Tag Archives: Activism

Thoughts on Identity Politics.


Greeting all Withteeth here,

Long time no write! Today I want to talk about a lil’ol thing called Identity Politics‎. I’m no expert on this topic, but I do have quite a few years steeped in it’s topics and outcomes, good and bad, so I want to share my thoughts. As is always advisable bring some salt to the table and feel free to raise your objections!

Identity Politics, by my understanding, is most fundamentally a collection of shorthands for various type of individuals and group that allow for quick and concise descriptions and cues for numerous kind of people. From issue like Gender or sexual orientations, ethnicity, psychological descriptions such as ADHD, and Depression, and some times expands to include other descriptors more commonly things like introvert and extrovert, and more rarely briggs-myrer test results, INJP or the like‎. This is by no means a full list, just some common examples.

Though categorization is only the identity side of of identity politics. And as those on either the far left and right will tell you, and what may surprize you is there is a great deal of derision from both sides. Those complaints that to main stances. Identity politcs is political correctness run amock! Or Idenity Politics is divisive and needlesly splitting people apart.

Now I think when people say political correctness is running amock, or “I’m just teeling it as it is.” I mostly hear “I wanna be a jerk to people, without Soical consequences.” Occasionally I’ll hear a meaningful point, but Normally when I encounter it it’s used as a distraction or excuse for holding a unplesant veiw about some other group the person doesn’t belong too.

The argument from divisiveness, however really has some soild truth to it. Where ever you attempt to catigorize, you make seemingly neat division in a messy and complex world. By it’s very nature the identity part of idpol is dividing people. I have seen folk rise to defend, and attack solely based on these division, and use them as a method to strip legitimasy from one group. perhaps the best example is that of Bi sexual erasure in the LGBTQA community where Gay and Lesbian people will attack and condem Bi sexual people of having heterosexual relationships and ostracizing them for this perceived betrayal.

This obviously not cool, but if people who should know better use identity politics to hurt people who only want similar recognition they themselves have won, why do I think identity politics are ultimately a positive force?

One: awareness building. Yes having aware of a group and for a time make them a target, but I think we have seen enough through history that staying hidden is a terrible stratagy for long term survival in a human population. Unless of course you have the power already to maintain your secrecy. The best way to make sure someone isn’t going to ostrisize and single out a group of people is to make sure they know about those people, and have a direct and meaningful relationship with at least one member of that group. That way you can easy attain empathy for another. The end goal of any awarenessraising move in my opinion has to be normalization, and acceptance, and I think for the fault of identity politics it has help raised awareness about dozens of minority group who face real threats from scoiety at large, and in part has been key in pushing LGBTQA issues, and have and effect on ‘race’ issues although I am regertiable less informed on the effect of identity politics on Person of colour.

Two: this real problem with divisiveness is a lack of intersectional understanding. Intesectionality is hard. Really hard. People who claim to be intersectional feminist can and often still preptuate harmful ideas and will sometimes ignore other people’s lived experiences if they haven’t directly experinced them first hand.

What makes intersectionality so hard is that it requires empathy for others, and a deep understanding of the experinced and conditions which affects a given group of people. You basically need to have the basics of economic theory, a good grounding is the relevant history, and know a lot about the social sciences to really start making a crack at competent intersectional thought. You can have a good grasp of the categories of indetity politics but have no idea of the kind of power structures which affect how people interact, live their day to day lives, and how they affect individual and group opportunities and access. 

To really appreciate and utilize intentional though, and therefor use indentity politics for good you need to be curious , and have a real desire to learn about people, and critcally you need to be willing and actively want to push yourself to try to understand experinces that might be radically different from your own.

So to wrap this post up, my thought on Identity politics can be summed up as follows. Idtity politics on a practical level is little more then a list of labels and desripitions for indivials and groups to indetify themselves. Unless you are actively applying intersectional thought to these catigorization, there no reseason that people won’t use that lables as a tool to harm as much as help. Due to that I’m wary of agree with just anyone pushing idenitity politics, but I still think that it does more good then harm and the use of idenitity politicswill contiune to give power and reconition to unserved and unrepresented group in our societies. We as agroup just need to become better at applying intersectionality to issues of privledge and access.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Withteeth

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Local Poltics in Alberta Canada: A responce to a post on Bill 6.


This is a response directed at natashamintram that I’ve put together for the benefit of a friend and besides it caught my interest.

natashamintram’s full article can be found here.

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“Their roots go deep. It is so sad to see what’s happening to Alberta’s agricultural history: a major part of our thriving economy. Historically, the government has used the divide between urban and rural Alberta to its advantage by “pleasing” either one or the other. This isn’t right: the government must work with both to bring unity, not division.”

Alright I go a clear idea on where the author stands on this issue, but one question. Which Government are you talking about? people reading this article are likely going to assume you mean the current Alberta NDP, however you haven’t actually been clear enough for me to say one way or another.

“Bill 6 is a combined bill, which means it amends more than one bill. It will affect the Workers’ Compensation Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code for the Agricultural industry.”

Yes and it sound like you’d need to make adjustment in all those area to affect the work place protections that the current government has said they want to do.

“This bill infringes upon the rights and freedoms of farmers and ranchers to work their land. As Bill 6 is written, it will remove most farming and ranching activities from their current exempted status.”

Without a lot context this sound less like “rights” and more like “privileges” but yes if your take away someone’s exempt status they are probably going to argue they will lose their right to something, but that alone it’s terribly concerning. Not too long ago men lost the right to beat and rape their wives and people complained about that too, the question I have is? Are these privileges ones we ought to fight for as a society, or at they simply protecting a few while allowing for some sort of exploitation.

(by the way thank you for using citation I do appreciate it)

For your second citation it doesn’t seem that you’ve really offer much proof that the government hasn’t been contacting experts, or farmers, but I will take your word for it on the farmer at least. That’s problematic is the NDP are not following through on their promise I agree.

“As the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act are currently written, these measures will both take effect on January 1st, 2016. This is an inadequate amount of time to prepare for such drastic changes.”

Fair enough hopefully a good deal of leeway will be given over the next year or two, so that this will not be an issue.

“What about the farms and ranches that hire seasonal workers who aren’t family members? Now, due to that fact alone, Occupational Health and Safety will have complete jurisdiction over their operations, and they will have to make some serious decisions.”

 

“These farms and ranches will have to be brought up to OH&S standards, a process costing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, which will be nearly impossible for small farms and ranches to afford.”

Really a small ranch or farm? can’t afford hundred or even thousands of dollars? No I understand that your typical farmer is not rolling in money, but if the costs are really only in the range of hundrends or thousands of dollars then there are likely enough financing options to pay for those changes. Now if the costs are a good deal higher then I have a question. does that make safety standards overkill, or does that mean that farms are ramshackle death traps? I’ve been to my fair share of farms over the years and some look like they won’t have an issue meeting most standards while others are in fact ramshackle deathtraps.

“Many times they have small profit margins and sometimes no profit at all.”

Yep and if that’s the case they like most business that teeter on a fine edge will eventually fail, this could be the catalyst for some that’s unfortunate, but that’s the capitalistic society we live in. Now I’m all for arguing if this is wrong on some moral level, but given how our society function do these small barely profitable farms and ranches actually bring significant value to society? Will the these changes causer enough fallout to warrant legitimate concern? I don’t know, but maybe you do and I’d like to hear what you have to say if you do.

“Currently, as the law is written, an OH&S Officer can enter the premises without notice or a warrant to search and seize anything that they deem in violation of the regulations, at any time of the day. This includes farmers’ and ranchers’ homes because they have their office inside which would be considered a worksite. If a farmer or rancher is non-compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, they’re subject to many penalties, and fines up to $500,000 or imprisonment.”

Yep regulation sucks, but if they can’t search business spaces then some farmers will undoubtedly hide questionable or illegal activates in their homes to prevent detection. Not all farmers by any means, but business is business and anyone who has lived in a rural community in Alberta knows there is no shortage of people who will go to great length if they think “they can screw the man.” It probably means in the long run there be more out building on farms, or extensions to preexisting homes, and for the first while there will be inconveniences. Though for routine inspection I doubt most OHS officers are not going to abuse their powers or try to make enemies with farmers, I’m such some will, but they will in turn end up suffering for it.

“WCB is being forced on farmers and ranchers, taking away their freedom of choice when most already have their own 24/7 private insurance with superior rates and benefits. Don’t you think they should have a few options to choose from when it comes to workplace insurance? To ensure the companies stay competitive so they can choose the best coverage possible? WCB will have complete control over how they provide coverage to the Agricultural Industry, without any competition. How would you like to have one sole provider of health insurance, auto insurance or home insurance?”

This is interesting do you have any more information on exactly what kinds of options farmers will and will not have?

 

“Farmers and ranchers already take safety precautions on their farms. The problem is that this bill moves way beyond “enhancing safety”4.”

Explain?

“Any person at any job can refuse unsafe work. We are free to choose where we work, who we work for and say no to something that could put us in a dangerous situation.”

Sadly the real world is not that simple, sometime people cannot refuse work because they can’t afford to be fired, and some time people won’t recognize the extent of the danger they might face. They reson why we have worker protections is to help counter balance for the imbalances of power that can occur which typically favor the employer.

“If it had truly only ever been about improving farm and ranch worker’s safety, there would never have been these major pieces of legislation. The appropriate way for the government to have addressed this would have been to document consultations, prepare proposals to farmers and ranchers, and begin improving safety programs through the farm safety programs that are already available.5

None of that really follows from what you’ve presented thus far. Farmer are people, some a good some a bad, and that means some farmer will ignore safety program and mistreat employees (to various levels) if they are able to. If you rules don’t have teeth they are only guideline and can’t be enforced. And if you can’t enforce there’s a risk that undue harm can be done with no recourse available to those harmed.

“There never would have been such a huge uproar like what you’ve seen in the media, or in person these past few weeks.”

Uproar can be manufactured or misplaced and often is, I’m interested in the facts as they are currently available not in how people feel about it as that is already quite clear.

“This didn’t happen over “safety precautions,” it happened because this bill threatens their entire livelihood. This is not an exaggeration.”

I happen to question both of those sentences, so far you haven’t really given a compelling case that peoples likely hood are a risk, only that people won’t like the changes. Which in all fairness is certainly true. People don’t like change, and people really don’t like change if has a chance of affecting the bottom line negatively. Though so far you have not offer a proper case for this risk, but have only asserted it.

I want to understand your real concerns what prevision are going to cause things to really hurt for farms. The only one so far that seem to have merit is the issue surrounding enforced WCB. And even then how is that actually going affect farmers how much will they have to put into those programs? And why should they be except in the first place?

” Here is a great analogy that was shared on the Facebook group: “I asked how my urban friends, many of whom live in beautiful but older houses, would feel if the Government passed legislation requiring all homeowners to have their houses brought up to 2016 Building Codes by January 1, 2016, or risk fines of up to $500,000?”

Okay so again lets clear this up does the government actually expect farmers to meet all the requirement by Jan 1st? I highly doubt it, and I and quite sure they couldn’t enforce it even if they where insane enough to try. In addition companies typically get warnings long before any fines are handed out so why would we expect the Albertan government to hand out fines starting Jan 1st? I don’t think we would, analogies can be useful, but I think here you’re leaping to the worse possible scenario without giving any reason too. I don’t think further fear mongering is useful in already tense situation, and weather you indented it or not I think that’s what happening in this paragraph.

That said I do think there will be adjustment period and that means some people with have to change how they are doing things, but I remain unconvinced that many even older farmers will be hurt by this. That said however I am still happy to be swayed if you can convince me that harm is a real possibility.

” Farmers and ranchers didn’t give the government a blank cheque to sign – the government did it themselves, and robbed the former of their entire livelihood.”

Uhmm that is quite the leap. It is not like the government has taken away farmers property rights or something equally crazy. Also do remember this is a democracy you do have some say, and if the NDP do royal mess this up then you, me, and everyone else will have to vote a new party in, but I honestly do not buy the constant fear monger that the NDP are going to destroy the province, they really isn’t evidence for it. The only real problem the NDP have is that people only like to vote them in when shit has already hit the fan and they need someone new to clean up the mess, and people get upset that they can’t magically fix everything over night. And do political parties NDP included make mistakes, yep, but as humans what do you expect?

Again fear mongering, a good tactic for getting people riled up, but it isn’t going to convince me that your right, only that you’re afraid or at least want other to be afraid.

” Farmers, ranchers and workers aren’t benefiting from these new legislation – the government is. It’s not that Alberta was the last province to have “safety and basic protection rights” for farm and ranch workers, it was the last province that the government didn’t control.”

really to me is should like it’s going to cost both money, and time, I think the legislation is there to help unrelated employees and give them protections already afforded to employees in other industries. You continued to talk about how this will affect famers, but so far you’ve paid next to no attention to paid employees. That’s why I I think you’ve allowed your biases to blind you to the third party in all this.

” How is that creating job growth? Not to mention all the oil field workers who have been laid off.”

That has literally nothing to do with Notley fun fast the middle east controls the price of oil and Saudi Arabia is paying for a war at the moment and is selling oil cheap to pay for it. That and the oilfield are a boom and bust to begin with that just the reality of having an economy base on oil, and they only people who can be blamed for that are the PC’s.

——

 

The rest of the article is made of excepts about concerns and fear from other farmers and ranchers, I think there are some legitimate concerns in there, but I don’t not have any expertise in many complex issues which, so in conclusion it may be very true that this legislation is being pulled through the house far too quickly, and I’m sure that the full extent of the bill has yet to be determined. I think I will discuss this topic with my local MP and see what he has to say about it, but otherwise I think I don’t enough working though the issues I have with this article and why I think we still have way more question then answers.

Thanks to natashamintram for taking the time to write there article and I hope they don’t take this as any sort of personal attack, and it is intended only as a critique. additionally I do not expect a response, but would be happy to receive one if that ever where to suit natashamintram‘s fancy.

 


What Can Churches Teach Atheists?


So life has been quite busy for us lately. I have been working and trying to get some writing edited. Withteeth has been testing out a job as well. As such, it has been difficult for us to find time to publish posts. However, I do have some Bible posts that I’ve been working on. I’ll start publishing those in a few days.

But first I want to talk about the conference we were at this weekend. Gateway to Reason was a first time conference that took place this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri. It was probably the best organized conference that we have been to. I would definitely recommend looking into this conference next year if you are able to make your way to St. Louis for it. It was fairly cheep as far as secular/skeptic conferences are concerned and it had a large number of speakers. Russell Glasser, Matt Dillihunty, Aron Ra, Vyckie Garrison, and David Fitzgerald are just a few of the many speakers who presented a talk.

But it’s Hemant Mehta’s talk that I want to really discuss. His talk took place this afternoon. Hemant’s talk was about how atheists are failing to attract members and convince people to give up their religion. He said that there are a number of things that churches do better than atheist groups: First, churches really do give their members a sense of purpose. They send people on mission trips, they encourage people to volunteer, and they get people thinking about how to solve real world issues that affect the members of the church. Atheist groups don’t do these things. As such, we can’t get people to join us. People want to feel as though their local group is for something. They want to feel as though their is a purpose in attending that group. So how do we give people that purpose? Second, Churches offer community. Atheist groups do offer community, but our communities are makeshift. Christians will take care of their people. If someone loses their job, Christian groups will help that person until they are back on their feet. Atheist groups don’t do that kind of thing. This means that asking someone to leave their church is asking them to leave their safety net. Why would they do that? How can we better protect each other and offer that safety net? Third, the church is very good at death. They have a good story. A comforting story. We don’t have that. We don’t offer the same inspiration. So how can we inspire people to not fear death? Fourth, Christians have great messengers. They have a terrible message, but their messengers are great. Atheists have terrible messengers. Our messengers insult and offend the people they are trying to deconvert. Our messengers ignore emotion and aren’t very good storytellers. The strength of our message is irrelevant if we can’t catch the peoples attention to share it. So how do we improve our messengers? Hement’s point is that we need to fix the way that atheists bring people in. So how do we do this? Is Hement right or is he completely off base? Does it matter?


Apparently Americans Now Want to Move to Canada…


Because the US legalized gay marriage. Too bad for them, or luckily for us, we legalized gay marriage in 2004. I’m a little disappointed that none of those people would actually be willing to move here: it would be amusing to see the looks on their faces when they realised that Canada is not the place to find what they’re looking for.

http://mikesbloggityblog.com/americans-are-moving-to-canada-because-of-us-gay-marriage-ruling/

http://www.therebel.media/canada_legalized_gay_marriage

http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/its-legal-there#.ufZpaA9g6


In God We Trust?


I watched this documentary yesterday and I thought it would make for a great discussion. Since we have both Christians (and I’m sure some theists who are not Christian) and atheists following this blog, I thought it might be worthwhile to see what you lot have to say about this documentary.

If you have the time, please watch the documentary and tell us your thoughts on it in the comment section.


I’m At a Loss


I’ve been finding it difficult to come up with ideas for blog posts, which is why this blog hasn’t been very active lately. As such, I’d like to leave it up to the readers: what would you like us to write about? Would you like to know something specific about our atheism? Do you have an argument that you’d like us to address? Would you like us to discuss a particular book? Do you have any questions about Philosophy, Biology, or History? Would you like to know our stance on a particular feminist issue? Is there something else you’d like us to write on? Let us know in the comment section.


Atheism 101: The Western Religions


Now that things have settled down and I’m feeling better, I think it’s about time to get back to the Atheism 101 posts. Since I talked about the Bible and Koran in the last two posts, I will now be talking about the Western religions as a whole.

The Western religions include many forms of Paganism (anything from western Europe and the Americas) and Judaism and Christianity (due to where the majority of their followers can be found). Scientology would also be included in this list. I will not discuss these religions separately here but as a whole.

So why don’t atheists agree with Western religion? Well, not all atheists don’t agree with the western religions. In fact, some atheists practice different forms of Paganism (actually, there are atheists who practice Christianity and Judaism too). Many of them do so because they enjoy the culture and the traditions even though they don’t believe in the gods. However, many of the atheists who have a problem with western religion have a problem because of the institutions involved. This isn’t so much the case with Paganism, since Pagans don’t really have any power in our society. However, a lot of religious institutions use their status as religious to unfairly regulate the actions of people, including those who aren’t a part of the religion. A number of religious institutions have also caused a lot of harm. Both Scientology and some forms of Christianity have been accused of holding people, generally children, against their will. Children have been abused and killed at the direction of those with power within a religion. People have been conned out of their money and been made to feel guilty for things that aren’t necessarily wrong. And religious institutions have created wars. Those things tend to make atheists uncomfortable with the power of religious institutions. Most atheists are less concerned with people simply holding to one of these belief systems, but we do view them as false. It is the fact that we believe religions (or rather, belief in gods) are false that cause a number of atheists to criticise believers, because they believe that the believers are either being conned into believing a falsehood or are willingly believing a falsehood (sound familiar?).

On a side note, it is the fact that atheists criticise believers for believing what we believe to be false that has led me to think of atheism as more than simply a lack of belief in gods. If we merely lacked a belief, then we wouldn’t care what others believed. However, if we also actively believed that gods don’t exist, then we have a reason to care what others believe. As such, I define atheism as the belief that there are no gods, not as a lack of belief in gods.

Back to the main article. As I have already stated, not all atheists disagree with western religions. We just disagree with the gods premises. Some atheists like religion. Some atheists are religious. Some atheists wish they could be religious. Some merely don’t care about religion. Others feel annoyed at the power of religion. Some feel annoyed at the people who are religious. And others believe that religion should be gotten rid of. It all depends on the atheist.


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