Edmonton Police: As useless as tits on a nun

On today’s issue of “Dispelling the Myth that Racism Isn’t a Thing in Canada,” we have an incident where I take back everything good I have said of the Edmonton Police Service.

In yet another unbelievably straightforward case of crime, Canadian law enforcement fucks it up. An Edmonton cyclist, who had the audacity to stop at a red light, was honked at by a pair of white folks in a pick-up truck, who yelled at him to get off the road–this despite Albertan traffic laws dictating that the cylist’s bicycle is the type that must be on the road and not on the sidewalk. But we get a picture of what the actual problem was–not merely that this person committed the unthinkable crime of “using a bicycle in accordance with the laws that govern both him and his equipment,” but rather that this person had dark skin.

Content Notice: Virulent racism.

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Bouncer of Corona Tavern: You called me mean names, and now I hate you

Remember Corona Tavern, that fine establishment that totally didn’t break the law and totally doesn’t continue to break the law by micromanaging who pees where? Well, the bouncer involved in the story decided to take a principled stand and defy his employer’s gag order in order to condemn the mismanagement of Corona Tavern by Lorraine!

Hahahaha. Just kidding.

“I asked her about her surgery,” said Smith. “Had she answered post-op,  it would have ended there. I asked to clarify the matter. Had she said post-op, use the woman’s bathroom all you want. She identified herself to me as a male.”

According to Smith, River expressed concerns for her safety and the bouncer offered to personally escort her to the men’s room.

Smith, who says he is a friend of the LGBTQ community, says he became upset when River’s friends began to swear at him, calling him a homophobe and a transphobe.

“And worst of all, they called me a hateful bigot,” recalls Smith. “Anybody who knows me knows I’m none of those things.”

“That hurts (coming) from a group that wants tolerance and respect. To spew hatred at me and take a personal attack on me, sorry, it doesn’t help.”

Once again, fragile cishet white bro has to make it all about him.

Un-fucking-believable. So, Smith, let’s review the mistakes you made that corroborate these accusations against you:

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Self care Saturday, July 30

Reminder: Self care Saturday is scheduled in advance, and I will not be visiting the site today. This is a “feel good” space to help us manage burn-out and return to our activism with renewed vigour.

On the theme of “feel good,” today’s Self care Saturday covers more positive and fun portrayals of BDSM. I’m going to recommend a subreddit called “BDSM Smiles.” 10/10 NSFW, obviously. Most of the subreddit does not depict the more hardcore practices of BDSM, but there’s still some nudity and fetish gear.

I can be very cerebral when it comes to explaining BDSM, but I think that particular subreddit does a good job of capturing the goofiest of BDSM visually. Basically, the theme of the subreddit is any image of participants in BDSM activities who are smiling, laughing, or having an obviously good romp. There’s some good-natured teasing of bottoms mocking other bottoms in bondage, people smiling or giggling through gags, and my favourite–participants who are obviously turned on by their practice but can still laugh about it. Nothing makes light of a bondage predicament quite like tickle-torturing your partner while they’re tied up. This subreddit’s one of my go-tos when I need some warm and bubbly feels.


The misuse of the word authoritarian

Siggy touches on his post about Atheism 101 the simultaneous utility and flaw of definition use. The problem of definition is one of those epistemological headaches that wakes me in the middle of the night with a cold sweat. “If you replaced all the parts of a boat, is it still the same boat?!?!” I scream into the stars. My partner, roused from her slumber, cocks her eyebrow from the pillow, mumbling into the fabric “Who cares?”

Credible dictionaries choose to be descriptivist–which is to say, they simply describe the way words are used. Contrast prescriptivist, which claims “this is the way a word is supposed to be used.” Ultimately a language puritan will lose in their argument but for the simple fact that once a phrase catches on, people will continue to use it, and your dictionary will rapidly be out of touch if you don’t keep up. The utility in providing a definition is to aide communication, ensuring everyone knows what we’re supposedly talking about if I suggest we debate garbledina. Misunderstanding of what definition of garbledina we’re using in a debate is typically how an argument goes south.

Following descriptivist logic, I don’t actually mean to argue the way most people use the word “authoritarian” is wrong. Rather I have found another way the word is used in a book that technically wasn’t recommended to me by Marcus Ranum, but I ended up devouring it from start to finish anyway. It’s called The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer. That link is a free PDF hosted by the author himself. I at least recommend reading the first few pages–you might get sucked in, in part because the book was written in the noughties but practically describes Trump’s rise to popularity even though it didn’t happen for another 10 years.

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Trans rights passed in BC with dissent from… the LIBERALS?

Okay, okay, I’ve said before that I mock political incompetence and openly roast authoritarian assholes, and that the right-wing happens to attract the largest degrees of those. Today I make good on my promise and mock some bonafide British Columbian Liberal fucktardery, and not even of the hippie “mraaah chemicals bad” variety.

BC has (finally) amended its human rights code to include gender identity & expression. The proposed amendment passed with unanimous approval–all, except, for one:

Laurie Throness, the Liberal MLA for Chilliwack-Hope, said his religious beliefs prevented him from supporting legislation to specifically enshrine protection for transgender people in the human rights law. He said he believes in a fixed-gender, which is decided at birth, and described the LGBTQ community as a powerful lobby group intolerant of himself and others who disagree that the law would add necessary protections.

Why, yes Laurie, I am intolerant of you. Your religious convictions do not belong in Legislature, and unless you think the wannabe theocracy that is America is a model country, you should remember that we operate under separation of church and state. Further, your right to put your religious conviction into a fist ends where my face begins. What you refuse to acknowledge is that relying on case law and implicit protections results in delightful court rulings like this:

A transphobic court case decided that if the organization offering the service is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to serve women, it is allowed to discriminate against trans women.

I have every right to be intolerant of you because you insist on perpetuating an actively harmful status quo. Your inaction is not you taking the high road. Your inaction continues to endorse an environment where trans women are routinely pushed to the fringe and criminalized–an environment you are empowered to fix, but choose not to.

I question what kind of moral conviction you must have to refuse to help when you are equipped to do so safely. Good thing you have a priest to pat you on the head every Sunday and assure you that the babble says you’re a good person. Maybe a mature person can develop a more sophisticated ethical code but it seems expecting sophistication from Throness is a bit like expecting coherency from dudebro atheists.


Albertan higher court delivers scathing rebuke of rape apologist

Content Notice: Sexual assault, detailed description of said assault, rape apology, victim blaming.

Provincial Court Judge Michael Savaryn was served the most unambiguous open-and-shut case of sexual assault I can imagine, and still managed to fuck it up: (emphasis added)

Incident captured on video

The interaction was captured on a video entered as an exhibit at trial and watched by the judge. It showed the girl smiling and giggling. The boy then pushed the girl into a locker, grabbed again at her buttocks, ran his hands over her body and tried to kiss her. She quickly moved away and told him to leave.

The two moved out of camera range. The boy ignored the girl’s demand and followed her, then pushed her into a closed doorway, Topolniski wrote. For a third time he grabbed her buttocks, then her breasts, and tried to kiss her as she tried to push him away and fend him off with a water bottle.

The boy said she should “just let him do it.”

She said no and told him it wasn’t right. The girl wasn’t laughing anymore. She got away from the boy and left the school. But he approached her one last time outside school to ask for a hug. She said no and walked away, but he came back, grabbed her and hugged her.

Upset, uncomfortable, disrespected

The girl said she was upset, uncomfortable and felt disrespected. But later that night she texted a male friend about what had happened and attached a smiley face with tears and tried to make light of the incident. She testified that she thought if she had told her friend how upset she was, he would likely have tried to hurt her attacker.

The trial judge decided the girl’s actions did not match her words.

Savaryn decided the victim appeared to be “complacent” because she didn’t seem to be upset about the boy’s advances or try to fend them off until the doorway incident, even though she said no twice at the locker and in the doorway.

The trial judge found the girl “tried so hard to laugh it all off that I do not believe she was successful in communicating her discomfort … even at the end, I am not convinced she clearly expressed her objections.”

Savaryn, a former Edmonton Catholic school trustee, found the boy “did not mean to touch the girl sexually without her consent” and described the girl’s actions as “at worst, ambivalent or tolerant.”

Rape apologists. In the Edmonton Catholic Schoolboard? Say it ain’t so.

Thankfully we also have an Albertan Court of Queen’s Bench Justice by the name of Juliana Topolniski, who expressed her acerbic rebuke of Savaryn’s ruling:

These findings do not accord with the law on consent. Even if the trial judge was correct
that consent was given to touching before the doorway incident (which I do not think can be
concluded without resort to prohibited reasoning), it is clear that any such consent was
withdrawn. Consent means “Yes”. The word “No” does not mean “Yes”. The word “No”
coupled with fending off an attacker with a water bottle does not mean “Yes”. There is nothing
ambiguous about it. Even if the situation was as the trial judge found “at best ambiguous”, that is
not “Yes”. Finally, the complainant’s state of mind after the incident is irrelevant to the question
of consent. Indeed, the trial judge’s consideration on the complainant’s post-incident conduct is
indicative of sexual stereotyping about how victims of sexual assault will behave. As an
example, the requirement that a complainant raise the hue and cry has long since passed into the
mists of time.

“Prohibited reasoning.” Damn, Justice Tolpolniski. That’s a fancy way to say “incompetent dipshit.”


This article was written on July 26 and put on the schedule, shortly before same story was signal boosted on Pharyngula’s “Discuss through a feminist lens” post by Excluded Layman.


“It’s no big deal,” says bar owner barring trans people from peeing

Content Notice: Transphobia and harassment.

You can practically hear the mental acrobatics being performed by the management of Corona Tavern, one “Lorraine,” interviewed in a fantastic piece of journalism on Community TV about two incidents: one alleging the bar and its security staff harassed a trans woman patron, and another alleging the bar posted a transphobic sign regarding washroom use. The interview is only 5 minutes long, and I feel it is critical to witness first hand what it’s like trying to navigate through the tangled mess that is transphobia. If you consider yourself a trans ally, please check it out, either at the link above or again in the video below. Please try to truly comprehend what it’s like dealing with people who antagonize you without an ounce of rational thinking.

Corona Tavern is a bar in Medicine Hat, Alberta, that posted this lovely sign, which keen observers will know is a rather flagrant violation of Bill 7:


This sign was shared on social media shortly after the account of a trans woman who states in her interaction with Corona Tavern that management said “[the owner] would’ve thrown me out of the bar for using that bathroom.”

Yes, you read that right–not for harassing patrons, not for assaulting patrons–for peeing. In the toilet, mind. Peeing where you’re supposed to pee is against Da Rules now.

Corona Tavern has two parts to this:

  1. The harassment they enacted on the trans woman patron who did sweet fuck all but mind her own business;
  2. The transphobic sign stating patrons “must use the bathroom of their birth gender,” despite the fact that this is now a criminal thing to require under Bill 7.

Regarding point #2, let’s review this interview from Community TV, a conversation between a journalist and the management of Corona Tavern:

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#ISISClaims: The socks that go missing from your washing machine

Literally everything awful in the world is claimed by ISIS, even when intelligence groups release reports stating that no communications occurred between the perpetrator(s) and the so-called Islamic State. ISIS has claimed responsibility for a few attacks where the connections were ideological at best, and people have started to notice. Compounded by the ridiculousness of ISIS claiming responsibility for the Eiffel Tower fire–which was caused by malfunctioning fireworks–the French started #DaeshRevendique, or #IsisClaims.

Trending on Twitter:

#DaeshRevendique les chaussettes qui disparaissent de la machine à laver

“ISIS claims responsibility for socks that go missing from the washing machine”

notre défaite à l’Euro

“ISIS claims our defeat in the Euro”

Perhaps my favourite:

Let’s not forget our critical thinking skills please.


Signal boosting: A bungled investigation of Sharia in the UK

Maryam Namazie writes about the panel assembled to review Sharia private courts practicing in the UK. Her criticisms of the panel are primarily that the panelists are themselves theologians, who evaluate the practice through the conservative “right to religion” instead of a secular, humanist human rights lens. When viewed through the latter, most religious systems fail to meet even basic ethical criteria–Sharia is certainly no exception.

Siddiqui’s inquiry erroneously begins with the premise that Sharia “courts” have a role to play in governing private and family matters of black and minority women. We argue that this is a capitulation to Islamist and conservative forces who wish to ensure that the needs and identity of minority women are addressed only through the prism of conservative religious values of which they are the sole arbiters.

By assuming that Sharia “courts” have a role to play in women’s rights, the inquiry is saying that minority women are members of their so-called religious communities and not independent persons with citizenship and human rights.

Also, the inquiry panel is itself of concern. The chair, Mona Siddiqui, is a theologian. One of the other three panellists, High Court Judge Mark Hedley, is also Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool.  Two imams are panel advisors: Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi calls women dressed in western clothing “corrupt” and promotes honour-shaming; Qari Muhammad Asim trivialises domestic violence.  Some of their statements are available here.

Responding to press attention, Mona Siddiqui has rejected our concerns repeatedly calling campaigners “arrogant”. She has alsosaid that Imams are necessary advisors because “they have the ear of the community”.

Siddiqui’s bit about needing Imams in the process isn’t incorrect in its premise, but Namazie brings up a very valid criticism: Those clerics are already vocally in support of Sharia. Your review isn’t particularly impartial when you’ve signed on people who like it to make recommendations during the review.

This betrays a complete lack of understanding of the reasons why BME women’s organisations, especially those addressing violence against women, were set up in the first place. They exist precisely because community and religious leaders have never represented the interests of women.

Her remarks have made clear that she is not willing to take on board any of our concerns and that, as it stands, the inquiry is dangerous to vulnerable participants.

To make matters worse, a call for evidence is focused on women who have used Sharia councils over the past five years and Sharia providers themselves but shows no awareness of working with groups who advocate for victims, or their needs. It also disregards the fact that vulnerable women whose rights have been violated will not necessarily be able to give evidence whilst still facing post-traumatic stress which can take much longer than 5 years to address.

Our fear is that in these circumstances, many vulnerable women simply will not want to give their testimony before theologians who legitimate and justify the very idea of Sharia laws on the grounds that it is integral to their “Muslim identity”. Indeed, the panel is set up much like the Sharia “courts” themselves.

This is why women’s rights campaigners are labelling the inquiry a whitewash and calling for its boycott until the Government: ensures that the terms of reference are broad enough to have a thorough inquiry into the full range of human rights concerns raised by all parallel legal systems; appoints a judge to head the inquiry with the powers to compel witnesses to appear before it; and drops the inappropriate theological approach, and frames it as a human rights investigation.

Look, I’mma make the prediction right now, that these “religious rights” theologians aren’t going to find any problems with Sharia practicing Muslim chapters. After all, what is Sharia but a set of conscience exemptions from secular law?