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How Our Little Humanist Club Got Taken Over by Social Justice Dogmatists

I love living in this Canada of 2019. Just as it’s okay for my 20-year-old grandson to live with his girlfriend without being married, it’s okay for me to live with mine. No big deal, you say? Of course not. But such arrangements were unthinkable when I was 20 and living in South Africa.

And in this Canada, I can hang with a gay friend and not think of him or her as “my gay friend,” but simply as my friend. And spend time with my other grandson and his girlfriend, who happens to be of South Asian ancestry, and not think of her as “a person of colour,” or “a Muslim,” but simply as the young woman who she is. And no one feels the tension and fear that such a relationship would have produced in the South Africa I inhabited as a young man—where interracial relationships of this type were prosecuted as crimes.

And even though I’m an old white man, I feel at ease and at home in a society that’s moving toward the full emancipation of women, and which recognizes that categories of sexual attraction and gender identity aren’t limited to straight and cis. I used to dream, growing up under apartheid during the 1960s, that there might someday be a time and a place where the law might forbid sexism and racism rather than mandating it. And I have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize that such a reality has come to pass in the place I live.

Freedom from dogmatism imposed by authoritarians also is something I happen to enjoy. In the South Africa of my youth, people didn’t just think that sex and love between “whites” and “non-whites” was wrong. They knew it. And even if they had their doubts, most were inclined to shut up about them: The whole society was built around this evil notion, and there was little room for dissent.

Back in those bad old days, a colleague of mine, an Afrikaner and a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, would end all arguments about apartheid by intoning that “it is the will of God.” And no, he wasn’t joking. In his mind, God was a racist. This was actually a commonly held view.

Later, after we’d both traveled from Johannesburg to Montreal to do graduate degrees at McGill University, I asked him to preface his well-worn words, “it’s the will of God,” with the phrase “in my opinion” if he wanted to preserve our friendship. What could he do? If we’d still been living in the suffocating zeitgeist of apartheid-era South Africa, he might have rejected my request with scorn. But he was lonely in Canada, and wanted to continue visiting with my wife and me, with whom he could speak Afrikaans and drink rooibos tea. So he acquiesced. Old-fashioned thinker that I am, I didn’t ostracize him merely because he held views I found repulsive, since that would have been pointless and inhumane.

Like many of the people who supported apartheid, my colleague was not a bad person—which is why I still tolerated his company. Nor were all of the brainwashed citizens who expressed support for tyrants such as Stalin and Hitler irredeemably bad to their core, either. Ordinary life confronts all of us with wracking dilemmas and painful doubts. Because they purport to offer complete answers, absolutist political systems such as communism and fascism, like rigid and militant forms of religiosity, can hold out comfort to the perplexed. Even in the new, tolerant Canada of 2019, the appetite for such totalizing systems of thought remains strong—even if such appetites are, as described below, expressed in a very different way.

* * *

Regular readers of Quillette need no introduction to the ways in which authoritarian strains of social-justice leftism conflict with traditional liberal precepts such as free speech, rational inquiry and due process. But in most cases, the stories that people read about originate with academics at elite universities such as Yale and Cambridge, or high-profile social-media mobbing campaigns involving influential artists or celebrities. But the struggle is also unfolding in obscure-seeming corners of civil society, where humble little institutions that have existed happily for decades suddenly have come under the thumb of that species of dogmatist that adheres to what I call the Cult of the Woke. This is the story of my own little corner: the Vancouver-based British Columbia Humanist Association (BCHA).

A BCHA meeting in 2014.

The BCHA was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1984. It meets on Sunday mornings at a seniors centre, where we listen to invited speakers and discuss all manner of intellectual subjects, typically with a focus on secular values. As with many humanist groups, our membership exhibits a healthy suspicion of anything that smacks of religious dogma, and which interferes with the traditional humanist approach of pursuing rational inquiry and communication. Unfortunately, this approach flatly contradicts the social-justice approach to truth-seeking, which, in ersatz religious fashion, presents many of its precepts as a form of revealed truth; and which casts unbelievers as unworthy heretics.

Alass, this latter social-justice approach has been embraced fully by BCHA’s current Executive Director, Ian Bushfield, whose actions have pushed a wonky little group of weekly seminar attendees into full-on drama. Indeed, Ian recently expelled Joann Robertson, a past BCHA President and long-time member, when she expressed concerns about what she regarded as an ideologically motivated warping of BCHA’s long-time mandate.

The bad blood rose to the surface when the editor of a small publication called Humanist Perspectives authored a firebrand column with the admittedly provocative title Social Justice: The New Totalitarianism? Using his personal Twitter account, Bushfield dismissed the article as “garbage.” Bushfield (whose email signature informs correspondents that he is “working on unceded Coast Salish Territory—shared lands of the xwməθkwəyə̓ m (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh(Squamish) & səlilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples”) then went further, and wrote a column attacking the piece, which he included in a BCHA newsletter. Alongside a Grampa Simpson cartoon meme presumably meant to disparage the author’s age and the unfashionability of her views, Bushfield accused the Humanist Perspectives editor of being “transphobic and contemptible,” among other throughtcrimes.

The Humanist Perspectives editor should be free to write what she thinks—even if I, or others, don’t agree with all of it. Bushfield, likewise, should be completely free to voice his own opinion—so long as he takes pains to note that he is speaking in his personal capacity and not as a BCHA official, which, to be fair, he did in his column. Bushfield is also free to tweet things like “Fuck Jordan Peterson,” to denigrate free-speech supporters as “garbage-eating scavengers,” to denounce classical liberals as “sinister” operatives who promote Nazis and Islamophobes, and to repeatedly denigrate “old white men”—even though there are plenty of people who are old, and white, and male in the organization he leads.

Rank-and-file BCHA members should have the right to voice their own opinions, too. But that seems to be a problem for Bushfield. At a January 6, 2019 meeting, longtime BCHA member Joann Robertson rose to take issue with Bushfield’s attack on the editor of Humanist Perspectives. Robertson’s comments were relatively mild. The only “harassing” comments from this meeting that Bushfield cited in a January 30, 2019 memo grandly titled “JOANN ROBERTSON’S HARASSMENT OF IAN BUSHFIELD AND CORRECTIVE ACTION” were that he makes “anti-humanist statements [and] this is what a lot of people in this room don’t realize because they are not online,” and “People in this room need to know your true humanist values.” But according to BCHA president Dan Hanna, who signed the letter, such comments had the effect of “harming [Bushfield’s] emotional and mental health and his ability to perform the duties of the Executive Director.” Bushfield, Hanna claimed, had been “defamed,” “harassed” and “belittled.”

As punishment, Robertson was ordered to “provide a written apology to the BCHA Board and deliver a public apology at a Sunday meeting to Ian Bushfield that acknowledges that you did harass him at the January 6, 2019 Sunday meeting…In the event that you do not provide the apology as described above, the Board of Directors has authorized your expulsion from the BC Humanist Association membership.” Obviously, no such apology was forthcoming, and Robertson was duly expelled.

The BCHA is a private organization that can pretty well do what it wants—so long as such actions are consistent with provincial legislation governing non-profit entities and its own constituent documents, and are approved by the Board of Directors (which now seems to be taking a highly co-operative approach with Bushfield). But it seems wrong (and possibly unlawful in the bargain) that the Executive Director of a humanist association should be able to use his organization’s governing mechanisms to shut down pushback against his publicly expressed ideological agenda. The entire history of the humanist movement, and of the Enlightenment that gave rise to it, is the story, after all, of the discussion of new and uncomfortable ideas. Robertson and her allies in the BCHA don’t just have the right to speak up about Bushfield’s leadership. As humanists, they have a duty to do so.

I realize that all of this must seem almost comically quaint to readers who are more used to discussions about intrigues at Ivy League universities and such. But our locally rooted organization—and the many thousands of others like it—play a huge role in the intellectual lives of ordinary people. And they generate strong feelings of loyalty. Robertson has many supporters in the BCHA. And, on February 2, three days after she received notice of her expulsion, one of them, Sigal Blay, sent out a notification that she and others were intending to requisition a special meeting under the Association’s bylaws to discuss both Robertson’s expulsion and Bushfield’s tenure as Executive Director.

If you have worked in a political party or any similar entity whose leadership is being challenged, you might guess what happened next. Two days later, the BCHA issued a newsletter announcing—surprise, surprise—a new $3-per-month membership plan, plus a 75% discount on the usual $40 lump-sum fee paid annually. On February 7, a tweet from Bushfield followed, announcing that 30 new members had been recruited in the preceding four days. All of them are eligible to vote on any new business that might emerge. How about that.

In theory, both sides can play at that game. But a few weeks later, after clicking the “Become a Member” button of the BCHA website, one of the Association’s members accidentally discovered that—as the site put it—“membership applications are temporarily closed pending a review of our membership policy by the Board of Directors.” Have you ever heard of any locally organized civil-society group of this type that wasn’t taking new members, let alone membership applications? Me neither.

It’s not known when or why that freeze on new members was put into effect—though it’s not hard for me to guess. All attempts to gain access to the membership list and minutes of previous board meetings now are being met by apparent obfuscation and delay. The special meeting requisitioned by Robertson’s friends is still on for April 15, but one has to wonder whether anything will come of it in light of these apparent machinations.

If this were one of those Netflix series about life in a small Scandinavian town, I’d binge-watch it to see how all of this plays out. But it’s real life, so I’m going to have to remain in suspense. Whatever happens, I suspect that our little skirmish will fade quickly from any wider attention we may receive. But the larger phenomenon that lies behind this conflict will not fade quickly. The fight over the future of the BCHA is part of a larger struggle for the soul of civil society waged between liberals and a new breed of authoritarian-minded dogmatists. And it isn’t for me to identify which side represents the true face of humanism—and of my own beliefs.

 

Baz Edmeades is the author of Megafauna.

Featured image: Bookcases in the library of the University of Leiden, 1610, an engraving by Willem Swanenburgh

106 Comments

  1. TarsTarkas says

    Social Justice Warriors employing the tactics of robber barons to pack the ranks of the organization they rule with their own supporters, ready to howl down the tiniest bit of criticism or disagreement with shrieks of racism and bigotry. I wonder what the state of the treasury of that organization is. Don’t think anybody will find out unless the police get which involved, which, likely being woke in that town, they probably won’t. Sounds like time to start a new Humanist League.

  2. ga gamba says

    It’s called entryism. A group of people storm a reputable organisation, one that has established a good name in the community and with other organisations, businesses, and local government, and seize it for their own purposes. Rules are manipulated to keep the power seizers in place.

    There are ways to combat it without sacrificing membership growth. Often a new member is placed in a probationary period where s/he is not allowed to vote and must prove oneself by attending functions, meetings, and the like to demonstrate sincerity. Full membership must be approved by vote. Rule changes require a supermajority.

    Too late for that right now. You are left with two options. Wrest control back in the next election or start your own splinter humanist club. The problem with the former is many of the members likely joined for a fun social activity and probably aren’t looking for an ideological struggle session. They’ll get turned off and tune out. Go forward with the latter and prepare yourself to be accused of some type of ism and obia. You’re fortunate that the instigator is male and those he attacked include females; beat them to the punch by accusing Bushfield of misogyny and making women “feel unwelcome and unsafe”. Yes, use their gambits against them.

    Take heart that soon enough Bushfield’s allies may likely turn against him as the more dogmatic spy their chance. Good luck to you and your friends.

    • dirk says

      Or, indeed, accuse Bushfield of having, once, 30 yrs ago, sniffed in the hair of one of the female members! Very effective these days!

    • Debbie says

      Good article. As they used to say in the old days before Facebook: GYOF

      And what is this nonsense? “And it isn’t for me to identify which side represents the true face of humanism—and of my own beliefs.” Stop that right now! It is uniquely up to you.

  3. the gardner says

    So, time for members who are troubled by this to resign from this organization and form a new one. Refuse membership to Bushfield and Hanna. Problem solved.

    • derek says

      No. It is far easier to draw the line where the stakes are low. That is what these people are doing, they are building power bases.

      There looks to me able reason to sue. Sue repeatedly. Prepare information on the common tactics and attitudes of this sort of people and distribute it to members. If written criticism is intolerable, make it intolerable to a degree that is unimaginable.

      What are we going to do, cede every institution to these awful people and leave the country?

      • Constantin says

        @ dereck
        It is high time to clean house, but it is better to start at the top. Let’s first get rid of Trudeau and his clique. Eventually, smaller societies will take their cue and start acting like adults and stop promoting brainwashed SJW into positions that permit them to destroy everything.

        • Gordon Stermann says

          That would be good advice if there was a reasonable alternative. I’ve seen nothing from Sheer that makes me want to vote for him. And this past 2 weeks he has shown that he won’t hesitate to support any move, whether moral or not, to make Trudeau look bad.

    • Joe says

      Good advice. Vote with your feet and leave the rotting ship to the Bushfields. Rename your new group from BCHA to BCHS (“S” for Society). Life’s too short to play games. Just move on and enjoy what you used to have with a new group (probably with many familiar faces).

      • bradfilbert says

        People’s Front of Judea?!?!?? F*@& Off!! We’re the Judean People’s Front!!!!

  4. I had a run-in early on with Ian Bushfield when I mentioned out to him that Humanism has nothing to do with religious acrimony, which point he avidly engaged in right then and there, and objected to. I define Humanism as a sensibility for our species, planet and lives. Religion is private and personal. But he is a classical American-style ersatz humanist and I left off any further discussion with him on those matters.

    • David of Kirkland says

      How is “religion is private and personal” matched to the reality of global religions?

      • Much of global religion is private and personal. The only serious exception I see is the Middle East and some directly surrounding areas.

  5. Paradoxically, if this were a church it would likely be much harder to expel a member and pack the congregation as described. So much for Humanism!

    • J Edwin says

      Ah… not so johntshea. Have a read of early Christian history and you’ll discover that that is precisely what happened!

  6. Cynical Old Biologist says

    Power-plays, charmed supporters, claims of victimhood, vindictive, deceitful and manipulative conduct, and a virtue-signalling email signature. Reminds me of a psychopath I once had the misfortune to become entangled with. Try looking into Bushfield’s background. You may find that it is vague and difficult to define/track. Psychopaths usually leave a trail of destruction after them that they try to conceal.

    • David of Kirkland says

      VCs play this game against entrepreneurs all the time. Founders are often pushed out when a successful organization grows beyond their control, often due to new members and new money.

  7. Zeph says

    I would suggest (among other things( getting a lawyer involved in seeking the membership list and BOD meeting minutes, while reminding them of legal penalties for destroying or falsifying evidence. Insist on publishing the to the membership. This struggle needs to be framed as an abuse of power, rather than a clash of ideologies – in order to carefully enroll other members who even if they believe they have to support the self-proclaimed social justice wing because they are defending the oppressed, etc – may still have some suspicion of shady tactics.

    • Zeph says

      Let me be slightly more clear – those who have drunk too deeply of the PC Kool-aid will have accepted (more often implicitly) the Marcuse justification that “only those who are opposing oppression (as we define it) should have free speech, etc”. It’s going to be near impossible to pry them loose, any more than one can expect Trump’s core base to change their minds (among many other examples).

      BUT there are a number of people who have only sipped that social justice potion – they sympathize with the oppressed and want to do the right thing and remain part of the tribe, but they haven’t yet accepted that assymetrical justice is OK, even mandatory, or that underhanded tactics are OK so long as you are maintaining your grip on power for a good SJW purpose. Many likely still believe in unbiased fairness and proper procedure, and are likely unfamiliar with the corruption you describe.

      So that’s the opening I see, to wean the moderates away from the new SJW infected establishment. NOT direct confrontation on the issues raised by the columns, etc.

      It’s intresting to see the “agist” agenda so blatently presented tho. “Agism” is one of the few traditional progressive “isms” to be dropped from most litanies; I predict that we will see increasing intolerance of “old people” (not just old white men), because too many of them are traditional liberals.

      • What exactly do you know, Mister/Ms Zeph, and how do you know it with such overweening arrogance, about “Trump’s core base” and their/our presumably locked-tight little minds? Maybe time to consider that you may be part of the problem, rather —than as you no doubt presume— part of the solution?

        • XCellKen says

          So YOU are the Trump supporter who would object if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue ?

      • Geof says

        My impression here has been that agism is completely acceptable in Vancouver. And it’s not only triggered by ideology: if an old person doesn’t want to use a web site or smart phone to access a service, I bet you’ll find the same attitude.

        Underlying this, I suspect, is land, from ancient times a source of the most brutal conflicts. Old folks who bought a house for $20,000 a generation or so ago can now sell it for $2 million. Young couples, meanwhile, can’t afford a $1300 per square foot condo. The problem is bad enough in places like SF and Seattle, but Vancouver doesn’t have their powerhouse economy (quick! name a company for here!). Many among the old dismiss complaints, saying that it was just as hard back in the day, the young can save a million if they only cut back on lattes and smart phone upgrades. The young respond in kind.

        One target of anger is wealthy immigrants, mostly from China; this has sometimes spilled over into outright racism – more often, even the suggestion that this is a contributing factor has been met with a barrage of accusations of racism (e.g. from prominent developers or the former mayor). I wouldn’t be surprised if that frustration gets sublimated into anger at the old.

        Beyond Vancouver, we are also seeing an explosion of social justice in the tech scene. A more agist industry would be hard to find.

  8. Galileosdaughter says

    I note from its website that the BCHA is funded by donations. Perhaps a letter circulated among those donors might cause them to withhold their donations thereby depriving Bushfield of his job. If he can’t handle the minor conflicts found in a small non profit he is clearly unfit for the job anyway. The authoritarian left has no hesitation in destroying the financial security of those they see as enemies. In this case, it would just be tit for tat.

    • Donald Tikkala says

      I’ve a copy of a book of collected letters exchanged between Galileo and said daughter (who was a conventual I think) but have not got ’round to reading it yet. Have you?

  9. Sam Mazzuchelli says

    I don’t know. Welcome to your world?

  10. Shepsil says

    Sounds like a defamation lawsuit in the making. Let alone BC Society Act rules have definitely been broken. The most frightening faux-progressive minds are those that switch to an unholy conservative viciousness as soon as their brittle emotions crack their mask of progressiveness!

  11. The SJW problem began decades ago, when people decided that their vision of progress was too important for things like due process. In particular:their vision of progress is just way too awesome for them to care about persuading people or honoring the rules of self-governance. Better (and easier) to just jump straight to attacking, belittling, shaming, caricaturing, and stigmatizing people for having “wrong” beliefs or the “wrong” opinion on an issue.

    “My rights shouldn’t be put to a vote” begs the question. “If you don’t agree you’re a hater” is a rejection of democracy. Too many people are just fine whole way of doing things until it’s their own ox being gored.

    • Serenity says

      And now they are getting grip on political power.

      Justice Democrats, the grassroots group that helped propel U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into Congress debuted a new website on the 4 April to help progressive primary challengers get the communications, advertising and digital resources they need to mount campaigns for the 2020 congressional elections.

    • bumble bee says

      @ennede “…until it’s their own ox being gored.”

      Yup, the left eats their own for breakfast.

      So no one is going to discuss how this entire article and the situation it describes is a snapshot of the entire liberal, left, democratic party? It’s so outrageously blatant, it should be used as a parable.

      So we have a group of humanists, getting together discussing issues, listening to ideas, living in a positive nurturing group. That is until they get hijacked by this bully who decides himself that this group is ripe for gorging and unleashes his ideology. Like the open minded people they are, they welcome him and allow him to speak, ingratiate himself into the group, and when he has garnered enough of their “respect” he lands into them. He now has a pulpit and a captive audience to unleash his violent bullying platform. Since the group is not adverse to listening, they have come to realize that this guy has taken control and for all intent and purposes has destroyed the group. Now they have no choice but to either start a new group, or try to expel this torrent of negativity, hate, with his rise to power.

      So the group symbolizes liberal ideals and attitudes that I believe still exist. There is no hate, intimidation, bullying, demonizing others. This guy, Bushfield, represents the current incarnation of progressives. They come to harass anyone and everyone thinking they are righteous in all the do and say. They have no brethren unless they too are willing to do the same to others. It does not matter who the other is and in most cases the victims are liberals. They are from the same cloth as racist whites who would not allow other whites to counter their supremacist ideology. Instead of burning crosses to show their displeasure, they now verbally attack any dissenters. They destroy reputations, careers, and silence voices. It is the same mentality, it is the same strategies, as those professing white supremacy. Unless you toe their line, unless you swallow their ideology, unless you too start bullying, you will become the next target. It is the use of fear that binds these two groups together in ideology.

      People, do yourself a favor and distance yourself from these people. Equality, justice, a voice for those who have no voice can be done civilly. People are not enemies to be destroyed, and if an idea is based on truth, based on making life for all better, it will succeed. Speak with kindness, speak with passion, but never denigrate another to artificially lift up another or you are no better. Let us lift up common sense, common decency, of liberal ideals and join hands and love those we do not agree with all the time.

      • Debbie says

        I read the whole article as a metaphor. You missed opening the registry to new members as the analogy to freeing immigration (to the sympathetic only) to get new votes

      • “So the group symbolizes liberal ideals and attitudes that I believe still exist.”

        They do exist. I absolutely believe that. What you describe are truths that have nothing to do with fashions.

        Another truth, though, is that checks & balances were created for a reason. It is possible to be right about your goal but wrong about how to go about achieving that goal. That is why we must care not only about the goal we seek, but also the means we use to pursue that end. Due process matters, and when we accept the idea that some ends are so important that they justify doing an end run around due process, it’s akin to saying it’s so important we win a particular game that it justifies doing violence to the referees if they don’t rule the way we like.

  12. San Fernando Curt says

    The most frightening thing about social justice fanatics, as with all fanatics, is militancy of their delusional faith in themselves. They celebrate and deploy dangerous and utterly bogus idea that ends justify means. I hope genuine humanists regain control of your group.

    • dirk says

      OK Fernando, but the thing here is, of course, if the majority of the club feels affinity with this kind of social justice fanatism, that’s their good right, and the minority has to either quit, either keep a low profile. The problem is, maybe, that the majority thinks differently but hasn’t the guts to say so. A quite common feature of any society or organisation. And a playfield for manipulations.

      • Lightning Rose says

        I’ve recently been through a similar disaffection with a group in which I’ve been a member for over 30 years, duly serving as a board member as well as president for half a decade. The “new blood” has embraced fad pseudoscience, “alternative” medicine based on magical thinking and “woke” ideas of animal husbandry which are, to put it mildly, ignorant.

        Realizing I was about to be perceived by them as a negative influence (for banging my shoe on the cracker-barrel and ranting), I bowed out, handed my board seat off to one of the New Elect, and am spectating from below the radar, preparing popcorn for the big crash-and-burn.

        Sometimes shovelling shit against the tide just isn’t worth the mental energy; move on and gather a new group of the like-minded around you or just write the former group off under “nice while it lasted.” We’re in a time of experimental thought, much of it retrograde. Just have to roll with it but we need not change our own beliefs in the name of conformity or community.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Ah, the “pure humanist” exists? There are genuine humanists compared to the incorrect ones?
      Delusion is entirely central to the human mind.

  13. What is it about the cult of “social justice” that makes it appealing even to people who, as the cliche goes, “ought to know better?” Is it a matter of people with a lack of healthy stimulation in their lives getting off on petty authoritarianism and the novelty of playing the mini tyrant? It does seem to draw people who consider themselves “in touch” with mainstream cultural currents and also those who like to show that they are indeed “good citizens.” There is one thing one thing the social justice cult is definitely not doing: fostering mutual understanding and respect between the various “self-identified” identity groups and their critics and explaining to the silent majority who don’t speak up but also don’t understand what the appeal is and what it is they are actually trying to achieve, both on an individual and on a collective level. Is it reflexive tribalism or some sort of unconscious guilt assuaging?

    I sometimes wonder how far they are prepared to go with this. Outright censorship? Burning books? And what happens if the liberal establishment feels threatened by, say, a burgeoning right wing with illiberal or even fascist tendencies? Will our society be split between a quasi fascist right on one side and totalitarian liberals on the other? A grim prospect from where I am sitting.

    I must add that the SJWs most vocal opponents often come across as their mirror image and can get quite annoying in their own right. E.g. outrage over the latest SJW shitstorm easily turns into a banal in-group reinforcing whine fest. The commie paranoia and red baiting is a bit much sometimes, too. It reminds of leftists who denounce anyone they don’t agree with as a fascist. Nuance is good, I’m a big fan.

    There do seem to be strong political currents pulling western society into different directions and threatening its cohesion. What happens if it becomes so polarized that the mutually hostile camps can’t even talk to each other because they are so apart they might as well be speaking different languages? This is already the case in the United States. And there are definitely larger political actors in the background weaponizing the points of contention between the feuding groups for their own purposes. I’m thinking the Wall Street/Silicon Valley funded corporate wing of the Democratic Party which was behind Hillary Clinton and the Mercer-Bannon-Koch faction of the Republican Party, which bankrolls Donald Trump. There is also the EU vs. Brexit factions that tie into this and NATO vs. Russia. And they all have their supporters among the citizenry.

    The west’s military and economic power peaked between 1945 and 2003 and part of the weirdness we are living through today could be the denial stage of an empire in decline. There is also global warming which, if the forecasts are correct, will have serious implications for life on Earth but the debate around that has become so surreal that it’s impossible to figure out what is going on. Anyway, I could ramble on for a lot longer but I won’t. Thank you for reading this far.

    • neoteny says

      What is it about the cult of “social justice” that makes it appealing even to people who, as the cliche goes, “ought to know better?” Is it a matter of people with a lack of healthy stimulation in their lives getting off on petty authoritarianism and the novelty of playing the mini tyrant?

      See Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer</>.

      • TMac says

        Actually, see just about any HOA board of directors. Petty tyrants, indeed; and when one is an owner, one can’t just leave.

        But our humanist author indeed can leave, or fight back. Stoics might suggest he should consider he is not in control over the actions of the petty tyrant or the sheeple who follow, he can only control his own response. Rational thought can guide one right out of such a poisonous situation, which usually results in great peace of mind (and often a new opportunity for joy).

    • S Snell says

      @ Eric Blair

      “I sometimes wonder how far [sjws] are prepared to go with this.”

      We have some excellent recent examples in the form of Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.

    • Alan Potkin says

      Oh thanks bigly, Mr/Ms Orwellian virtual signaler for opening my eyes to the role of Steve Bannon in jointly “bankrolling”, along with his wicked co-conspirators the Kochs and the Mercers, the Trumpista faction of the Republican Party. I’m sure that the President will be delighted to hear of his essential financial support emanating from this quarter!

      • TMac says

        I noted that; the Kochs really kinda hate President Trump.

    • “which bankrolls Donald Trump” Bingo ! Ask a reporter if Alger Hiss was a communist spy and you have learned a lot. Just like those who think someone “bankrolled” billionaire Donald Trump.

    • Daath says

      Good questions. Regarding paragraph three, I think Anti-SJW movement is a moral panic like #MeToo. It’s just that neither of their targets are like Satanic messages in music recordings, but rather real and repulsive things that should be resisted. This makes both more sympathetic, yet it also gives them strength to do damage. It will surprise no one that I have more sympathies for the former, since sexual harassment is one of those ugly things that doesn’t have any large-scale, seriously bad consequences. The authoritarian left, on the other hand, is taking a wrecking ball to academia right now, and may do much worse. How much worse? I too wonder.

      We are certainly coming apart. Part of this is just a consequence of West’s incredible success. Many of us have the mentality of 19th century Chinese mandarins, an unshakable, pre-rational conviction that universe just puts us on top, so we can easily afford petty squabbles. That the ghosts of yesterday (rebellions for them, Nazis for us) are definitely worse than threats of today. Part is that we’ve squeezed on some forms of tribalism (racism, nationalism, Christianity), so the tribal instinct manifests itself in new ways (ideology, cities vs. countryside). And of course we’ve abandoned the idea of objective morality. Believers sometimes claim that you can’t be truly moral without a transcendent source of morality, which is demonstrably false, but perhaps we can’t have a shared understanding of what morality is without some root that all must believe in. It’s a dilemma, because enforcing belief has an incredibly long list of downsides, even if the means are mostly soft.

  14. allenf13 says

    Can’t everybody just leave and start a new group? Preferably with a name that is blatantly taking the piss out of the old one? How about the British Columbia Association of Humanists? Or the Humanist Association of British Columbia?

    I’m completely serious. This kind of insidious ersatz religion is extremely difficult to root out of educational institutions and private companies, but if this is just a club (more or less), why not start another? Not only would you get what you really want – to chat every Sunday about rational inquiry – but you would additionally get to subversively mock those trying to destroy this goal?

    • Ullrich Fischer says

      We don’t want to betray all the hard work of actual Humanists since 1984 who have brought the BCHA its pre-COW (Cult of the Woke) – takeover prominence. To be fair, Ian has increased that prominence and helped bring in more resources, but now seems hell-bent on converting the BCHA to another self-defeating, pseudo-progressive branch of the Cult of the Woke. (COW). Please consider joining or renewing your membership before 15 April 2019 so you can participate in this critical meeting: Please consider attending this critical meeting to have your say on this issue. Please renew your membership if it has lapsed, as only members will be admitted to the meeting.
      On 2019-03-20 5:00 PM, British Columbia Humanist Association wrote:
      In accordance with Section 75 of the Societies Act and Section 7.3 of the BC Humanist Association Bylaws, a general meeting has been requisitioned for Monday, April 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Peter Kaye Room at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Library at 350 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1. The business of the meeting will be:
      • Discuss the expulsion of Ms. Joann Robertson from the BCHA, as decided by the board.
      • Hold a re-election of the board prior to the renewal of Mr. Ian Bushfield’s contract as the BCHA executive director.
      Attendance at the meeting is restricted to members of the of the BC Humanist Association.

    • Judean People’s Front?!?! Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

  15. Ullrich Fischer says

    Please consider attending this critical meeting to have your say on this issue. Please renew your membership if it has lapsed, as only members will be admitted to the meeting.
    On 2019-03-20 5:00 PM, British Columbia Humanist Association wrote:
    In accordance with Section 75 of the Societies Act and Section 7.3 of the BC Humanist Association Bylaws, a general meeting has been requisitioned for Monday, April 15, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Peter Kaye Room at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Library at 350 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1. The business of the meeting will be:
    • Discuss the expulsion of Ms. Joann Robertson from the BCHA, as decided by the board.
    • Hold a re-election of the board prior to the renewal of Mr. Ian Bushfield’s contract as the BCHA executive director.
    Attendance at the meeting is restricted to members of the of the BC Humanist Association.
    Join or renew your membership to have your say at this important meeting.

    • TMac says

      Good luck to you, and I mean it; wresting control back may be difficult if Ian has packed his membership. If you are unsuccessful at that effort, do consider leaving as a group, and (1) forming your own, (2) retaining that lawyer to evaluate the organization’s violation of your nonprofit laws (I’m a retired American lawyer who did a lot of work with nonprofits in my day — the author’s narrative appears to raise several red flags).

  16. Useful idiots like this, who enjoy having the thin end of the wedge shoved progressively deeper up their collective arses, ought to be put in the stocks for their shamefully public displays of regret.

  17. Charlie says

    As the percentage of people who undertake tough and dangerous work declines, so does the robustness of people. Historically coal miners were very keen on education and gardening and this is why so many became Labour MPs. I cannot imagine miners who had played rugby whether league or union and boxed putting up with a psychopath who is basically a spoiled brat.

    My experience of working with tough men is that they are often straightforward and respect straight talking as they know verbal aggression will lead to a fight. Working in an environment where mistakes costs lives requires honesty and straight talking; one has to be able to look into someone’s eyes and know that one can trust the with your life. Historically in Britain manners were respected and were reinforced by tough men and women.

    The left wing middle class has mocked manners since the 1960s yet they are the one’s in most need of the for defence. The burly construction worker/miner/forester has manners in order to prevent him from damaging others; not for self protection.

    • S Snell says

      The enforced, fetishistic androgyny of the Woke movement is an explicit rejection of the robust manliness of which you speak, once quite common, now rare as hen’s teeth. Does this archetype merely scare them? Or is it an unpleasant reminder of how truly puny they are?

    • Alan Appel says

      Charlie, your thoughts expressed here deserve more attention. They mirror an old adage that the most bitter fights are often about the least consequential issues. And at another level, working with materials in a wood shop or machine shop also imposes honesty. Mistakes are usually obvious when they waste resources which might be scarce or precious. Thanks.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Well said Charlie
      Manners maketh man
      Substituting PC dogma for manners is not going to make society anything but worse.

    • Ghatanathoah says

      @Charlie

      I don’t know, I think the right has gone through some pearl-clutching defender of manners phases too. It’s not just the Left. I think it’s a cycle. There are two rhetorical “stances” with which to approach politics and society, let’s call them “Pure” and “Badass.”

      In the “Pure” stance you emphasize how morally upright you are, how kind, and how you defend people. You attack your enemies as being crude, rough, and contaminated. Sometimes you take your purity so far that you exult in your own fragility.

      In the “Badass” stance you emphasize how awesome you are, and how your enlightened moral views come from a hard-headed unwillingness to flinch away from the truth. You attack your enemies as a bunch of wishy washy wimps who hide behind good manners in order to cling to their undeserved power.

      Back in the 00s, when the Religious Right was somewhat influential, the Right generally adopted the “Pure” stance. The Left tended to adopt the “Badass” stance, you had all those “New Atheists” who insulted religion and emphasized their hard-headed willingness to look the truth in the eye.

      In the 10s when the SJWs arose, things flipped. The Left were now the Pure ones, emphasizing their moral uprightness and their fragility and despising the crudeness of the “clingers” and “deplorables.” The Right now adopted the Badass stance and presented themselves as the ones who told it like it is, while accusing the SJWs of flinching from the truth that hurt their delicate feelings.

      Both stances are rhetorical tactics, neither one is “right” in a moral or political sense. Personally I find the “Pure” stance to be annoying, but someone with objectively horrific views can adopt either of them.

      • Charlie says

        Thank you for compliments. This is not about “badass “. Some of the most polite men and often extremely well educated men were in WW2 Special Forces; whether they had grown up in slums, farms , ranches or the private schools of Britain. These men had grown up boxing and playing rugby , passed through basic military training and then into Commandos/Special Forces where they had been trained to kill in every way possible. Due to the fact they had been through this training, their mettle had been tested, they had been tempered : consequently they had nothing to prove. They knew they could kill and had probably done so on numerous occasions. Therefore they were quiet, well mannered , thoughtful of other peoples feelings but if someone chose to be bad mannered they changed : their eyes and voice became cold. The ill mannered would be told in an icily polite way to stop misbehaving; if they did not they received a beating.

        Manners maketh mann comes is the motto of Winchester College – founded in 1380.It means the manner in which one presents oneself to the World is the manner in which one is judged.

        Todays reality is that most middle and upper class men cannot fight. Prior to WW2 , all British schools had boxing, whether state or public ( private ). Officers such as P Blair Mayne, D Bader, P Leigh Fermour and W Thessiger were all keen boxers. Today , too often good manners is associated with weak men who cannot teach manners to ill mannered thugs.

        A Bryant, the historian in his books on history of Britain has stated that British Gentlemen were expected to box ( bare knuckle prior to 1863 which included throwing) , fence and fight with cudgels and take fences and hedges without hesitation. If a gentleman could stand up and fight he could not stand up and oppose tyranny and anyone who would impose his will on him.

        When there are verbally aggressive thugs , the confident polite well mannered gentleman who can say , with a smile but cold eyes ” We can either have a civilised discussion to debate our differences or have a fight, the choice is yours ” tends to obtain a peaceful outcome.

        When working in construction/mining /oil/commercial forestry /fishing / Combat ; mistakes costs lives. One has to be able to look into someone’s eyes and ask the question ” Do trust this person with my life “. It is the risk of death and injury which forces people to be honest and polite. Ok have a fight in the bar in the evening but when working, watch each others back and put grudges to one side. Apparently after the SAS raid on Pebble island during the Falklands, while waiting on the beach to be picked up, two senior SAS soldiers had a fight to sort out their differences. Once fight finished , back to work.

        The saying ” No offence intended ” and the reply ” None taken ” is becoming rare as people have moved from tough and dangerous to easy and safe office work. Perhaps the feminists were correct when they said ” The personnel is the political “. Those who are easily offended have brittle fragile egos; it is time they were tempered and became resilient and robust. The oak has a Latin robustus and the tree is associated with wisdom and is long lived. Can someone be wise if they have a brittle and fragile ego or do they have to transform it into a resilient and robust one in order to endure ? Yew is a very resilient, is associated with wisdom and is the organism which can live the longest, perhaps 9000 years while the oak is the second longest lived.

        • Peter from Oz says

          Charlie
          I deal with a lot of special forces people. What you say of them is true. They are gentlemen in the true sense of the word. They are always ready to help anyone in need and mostly you wouldn’t know to speak to them that they have the ability to hurt people very badly. My understanding is that as part of their training they have to know how to switch off the aggression.

  18. dirk says

    So, what I see, the virus is spreading all over the organism, but, I think, just only in the Western sphere. Latin America? China? India? African nations? Islam?? I doubt. The question now is: will it debilitate that Western world? Or will it be a rather harmless and trendy thing, like children measles? Or is it a deadly virus, the beginning of the end? Time for writing up a new Untergang des Abendlandes!

  19. Forrest Higgs says

    I was quite prepared to enjoy this piece until the author got through his little preface about having spent time in South Africa. I was a permanent resident in South Africa from 1981-1993 and found about 90% of his preface to have been pure horse shit given my own experience. All I can suggest is that this okie was living in some little back of the beyond dorpie like, maybe Poffadder. I lived in Pretoria and commuted to Johannesburg for my last years there. I socialised with scores of Dutch Reformed Church members both urban and remote rural and never heard the phrase, “it is the will of God” pass anyone’s lips. I socialised with gays and lesbians, attended traditional weddings of devout Muslim friends and knew dozens of people who lived in an unmarried state, especially after tax changes on married couples made being married economically silly from a tax standpoint. When that happened a few of my friends actually divorced and stayed together, several to this day.

    Given that experience, I didn’t bother reading the rest of the article since I considered the author’s credibility to be hovering somewhere around zero.

    • dirk says

      But Forrest, not all commenters here and essay writers originate from the modern and civil city or suburbs you are from,some are (like myself also, even in name) from a “dorpie” in the rural backstage, where the priests, or the Book were paramount. I think, all parties should be listened at whatever their upbringing and youth ambience. There is (or should not be) such a thing as topographical identity.

    • Forrest, My experience of the New South Africa of 1991 was similar to yours. I think the American sexual revolution of the late 1960s finally made it to South Africa by the time we were there. I think the timing of the easing of censorship for books like Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) in the 1980s illustrate that when the author was there, in the 50s and 60s, it was indeed a completely different place.

    • Rendall says

      @Forrest

      From the article: “I used to dream, growing up under apartheid during the 1960s, that there might someday be a time and a place where the law might forbid sexism and racism rather than mandating it.”

      His experience was 20-30 years earlier than yours, and likely very different.

    • Baz Edmeades says

      Best comment so far. Lots of LOL emojies.

  20. You may want to try distinguishing between “dogmatism”, “activism”, and “fanaticism”. E.g., you can believe in Humanist dogma and activism without being a fanatical Humanist. I think your real issue with Ian B. is that he’s a fanatic – he’s willing to be intellectually dishonest; to violate his own dogma in the name of that dogma; his ends justify his means. So it’s not that a particular “dogma” has entered your midst – it’s that a fanatic has.

    And in your case, I don’t think Ian B. is the only fanatic that you’ve allowed in. You cite an essay by Madeline W. In it, she sets up straw men that she can easily dismiss: e.g., that social justice warriors “want to destroy civilization as we know it”. She, too, is willing to be intellectually dishonest to achieve her ends. Does that make her a fanatic?

    • Stephanie says

      PH, SWJs explicitly say they want to destroy the cis- and hetero-normative sexist racist patriarchy. They see this patriarchy as systemic and endemic to Western civilization. Far from a strawman, destroying civilization as we know it is literally the SWJ slogan.

  21. PaulNu says

    Start a new club with the original ideals of the old club.

    • David of Kirkland says

      If you founded a successful club or business, you’d laugh at your notion as being so simple.

      • PaulNu says

        If a lot of members of the club want a return to the old ideals, it shouldn’t be that hard. If most of the current members are happy with the new direction then it will be hard.

  22. Kyle says

    Reach out to the national association and other regional associations for support

    Ask the leaders of these bodies to find someone skillful to mediate the dispute.

    Part of the reconciliation might be everyone’s participating in workshops on civility and organizational development organized by a paid consultant. There, the problems with SJWs and identity politics might be addressed.

    If they are not successful, ask them to censure (and possibly eject) the local association from the national conference. Review the rules governing chapter affiliation with the national organization and rules for expulsion, if any.

    Your T3010 from the CRA does not indicate substantial assets. So, this is probably not an example of leftists raiding an institution in order to expropriate funds. (Back in the day, it was not unheard of that leftists, typically Leninists, to commandeer naive liberal organizations, often college-funded clubs, in order to gain control of sources of funding)

    Since there are no meaningful assets, the current membership could simply leave Bushfield with the shell and start another organization under a new name. Bushfield would be penniless in a few months as all those opportunistic “woke” members will be too cheap to support him. If you start a new organization, be careful about how you draw up your constitution and membership rules.

    However, it sounds like Bushfield is more vulnerable than he thinks and this organization is worth fighting for. Members should use every means, including Sunday meetings, to voice their opposition. Let the Board eject you all.

    It’s possible that the mix of SJWs and clueless idiots mean that you must leave. Here in the States, my family has left our Unitarian-Universalist Association due to similar reasons.

  23. The thing I found really fascinating about this piece was that the censorious wee fartslapper in question (Canada seems to be the worst havens of these bombscare types) causing all the trouble had, as an older man, adopted the ‘playing the poor victim’ mentality of the young zealots of this pathetic new North American religious tribalism, including the requisite mutterings about mental and emotional health, fainting couches, smelling salt subscriptions, never been so insulted in my life, etc, etc. These people truly are pathetic. They attack people viciously and then whimper like whipped dogs when somebody tells them to bugger off. Dangerous, pathetic, stupid, and boring, in equal degrees.

    Sad thing is, this new American psychotic fundamentalism has buzzed and fired and wowed across the Atlantic through social media, and here in Scotland (and the rest of the UK in general, as well as in other Western countries) we’ve been contaminated by this Salem Witch Trials Redux North American swill. Our naive, parochial hardcore feminist First Minister is a massive fan of this deranged, divisive madness. It’s depressing, quite frankly, but Scotland really comes off like America Lite (I lived in Chicago and its suburbs from 2005-2016, so can clearly some things about the roots of this mass hysteria contagion that others here can’t) these days. Our young people don’t even know they’re basically American, but their diction has been sculpted and colonised by American popcult media. A tragic travesty.

    I started a blog recently, and am writing about my experiences on both sides of the Atlantic for the fun of it.

    https://whorattledyourcage.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-bleat-generation.html

    • GL No. 2 says

      I found it hilarious that the guy calls someone else contemptible and makes fun of their age, but then can’t take it and starts whining when challenged. Pathetic.

  24. John Lammi PhD says

    As someone who came out as gay in 1970 when in the US I was basically a criminal and mentally ill, I was struck by this section of the article: ” gender identity aren’t limited to straight and cis. I used to dream, growing up under apartheid during the 1960s, that there might someday be a time and a place where the law might forbid sexism and racism rather than mandating it. And I have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize that such a reality has come to pass in the place I live.
    Freedom from dogmatism imposed by authoritarians also is something I happen to enjoy. ” This sounds authoritarian to me: outlawing beliefs and believing that there are not just 2 sexes (and the rest being just personal taste).

  25. As noted above, this is classic entryism.

    Beginning c. 2011, an attempt to hijack the US atheist/skeptic community was made by a motley crew of talentless hacks, poseurs, narcissists, and grifters assembled under the label “Atheism Plus” (the ‘plus’ being assorted SJW causes.) The focus of A/S activism was to be shifted away from advocating for church-state separation and evidence-based reasoning, to promoting radical feminism, critical race theory, and LGBTQUIAAAAAAA rights. Young, intersectional people were to take the reins, while old cishet white men were advised to “circle-jerk into obscurity”. Nominally ‘skeptic’ conferences became venues for politicized junk science talks, radical transgender polemic, BLM activism, and open recruitment of fresh bodies for polyamorist cliques.

    The Atheism Plus attempt to parasitize the A/S movement for the most part failed (though it still dominates in certain areas, such as the AHA and the largely SJW Patheos:Nonreligious blog channel.) Sadly, the so-called ‘schism’ it caused did irreparable damage, and for years diverted the A/S movement from its true objectives.

  26. Michael says

    Isn’t it the same what Momentum did to Labour party in the UK? I mean bringing in new members who would vote for Jeremy. They are all the same those apparatchiks – dangerous and disgusting.

  27. Joann Robertson says

    I have enjoyed these exchanges. As to leaving BCHA to Ian, no we are not willing to do that. There comes a time when, as Baz said, it is our duty to stand for our principles. J.R.

    • Grant says

      I certainly wish you luck. People like this need concerted opposition sometimes,
      He reminds me of one of those homeowners association horror stories.

  28. Optional says

    It seems highly likely (from the virtue signaling introduction), that this author regularly votes for the Canadian Liberal party and therefore is almost entirely personally responsible for creating the social and political atmosphere in which these SJW antics are not just tolerated, but highly encouraged.

    Should we have sympathy for those in our populations who do things that they were repeatedly told would severely hurt them and others, when they finally complain that it does indeed hurt them?

    Personally, I am very happy and encouraged that this is happening to liberals. It has been happening to others for two decades. Your turn finally. Reap what you sow.

    • Stephanie says

      Optional, I agree, although this man may very well vote NDP. I feel more sympathy for the conservatives being harassed and supplanted, but we don’t seem to hear much from them here, for some reason. There have been right-wing politicians forced to resign for widely shared conservative opinions, why are we not reading about them here?

  29. Julia says

    White a collective letter to the Board and demand firing of Ian Bushfield. Get club’s donors to sign the letter. He’s not your boss but a servant, go exercise your power, people.

    Authoritarian actions are not necessarily bad. Business, including non-profits, is authoritarian by its nature (academia is different). What happened here is authorianism and democracy switched around. You are members of the club but the Executive Director is just an employee, you’re not equals. Democracy exists for you, not for him. His salary is paid from your fees and donors’ money. He can express opinions as a private person but it shouldn’t interfere with his job and cause problems with the club and members. A for profit business executive who upsets customers wouldn’t last long. Why should it be different for a non-profit employee?

  30. Daessrst Bru says

    O’Sullivan’s Law in action.

    Terribly written piece, for the internet, at least. The lede was buried at the end. Move the virtue signaling to the end and put the facts up front. Had the paragraphs been arranged in precisely the reverse order as they were it would have been much better. I’m used to this from Quillette, so I just skimmed down to the two-thirds point and only started reading there.

  31. Stephen Memplib says

    This description makes it sound like a little book club:

    “The BCHA was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1984. It meets on Sunday mornings at a seniors centre, where we listen to invited speakers and discuss all manner of intellectual subjects, typically with a focus on secular values.”

    The photo shows about 30 older citizens listening to a talk.

    From the organization’s website, this is a misrepresentation. I admit that the website may be a “big store con” by Mr. Bushfield, but I think the website must be more accurate than the 30-people at a senior center lecture image that Mr. Edmeades gives, if only for the reason that Mr. Bushfield runs this organization as a full-time job, and how are you going to squeeze a full-time salary out of 30 people at Sunday meetings?

    According to the website, the BCHA advocates in the area of birth control and abortion, anti-Alcoholics Anonymous, education, euthanasia, gay rights. Maybe this is just Mr. Bushfield: He certainly shows up in the Canadian media frequently.

    Here’s a funny line from the group’s history page, describing a former BCHA president: “Dr. Theo Meijer was instrumental in toning down most of the “Bible-Bashing” noise of a few members, primarily leading by example and using appropriate quotations from humanist publications.”

  32. R Henry says

    “gender identity aren’t limited to straight and cis”

    Too bad you went past objective reality and moved into the land of make-believe.

  33. Grant says

    I’ve noticed that lately even President Obama has made comments cautioning the political left against turning on itself. It was inevitable. The problem about SJWs is there is no point where they will have considered their objective achieved. There will always be a need for fresh targets.

  34. Daniel says

    What’s interesting ishe author’s exchange with his friend who says, “…if God wills it”, and the author exhorts him to say “in my opinion”.
    The friend is trying to justify something using an absolute value, while the author is gently disagreeing by labeling it a subjective value.
    The problem is, it just kicks the can down the road, avoiding discussing what the key issue actually is. The only way a professing theist like the author’s friend would ever be convinced is by pointing out “Yes, well, God doesn’t. The existence of something in the world does not mean it’s sanctioned by God. Sin exists, for pete’s sake! Furthermore what possible Biblical justification could there be for apartheid?”

    The same thing is taking place in this humanist association. The SJWs are applying their idea of absolute values to the whole group, and like apartheid was repressive, so are their values.
    But the problem isn’t that absolute values are bad in and of themselves. The problem is that bad absolute values are bad. Why do we care? Because the appropriate response to bad absolutes is not to appeal to subjectivity; rather, it’s to re-direct to the correct absolutes.

    The problem with the SJW woke narrative is not that it is unyielding, inflexible, and insistent that everybody follow it. If people were protesting for others’ rights in a repressive totalitarian dictatorship, such qualities would be laudable. The problem is that it is fundamentally dishonest. We don’t live in a repressive totalitarian dictatorship. We live in a competence-based hierarchy, frankly, the one that is the most functional in the history of the world. Disadvantaged people have a more difficult time for sure, but many of their most serious problems are created by leftist institutions.

  35. Andrea Virino says

    As sad a read as this is, it’s (almost) good to know one is not alone.

    For several years I was heavily involved in the running of a local Humanist group in a British University town, amongst other things setting up a social media presence. A couple of years ago I received a request from the then Chair of this small group to dissuade my then partner, a self-identified conservative – and former Chair – from attending Sunday coffee mornings so that casual visitors to the group would not be exposed to his political views. I thought this was a cowardly way of avoiding debate and told the requesters to get lost; if you have a problem, discuss it face-to-face: If I can endure political argument over lunch, well, so can you folks. Funnily enough, the group has dwindled from 50 to about 15 active participants over a decade as older liberal freethinkers, people for whom coming out as an agnostic was a huge step in 70′ Britain retired and died. The new supposedly liberal brand of local Humanists are a cosy little local group, now re-affirming their views to each other over coffee in a venue nobody is ever going to find by chance…and the coffee is laced with boredom.

    What can be done? I am inclined to support secular lobbying organisations over Humanist ones, but that only goes so far. Perhaps we should all think about a dose of entryism of our own – gather friends and relations and join organisations with proper branch structures and representation of local voters? ‘Cause it looks like World-view-based outfits like Humanist organisations are all top down these days.

  36. Matthias says

    Interesting. I was once thinking of joining the Central London Humanists, but found lots of dogma and religion-bashing, which I don’t endorse. My local church choir has a much nicer atmosphere and being religious is not required.
    Also good to hear from Andrea above. Perhaps I’ll eventually find a little nice club in London too.

  37. thatsmysecretcap says

    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. If people who spend time going to humanist lectures are not willing to understand and stand up for the foundational values that they purportedly hold dear, I’m afraid that the common public has no chance of steering our public discourse back on track.

  38. Aldousk says

    The BCHA seems to be degenerating into a little tyranny.

    “All attempts to gain access to the membership list and minutes of previous board meetings now are being met by apparent obfuscation and delay.”

    The BCHA By-laws state

    Inspection of records
    3.4 A member of the Society may, without charge, inspect any of the Society’s records.
    3.5 The Society shall respond to a request to inspect the records within 30 days of receipt of the request.

    Conditions are placed upon access to the membership list, but other records – of meetings, financials etc – are available for inspection. Clause 3.5 does say, however, only that a response is required, which could be interpreted as no more than an acknowledgment. The clause is plainly deficient, but it is perhaps too late to mend it.

    • Nancy says

      It is my opinion , if you allow the Board to simply provide an acknowledgement in lieu of providing the actual financial records and minutes of the meeting then you have invalidated the previous clause 3.4 that clearly states that a member of the Society may, without charge, inspect the Societies records.

      I would be very interested in opinions on the Societies Act. Is there not a requirement that the Board act in good faith towards the membership and has the Board violated this basic principle? Is there transparency in their actions?

      I am left with the impression that this isn’t a cooperative venture but a hostile takeover. I would also be interested if other members within this Society are being threatened with expulsion or other types of actions.

      • A former board member was refused renewed membership for shouting at Ian (over the issue of Joann’s expulsion).
        Bushfield had referrenced an article supporting violence as part of the idea that “we need good speach, not free speach”. A concerned member who raised that issue was told in a formal letter from the board that his complaint was”vexatious.” http://bcha.epizy.com/violence.html
        A board member who raised the same issue was told that she may be in legal jeopardy, was intimidated, and resigned.
        http://bcha.epizy.com/kirsten.html

  39. Rational Number says

    The always seeking self devouring fascist left will soon consume Bushfield. That is the beauty of it.
    Just do some digging, there will be dirt.

  40. Shlamazel says

    by SJW definitions, Bushfield is a sexist, ageist, cis-gendered, white privileged oppressor.
    I live on unceded Coast Salish Territory—shared lands of the xwməθkwəyə̓ m (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh(Squamish) & səlilw̓ ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples
    And I want to join your club and hurt his feelings, just a little.

  41. Cam says

    Ian’s arrival sounds like a natural and predictable progression for a Sunday morning Humanist society. It’s folks like yourself who always claim that The Slippery Slope doesn’t exist, so forgive me for not shedding a tear.

  42. Constantin says

    Two things come to mind: 1) the unhinged radical Left is attacking the civil society at every level – and that smacks of organization and ill intent; and 2) the civil society is still comatose and allowed the abuse to take place with no reaction whatsoever (but this is Canada and why should we expect better?). I also happen to disagree with the childish notion that the proper response would be to play the same “game” and further destroy the institution with fake/partizan memberships. The better question is how did that idiot end up being “President” of this august body of humanist thinkers?

  43. Patrick Bouchaud says

    “In the piece she mocks a trans woman for filing a human rights complaint against a tanning lounge here in British Columbia. Weld goes on to deadname the woman, despite her withdrawing her complaint over fears of being outed online (and then inevitably subject to targeted harassment).”
    Did Ms. Weld removed the incriminating piece?
    Here is my conclusion, FWIW
    The author is trying to rally against what he perceives as an abuse of authority by the leader of his association (ironically demonstrating and exploiting the Cult of the Woke which he decries), where the ‘victim’ of this abuse is blatantly a reactionary who did use the platform to lead personal attacks on target individuals of whose very existence she disapproves. and removed the incriminating evidence after the fact. Taking into account the now missing evidence, one understands the distress the ‘abuser’ is placed in. I would not be so nice.

    • No one disaproved of anyones existance. Weld was pointing out what looks like a case of extortion. That did not fit Bushfield’s narrative.
      There were actually two different articles by Weld which were attacked by Bushfield. Weld didn’t remove anything, it was Bushfield who deleted his incriminating tweet. For the correct sequence read here:
      http://bcha.epizy.com/humanist_perspectives.html

      • Patrick Bouchaud says

        This link leads nowhere. Anyway I am not really interested – was just involved via a contact on Facebook and apparently have been the only one who followed the links included in this article to form my own opinion before judging.

  44. Darwin T of BC Humanists says

    “Facilis descensus Averno” – Virgil, Aeneid – The road to hell is easy.

    Polling quite a few members of the BC Humanists leads me to conclude that persuading for change is difficult to achieve. So many want ironclad proof of pattern forming bad acts that the hurdle becomes a wall. Is it commitment to due process or fear of change or something else? A mixture or if you like, a diversity.

    Still, one must try and in the attempt gain favour with oneself and perhaps just perhaps something new will form out of the chaos.

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