Abortion: It’s Not Auschwitz

A post by Jamie

In Vancouver, BC, there is a rather annoying anti-choice blight on the corner across the street from one of the only two clinics that are not associated with a hospital. They call themselves pro-life, co-opt famous quotes from Martin Luther King Jr., and directly compare what they are doing “for the unborn” (i.e., by standing around as a visible and often vocal pillar of shame to all women, encouraging other people to campaign to eradicate women’s rights to bodily autonomy and self-determination) with what MLK Jr. accomplished for the Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, this is a rather tame version of the greater “pro-life” pseudo-social-justice-movement (I call it a glorified popularity contest). More on what exactly that means momentarily.

I began picketing these bigoted, misogynist hypocrites (who pull out their rosaries and start praying whenever someone yells at them), approximately six months ago, when I found out that they were actually slut-shaming women and telling them in so many words that they deserved to be raped if it should ever happen to them. I showed up for the first week in my tightest and brightest underwear, a clown wig, and a cape, holding a clown horn and a sign declaring my reasons for being there. As one of them began shaming me, I began honking my clown horn repeatedly, shouting “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over all this noise I’m deliberately making!” until her lips stopped moving. She turned to someone who was with me, and told them that I deserve to be raped multiple times. For a popularity contest that prides itself on how anti-violence it is, this is already painting a pretty grim portrait of hatred and violence against women. But wait! There’s more!

Over the past six months, they have now told numerous women that they deserve to be raped or are asking for it, and that at least half the time that a woman is raped it’s because she provoked it or secretly wanted it. They’ve grabbed and punched two of my friends (the police made up every excuse they could to avoid doing their jobs when this happened). They’ve literally cackled while a man repeatedly walked straight up to my face to yell at me then followed me around while I kept yelling at him to just fuck off, until he finally asked me why I don’t just punch him (I didn’t, because he’s able-bodied, so why  should I have to punch him to make him get the fuck out of my face? Why isn’t “get the fuck out of my face” enough?) They’ve stood by and done nothing while another man walked up and began antagonizing the one person he could most easily isolate from the group, before verbally gay-bashing him and doing the same to me before threatening to “smash [my] fucking head in.” I’d have to be utterly dense and cognitively dissonant to believe that these antagonists weren’t invited there by the anti-choicers themselves. [Read more…]

New face around the Manifesto

I’m excited and proud today to welcome a new guest contributor to the Manifesto, fellow Vancouverite and bodily autonomy activist Jamie James.

A pic of Jamie

You’ll probably remember Jamie from his guest posts focussed on his counter-picketing of anti-choice assholes in Vancouver’s east side. Jamie will be a welcome second (well, fourth) pair of hands around the blog as life continues to kick my ass and rob me of the time and energy to blog, while providing me with an endless stream of tantalizing topics.

Jamie’s first post will go up this afternoon, and be sure to check out his blog Haifisch Geweint. You can also follow Jamie on Twitter.

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The fall of (giving) a damn

The Scene: An expansive penthouse office in heaven. YAHWEH sits at a desk, happily munching on a bowl of peanuts and playing The Sims.

YAHWEH: Oh I know the stove is on fire, little Sim dude. But somebody sold all the doors and windows out of the house, so now the fire department can’t get in! Not so cute to complain about your lack of entertainment now, is it, you fucker? (He laughs wickedly).

(An alarm goes off. After waiting for a few moments, irritated, YAHWEH finally storms to the door to his office, throws it open, and enters an anteroom where panicked angels and archangels are screaming into phones, waving around reams of paper, and generally not looking happy. Somberly, one angel wipes the number ‘8’ from a whiteboard entitled ‘THIS PLANET HAS GONE __ DAYS WITHOUT A LOSS OF INNOCENCE’)

YAHWEH: Does someone want to tell me what the holy fuck is going on here?

(Gabriel, an archangel, quickly dismisses the person on the other end of the phone, hangs up, and approaches YAHWEH, clipboard in hand)

Gabriel: Bad news, boss. We’ve got a code black.

YAHWEH: A meteor is heading toward the planet?

Gabriel: No no, we haven’t scheduled that for (checks clipboard) another few thousand years or so. You said it would be funnier if we let the planet get populated with sentient creatures before we completely wiped it out.

YAHWEH: (Chuckles whimsically) Oh yeah. So what’s the problem? [Read more…]

No podcast this week

Hey all,

Xavier and I had planned to post the 4th episode of our still-unnamed podcast experiment, but illness robbed us of the opportunity at the last minute, so we’ll have to kick the can down the field a bit. My apologies.

By way of partial restitution, please accept this video of my band covering “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons:

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Looking at it sideways

We often use college course abbreviations to describe the various levels of social justice discussion. Someone might refer to a “101-level” conversation when we’re talking about identifying racism as a social construct rather than a biological reality. Trying to access the specific ways in which racial constructs impact the lived experiences of people might qualify for “200-level” status, since it requires us to understand and accept the conclusions from the 100-level stuff before we can move on to the real-world implications. Discussing things like intersectionality and the consequences of multiple identities that intersect race is maybe your “300-level” stuff, which is more or less the level I think I can comfortably converse.

But then there’s other stuff that, quite frankly, baffles and confounds even me: [Read more…]

Allergic to logic

The Scene: Heaven – Intelligence Design Inc., a celestial engineering firm. Angels toil away on various projects, some at architect’s easels, others at lab benches, other stitching together prototypes of different animal species. A senior angel wanders the corridors, supervising. A peal of trumpets announces the (unexpected) arrival of YAHWEH.

Supervisor: Lord! (All angels look up from their projects, shocked to see the boss, and reflexively genuflect)

YAHWEH: Surprise inspection time, bitches! What have you drones got cooking?

Supervisor: W…w…well Lord, we’ve been focusing on creating things for your animal creatures to eat. We wouldn’t want them to start eating each other, would we? (He chuckles weakly)

YAHWEH: Hmm… (YAHWEH pauses, musing) We’re going to put a pin in that idea.

(An angel attending YAHWEH scribbles a note on a pad of paper) [Read more…]

Can you recommend any good Tumblrs?

I am looking for the names of some good freethinking/atheist/skeptic Tumblr pages. My criteria for “good” are centred more around quality of management than quality of content (Tumblr being more of a great grab-bag for a lot of diverse kinds of things). Surely some of you either read atheist Tumblrs or run one yourself. I am looking for some solid recommendations.

Help a brotha out?

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Recognizing the enemy

You have by now no doubt heard of the story of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and his statement that pregnancies resulting from rape are part of “God’s plan” (much the way, incidentally, Trayvon Martin’s murder was part of “God’s plan” too – God has shitty plans, people). People have been chewing this over and reminding as many people as they possibly can that yes, this is what Republicans actually believe – the only part of it that was a ‘gaffe’ is the fact that Mourdock was accidentally honest about what his party believes about rape and women’s rights.

The reaction north of the border has, as it reliably does, contained more than a little smug anti-American sentiment, along the lines of “well that’s what happens when you live in America. Thank the Old Gods and the Seven that we don’t have that kind of abhorrent nonsense here in Canada. And to a certain extent they’re right: we don’t have the same kind of mainstream toxicity pouring from the mouths of our political candidates… at least not as often. But when we do get it, it’s just as bad: [Read more…]

Go say hi to the new neighbours


So excited today. There are some fresh faces on FTB – maybe a couple of names you recognize:

Avicenna – A Million Gods

An Atheist Medical Student Stuck in a Land of a Million Gods. Avicenna is a British Indian medical student working on his clinical rotations in the land of his ancestors.

While I’m (relatively) new to Avicenna’s blog, he has quickly emerged in my mind as a voice that can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored. While we don’t agree on everything (his recent ‘baggy pants’ post made me rage a bit), he’s a fearless advocate and will add distinctiveness and a new perspective to the FTBorg, so I am turbo-pumped that he’s agreed to join up. As a bonus, he’s posted a sort of ‘best of’ collection at his blog today, so that’s good news.

Avicenna on Twitter

NonStampCollector – The NSC Blog

If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby. Since 2008, NonStampCollector has been making anti-theistic videos on youtube, criticizing as many aspects of Christianity as stick-figures and bubble-headed cartoon caricatures will allow. After being ‘born again’ as a teenager, then enduring a slow, drawn-out, miserable deconversion, he did little about his atheism until discovering the work of Christopher Hitchens in 2007, and immediately joining the debate. A short time later, an imaginary dialogue between God and an atheist, literally scribbled on the back of an envelope, came to be the script of the first of over 50 youtube videos pointing out the shortcomings of Christian theology and apologetics that have accumulated more than seven million views. From Sydney, Australia, now living in western Japan.

If you’ve deconverted in the age of YouTube, there’s a fairly even chance that you’ve come across at least one of NonStampCollector’s hilarious and insightful Youtube videos. Heck, I’ve been a fan for a long time. As he explains in his opening post, the YouTube videos he makes take a long time to create, but he has a lot more to say and would like to transition into blogging, and he’s agreed to do that here at FTB. It’s a big coup for us, so we’re overjoyed to have him.

NonStampCollector on Twitter

Go give our new FTBorglings our patented warm welcome! We’re going to be adding more new names over the coming months – some people you’ll probably know, some you may not – so stay tuned for that.

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They took ur helth curr!

I will honestly never know how it was that conservatives got this reputation as being “fiscally responsible”. People who fancy themselves politically savvy centrists will often describe themselves as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” as though that was a superior approach to just calling themselves “moderates” or something. Nuanced it may in fact be, but a point in their favour it is not. Classical fiscal conservatism is, at its heart, an argument that the state should interfere with economic matters as little as possible, and even then only to encourage the development of private industry through competitive markets and maintaining standards of fairness.

Since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, however, fiscal conservatism has come to mean “get the government out of the way” by “starving the beast” and basically denying the possibility that public control over any industry is anything other than a surefire path to failure. It’s not enough to maintain fairness – it’s an absolute necessity that government be powerless not only to participate in markets, but to also demonize the possibility of intervention when things are clearly headed for calamity.

Specifically, this attitude has reared its disgusting and self-centred head in a discussion over the provision of health care to refugees. The basic underlying philosophy of publicly provided health care is to ensure that people are able to access medically-necessary services based on their need for those services, rather than a market-based approach that prioritizes those who have superior ability. Yes, it happens to be anti-capitalist, but it has the side benefit of being more fiscally responsible, since people aren’t putting off illness management until it’s too severe for them to ignore it. Refugees, people literally fleeing to Canada for fear of persecution in their home countries, often have greater need (particularly for psychological care, a particular bugbear of mine). The public health care system, it therefore seems to follow, should respond with greater provision of services.

Not if you’re a “fiscal conservative” though: [Read more…]