusations were credible. Since then, Zacharias’s empire and reputation has pretty much completely collapsed in itself; his ordinations have been revoked, his books pulled from publication, and even Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is looking to dump those first two words from their name. There’s probably a lot more to come out (in particular, there seem to have been some shady goings-on in Bangkok that we haven’t heard any details about), but what was missing in the story up to this point was two things: First, what did RZIM discover in those months between denying the allegations and then admitting them that triggered their very sudden about-face. And second, none of the women making the most egregious allegations actually came forward publicly. Well, now one of the women has… and in doing so, she has cleared up the other mystery as well. Because the woman who has come forward was not merely an employee at Zacharias’s spa… she was the co-owner. And the tale she tells is horrifying, with all manner of abuse, manipulation, and grooming, not just of her, but of her daughter as well. And she has documentation to back her claims up! Vicki Blue, and her evidence, is pretty clearly the primary reason these sex abuse allegations have stuck as hard as they have, and her substantiated claims are giving further credence to the many other accusers. It’s disappointing that this reckoning only comes after Zacharias had already died, but Blue’s story explains why: he literally threatened to completely destroy her life, after she mentioned that she knew he was manipulating someone else the way he had her. But it’s heartening to see that consequences have come.
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