From the editor’s desk:
This paper’s editorial advisory board consists of members that have diverse opinions about COVID-related public policy. At times, some members have wanted the paper to address COVID issues head-on. Others, including your editor, are more reticent. This paper opposes vaccinations and other treatments that utilize cell lines derived from aborted babies and, of course, we strongly oppose government mandates requiring such vaccines which would coerce pro-life Canadians into receiving the abortion-tainted jab. The Interim also opposes treating houses of worship more strictly than the state has other establishments and the over-zelaous enforcement of COVID rules that unjustifiably restrict one’s ability to exercise one’s Charter-protected religious freedoms. We have also published commentary, mostly by John Carpay but also by others, on matters related to the pandemic and the government’s response to it. As a paper committed to upholding the sanctity of human life, the flourishing of family life, and the importance of religious life, our response to the pandemic has been to focus on these issues. But we welcome your letters and would appreciate hearing from you, our readers, about the issues surrounding the government’s response to the pandemic. Remember, those letters should be brief (no more than 300 words) and civil. All that said, this month’s From the Editor’s Desk has a few items about what has been called the Covidocracy: a seemingly permanent new rule-by-experts that limits the liberties of the citizenry in its zeal to pursue the illusory goal of eliminating COVID-19.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Sept. 7, that a Rutgers student was barred from his online classes because he was not vaccinated. The Free Beacon reports: “The New Jersey university locked Logan Hollar out of his school email and account in August when he tried to pay his tuition. The 22-year-old college senior said he has not been vaccinated and doesn’t intend to be, so he signed up for only virtual classes in the fall. When he called the school’s vaccine hotline after being locked out, he was told he had to be vaccinated even if his classes were all remote. He has since missed the first week of classes.” Hollar says he is young, healthy, and not part of an at-risk group so “I don’t find COVID to be scary.” Hollar’s stepfather, Keith Williams, told the paper, “I believe in science, I believe in vaccines, but I am highly confident that COVID-19 and variants do not travel through computer monitors by taking online classes.”
Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office estimated that Ontario’s surgical backlog – a backlog due to pandemic restrictions on hospitals so resources could be funnelled into fighting COVID-19 — will exceed 420,000 (an increase of nearly 100,000 since March) and its testing backlog will reach 2.5 million. In Quebec, the Ministry of Health reports a nearly one quarter decrease in requests to be placed on surgical wait lists compared to years in which there is no pandemic. As we have reported before, some of these non-urgent surgeries may not be immediately life-threatening but they will decrease the quality of life for many who are forced to wait longer and some will be delayed to the point where lives are lost or more invasive or risky interventions are necessary. As Sean Spear noted at The Hub, “It will take years and billions of dollars to eliminate these backlogs and even that may be overly optimistic in light of evidence that the pandemic has actually obscured the full magnitude of the problem due to lower-than-normal levels of health-care consumption.” These lives lost and diminished are also a cost of the pandemic.
Wesley Smith wrote about World Suicide Prevention Day the day after the Sept. 9 event: Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. You didn’t hear about it? If so, that’s pretty typical, which is why I call this annual event, ‘Invisible Suicide Prevention Day.’ Once again, the obligatory official proclamations didn’t mention that suicide is now promoted widely in the media, popular culture, and by political activists seeking to legalize so-called ‘death with dignity’ or ‘aid in dying.’ These euphemisms seek to convince people that committing suicide because of serious illness or disability, is not really suicide. But that’s a sophistic advocacy trope. Suicide is the act of self-killing. The reason for killing oneself has nothing to do with the nature of what was done. In other words, suicide is suicide is suicide.” Senator Denise Batters (CPC, Saskatchewan), whose husband, former MP Dave Batters committed suicide in 2009, has spoken passionately yet eloquently about the dissonance of virtue-signalling politicians in this country who tweet about suicide prevention one day while voting to extend Canada’s “Medical Aid in Dying” law, including to those who suffer from mental illness. Charging politicians with hypocrisy is easy, but seldom does their hypocrisy have such lethal consequences.
I’m not saying that there is not election shenanigans, nor that sometimes the fraud and irregularities can tip elections (read Robert A. Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent about the future president’s first senate elections), but underhanded tricks are seldom definitive. Furthermore, there is a tendency on the political Right to whine about the heavy odds they face that sometimes cross the line into conspiratorial beliefs. Podcaster Dave Rubin complained about California Governor Gavin Newsom beating a recall effort in that state last month, noting Newsom “controls the entire state machinery while being backed by corporate media and big tech.” Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in National Review Online that “a normal way of saying” that is Newsom has “the power of incumbency, and the support of powerful interests.” Dougherty warns: “We shouldn’t conflate the reality of long unfavorable odds with ‘fixed games’ and a stolen election.” Not winning against long unfavorable odds is not synonymous with the results being fixed. Many pro-life and pro-family Canadians believe we are a silent majority; this narrative may be true but is not supported by any data and is contradicted by numerous polls and election results. Many pro-life and pro-family Canadians do not understand that Justin Trudeau is well-liked by many Canadians and Conservatives in general are not. Those are “long unfavorable odds” not fixed elections. Believing the fix-is-in can lead to a spiritually dangerous hopelessness and even an excuse to stop standing up for moral principles in the face of strong opposition. Such defeatist postures must be resisted.
Canadian-born comedian Norm Macdonald died on Sept. 14. Macdonald started his career writing for Roseanne and later would join the cast of Saturday Night Live, eventually hosting its “Weekend Update” segment. He would often lampoon Larry King, Bob Dole, and Burt Reynolds with his impressions. He hosted Netflix talk show and a video podcast and was a frequent guest for talk show hosts such as Dennis Miller and Conan O’Brien. His comedy was not to everyone’s liking – he often referenced prison rape and crack whores — but he was one of my favourites. (Warning: not all his content is what is euphemistically labelled family friendly.) I found Macdonald to have a decent streak and he often showed his humanity. I saw him perform in Hamilton with my middle son a few years ago and when he was engaging with a heckler, another member of the audience yelled at the heckler to shut up. Macdonald turned to the other audience member and castigated him: “He’s a human being, man, don’t tell him to shut up.” There was obvious disappointment in his voice. Another time he was interviewed by his sister-in-law, CTV’s Ottawa bureau chief Joyce Napier, about political comedy. At the end of the interview, obvious affection in his voice, he said, “I love you, Joyce.” CTV edited that out of the video and transcript. But it was quintessential Norm Macdonald.
Another favourite moment was when he was guest judging alongside Roseanne Barr on the reality series Last Comic Standing, in which up-and-coming comedians competed for a contract. One contestant made a lazy joke about prefer J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to The Bible. Roseanne said she loved the joke. Macdonald disagreed. “I don’t think the Bible joke was brave at all. I think if you’re going to take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about. J.K. Rowling is a Christian, and J.K. Rowling famously said that if you’re familiar with the Scriptures, you can easily guess the ending of her book.” He would later tell Hollywood Reporter that he generally found religion-bashing passe. There were a good number of essays about Macdonald’s Christianity following his death due to an undisclosed, decade-long battle with cancer; some Christians are desperate to recast Macdonald as a Christian apologist. I don’t know about his spiritual life and I’m not quite sure if he was a Christian apologist (even if he once told Larry King on air that he, King, had a “God-shaped hole” in his heart). Macdonald would only allow that he, himself, was on a spiritual journey. That said, he often lampooned famous evangelistic atheists such as Richard Dawkins Neil deGrasse Tyson. I tend to agree with Nic Rowan who wrote of Macdonald at First Things that the comedian “may have only been dabbling in Christianity, but his criticisms of the post-Christian world were often incisive.” He once tweeted, “The Enlightenment turned us away from truth toward a darkling weakening horizon, sad and gray to see.” He joked about parents who said they were “proud” their children were gay: “Really?” One time on air he was asked about his position on abortion by his friend Dennis Miller. Macdonald became serious and answered: “I’m very pro-life. I just don’t think a woman should have the right to choose to murder a baby.” In that same interview he said that until 9/11, the only issue he based his vote on was abortion.
By all accounts Macdonald was a decent person. Although he struggled on and off with a gambling problem, he was not like most comedians who brought a jaundiced view of the world to the stage. He seemed to have the comfort of being himself and speaking truthfully; being himself and being truthful included occasional admissions that he was on a journey. He tweeted in 2019, “Like everyone, I am in search of the true faith,” before admitting, “It’s been a rather long, touch journey, for me at least.” I pray that he ended up where he wanted.