Category Archives: Free speech

No anti-choice ads for Kelowna

I noted a week ago that an anti-choice group in Kelowna had gotten approved to show their graphic and misleading ad to local TV viewers.

It turns out that CHBC-TV has blocked the ad for being too offensive for some of their viewers.

I have to agree with Unrepentant Old Hippie on this one:

Other than that, I’d actually be against pulling it — the fetus fetishists have as much right as organizations like PETA to flog their cause.  And they sometimes get more mileage (not to mention the persecution high they’re forever chasing) from being “censored” than they do when their campaigns run themselves out and die quiet and unremarkable little deaths.

While you may not like what they say, they still have a right to say it.

In the news

A few quick stories of note recently:

  • A whooping cough outbreak is occurring in the BC West Kootenay region because woo-woo parents think vaccines are evil and now their children are at risk of dying. And some people ask what’s the harm in letting people believe in alternative medicine.
  • Speaking of unfounded woo, NDP MP Denise Savoie has claimed that evil “toxins” are to blame for NDP Leader Jack Layton’s recently diagnosed prostate cancer. Throw out the fact she doesn’t state what specific toxins cause cancer and implies all chemicals are evil. Perhaps cancer is more frequent now because we’re living longer and are better at detecting it.
  • Further to the Jack Layton story, it’s commendable to see everyone setting aside partisanship to wish him the best for a speedy recovery.
  • The BC Civil Liberties Association is rightly backing the right of University of Victoria’s Your Protecting Youth pro-life student group. While I disagree with the groups stance, they do have a right to exist and organize and pushing them aside is the wrong thing to do. If the group crosses the lines of civil discourse and propagates falsehoods, then there may be a case for disbanding them, but the same ought to apply to any and all campus groups.
  • The Kamloops Atheists report that the local “Daily News” paper refused to publish any atheist material in their religion page since “the rest of the paper was for atheist material.” They subsequently didn’t publish the request article anywhere in the paper. Further they note that the Kamloops Christian School is teaching Biblical Creationism with equal time to the “theory” of evolution.
  • Finally, to end on a positive note, the Centre for Inquiry Vancouver has just hired Radio Freethinker co-host Ethan Clow as their new Executive Director, making him the third paid CFI employee in Canada. I look forward to see continued success for CFI and wish Ethan the best of luck. Further to that, I’ve accepted a position as CFI Canada’s Campus Outreach Director, and hope to continue the success of the dozens of student groups across the country.

Things to get atheists uppity

First, most atheist-blog readers have probably heard the story about the American military using gun sights with references to Bible passages on them in Iraq and Afghanistan. What Canadian readers may have missed was that our troops are also carrying an unspecified number of these sights in Afghanistan.

While this isn’t as constitutionally-questionable here as in the USA, it is definitely in really bad form to try to establish a democratic government in a predominantly Muslim country while carrying Christian-endorsed weapons.

Luckily it sounds like there is agreement within the Canadian military that the inscriptions ought to be removed (now hopefully they actually do before it insights further aggression against our soldiers).

Second, an anti-abortion group in Kelowna, BC (the bible-belt of the otherwise secular province) has gotten together to put the following (American religious) ad on local television, featuring the severed hand of an aborted foetus:

The ad ends with “May our hearts be broken enough for God to enter and stir us to action to defend their lives.”

I reluctantly support their right to show this ad, as free speech is a right that I generally support.

Nevertheless, the positive result here is that this made me realize that following the wildly successful atheist bus ads, we ought to target another venue, perhaps television (especially in a cheaper market like the BC interior which can still yield earned press) could prove equally fruitful.

Finally, to end positive, the Saskatchewan Skeptics have written a letter to Premier Brad Wall to declare February 12 as Darwin Day. Provincial and local proclamations are often made for special-interest groups, and there is precedent for Darwin Day proclamations. Unfortunately, February 12th marks the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, so I foresee very few proclamations being made on that date in this province.

Nevertheless, it may be a cause worth submitting to a few city councils and media outlets.

Update: I just saw an anti-abortion ad on A Channel Vancouver from “The Signal Hill” which provided a website that offers a lot of myths and outright lies about abortions. Although this one was not explicitly religious (and neither is their website), it still demonstrates the size of their budget base.

Congratulations to the Saskatoon Freethinkers

It’s great to see freethought communities come together, especially in smaller communities. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is home to a mere 200,000 people, but enough have come together to put up some simple bus ads that call all fellow freethinkers together. They even made the local Global news affiliate:

Of course the statement "Don’t believe in God? You are not alone" is not offensive unless you’re merely offended by the fact that there exist people with different opinions than you. Nevertheless, discrimination continues where ignorance persists. Hopefully more of these consciousness raising campaigns can at least make people realize that atheists and Humanists aren’t boogie-men in the closets.

Blaspheme while you can

Extremist Muslims are continuing their push to ban the right to free speech and free press. They hope to soon twist the UNs arm into establishing “an international treaty to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery.” Luckily, the USA is heavily invested against this, and hopefully every other nation that values these freedoms stands behind Obama.

Free speech is about the right to say statements like Fuck Islam* or to publish this:

danish_cartoons_wiki

It’s also, unlike what the hypocrites of the right say, about the right to criticize Israel or George W. Bush.

You don’t have to like it, you easily can ignore it, change the channel, or speak back.

Human rights extend to all persons and as the Bible says there’s to be no sacred cows.

Of course, even though we have the right to be bigoted assholes, doesn’t mean we should, and many would do better to keep that in mind.

(h/t Hemant Mehta, the ever-Friendly Atheist)

* Fuck Islam in this article is intended at the radical Muslim extremists that want to force Sharia Law upon the world.

The Canadian Witch Hunt

What could be more noble than “Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism?”

Well, that is, if they were based in reality.

Unfortunately, this multi-partisan committee throws around accusations that seem to lack any basis whatsoever. From their about page:

Antisemitism is not a new problem, however recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally. Furthermore, the problem is now being manifested in ways never experienced before. While accusations of blood libel, or petty vandalism are still issues for the Jewish community, new fears have arisen especially for those who support the State of Israel. On campuses specifically, Jewish students are being threatened and intimidated to the point that they are not able to express themselves, or are even fearful to wear a Jewish skull cap or star around their necks. Antisemitism represents a break from Canadian values, which promote the rights of all individuals to practice their religion, educate themselves, and express themselves with security and freedom.

Despite the fact that Murray Dobbin at the Tyee calls bullshit on the “rise” in anti-Semitism, showing that the converse is true. I especially like how they specifically target campuses with some baseless examples of true discrimination (where’s the links to news stories or actual reports).

The best comes in their contradictions:

Antisemitism is an age-old phenomenon, yet it is always re-invented and manifested in different ways. For example, while accusations of blood libel are still being made against the Jewish people, instead they are being directed against the State of Israel, such that anti-Zionism is being used as a cover for antisemitism. [emphasis added]

..dissent and opposition to individual actions of the Israeli government are both permitted and encouraged in and outside of Israel, just as political dissent is permitted and encouraged with respect to any democratic nation.

So who’s on this? NDP MPs Pat Martin and Judy Waslycia-Leis are steering members, Vancouver Liberal MPs Joyce Murray (my own MP) and Hedy Fry are on the “Inquiry Panel.” And a number of Bloc and Conservatives. Of course, the inquisitor himself Jason Kenney chairs the whole party. We might expect groups from the Conservatives, but I didn’t expect this from some supposed “progressive” MPs.

So “Who is paying for/supporting the inquiry?

We will voluntarily disclose all sources of funding.

But they never really say when they will release that information anywhere…

So let the witch-hunts begin. Because criticizing Israel in 2009 is equivalent to banning Jewish refugees in the 1930s. Note the difference: outright government discrimination in 1933 was okay, but debate on college campuses today is the real anti-Semitism.

And this is all to say nothing of the increasing number of Jewish communities that are coming out in criticism of Israel’s actions.

So contact the MPs on the list, ask them who funds the CPCCA and why they feel criticism of Israel is illegal.

Tomorrow’s Blasphemy Day!

I’ve only been half paying attention to CFI’s latest publicity stunt with “Blasphemy Day International 2009” that goes off tomorrow, but I do like this Christian Post article summarizing it.

They summarize it fairly objectively, and then go into the best part, “How should Christians respond?”

First, take no offense. Refuse to play into the game plan of those sponsoring International Blasphemy Day. The Lord Jesus Christ was and is despised and rejected of men. Our Lord bore the scorn heaped upon him by his enemies. Christianity is not an honor religion. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are not commanded to defend his honor, but to be willing to share in the scorn directed to him. Is the servant greater than his master?

Of course, you’ve sponsored it by posting a big article on your website. Nevertheless, they’re right that if they ignore it, it will probably just go away.

Islam is an honor religion, and the major forces in the world today seeking to criminalize blasphemy are Islamic. The riots on the streets of many nations in protest of the Danish cartoons do represent what faithful Muslims believe their religion requires them to do. Not so for Christianity. We must be those who take to the streets with the Gospel – not with a defense of our honor or the honor of our Lord. When Christians forget this, we lose our Gospel witness. The history of the church includes far too many instances of this loss. We dare not add another.

Good advice again, keep the Bibles away lest you look like intolerant jerks (which he actually admits they have).

Second, mourn the blasphemy. The warning of Jesus is clear – blasphemy has eternal consequences. The worst form of blasphemy is the refusal to hear and believe the Gospel. For that sin there can be no forgiveness. We must mourn the blasphemy, not because honor is at stake, but because souls are at stake with eternal consequences. God will ultimately and perfectly defend his honor. On that day, there will be no escape for unrepentant blasphemers.

Stay home and pray for us. Maybe it’ll work…

Third, see this observance for what it really is – an unintended testimony to the existence of God and the foolishness of those who deny Him. The sheer foolishness of a blasphemy contest with t-shirts and mugs betrays the lunacy of it all. They can do no better than this? One testimony to the power of God is the fact that his self-declared enemies come off as so childish and manic. The heathen rage and God sees the foolish grasshoppers.

Seriously? You’re using the fact we’re saying “Fuck God, he doesn’t exist” as proof He exists? I can say “Fuck the Care Bears” but it doesn’t make them more real. The reason a day like this is necessary is because people are still being killed in the twenty-first century for having the galls to say there’s no God in the wrong place. This doesn’t prove God, it merely proves human insanity. I do agree that the t-shirt/mug contest is pretty silly, but at least it got your attention (marches aren’t as good as they used to be). And as for the childish and manic ones:

International Blasphemy Day will come and go. Take note, ponder its meaning . . . and skip the t-shirt.

I’m not too concerned about blasphemy rights in Canada, we’re doing pretty okay (despite the hate mongers who want the right to discriminate). But it did become illegal in Ireland recently, and supposedly secular Europe is having its fair share of issues recently.

Pirate Party raises sails in Canada

After recent Swedish success, the pro-copyright reform Pirate Party has begun taking shape in Canada.

It’s hard to tell their current numbers, however their forum is fairly active and they already have a number of volunteers signed up in several ridings (some for running for MP).

They’ve even received some media attention from The Canadian Press, CBC, and Boing-Boing.net.

And naturally, they have a manifesto.

So what are there chances?

In Sweden, where copyright law has been a much hotter topic due to the Pirate Bay’s founders being arrested and fined millions, the Pirate Party received roughly 7% of the vote nationally.

Currently, due to our antiquated single-member plurality (or first-past-the-post) system, 10% of the vote nationally has not translated to a single seat for the Green Party.

However, their best bet would not be to run a slate of candidates across the country, but rather, like the Communist, Sex or Marijuana Parties, to run a single or a few candidates in key ridings (perhaps around major universities), and appeal to the youth demographic and the media. With enough coverage, while likely not electing an MP, they could influence public opinion or policy (especially of the opposition parties) to be more supportive.

Several places on their site do explicitly state that they would like to see the NDP or Liberals champion their causes for them if possible (since our system tends to forbid small or single-issue parties from getting elected).

They don’t seem to expect to be ready for a Fall 2009 election if one comes, but after that who knows what will happen (and I’ll likely be living in a different university riding then that might be worth a look by such a party as this).

Also, there will be an Edmonton Meetup on August 19th at 5:00pm at the Elephant & Castle Pub in the City Centre Mall.

Ignorant movie night at the UofA!

p_00035

“I love this film” – Ben Stein (also the star)

That’s right, on Thursday, April 2, Campus Advent (the 7th Day Adventists) are showcasing Ben Stein’s Expelled at the University of Alberta.

Yep, a church who’s claim to fame is that Saturday is more holy than Sunday is showcasing a movie that equates Dawin with Hitler.

I’ll be there, hopefully with a summary of the Expelled Exposed website on a handy pamphlet for all who are interested.