GUELPH POLITICAST #269 – Pandemics Make Strange Bedfellows

The most dramatic cultural shift of the pandemic has not been “care-mongering”, or an appreciation of essential workers, it’s been the growing number of people who believe that the things we all see and hear are fake, and reality is something entirely different. With the province locked down again, these groups have found a curious new ally: small business owners. So now what happens?

This past Saturday, some 60 people marched through downtown Guelph to support small businesses forced to close again in the lockdown. It’s a laudable goal, and important, but among the people looking to raise voices for shoppes and restaurants were anti-vaxxers. The government has made it known that the road back to normalcy is paved with vaccines, so if stores are ever going to re-open, people need to get shots. So how did these two groups team-up for one protest?

Last year, as conspiracies started to move from the dark web to mainstream, Dan Collen started to take note. Then, when the proprietor of a Toronto-based barbeque joint openly defied public health orders last fall, turning his restaurant into a Mecca for the “Hugs Over Masks” crowd and other conspiracists in the process, Collen was among the people to cast a light on the intersection of business and disinformation. With recent events, it seems like a good time to cast some light on that again.

On this episode of the podcast, Collen will lend us his flashlight to look at his efforts to expose conspiracy theorists, and consider just how many of them are true believers and how many are just opportunists. He also talk about the process by which people get radicalized, and how legitimate causes are getting hijacked by misinformation peddlers. And finally, he will discuss how anti-masking leads to more dangerous right-wing ideologies, and what might happen to these groups once the pandemic is over.

Let’s talk (again) about fighting conspiracies is the topic on this week’s Guelph Politicast.

You can read Dan Collen’s work at Vice News, and on his Medium page. You can also follow him on social media on Instagram and on Twitter.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here, or download them on your favourite podcast app at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.

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