Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The English Patience Update: Pauline Marois Reaffirms her Wad-ness

Pauline Marois made it known yesterday that she simply would not stand for the "prevailing unilinguism" of Montreal's downtown core. She called for tighter laws and more fascism (forcing more francification of the downtown core, strengthening the loi 101 and - I love this part - pushing for the acceptance of the Québec Identity Act).

There is no prevalence of unilinguism in Montreal. Nearly everyone in this city is bilingual - which is a good thing. I always address the employees of a commercial business in french, out of courtesy and I've spent the last 5 years nearly constantly in the downtown core; I've never once been answered in anything but french. Yes, some people struggle with the language, and it sucks for them, but it's not a problem.

Pauline Marois is a reactionist who's having a groundless fit and is not helping anything. She is a wad and, in the words or a scotsman I once met, a doss cunt.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The English Patience

The Journal de Montreal has produced an "article," by Noée Murchison about the availability of french service in businesses in Montreal's downtown core. I can only wince at the trouble this will stir up in the next few weeks, but that aside, I'd like to see if I can make a bit of sense of the issue.

Québecois culture is a big thing for the vast majority of the people in this province, and rightly so; I've said on a number of occasions that it is a culture which deserves preservation, if it does not quite require protection. Language is a part of this; French is beautiful and expressive and is at the core of much of Québec's cultural identity.

So this isn't an argument against French or Québecois culture.

Instead it's a plea for a bit of sanity (I seem to do that a lot, I think). This is a problem for the economy to take care of on its own, not for government intervention; let's face it, the OLF (OQLF, according to the Journal) is a fascist, anti-individualist organization which imposes culturally-, politically- and ideologically-driven rules on private organizations which should not have to deal with the bureaucratic nitpicking of that hateful and ironically named organization. If the OLF does decide to hang back (it won't), then most businesses will likely exercise their prerogative and staff themselves with employees appropriate to their clientele, which is as it should be.

If a business sees a lot of francophone custom - and those in the downtown core do - then that employer has a vested interest in ensuring that there are always enough french-speaking employees on the floor to deal with the demand; that being said, stores like Chapters in downtown montreal, which is a predominantly anglophone bookstore, can reasonably maintain an almost unilingual staff without a significant loss of business, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

For those of you who think there is something wrong with that, that's okay too; you don't need the government to exercise control over businesses, all you need is your hard-earned dollar and the discretion about when & where to use it. Voicing the reasons for your choices is the key and, trust me, just like businesses have listened to the Green Movement, they'll listen to you: it's Capitalism 101.

Which is why I applaud the Journal's decision not to reveal the identities of the businesses which they singled out as "too anglophone," it's one of the few good decision that filthy rag has made in a long time (it's really just a tabloid legitimized by wider circulation).

My prediction for all of this? The OLF is going to go apeshit in the next few weeks.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Authority Gap

It may not be apparent to some, but I am a person who does a lot of arguing; in the course of my debates, conversations, disagreements and just plain shouting matches, I've come accross one type of person, one ideology, with which I simply cannot make any headway. Logic aside, this has to do with a paradigm problem; there is an incompatibility in our worldviews which apparently cannot be reconciled.

I speak, of course, of the religious fundamentalists who attack authority figures instead of attempting to counter arguments. I have begun to call this the Authority Gap (hence the title).

Take, for example, Anthony Flew whose beautiful essay, Theology and Falsification, is an elegant, surgical dissection of the essential problems of religious belief. It is linked here and there is a permanent link on this blog called Elegant Atheism. In recent years, however, it appears that Mr. Flew has had a change of heart; he no longer embraces Atheism with the same fervour as he once did. It's a shame; his was brilliant work and I'm afraid we will not see any more in that vein - or much at all, for that matter, his age considered. That being said, that he has had a change of heart is thoroughly meaningless; the act of putting pen to paper has given his ideas a permanence that apparently does not exist in his own mind.

Essentially, we have his arguments, we no longer need him - we will miss his support, but that is an issue of preference and not necessity.

And yet, those who would argue against his logic simply use his change of heart as evidence of a fallacious initial argument. This, I fear, is due to the nature of our different beliefs. Scientific knowledge exists as a body of objective data, theorems, hypotheses, facts and ideas, separate from those who brought them into being (though often associated with them for reasons of intellectual honesty) whereas religious belief exists as a sort of structured ideological dictatorship; without the authority of the preachers, who rule on the morality of us all and without whose fervour religious structure and organization would break down entirely.

This disparity, between idea-based belief and authority-based belief is at the heart of statements such as 'Darwin denounced evolution on his deathbed' and 'Even Einstein believed in God.' It is not dishonest or evil; it is mistaken. It's a miscommunication.

I don't know how we should go about affecting a paradigm shift, to understand one another, but I do believe we should try. The illogic of the arguments used by those who antagonize the Atheist position has at least some of its roots in this Gap and it would be best for it to be bridged, at some point.