Fragile Conservative

Politics and social media are a terrible mix. I wonder if it doesn’t at least partly explain why politics is increasingly polarized. Let me give you an example.

This morning I visited a Facebook group called the National Conservative News Network Canada. Despite its name, it’s not a news network in any sense. It’s merely a group inhabited by a bunch of people who hold strong opinions and don’t want to hear any others. I visited because of a particular graphic that forcefully told the reader that all flags in the country should immediately be flown at half-mast for sixteen days, one day for each of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team members killed on Friday in Saskatchewan.

As you might imagine, the suggestion created quite a discussion. One group felt that lowering the flag is best limited to when members of the Canadian Forces are killed on active duty. The group owner, who favours the flag-lowering for the hockey team members, tried to invalidate that position by pointing out that Prime Minister used his executive privilege to have the flag lowered for his “good pal” Gord Downing.

Until this point in the discussion, I had no real skin in the game. However, when a person championing an action for the respect of the dead, makes a mockery of the name of another person who has passed on, I had no choice but to jump in. That feeling only increased as there were three other instances of the group owner making reference to Gord Downing.

I replied, pointing out that given his respect for the dead, the least he could do is spell Gord Downie’s name correctly. He came back with a graphic of the Peace Tower flag schedule indicating it was lowered in honour of Gord Downie. I looked up and saw he had corrected his mistake, trying to pass of my comment as an error on my part. Facebook labeled his post as having been edited, and clicking the “Edited” indicator, he correct the spelling three minutes after I pointed out the error. In reply, I suggested that it was a simple error, and he should simply own it, rather than correcting it and pretending he made no mistake. Hell, it was likely an autocorrection error he missed. Be an adult and admit it!

Hours later I checked back and found that the group owner had banned me from the National Conservative News Network Canada. This banning also deleted all my comments and any replies.

So rather than a discussion area, the group owner has gathered around him people who think just as he does and parrot the same opinions. Anyone who raises a dissenting voice is summarily silenced. It’s a fragile ego indeed who can’t accept a spelling correction! Is it any wonder people can’t discuss politics or religion any more without things getting out of hand? These jokers have fashioned echo chambers where everyone allowed in agrees with them. How can they ever learn reasoned discourse?

But the real kicker? The image you see to the right is the profile image attached to the National Conservative News Network Canada Facebook page. They seemed to have missed the warning against having one’s own opinions, voicing them, or even having <gasp!> an original idea … never mind something as minor as pointing out a spelling error of significance.

The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

Politics and stupid

Malcolm Turnbull, 2016

Lord save us from the politicians who know not of what they speak! Today’s proud entrant is Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. He seems to believe that if the government could get into all the encrypted messages his people send, all would be well. According to the Independent, he ratchets up the rhetoric:

When challenged by a technology journalist over whether it was possible to tackle the problem of criminals using encryption – given that platform providers claim they are currently unable to break into the messages even if required to do so by law – the Prime Minister raised eyebrows as he made his reply.

“Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia,” he said.

So there you have it. A politician who claims that the laws of mathematics do not apply in his country.


DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Clydell Kinchen.

Finding one’s path…

I saw an article in the Toronto Star titled, “Pope Francis says it’s better to be an atheist than a Catholic living ‘a double life.’” It fit in very nicely with some thoughts I’ve been having lately.

Namely, that we each find our path alone. Early in our lives, our parents instilled beliefs in us either directly or by religious proxy. As we grow old enough to think for ourselves, we embrace or reject what we’ve been taught and fine-tune our own beliefs.

What I don’t understand is how someone can claim to accept the entirety of a belief system like Christianity, but really only practice the parts they like. For example, many Christians are against same-sex marriage because it violates the sanctity of marriage and their religious teachings. Yet at the same time, many of these same people have divorced and remarried. I would suggest that divorce is much worse for marriage than two people getting married, who happen to be of the same sex. Further, the Bible does not allow divorce. So how can anyone who has divorced and remarried stand up and claim to defend of marriage?

I certainly do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but the last time I heard, this is one of the tenants of Christianity. So how can Christians remarry? Work on Sundays? Lie? Steal? Masturbate? Have sex before marriage? Eat pork? Get tattoos? Gossip? Eat shellfish? The list seems entirely endless, and largely nonsensical, but it’s the word of God, right?

Even worse, your average neighbourhood Christian priest seems to steer clear of these topics!

It would be one thing to simply take on the Christian ideals you like as your own and not call yourself a Christian, but if you profess to be a Christian, how can you rationalize picking and choosing what you will practice?

If you really believe there is a hell, this would seem an unwise course of action! Yet many (most?) self-professed believers do it.


Disclaimer: I selected Christianity simply because it’s the religion I’m most familiar with. The same could be said for any of them.

Tennessee Bible veto

In April, Tennessee Governor Bill Hallam vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the official state book of Tennessee.

Even though he believes in the Bible, Hallam gave a number of reasons for his veto:

  • Official endorsement of the Bible would violate state and federal constitutions, according to the governor and Attorney General Herbert Slatery.
  • The governor worries that passage of the bill “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.”1
  • He also said, “If we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, then we shouldn’t be recognizing it only as a book of historical and economic significance.”2

That last item is particularly poignant as supporters of the bill have “tried to argue the move would highlight the economic and historical impact the Bible has had on Tennessee, saying printing the Bible is a ‘multimillion-dollar industry’ for the state.”3 Talk about trivializing the Holy!

In my opinion, the first issue invalidates consideration of the next two.

Of course, with a story of this nature, it was all over Facebook, both the facts from news outlets and opinion from individuals. Among those opinions is this gem:

What a mess. Who cares about civil liberties, indeed. Religious fundamentalism concerns me a great deal, and I make no distinction between Islamic and Christian fundamentalists, the latter of which certainly includes Ms. Snider.

Replace every instance of God with Allah, and Jesus Christ with Mohammad, and the message reads true, like some screed in which ISIL is taking credit for a bombing.


  1. Joshua Barajas, “Tennessee governor vetoes bill to make Bible the official state book,” The Rundown (PBS Newshour blog), 2016-04-15.
  2. Dave Boucher, Holly Meyer and Joel Ebert, “Gov. Bill Haslam vetoes Bible bill,” The Tennessean, 2016-04-14.
  3. ibid.

Liberation, at last!

You know how you sometimes read the comments made about an article, and once in a blue moon, someone will crystallize your thoughts and write them in a way you wish you’d thought of? That happened to me this morning.

With Kaye West in the news again, after asking Mark Zuckerberg to invest $1 billion in “his ideas,” and then turning to Google’s Larry Page for a billion when Zuckerberg didn’t answer right away. He gave Tidal the exclusive rights to his new album to drive traffic there and is now mulling a lawsuit against The Pirate Bay after more than a million people decided to download the album for free rather than pay a monthly fee to have access to it. He also mentioned in a tweet that he’s rich and can buy furs and houses for his family the day after claiming he’s $53 million in debt, and solicited prayers for him to overcome. And among the lyrics in his new album are those in which he wrote he might still have sex with Taylor Swift because he made her famous. Dude’s had a week in fairy-world, all right!

After reading of this circus on Ars Technica1, one of the comments on the article resonated with me. User dfavro wrote:

Kanye West is the personification of my being generation-gapped. He’s the point I finally transitioned from “gets youth culture” to “get off my lawn”. I got Taylor Swift and her contemporaries. I got Jay-Z, Lamar and such. I admit I really struggled with Drake, but I got there, sort of.

Kanye I don’t get at all. I’ve read the (glowing) music press about his work and I just don’t see the appeal. The lyrics aren’t great, the production is interesting, the actual sound is muddy and unpleasant. But dammit, if the press and the millennials don’t love the guy as an artist.

And I just don’t see it. It’s unpleasant at best and painfully bad at worst. With “No More Parties” I kept thinking that it must be a joke that I’m just not getting.

It’s either an “Emperor has no clothes” or I’m officially my parents.

Even ignoring Kanye’s acting like a child in an adult’s body, I don’t understand why he hasn’t already faded into obscurity. I suspect that the gossip mills have become popular enough to keep an artist in the spotlight despite their having long passed their ‘best before’ date. Just look at his wife. What did Kim Kardashian do? A sex tape. That’s it. It’s depressing. All I can do is my part to make sure I don’t personally support either of their continuing popularity with a single cent of my income. And this I certainly do!

Just when I found myself really down in the dumps, user Statistical found the silver lining:

The good new is once you finally accept you are no longer young and hip it is kinda liberating! You just do your own thing.

Isn’t that the truth? The older I get, the less I care what others think and it is more than a little liberating!


  1. Sebastian Anthony, “Kanye West reportedly considering legal action against Pirate Bay over Life of Pablo,” from Ars Technica, 2016-02-19.