So yesterday I wrote a little rumination about what happens when bureaucracy- spurred by reactionary ‘necessity’ to quell a whole load of bad press- gets a little ridiculous in the ‘whole shebang’ application of rules and regs.
I was talking about music- which is important to me, personally, and which is also a representation of this country and the freedoms and culture that we are able to access. Keeping the doors open for new local and international music is a good thing. It keeps Canada looking shiny and welcoming and full of creative outlets on the map of the world.
Today I feel a little silly for speaking out about a surcharge for touring bands.
Why? It goes back to that matter of proportion I mentioned.
Today’s idiocy is crazy big in comparison.
There’s been a lot of buzz around what that kooky PQ Premier Pauline Marois was going to come up with next. A few months ago she backed the Quebec Soccer Federation’s ban on religious headgear on the soccer field, suggesting that the Quebec Federation is “autonomous” and not bound by the rules of the Canadian Soccer Association. The ban was eventually overturned- once FIFA weighed in and ‘clarified’ the ‘ambiguity’ that QSF said led to the ban in the first place.
So that little interference in the rights of citizens of Quebec was staved off- when the International governing body of the sport got involved and helped sort out the ‘language barrier’ that QSF claimed was the origin of the push for the ban.
Today all the murmurings were solidified as Bernard Drainville, the Minister who Premier Marois placed in charge, delivered the proposed Charter of Quebec Values which would prohibit those working for the state from wearing any outward trapping of religious affiliation.
They generously supplied the graphic up top there ^^^^^ to help us determine what is acceptable, non-ostentatious religious imagery and therefore allowable (that’d be top three pictures for the non-francophones among us) versus those thing that are just too conspicuous to be worn while undertaking the business of the province (or city).
(Ostentatoire means “ostentatious or conspicuous”. Les signes ostentatoire are therefore ‘ostentatious or conspicuous signs or symbols’)
‘Ostentatious’ is relative and will be defined by the province should the legislation actually be passed.
Naturally, the voices of the politicos and pundits are being raised in varying choruses in response to all this. So far I’ve seen this one against, and this one against, and this one which is for the proposal.
If you’ve read much of anything else I’ve had to say here at colemining central, you are likely aware that I’m not one for the organized religion or the believing in external supernatural manifestations of the wondrous and creative human imagination.
I am all for figuring out the humanity behind such wonderful (or terrible) creations, and I am all for living in a society/community/world where freedom of belief is a matter of course and not something that should be regulated- or supported in any financial way– by the state.
This lies at the heart of last week’s little introduction to the concept of secularization and the absolute separation of church and state that I firmly advocate. By all means, believe what you want to believe. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights and freedoms of others to believe what they want to believe AND as long as I don’t have to contribute to the support of your belief/group/commune/whatever with my tax dollars, we will all get along just fine.
Supporters of the proposed Charter claim that its origin lies in the impetus of the drive to secularization in Quebec. I have heard people who emphatically maintain that it is a natural extension of things like the move to remove the teaching of religion in public schools.
(That requires some clarification. Are they talking about ‘religious teachings’ or ‘teaching about religions’? The former ABSOLUTELY have no place in publicly funded schools, but the latter SHOULD DEFINITELY be part of the curriculum in a multicultural society)
Not much said about the maintenance of the rights of ‘Separate Schools’ in that particular motivation, though. But I’m not opening THAT can of worms at the mo’ (this post is long-winded enough as it is).
In addition to the obvious violations of personal rights and freedoms (as if those things alone weren’t enough), this proposal is filled with hypocrisy and ambiguous argumentation. Attempting to legislate that people cannot wear what they want to wear if it is- or can be seen as- an outward expression of their beliefs is rife for misapplied interpretation.
All kinds of people dress to outwardly manifest their lifestyle or beliefs (religious or not) and we (arguably) let them alone to do their jobs. Last I heard tell there was no ban on piercings or tattoos (at least nothing officially legislated), nor of particular hair styles or dyes, specific fashion choices and etc.
If I decided that I wanted to worship Ra, and began to wear the symbol of his wandering and watchful eye as a representation of my devotion to the god, would I be subject to the ban were I a public servant in Quebec? Chances are most people would think I was wearing an ‘evil eye’ talisman and regard it as ‘not ostentatious’- if it was even recognized as a religious symbol.
(Ra’s wandering eye is actually the foundation of the Mediterranean and Mid-Eastern use of the evil eye as a talisman against demons and other negative influences. But I digress…)
And then there are the crosses that riddle the province- like that big giant one on the Mont in Montreal.
It’s a slippery slope. Like the language laws. Multiculturalism vs. Melting Pot (another issue far too large to address right now).
Most of the experts in Constitutional law that I’ve heard talking today say that the proposed Charter won’t stand against legal challenges. It’s too obviously in contrast to things like free access to employment and the denial of individual identity, values that are upheld by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Add to that the fact that religious belief or non-belief does not equal impartiality. That’s as faulty an argument as I’ve heard. If someone is inclined to be biased in their viewpoint- to the extent that it might impinge upon them doing their jobs- then can’t the argument also be made that a ‘hidden’ (i.e. not outwardly manifested through appearance/clothing) ideology- such as white supremacy, as an extreme example- could potentially be more of an inhibition to someone doing a job without prejudice or attempting to exert undue influence in the execution of the job?
This is about a politician looking to create division between provincial and federal governments- for the furtherance of the separatist agenda. It’s provocation and it’s politics.
But it’s also reprehensible. And, as of this afternoon, it is apparently something that is gaining support in the general population.
Yesterday it was bureaucracy that was running amok. Today it is purposeful divisiveness and blatantly un-Canadian political posturing with hyperbolic arguments about ‘distinct society’ and faux secularization.
Amok is a concept originating in Indonesia that can be roughly defined as ‘to make a furious and desperate charge’ (thank you Pythia/Wikipedia). In the traditional sense, it was associated with possession by an evil spirit, eliminating the responsibility for the damage done while amok from the person under the influence of the externalized evil.
You know how I feel about externalizing evil. And demons and such.
There is no excuse- political, demonic or otherwise- for this attempt at institutionalized and legislated intolerance in Canada.
Criss de calice de tabernac d’osti de sacrament!
Pardon my French.
P.S. Interesting that Quebecois profanity is all linked to Roman Catholicism and its liturgy. Wonder if that outward manifestation of religious symbolism will be legislated next…