Quebec opens can of worms by no standing

The whole issue of seperation of church and state is becoming a huge subject of debate in Quebec. Amongst recent incidents, guests at a sugar shack were asked to leave for muslims to perform prayers on the dancefloor of the establishement, a young soccer player was not given the opportunity to play soccer due to wearing the hijab and the announcement that women will not have to reveal their faces to vote if they wear the niqab. These are small examples amongst many to have occured over the past year in the province. The problem is the statement they make about Quebec politics and where they stand on the debate of freedom.

While it does give the idea that it is free to practice any form of religion in Quebec, the problem is the fact that it appears that practicing religions that prohibit the freedom of others is becoming an accepted practice. While many problems are evident with the examples mentionned above, the problems are far more complex. Such is evident with the case of a 10 year old girl who is awaiting a possible expulsion from her school for wearing a nose ring. The mother is contesting the decision given the fact that niqab are accepted as well as the kirpan. The later has an initial historical purpose of defense which could justify its use and the wearing of it. These sort of issues are surfacing one after the other.

Several people have had the idea of putting on mascot masks on voting day so as to display the ridiculous rule. The fact that Quebec isn't making any statements as to where they will draw the line between free-practice and infringement of freedom is like opening a can of worms. Several people can justify the wearing of small weapons in school, others can justify horrible or elaborate costumes, etc...


At 24/3/07 10:34 PM, Blogger Portelance said...

The problem here is that if you give one group some kind of special treatment, it is much more difficult to discriminate against another group. This is really a question of all-or-nothing. Either you allow the kirpan, nose rings, the types of t-shirts that people got sent home for in high school, etc. or you do not. There is no line to draw between so-called religious freedoms and regular freedom of expression.

I seem to recall our high school having policies against things like dyed hair, clothing, piercings, etc. If you start to allow people to become exceptions to these rules, then you must be prepared to eventually make everyone an exception. A rule is no longer a rule if it has IFs and BUTs involved. Loopholes will always be exploited. Wearing a hijab is no more different than dyeing your hair green or having piercings over every square inch of your body. Both are forms of self-expression, both of which can be political, social, and cultural in nature.

Religious freedoms are especially despicable to me. It's not because I don't want people to have freedom of religion (as well as freedom FROM religion), but these so-called freedoms often go too far and cause other problems. If you choose to dress yourself in a beekeeper suit, then why should you be expected to be allowed to participate in security and fraud related activities which require a form of visual identification (voting, passports, credit applications, etc.) The French/Italian film The Battle of Algiers had a very important commentary on the issue of the beekeeper suit. While the film is especially neutral on the civil war, it does show how the arab side would camouflage women in beekeeper suits with bombs and the like because they knew that guards could not touch these women. They were then free to pose a security threat to the French parts of Algiers. I am a firm libertarian on social issues, but religion is one area where I have a tough time accepting many of the liberties that we offer.


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