Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reasonable accomodation

I hesitated for quite a while before posting this, thinking I might be accused of racism, intolerance, or whatever. Then I figured that hell, if I can't say what I think in an anonymous** blog, where can I? Let it be said right here and now that I am not a racist, that I am not intolerant and that basically, I’m probably more tolerant than I often should be about all sorts of things.

Here in Quebec, land of tolerance and live-and-let-live, we have a, principle I guess you’d call it, whereby people can invoke – often in court – something called “reasonable accommodation”. Now lets just say that I’m probably not a reasonably accommodating person, I’m more along the lines over overly accommodating (read: I’m a total wuss and you can walk all over me, then stomp me in the face and I’ll say thanks).

However, recently (over the past couple of years) the concept has been invoked regularly, and depending on the issue, I've been on one side or the other.

There was an incident, way back when, in the town I live, where people were banned from sunbathing in bathing suits in a park near my house because Hassidic Jews passed through and were exposed to the sight. This being said, being exposed to a fat guy in a Speedo slowly baking himself to lobster status is not a fit sight for anyone in my humble opinion. It is a shudder-invoking sight, to say the least. On the other hand, there were all those hot guys... um, ok moving on.

A school in Montreal banned Muslim girls from wearing hijabs. The Muslim community was up in arms, and eventually, the headscarves stayed. Personally, I didn’t see the problem. They want to wear a scarf? Whatever floats your boat. Teenage girls around here walk around with their thongs showing, is that really any less offensive?

Then, it was the Sikh boys who weren’t allowed to wear their kirpans to school. Again, since it was a religious symbol, and after the cause had its day in court, Sikh boys were allowed to wear their ceremonial daggers. The pro side, argued that it was ceremonial, and is never used. Those against argued that, “Damn people, it’s a dagger, it’s a weapon. HELLO!!!” I tended to side with the “um, well, it could be used as a weapon” side of the argument, not necessarily by the Sikh boy, but by someone who might actually take it from him. In these days of taxing in the schoolyard, is that so hard to conceive of?

Then there was the “well we have to wash our feet to pray” controversy, where students at the university (don’t remember which one) were washing their feet in the bathroom washbasins, which, by the standards of those waiting to wash their hands a prayer time was just a little over the top.

And the “we need our own room and not a common non-denominational room to pray in” thing, after which a room was found.

There was incident when Muslim girls had to have the school pool to themselves, with all possibility of seeing into the pool area blocked off, because they couldn't be seen by men.
As an aside, it seems to me that if men are so superior to women, they would be capable of controlling themselves if they see a woman who isn't veiled. I mean, since they're veiling their women to protect them from mens "needs". Do Muslim men so underestimate their capacity for self control? If so, how sad.

This week, it’s the Mile End YMCA. There’s an alleyway between the Y and a Hassidic synagogue and social centre. The yoga and pilates rooms look out onto the alleyway. Kids play in the alleyway while there parents are at the synagogue. The synagogue asked repeatedly that the windows looking out onto the alley be replaced by frosted windows so the children wouldn’t be subjected to the sight of women in shorts and other assorted workout clothes. The windows were replaced (to their credit, the synagogue paid for all labour and materials). People are furious because, among other things, they get no more light…

Now, personally, I’m all for accommodating the other guy. But, is it me or is it getting out of hand? If I emigrate to a Muslim country I’ll wear a hijab, or whatever else I have to wear. They won’t change their laws because I’m not too big on the whole burqua thing. So why, when people move to a secular country, to North America for pete sake, from whence all things nasty and despicable come (though apparently the good life trumps the contemptible aspects of our lifestyle), are we, the offensive and loathsome inhabitants, expected to bend over backwards to accomodate them?

It seems to me that this is going beyond reasonable. Would it be so wrong to put our collective foot down and say: You’re here, this is our society, this is how it works, deal with it?

Just sayin’, ya know?

** Anonymous except for, oh, about 20 friends and close family members.


choochoo said...

I know who you are. Buahahaha. I'm tagging you tomorrow. You're hereby warned:P

Jazz said...

Choo - Tag away... I might even answer!!!!

Foxtrot said...

I totally agree, this bending over backward (although could be fun in the right circumstances but I digress...) is being blown out of proportion and if we dare say anything at all, we're labelled an intolerant bunch of heretics and condemned to the wrath of hell. If you ask me, I'd rather be in my hell than theirs anyway, they know me there... ;)

Steven Novak said...

I was once banned from talking at family get togethers.

The banning was done by my wife.

She no likey my dumb comments ;)


Jazz said...

Foxtrot - In the immortal words of a bumpter sticker: It' their hell, they can keep it.

Steve - You can come comment at my family get togethers anytime you like. At least I won't be alone making the stupid comments.

Jocelyn said...

Why can't these same folks make all the Britney-wannabes cover up their damn thongs and peep-show tops? Couldn't we put frosted glass over the mini 'hos?