Where is the “sky is falling” crew when you need them?

Postmedia, the corporate near-monopoly on Canadian news outlets, is heavily invested in convincing the public that the same austerity which got us into the mess we’re in is the solution to our problems, because the filthy rich owners of Postmedia don’t want to pay taxes. An entire genre of “the sky is falling” hit pieces have graced print media for the past couple years as Canada’s left-wing governments engage in Keynesian economics to keep things running during the recession. Debt and deficit hysteria has given corporate oligarchs a convenient fig leaf, with cries of “but the credit rating!” concealing the grumbling about their dues to society.

By every reasonable metric, the Albertan NDP have been the most competent leadership the province has seen in years.

By contrast, corporate oligarchs are getting exactly what they want in Saskatchewan–and yet, it has not arrested Saskatchewan debt either, causing their credit rating to continue tanking.

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and Standard & Poor’s chose the summer equinox to downgrade Saskatchewan’s credit rating from AA+ to AA.

It was the second time in the past 12 months Saskatchewan’s credit rating has been dropped by the famous New York credit rating agency, whose pronouncements are taken ever so seriously by conservative opposition parties here in Alberta.

But you could have waited all day and long after sunset – which took place at 10:07 p.m. here in the capital of Alberta, if you were wondering – to see a press release from either the Wildrose Party or the Progressive Conservative Party condemning Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his conservative Saskatchewan Party government for this obvious failing.

Funny, that!

Because it’s certainly never taken this long for an angry press release to appear from the offices of either of Alberta’s two main conservative political parties when the same thing happened to Alberta’s New Democratic Party Government for the same reasons.

It turns out that increasing debt caused by keeping the lights on in resource dependent provinces in the face of low oil, natural gas and other resource prices has had pretty much the same effect in Saskatchewan governed by conservatives as it has had in Alberta governed by social democrats.

That said, a good economic case can be made that Alberta will be in far better shape as both provinces recover from the downturn because the NDP has not laid waste to health care, education and other public services, as the Saskatchewan Party is doing.

Regardless, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded Alberta’s credit rating for the second time, from AA+ to AA last month, the Wildrose press releasecalled it a “disastrous credit downgrade.”

“This is totally unacceptable,” wailed Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who is already a candidate to lead the still-unbirthed United Conservative Party.

“Credit rating agencies don’t care what politicians say, they care what they do, and the NDP are doing nothing but dithering while Alberta’s deficit spirals out of control,” shrieked Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, another UCP leadership candidate.

The real motive of the you-see-pee (United Conservative Party) has nothing to do with the provincial government’s credit rating, and everything to do with the same smash-and-grab that allowed capitalists to loot the public sector during a downturn, leaving the little guy to eat the recession while the capitalists sip martinis in the Cayman Islands.

I hope Alberta’s blue collar recognizes that.

-Shiv

Evangelicals patronizing Planned Parenthood

The anecdote about an abortion protester one day making an appointment in the clinic they demonize was always just that to me–an anecdote, something plausible given the religious right’s penchant for hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance but something also unconfirmed.

Only now, MarieClaire has data.

Data doesn’t exist on just how many women who were raised in this faith actually patronize Planned Parenthood in private, which is a result of the very reason many of them go there: It provides anonymity. We do know that 13 percent of abortions conducted in this country are for women who identify as evangelical protestants, in addition to the 17 percent for more mainline protestants like Lutherans or Methodists, according to a 2014 study by the Guttmacher Institute. When you add in Catholics, that number rises to more than half.

I was raised in an evangelical culture myself and, while doing research for this story, I was taken aback by how often one Christian woman’s experience with Planned Parenthood led me to another’s, and another’s, and another’s. What I once believed was simply a handful of anecdotal instances became an undeniable trend, one that reached into many different backgrounds and beliefs. Some of the women in this article have left the faith in which they were raised, either altogether or adopted more progressive forms of it; others, like Elizabeth, still identify as evangelical Christian, a broad label that often indicates a born-again protestant who adheres to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Some of the women are from cities, others small towns. The common thread that runs through all their stories: Visiting Planned Parenthood was a risk—but one worth taking.

“It’s a very difficult thing for them,” says Lachina, the Planned Parenthood chaplain, who echoes the fact that secrecy is critical for the young Christian women who visit clinics. “They certainly don’t want their parents to know that they’re going to a Planned Parenthood facility,” he says. “They want to be anonymous.”

More valuable than even anonymity, Planned Parenthood provides religious women with honest medical information they likely aren’t getting anywhere else: Research published in 2012 in the Journal of Women’s Health found that weekly church attendance made women half as likely to be receiving any sexual or reproductive health services.

“They gave me an exam and birth control to help with my menstrual cycles, because they said my cycle might be causing problems with my cyst,” Elizabeth says of her first Planned Parenthood appointment. “It was an education.”

Still, the pressure of the community is hard to shake. Evangelical culture tends to be intentionally exclusionary, creating a sense of us-versus-them, and these women had engaged with what they were taught was the very worst of “them.”

Rachel*, a pastor’s wife, felt that pressure fiercely. “I grew up in a strict religious community. Planned Parenthood was the devil,” Rachel says. “Our church talked about Planned Parenthood as a gas chamber and part of the new Holocaust.”

If you think you can stomach the finer points of Evangelical propaganda, read more here.

-Shiv

A discussion of short-lived “gender-critical” trans groups

A trans writer by the name of Aoife coins the term “GATE”–gender abolitionist, trans embodied–to describe those trans folk who subscribe to sex essentialist theories which posits that they themselves do not exist/are mentally ill fetishists/mistaken about themselves in one way or another. These hypocrites reap the benefits hard won by trans advocacy whilst campaigning to see those gains reversed, hence a dichotomy characterized by the phrase “male in the tweets, female in the streets.” I noticed this dichotomy thrust upon any trans woman (and gendercrits usually obsess over trans women specifically) any time we encounter a gendercrit in the wild. Our life is expected to sit still for a picture over which the TERF can pen in a bunch of lines, meanwhile we carry on minding our business as they frantically wave their picture around insisting we stay in place. Rani interviews an ex-“gender critical” trans person and discusses how attempts for GATEs to organize are often short lived.

The gender abolitionist position arose vigorously from 1970s feminist analysis (particularly lesbian feminists), who argued power and sexism were embodied predicaments, in which “gender” shoves people into social locations based on patriarchal expectations. They don’t “criticize” gender as a kind of conversational interrogation – they want to abolish gender, which will inevitably require some kind of massive overthrow of the social order. In such a political analysis, trans women or “transwomen” are universally male, and whatever enactment of “femininity”, the “feminine”, or the replication of the true female form through patriarchal pharmacology are direct appropriations of the female as sexed universal. In short, trans women have absolutely nothing to offer actual women in terms of feminist revolt, and in fact distort and derail the cause.

That would make being a gender abolitionist/trans embodied individual (GATE) in a wickedly impossible predicament. What exactly are they proposing to accomplish?

Other than a few hit pieces or some twitter conflict? Nothing. This, to my mind, is why there was no New Narratives 2. What more could be said from a dissipating middle ground of quicksand that GATEs tread, sinking further with every ideological stretch they make? The short-lived and totally ineffectual project Gender Apostates likewise collapsed. The SETs saw it as a lead-balloon intervention, of males in dresses diluting true radical feminism. Of men in makeup more likely to occlude feminist analysis than augment it. And, as the record shows, Gender Apostates failed to find a committed group of cis women, of trans-masculine, or destransitioned trans folk: the very groups who claim to be erased from the conversation that gender critical seeks to bring into the conversation. Even sympathetic, big-name “moderate” media writers were rarely directly supportive of the project – why risk the radical base of their audience by co-authoring with ladyfacers? Michelle Goldberg’s article on gendercrit, far from forwarding conversation, just led to more confusion: “Wait, they have F-passports, go around presenting as women with female names, but say they’re male?” This was by far the most common response I read to Goldberg’s interviews.

In short, the gendercrit movement’s moment strolled in circles with an uncertain inertia, and no direction to turn. r/gendercrit is little more than an insult forum with tautologies: “trans women take selfies; some narcissists take selfies therefore, all trans women are narcissists.” Same with tumblr. Twitter. Facebook. The voices of “gender abolition” in social media are largely hectoring brays of targeted insults and denigration, all on the anonymous.

Gender abolitionism wants a world without gender, and therefore transgender people, in it. That’s the political objective: no more trans.

Thus, is “gender abolitionism” an ethically accountable system, rejecting yet possessed of compassion for transgender people . . . perhaps in a “love the sinner, hate the sin” sense? Varies by the individual, of course. (And whatever is most politically opportunistic at any given time.)  Sure, there are gender abolitionists (GA) who are great mates with GATEs. Some distantly sympathize with trans women. What I notive about the ‘sympathy’, however, is an admixture of pity and intrigue for the ramifications of our existence. Is it ‘compassionate’ to assess all trans woman as emotionally traumatized by-products of masculinist gender agendas, hapless puppets to gender therapists and victims of Father Knows Best medicine?

Because the compassion fades right f’ing quickly before the abolitionist strategic design for the future. Abolitionists, by ideological default, must condemn transition as a reckless, untested aberration for the confused and selfish; and so SRS is always mutilation. And, predictably, the attacks go straight for trans health care, since treatment for the “defect” of gender dysphoria is a clumsy, misogynist intervention at the individual level. Collectively, trans health care equals the phallo-pharmaceutical destruction of womankind.

So — being ‘compassionate’ in a clinical sense, sure — yet being selective in who gets that compassion, on what terms . . . pronoun cherry-picking, appointing “right-thinking” trans women, sticking to the same researchers and eliding over a very broad scholarly conversation about sex and gender in society . . . it’s not compassionate to be telling a young trans woman preparing for her SRS that she’s about to become a Living-Wound of permanent defilement. That seems like a pretty shitty kind of bully, really. Not what they say – what they do.

Let me rethink of it this way . . . what I mostly saw as “compassion” was pathos; and as for the cudgel? We’ve all been hit by the cudgel. Blame, punishment, condemnation … anytime, any place, any reason. I’m not denying poignant individual friendships exist between individual GA feminists and trans women. Nor would I deny the outright tokenism and exploitation of the “TERF pet”. It happens.

Kind interactions can often slide into confrontations, with peer pressure and group think ensuring the GATE doesn’t step out of line. Because in their view the most compassionate thing to tell a GATE is to destransition! Thus, at a certain point,  ‘compassion’ or ‘cudgel’ are not readily distinguishable amidst a political vanguard possessed of an extreme gender-scepticism. The trans person, attempting to hold gender abolitionist views, is a glaring paradox. How does one experientially benefit daily from the civic and social accommodations that trans activism has won for us, yet denounce or discredit the principles and civil rights issues that led to these accommodations?

Read more here.

-Shiv

Edit June 6, 2017: Corrected a typo involving the speaker’s name.

Dear Donna Trimble: “Catholic educator” is an oxymoron

Is it time for Catholic propagandists to be ejected from our allegedly public school system? I think so, but Donna Trimble thinks Catholic doctrine is “under attack” because the Alberta Teachers’ Association voted to back employees who teach actual facts in their curriculum.

Yes, we needed a union vote to guarantee that, apparently.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) has voted that Catholic educators should have the autonomy to choose lessons that are in contradiction to the Catholic doctrine upon which their schools exist.

Translation: Teachers, even if employed by the Catholic school board, can teach facts without penalty.

The primary curriculum supplement for which this vote was likely conceived, was mentioned in a recent Edmonton Sun article: “In particular, there have been concerns about teachers being discouraged from using the Professionals Respecting and supporting Individual Sexual Minorities (PRISM) toolkit that has been developed for teachers to talk about sexual and gender diversity in the classroom.”

The PRISM toolkit describes the binary understanding of male and female, as “overly simplistic and often wrong,” “misleading” and “exclusionary and harmful” (page 21), while imposing only one perspective of gender as fluid and subjective. This premise is profoundly discriminatory towards Catholicism and many other faith traditions who deem the binary understanding as sacred.

I’m not sure I see the problem here. There are plenty of “perspectives” from the Bible that we discriminate against. We don’t sell our daughters into slavery (I hope). We do not keep slaves at all, nor do we generally consider it acceptable to beat someone within an inch of their life. Why is it that your scientifically illiterate binary is suddenly untouchable?

It is up to Catholic educators, parents and the separate school boards to discern how they will confront this latest attack on their schools. The rights of parents to choose an authentic Catholic education for their children, grounded in Catholic values and permeated by their faith, must be protected.

I’ve got an idea. Maybe you can… teach it in your church?

Just a thought.

But there is a deep lack of logic in the vote itself that cannot be permitted to stand.

THIS IS GONNA BE IRONIC

This vote claims to offer up “rights” to educators that are supposedly losing autonomy, when in fact the ATA used the tyranny of the majority of their membership in an attempt to strip separate schools of their Catholic identity.

The ATA itself states in their Going to School in Alberta document, that “69 per cent (of their teacher membership) are in the public system, 22 per cent in the separate system and one per cent in the francophone system.” The vote that took place did not account for the fact that 70 per cent of the ATA membership do not teach in Catholic schools and have no vested interest in Catholic education. That is tyranny of the majority.

We ask, if the ATA decided to disrespect francophone schools and call a vote that allowed teachers in the one per cent of francophone schools to “have the autonomy” to teach in English instead of French, and 99 per cent of ATA members, with no vested interest in francophone education, voted in favour, would that stand?

Are the francophone schools trying to alter the curriculum or merely teach it in French?

With the ongoing attack on Catholic schools by the ATA, we ask, is it time for Catholic schools to find a legal framework for deregistering with the Alberta Teachers’ Association?

Yes. De-unionize. Squeeze talent out of your administration. Fuck off and wither in the dustbin of history. You can’t go fast enough.

When there is an apparent attempt to undermine the very foundation of the faith tradition that Catholic education is built upon, how can parents be assured that their children will be provided with an authentic Catholic education in each and every classroom?

You have this building, see, tax-exempt and everything, for this exact purpose. It’s not a school. Maybe you should use that.

I know you struggle with this whole “wahhhhh I have to share public space with people different from me waaahhhhh” thing but come on.

-Shiv

“I can’t go two paragraphs without contradicting myself”

But apparently that’s the sole qualification for writing at LifeSiteNews.

Hey, you know what we haven’t done in a while? Tuned in to some bonafide Catholic hysterics occurring in the Province of Alberta. Behold the beauty that is LifeSiteNews’ totally unbiased coverage (or don’t, you might want to save your brain cells).

EDMONTON, Alberta, April 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Christian political action group and a parents group are responding to the controversy over a pro-life group comparing the Holocaust to abortion by accusing the New Democratic government of promoting unscientific and dangerous gender ideology.

Basically: Steve Weatherbe, the intrepid reporter on this scoop, is freely and literally admitting that the only thing Conservatives can do when presented with criticism is change the topic rather than defend their actions.

Off to a good start.

[Read more…]