Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The PQ's newest de-normalization campaign

The goal of anti-smoking laws was to de-normalize cigarette smoking. It worked. Smokers are now frowned upon and non-smokers think it's okay to give them dirty looks, even when they smoke outside on a terrace, near and entrance to a building, or in a park. Why? Because everyone knows that smoking isn't normal and smokers are weirdos the rest of us can bully.

Same deal with Bill 101 and all subsequent updates, like Bill 14. The goal was to de-normalize the use of English and it has mostly worked. Think of the IGA manager who told the employee he couldn't speak English in the lunch room. Or the allergic man assaulted at a hospital cafeteria by a fellow patron for speaking English. Why did average citizens act this way? Because the government sent the message loud and clear that speaking English isn't normal and English speakers are weirdos the rest of us can bully.

The Charter of Quebec Values is more of the same. The goal is to de-normalize people who practice religion. The act of drawing attention to kippahs, hijabs, or turbans has the effect of making wearers self-conscious -- just like smokers and English-speakers. It doesn't matter if the rules don't apply to private companies. The government sent the message loud and clear that religious symbols and those who wear them are weirdos we can bully. I heard a clip on CBC radio today from a doctor who wears a hijab who has received more questions and some negative comments about it in the last few weeks than in the past decade.

The PQ's de-normalization campaign has started. Even if the bill doesn't become law, the PQ has successfully made religious people self-conscious -- just like English-speakers and just like smokers. The doctor said she was thinking of leaving Quebec, by the way.

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