AngryFrenchGuy

Reasonnable Accomodations on the Citizen’s Band

with 106 comments

I completely missed the entire Reasonable Accommodations episode that hit Québec a couple of years ago.  I never watched a single minute of the infamous Bouchard-Taylor hearings on TV.  I never got to experience the re-emergence of Québec’s deep roots of “xenophobia, racism and sexism”.

In 2007 I was hauling freight in my Volvo 670. I spent my days sitting on top of a 430 horsepower Cummins engine, going around on the Interstate, from Dorval to Memphis, down to Mississippi, back up to Winnipeg, back across to Chicago where I would pick up Corona beer or roof shingles and deliver it to Brampton or Mississauga. There I’d strap on another trailer load of unindifiable industrial materials and head back south to NJ, VI VT, MD or OH.

I rolled old school. My cell phone service didn’t cover the States. I didn’t have satellite radio. My old laptop didn’t have WiFi.   I got my information from the FM band an neither NPR or the preachers had much to say on Québec’s identity crisis. Neither Diane Rhem or Rush Limbaugh ever brought it up.

I listened to those communists at NPR trying to destroy capitalism by speading lies about a supposed impeding collapse of the housing market in America…  and shows by guys like Mike Savage.  I remember being stuck in a traffic jam, somewhere on a highway, when news came on the radio that a bridge between Minneapolis and St-Paul had collapsed.  Savage was on the air informing us that there was no doubt that the Arab terrorists had blown it up. The politically correct liberal media was afraid to tell us the truth, he said, but not him.  American bridges don’t just fall in the water, he analysed, so it had to be the Arabs.

Many, if not most divers today have iPhones and satellite radio, but the good old Citizen’s Band is still a huge part of the culture. It’s used to warn other driver’s that « he’s in the middle » or to tell a brother that he has a burnt trailer light. It’s was also used in Georgia and Indiana truck stops to urge fellow drivers to organize against illegal Mexicans and Bush’s amnesty law that was going to destroy American culture forever.

The impossibility of telling exactly where a voice on the CB is coming from makes it a fantastic window into people’s true thoughts and beliefs.

I remember this one night in a Memphis truck stop.  It was a nice warm night.  The moon was in the sky and the parking lot smelled of urine, rubber and diesel.  The boys were heading to the showers, working out plausible entries for their logbooks on their calculators and setting up the sattelite dishes on their truck so they could watch a game.

Two drivers, a black one and a white one, started trash talking on the CB.  Comfortably anonymous in the cab of their rigs, two among a hundred parked in the Flying J that night, they engaged in the most stunning racist poetry I ever heard. Hate and ignorance weaved in clever rhyme.  No one intervened, no one said a word.  We just sat and listened, not to truth, no, but to sincerity.

The next day I was driving north to Virginia behind another Québec driver. We had to change the channel on our CB three times because of angry and menacing messages from drivers didn’t want to hear any French on the air. In the USA there is an uneasy tolerance for trucks with Canadian plates who come down to « steal their miles », but Québec drivers learn quickly to be very discreet when not speaking English on the phone or to each other.

It wasn’t long after that, after a 10 hour drive somewhere in New York State where they apparently do not broadcast Radio-Moscow, that I finally decided to get a satellite radio. Waiting for my load in some small rural Ontario town , I asked a colleague with a Molson Canadian t-shirt and a satellite antenna sticking out from his cab witch of the two rival satellite providers, XM or Sirius, he recommended.

« All I can tell you », he said, « Is that whatever service you get, get it through an american membership, not the Canadian. That way you won’t have to pay for that French shit. »

I drove back home on the 401 highway in Ontario, where in just about every other rest area toilet someone had written « free turbans! » above the toilet paper dispenser, listened distractedly to the ongoing commentary on channel 19 about how everybody’s load was late, how their company doesn’t pay, how the Chinese don’t know how to drive and the « Pakis » share driver’s licences because, apparently, they’re all called Singh.

That night I hooked up with friends for a couple of beers. They told me all about Bouchard-Taylor and the audiences held around province and about all these people who came out of the woodwork with all these ignorant and bigoted views of muslims and immigrants.

« You wouldn’t believe how many racist people are still out there! »

You know what? I had no problem believing it at all…

Written by angryfrenchguy

December 6, 2009 at 7:36 pm

106 Responses

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  1. Hum, il semble que le lien ne fonctionne pas: on peut toutefois retrouver l’article sur le site de Vigile.

    midnightjack

    December 11, 2009 at 12:12 am

  2. “The list posted by midnightjack on December 10, 2009 at 2:36 am would be almost comical if it weren’t so true.

    I have literally been told personally to my face, overheard or read every single thing he has listed.”

    MDJ is probably right and so are you in you agreement with his post. There is much mud slinging on both sides. As I have said, they french and the anglos don’t really like or trust each other for a myraid of reasons. This will never likely change.

    So why are you a federalist when it is obvious you want more control for the french in Canada. Would it not be better for the Quebecois to be their own nation. What is your fear and why not. Then this incessant linguistic diatriabe can stop. We will then have borders to distinguish the limits. ( And those on each side of the line can hate each other even more as they will have a cause – us vs them :):)) It is really two different countries now..(juste regardez le bloc) . Time to make it official.

    Think of the benefits. No supremes to block law 104.
    You can be totally french without restriction with education.

    No more interference with education. You can mandate it as all french with no cancerous anglo infestation.

    You can then make McGill conform to the French fact and fire all the anglos professors. What the hell do they have to offer anyways!

    Think of how better Quebec would be. But its you ACJ, who doesnt seem to wish to make it better.

    ABP

    December 11, 2009 at 12:34 am

  3. ABP: …with no cancerous anglo infestation…
    Je crois que tu y va un peu fort ABP, personne ne parle de fermer McGill, juste de financer cette institution en proportion de la population qu’elle sert.

    midnightjack

    December 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

  4. “That darn Th!!!”

    ….tends to disappear–at least at the start of a word–in the speech of many people in the metropolitan areas of the northeastern United States, too.

    But “third” and “turd” do not become homonyms. The initial vowel sound in “third” becomes an unaspirated T such as exists in French when the T sound begins a word, while the initial sound in “turd” is accompanied by an exhalation of breath, such as exists in French when the T sound comes at the *end* of a word.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, I need to get out more.

    littlerob

    December 11, 2009 at 1:25 am

  5. pronunciation-wise, learning English presents no real problem to a Frenchman. The “th” thing can be mastered rather easily.

    The real problems come after : Figuring out how vowel combinations are pronounced in every new word you learn:

    –Is the “ea” in “bear” pronounced like “dear” ? And then how about “beer” ?
    –How about the pronunciation of the letter”a” : as in “about”, “acorn”, or “at”…

    English may be a language of fewer rules,
    but French is a language of fewer exceptions.

    Raman

    December 11, 2009 at 3:22 am

  6. ABP :
    “MDJ is probably right and so are you in you agreement with his post. There is much mud slinging on both sides.”

    Yeah, a truckload of mud vs a handful of mud.

    Jimbo Larue

    December 11, 2009 at 7:26 am

  7. @Raman: I think that the “-ough” combination is probably the most difficult and mystifying for people who take up English as an acquired language.

    …through, ought, dough, cough, rough, bough.

    littlerob

    December 11, 2009 at 10:26 am

  8. Jimbo Larue : « Yeah, a truckload of mud vs a handful of mud. »

    You could have added :
    A truckload of mud thrown at a people, vs a handful thrown at institutions.

    Raman

    December 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm

  9. johnnyonline: ”the idea that canadians are in general odious has no basis in reality for me.
    i have heard many ignorant things in my life and (as your lawyer) advise you not to consider these things seriously.”

    It`s not that Canadians are generally odious, it is more that they seem to have psychological issues with Quebec that make them say odious things. And these issues also make saying odious things about Quebec, even in polite company, socially acceptable in the ROC.

    Anonymous

    December 12, 2009 at 6:22 am

  10. johnnyonline: ”the idea that canadians are in general odious has no basis in reality for me.
    i have heard many ignorant things in my life and (as your lawyer) advise you not to consider these things seriously.”

    It`s not that Canadians are generally odious, it is more that they seem to have psychological issues with Quebec that make them say odious things. And these issues also make saying odious things about Quebec, even in polite company, socially acceptable in the ROC.

    Acajack

    December 12, 2009 at 6:23 am

  11. acajack -

    given that i am not at all sure of the motivation or source of odious thoughts towards quebec or anything else for that matter – regardless – when such thoughts are spoken in polite company, those thoughts (on the bright side) are immediately recognised for what they are – namely, lacking substance and that in no way makes them socially acceptable.

    my experience says that following such a statement (and i am grateful for not being subjected to this kind of bullshit often in conversation):
    very short silence

    small cough or slight clearing of throat

    slight lowering of chin to facilitate eye contact

    immediate launch into alternative subject

    relief when thread is picked up.

    if , on the other hand, an antagonist persists then -

    one can choose either to lean forward politely refuting, leap upon your opponent and destroy the surroundings or make an excuse to be somewhere else.

    i’m still recommending the last, but wrestling in your best clothes makes the best impression.

    johnyonline

    December 12, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  12. johnnyonline,

    Exactly how familiar are you with the ROC? Have you ever lived there at all or spent much time there?

    Acajack

    December 13, 2009 at 12:34 pm

  13. Raman: “Ever since, when I meet someone who just arrived in Quebec, or when I meet someone who obviously won’t make an effort to learn French, I’ll still speak English with them. But when someone is making efforts, or when they say they are, then I try to help.”

    I go even farther: I only speak English when the person I am speaking to clearly can’t express themselves in French. Of course, if someone is just visiting here and there clearly is no point in them learning French, that’s a whole different story. But if someone lives here for an extended period of time, then I make it a point to speak to them in French. I can already hear the pro-English Quebec protesters cry foul and call me a racist/xenophobe/fill-in-the blank-whatever, but before anyone jumps to conclusions, it is not a simple matter of francophones being allergic to anything not French (if that was my case, I’d be long gone to live in Europe). Like you, Raman, I have had the chance more than once to realize that speaking English to people who want to learn French or who at least could use a bit of knowledge of French in order to manage living in Quebec is doing them a disservice. I have also had anglophones tell me that comforting them in their lack of knowledge of French is not nice.

    So, unless speaking French to someone means they are not able to carry on a basic conversation, I make it a point to speak French to everybody. And if they have the least trouble understanding what I say, I really don’t mind explaining it in English.

    There are many anglophones with the purest of good intentions living in Montreal. They are not the problem. The problem is those anglophones who accuse francophones of being racist just because they want to live in French in a monolingual French province. Then, there are those who accuse francophones of wanting to force them to live in French, whereas most francophones are only asking for permission to live in their own language. It is also these same anglophones who accuse francophones of wanting to force French down their throats who are at the same time so eager to force English down the throats of francophones.

    As AngryFrenchGuy has so well demonstrated, we are invited to tolerate the intolerants. And the problem here is that, sadly, francophones in Quebec don’t have the balls to stop tolerating the intolerants, and by politely switching to English with intolerants, they are only fueling their agenda.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    December 13, 2009 at 3:02 pm

  14. “pronunciation-wise, learning English presents no real problem to a Frenchman. The “th” thing can be mastered rather easily.

    The real problems come after : Figuring out how vowel combinations are pronounced in every new word you learn”

    As in Shaw’s remark that in English you could spell FISH as GHOT…

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_ghot_spell_fish

    angryfrenchguy

    December 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm

  15. “As in Shaw’s remark that in English you could spell FISH as GHOT…”

    HAHA! I love it!

    John

    December 14, 2009 at 10:05 am

  16. acajack,

    my first language is english and i have lived in canada all my life. i live in montreal now – where i grew up. it is the one place in this country where i feel comfortable.

    i can tolerate stupidity to a point because stupid people cannot help themselves, whereas ignornance in any language is inexcusable and not worth the time of day.

    listening (or not) to ignorant remarks is a choice. i think we should avoid them like the plague – as opposed to repeating or discussing what amounts to nothing positive (or in the vernacular – “shite”).

    johnnyonline

    December 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm


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