Weekly Update: 25-Sep-2021 to 1-Oct-2021

by | October 3, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

This week’s items

[] “Temptation” by Zach Wienersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

Not sure which theory of mind–body dualist interaction this quite fits in to. Possibly “horny psychophysical parallelism”?

This week was a banger for Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Two of its comics made the Update—the other is “Movie”, featured below—and a third almost did: “Free Will”.

[] Quebec undergoes a culture shift as ‘woke’ politics is redefined in the province

Wow, the quiet part is really starting to be said out loud in Québec, recently.

It has been both hilarious and frustrating to see Bill 21 enthusiasts insisting—despite all evidence—that the bill is about “secularism”, and that—despite their history, their behaviour, and their many, many public comments—François Legault and the CAQ are not really bigots, but all about making Québec more “secular”.

The reality, of course, is that the CAQ was literally founded out of bigotry; it traces its history back through the ADQ and Mario Dumont—who was called the second coming of Maurice Duplessis—and really rose to power because of the Herouxville situation. (For those who don’t remember, Herouxville is a tiny town in central Québec of about ~1,000 white, francophone Catholics that created a wildly racist “code of conduct” for immigrants in 2007… despite having no immigrants. This incident was pretty much the trigger for the whole “reasonable accommodation” “debate”.)

And, of course, history aside, Legault has never been shy about his belief that Québec is a Catholic nation (well, at least the French part of it). He’s also refused to admit that systemic discrimination exists in Québec, probably because, yanno, he’s the one doing it.

I think it’s amusing that Québec solidaire spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois managed to provoke Legault into going full regressive in the Assembly. Seriously, hearing someone denounce “the woke” is a dog whistle so screamingly loud that even trees can hear it. Actually embracing the label “Duplessist” is just doubling down on the awful.

[] Egan: COVID and the God-given right to question vaccines

Yeesh, talk about slimy and unethical. Oh, wait, this is a story about the Catholic Church, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Even though the Catholic Church supposedly supports vaccination… even though they know these “exemption” letters probably won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on… and even though they know that providing anti-vaxxers with theological justification for their position is only going to make the pandemic situation worse… the self-proclaimed “moral leadership” of the Church is so craven, they’re trying to play both sides of the public debate.

I mean, the moral cowardice is striking. I don’t even know who they think they’re winning over with this. Even if it is true that Catholic dogma is vague enough that it could be used either way—to support submitting to mandatory vaccinations, and to support refusal—that does not mean that Church leadership is obligated to help both sides. They could simply tell anti-vaxxers that, sure, the dogma could be interpreted to support their position, and then leave it to them to figure out while saying that the Church official recommends getting vaccinated.

[] Charter arguments will not likely help vaccine-mandate opponents

Most of our readers will have a hard time believing this, but there are some Canadian atheists—that read Canadian Atheist—who are very vocal opponents of COVID-19 vaccination. These people aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed—they are rather fond of using Nazi analogies, even though there are much more effective historical examples of shenanigans during state vaccination programs, probably because the Nazis are the only “bad guys” they know. They’re also not particularly logically consistent, because many of them are the same bozos who defend Québec’s Bill 21; apparently it’s cool for the state to impose religiously-based (or anti-religiously-based) dress codes to protect people’s feelings from being offended by the sight of a religion they don’t like, but it’s not cool for the state to impose vaccination requirements to protect people’s lives. But they are prolific, at least in the sewer pit that is Facebook.

Articles like this one do a very good job of explaining the issues of mandatory vaccine policies; the pros and cons, and where the policies fit well with Charter rights, and where there may be friction. In particular, it pretty much demolishes any hope of “personal liberty” arguments winning the day.

But there is a lot of interesting nuance brought up, too. For example, not all “religious” objections to mandatory vaccination are, in fact, religious objections. The article illustrates this via the difference between Christian Scientists (who believe that all medical intervention is immoral, because only God heals), and contemporary anti-vaxxers, who believe that only this particular medical intervention is immoral, or this particular medical invention is problematic only because the state is mandating it. It also explains that while freedom of conscience does grant a fair amount of latitude for people to live by their sincerely held beliefs, freedom of conscience arguments don’t really stand up against plain, old object facts: in plain English, if you “sincerely believe” that vaccines cause more harm than good, then fuck you, because science, evidence, and reality all say the opposite.

Ironically, this kind of information should be gold for the anti-vaxxers, because it pretty outlines exactly how to shape your claim for exemption from vaccine mandates to have the greatest chance of success. If only they were smart enough to clue in to it.

[] York Catholic school board religion teacher allegedly says kids who died at residential schools ‘already sick as dogs’

Yikes, this is one of those stories that should have been a big nothing-burger… if we were dealing with sensible, ethical, empathic people, and not Catholics.

It sounds like it started when a kid in a Catholic school texted his father—a radio personality—about something stupid their teacher said in class. We don’t have confirmation that it’s true yet, but it fits pretty well with the standard apologia coming from the Catholic Church about their responsibility for running residential schools. We’ve certainly heard similar things before.

The father first tried to get the school to talk about what they’re teaching about residential schools, but the school quickly clammed up and started stonewalling him. (Note that it makes sense that the school is not publicizing information about the specific complaint, for privacy reasons… but it makes no sense whatsoever that they don’t want to discuss the curriculum, and it’s not a good look.)

If there really is an issue in the York Catholic District—and it sure looks like there might be—then there is probably an issue in other Catholic districts. Perhaps someone should investigate exactly what is in the curricula of Catholic school districts, regarding indigenous issues and residential schools in particular, and how those things are being taught in practice.

[] ‘It’s really scary’: Alberta physicians face more aggressive, misinformed patients

This is a horrifying read. The doctors in this article are doing their level best, but look at the shit they have to deal with.

There are a few highlights in the article that I think need more focus. One is that while the doctors are apparently facing racist and misogynist abuse, they’re not particularly interested in dealing with that problem—at least for now. They are more concerned with dealing with the medical and scientific ignorance. But what they’re fighting seems almost insurmountable: Zaidi said some patients don’t want to hear any scientific information at all.

I think the absurdity of the situation is particularly highlighted with this quote:

What boggles me is that they come in, trust me for everything else besides COVID. They allow me to examine them for everything else. It frustrates me to understand the mentality of these individuals.

To their credit, the doctors are still trying their best to push back against the tsunami of ignorance and lies. And they have had some success, they say.

[] “Movie” by Zach Wienersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

I think the hardest question theists have to answer, and one they are not challenged with nearly often enough, is why God created the universe. And further, why they created it the way they did. It makes no sense that a being that is supposedly perfect and complete would need—key word there being “need”—to create the universe… why would a perfect and complete being need anything? So if God created the universe on a lark, with all the suffering that he should have known would exist in it… wouldn’t that make him evil?

Anywho, I have to agree that God’s version of Star Wars sounds a lot more awesome than ours.

[] Pastor’s months-long tour merged Canadian hate and American QAnon, far-right influencers

This is wild. I’ve known Artur Pawlowski as a hate preacher for many years now, and he was always fairly small time. Well, now it looks like he’s gone viral—which is apt metaphor.

The names he’s associating with are incredible: Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and even Bill Whatcott gets a mention. I write about the far right all the time, and even I’m flabbergasted at the scale of far right operations in the US. It’s absolutely amazing how big the far right is there.

And there are some insane details just casually buried in there:

When the decision was handed down, however, the pastor was already touring the United States, appearing at events hosted by FEC United, an American religious group recently founded by Joe Oltmann and boasts its own militia.

The Pawlowskis have always been an irritation… but now it looks like they’re rolling with some seriously dangerous people.

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