UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: PA/Phil Noble)


This week in Side View I have been investigating absence. Absence is my favourite state of being. Absence is a philosophically complex subject, as you will learn from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for “holes”. How many holes does a straw have, by the way? Are two holes just part of the same bigger (w)hole? And what does that have to do with George W Bush and Al Gore? Can presence arise from absence — or, put another way, can the universe come from nothing? Turns out it perhaps can. And how can you read climate change into Western culture through its absence?


The sleaze and hatred of accountability surrounding Boris Johnson’s government recalls earlier, sordid eras of British politics. All that’s left of Trumpism is Donald’s ego and bitterness (wait — that wasn’t the whole lot before?). If you think the violent fringe of Trumpism is made up of the white underclass, you’re very wrong — these are comfortable middle-class people engaging in violence in support of conspiracy theories. And can Sweden offer some lessons in fighting misinformation online?


A right-wing Christian group has brought a free speech case to the US Supreme Court to compel a government body to fly a Christian flag — and the Biden administration is backing them. Speaking of which, here’s a Christian take on how to prevent another attack on US democracy. And entrenched conservatism and hatred of secularism within the French Catholic Church is preventing it from dealing with its horrific legacy of child abuse.