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Giving to keep receiving…

Posted by Don McLenaghen on March 2, 2013

Dear friends, fans and fellow skeptics,


Radio Freethinker has just celebrated its 200th Episode. We have been expanding the frontier of skepticism for over 3 years and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support. Every week we pull together the latest news from the worlds of science, medicine, and beyond in an effort to both educate and expand the arena of skepticism. We have done in-depth investigations into topics as wide ranging as atheist persecution to zombie chickens to nuclear proliferation to economic austerity.

We do this because we hope to be the candle in the dark, driving back ignorance and dogma wherever it may be found. However, we cannot take full credit for our successful time on the air, the skeptic community has been unwavering in its support of our broadcaster CITR 101.9 FM which has been an integral part of the show’s success.

CiTR is celebrating its 75th year broadcasting and the CiTR magazine Discordia is celebrating its 30th anniversary. CiTR is a non-profit community radio broadcaster. It has no corporate owners or sponsors; it relies on donations from the community to both keep it running and up to date. The radio station is having its annual pledge drive starting February 28th to March 8th.

CiTR is an important resource for Vancouver and the skeptic community. It provides a place where groups and views can find a home not available on profit driven media. We have discussed on our show the high degree of media ownership concentration in the local market and how this limits rational reporting. The focus of the show segments have often been to defuse the sensationalistic news reporting.

CiTR provides push back against a profit driven media environment. Because of this, free thought and rational thinking can flourish and be transmitted to potentially millions of listeners. We ask for your assistance by pledging tokeep CiTR on air and corporate free.

We at Radio Freethinker will be pledging the traditional $101.90 and hope that many of you will join us. You can phone in your pledge and receive great swag, or you can check out our pledge website and receive a tax receipt or you can swing by the CiTR Studios and give in person (or donate via mail!).

Did I mention swag…well, you can see what CiTR is offering but there is more. Radio Freethinker understands that a number of our fans may find alternative ‘Thanks You’s more in line with our show. In that theme you can check out to see what we are offering as our own personal thank you for your support. Regardless of whether you pledge or not, again let me take this opportunity to thank you for following Radio Freethinker and making it the success it is. Your feedback is always welcome and together we can make the next 200 episodes even better than the first.

Don McLenaghen
Ethan Clow

Pledge website:

CiTR Pledge drive number: 604-822-8648

CiTR Studios: CiTR Radio, #233-6138 SUB Blvd., Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada


3 Responses to “Giving to keep receiving…”

  1. Stephen said

    With regards to SFU and the VRM. March 5 Broadcast (Episode 202)

    Ethan says something like “… there’s a group called the Vaccination Resistance Movement (VRM). They’ve rented out a space at the SFU Harbour Centre campus for their upcoming summit 2013. Whoa, what is SFU doing here? Don’t they have some sort of policy on this sort of thing? They just thought they’d rent it out, they don’t care… maybe we [SFU] shouldn’t be renting out our space to anti-vaccination people because that’s kind of dangerous.”

    SFU is a place of public accommodation and so they’re not allowed to discriminate. By law, they cannot refuse to rent out space to the VRM. It doesn’t matter what VRM’s stance is on anything. SFU cannot discriminate against them. Please see Section 8 of the Human Rights Codes (of BC).

    Asking SFU not to rent out space to the VRM is asking them to break the law.

    Don says something like “… we have the idea of free speech. You’re trying to squash their free speech. In Canada we don’t have an absolute right to free speech. They hit the highest level of endangering people’s lives. If an act endangers someone’s life directly then you should not be allowed… you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theatre.”

    The comparison does not hold. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre does endanger people directly. Yelling fire will incite a stampede as a lot of people try to run for the exits. People will get hurt right then and there.

    Telling people not to vaccinate their kids does not endanger people directly. First, it’s a call to inaction (they want you to not take action ie not get vaccinated). Second, the kid has to contract a disease. And third the disease has to do harm. This is not direct endangerment but rather indirect because a whole bunch of other things have to happen in between the time from when people hear the message of not vaccinating and being infected and bedridden before actual harm occurs.

    Ethan says “No one would be batting an eyelash if this was a white supremist group renting out SFU.”

    I’m not sure what you mean here. Do you mean if SFU rented out space to a white supremecist group then everyone would complain and then SFU would take back any rental agreement they had with the white supremicist goup? Again, I don’t think SFU can refuse. By law, SFU would have to rent it out to them. Now if the white supremecist group broke hate speech laws while in the rented space, then that is a different matter in which the rented out space is not relevant. As far as renting out space goes, SFU cannot discriminate against anyone.

    Don says something along the lines, “Thanks to the skeptical groups in Ottawa, Jenny McCarthy, was disinvited to do a cancer event. Is there any chance that SFU may rescind their invitation?”

    This comparison does not hold. The cancer foundation event is a private function. They can do what they want. They can invite or disinvite who they want. They can even “discriminate” if they want. But SFU is renting out space to the general public. They’re not allowed to “resecind their invitation.”

    Don says, “The first level is causing direct physical harm and this causes direct physical harm. The second level is hate crimes which is your white supremist, Ann Coulters. They should not be allowed to speak because they instil hate in others and will indirectly have this roll on effect. Then you get someone like George Bush but we would not deny him speaking here because he has a right to say things. But that’s where the social responsibility of a institution like SFU steps in, where it says OK, there isn’t hate speech, there’s no immenent death, probably associated with war crime by his own admission but this isn’t someone we want to be associated with.”

    Whether or not SFU wants to be associated with him is irrelevant. SFU’s only there to rent out space.

    Ethan says, “… the anti vax movement is manufactured controversy. This is on the level of SFU hosting a flat earth convention or alternatives to the theory of gravity.”

    If SFU is renting out space made available to the public and the Flat Earthers want to rent out that space for a convention, by law, SFU has to rent it out to them.

    Likewise, say a church has some meeting rooms in their basement that they’ve made available to the public to rent out. So a knitting club, a chess club and glee club have weekly meetings in the basement.

    Now this church has a pro-life/anti-abortion stance. If you want to rent out that space for your pro-choice group meetings, the church has to rent it out to you. It doesn’t matter if the church thinks you’re involved in the murder of unborn innocent children. They’re not allowed to discriminate on who they rent out the space to.

    Ethan says “At the very least SFU should send someone down and say to the public we disavow any association with this group. This is purely a financial decision, a poorly made one at that, and we want nothing to do with this group…”

    If SFU sends someone down to say they want nothing to do with this group [the VRM] then they have to do that for all groups that they rent out space to. Because if they don’t do it for all, that’s discrimination against the VRM which is not allowed.

    Actually, SFU having nothing to do with the groups they rent out space to is the underlying default position. Again, SFU is only renting out space. If they rent out space to whatever group that is not an endorsement of that group. It’s not SFU’s fault that the public does not understand this.

    Please consider the above and let me know what you think.
    Thank you for reading.

  2. ebrandonx said

    Noticed in passing
    Stephen says:
    “Telling people not to vaccinate their kids does not endanger people directly. First, it’s a call to inaction (they want you to not take action ie not get vaccinated). Second, the kid has to contract a disease. And third the disease has to do harm. This is not direct endangerment but rather indirect because a whole bunch of other things have to happen in between the time from when people hear the message of not vaccinating and being infected and bedridden before actual harm occurs.”

    How this could be seen as ‘indirect’ is inappropriate. There is a directed “call to inaction”, in turn direct effect caused because of that “inaction”. Direct danger and harm caused by that same directed “call to inaction” to others and obedience of same. When inaction results in probable or intimated harm the cause is responsible. There is a reason for vaccination, to lessen the effects of disease that at one time proved fatal. It is worth the risk of adverse effects on a very small portion of society, for the millions of lives saved by vaccination.

  3. Stephen said

    Thank you for your reply.
    It seems we need to get into the semantics for the words “direct” and “indirect.” I don’t want to do this so instead I’ll reillustrate my point without using either of those words.

    Scenario A: Yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.

    Scenario B: Telling people why they should not vaccinate.

    My point is based on taking into consideration the immediacy of the effects of the speech. In scenario A, people will panic and a stampede will ensue. Inevitably, people will get physically harmed right away and at that very location. In the right to free speech, the law does not protect this kind of speech. You are not allowed to do this.

    In scenario B, anti-vaxers are telling people not to vaccinate. When they do this, at that time and place no one is physically harmed. The harm might happen weeks, months or probably years into the future and it most certainly won’t take place at the SFU downtown campus.

    Even if harm does occur it takes several more actions (or inactions) by a few other people for it to happen after scenario B occurs. And just because an individual is told not to vaccinate it does not necessarily follow that they will not vaccinate. They could ignore the advice or get counter information and vaccinate anyways.

    This is why A and B are not comparable ie they’re not equivalent with regards to the right of free speech and its protection under the law. In scenario A, physical harm is inevitable and immediate but in scenario B it is not.

    People have the right to freedom of belief and the freedom of speech. Even if they’re factually wrong and even if their belief and speech may cause harm at an indefinite future time and place, they still have those rights. That’s why Scenario B speech is protected* and that’s why it’s not a valid reason for SFU to refuse to rent out space to the VRM.

    * There are exceptions in the Criminal Code of Canada but I don’t think anti-vaccination speech is one of them.


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