Surprisingly, as far as we know, neither Opposition Leader Jason Kenney nor any members of his United Conservative Party Legislative Caucus made it to the Flat Earth International Conference at the appropriately named Fantasyland Hotel in Alberta’s capital city Thursday and yesterday.
“Flat-earthers from around North America came to listen to speakers such as Indiana radio host Rick Hummer, who told them to pull their kids out of public schools and ignore the consensus of the scientific community,” said a report in the Toronto Star’s freebie Edmonton edition.
I don’t know if the reporter was taking a subtle jab at spherical-earth Truthers at the conference when he said they came from around North America. I rather suspect he was, because the headline on the story read, “faith trumps reason.”
I also don’t know if the apparent flatness of the earth around here is part of the UCP’s platform, but I’m pretty sure pulling your kids out of school and enrolling them in fully tax-subsidized religious home-schooling programs and ignoring scientific consensus on important issues like climate change are UCP mainstays, so why the hell not?
On the latter point, consider Randy Kerr, UCP nomination candidate in the Calgary-Beddington Riding on the side of that city that’s closest to the North Pole. Mr. Kerr has been busy on his Facebook page re-posting articles from the Neo-Naziish Breitbart News and informing the world “global warming is the hoax we’ve always known it to be.”
It was 37 degrees Celsius in Calgary yesterday, but, you know, that’s just weather.
As for Mr. Kenney, who used to employ Mr. Kerr as a campaign manager, he has explained that “climate change of course is a permanent factor of the natural environment, but there’s clearly scientific consensus around it being a significant anthropogenic element to recent climate change, and that’s why I support prudent, reasonable measures to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Emphasis added, of course. Translated, it presumably means he’s prepared to say publicly it’s a thing, sort of, but not enough of one to actually bother doing anything meaningful about. Well, if Mr. Kerr is chosen as the candidate, his views will fit right in with those of several members of the party’s caucus.
Meanwhile, back at West Edmonton Mall where the Fantasyland is found, conference goers were told the Bible is “unequivocally a flat-earth book” – which I suppose is a position on which a lot of people on both sides of this debate could find common (level) ground.
The Star’s reporter rather daringly informed readers that while many flat-earthers think the earth is a disk – you know, it’s round, but it’s flat, like a plate – “there is overwhelming scientific and photographic evidence that it is spherical.”
Thank you for that! Nevertheless, no one can accuse modern Canadian journalists of writing reports that aren’t “balanced.” Balance, of course, as rigorously practiced by 21st Century Canadian media, means that for every verifiable fact, a contradictory “fact” advanced by right-wing politicians for self-serving purposes must be assigned equal value and given equal attention.
Traditionally, this phenomenon was restricted to economic matters. This once caused an exasperated Paul Krugman, the New York Times’s Nobel-Prize-winning economics columnist, to exclaim: “If a presidential candidate were to declare that the earth is flat, you would be sure to see a news analysis under the headline *‘Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.’”
Now, of course, the practice has spread to other topics the political right finds inconvenient, such as science. So in its coverage of the flat-earthers’ opinions, the competing National Post, fearless champion of the Canadian overdog, yesterday explained: “Even if media coverage is negative, their beliefs appear to be part of the marketplace of ideas, something that is a legitimate topic of debate.”
Dr. Krugman was just being acerbic. But as you can see for yourself, we have actually arrived at his sarcastic prediction! I am not making this up.
At the Fantasyland Hotel, meanwhile, guests can sleep on a bed shaped like an igloo or in a room that appears to be a space station … circling the earth.
Several recent polls have indicated the UCP leads the governing NDP in the affection of decided Alberta voters by a comfortable margin. Despite some evidence, science is divided on the popular belief there is intelligent life on the Great Plains.