AngryFrenchGuy

In Montreal People Who Don’t Speak English Are Uneducated Bigots

with 496 comments

Eric Amber theatre ste-catherine

About 10 or 15 years ago Blockbuster opened their first Montreal franchise on Ste.Catherine Street, between the Forum and Guy Metro. About every second evening me and my roommate JF would walk all the way up the hill from St.Henri to rent some videos because, a. we had no real professional or social obligations to speak of in those blissful days of our early twenties, and b. because the only commerce going on in St.Henri back then was the sale of beer and steamed hot dogs.

At Blockbuster there was this one employee that we called Tommy. Poor Tommy, we used to say, he just doesn’t get it. He wasn’t a bad bloke—although a bloke he certainly was—but he always had a look of confusion on his face and permanent hesitation in his movement.

One phenomenon that absolutely mystified Tom was that almost every single night me and JF bring to his counter a movie in English, and then proceed to address him and conduct the transaction in French.

Every single time Tom would pick up the VHS, open the box, read the title aloud, and then, with a grimace, tried to warn us: Mais… sé en Anglèse.

Je sais, I would answer. C’est cool.

Tom would then take our money and stare at us as we left the store, dumbfounded by these two French dudes who kept renting movies they couldn’t understand!

Poor Tommy. He just didn’t get it.

Mercifully guys like Tommy are rare in Montréal. We French bastards and Angry separatists are usually able to consume our hearts fill of Anglo-American pop culture and simultaneously uphold our right to be served in French simultaneously, without any problem. I can go to a downtown cinema, buy my ticket in French, buy my Pepsi and gummy bears in French, ask directions to the pimpled employees in French and even share my always entertaining and insightful commentary on the movie with my companion of the evening in French, and still enjoy the new Transformer movie in the original English version.

I don’t switch to English when I buy my Engelbert Humperdink CDs at HMV. I don’t try to order in Japanese when I order sushi. I can go to a bookstore, purchase a book in English and even discuss it with a librarian, speaking only French. Even when I go to McGill’s library to photocopy scientific papers and gawk at young girls from New Jersey I make it a point to speak exclusively in French with the staff.

Not only is speaking French not a problem at McGill, I’m pretty sure I get better service than English-speaking chumps. Staff seems to light up and come to life. It’s like it’s something new and interesting happening. Oh, French! I know this! I can do this!

Or maybe I’m just better looking than you are…

This said, poor Tommy’s are still out there.

Last week Eric Amber, the guy who runs the Ste.Catherine Theater downtown, sent out an email to all of Québec’s cultural media and institutions promoting his venue’s lineup as part of the Zoofest, a new comedy festival run by the folks at Juste pour Rire/Just for Laughs. When a few people complained that the email was only in English and demanded to be contacted in French or taken off their mailing list, mister Amber blew a gasket.

His theater’s shows were in English and, therefore, there was no point advertising them in French, essentially wrote the promoter, who, like poor Tommy, cannot comprehend that someone who has learned English does not immediately abandon his tribal language.

« You obviously can’t read English because you are an uneducated bigot », was the eloquent response of the theater to the demands for a French email. « Go fuck yourself. »

Sure, I’ll do that in a sec., but before I go I’d just like to point out to the Eric’s and Tommy’s out there that there are roughly 500.000 to 750.000 Anglophones in Québec and about 3 million Francophones like me who speak, read and consume English-language culture but still expect to be informed and to buy our tickets in French.

If you think you can run a business by only catering to « real » Anglos while four fifths of your potential market is jacking off in the shower, good luck with that.

We have our answer! As I’m about to upload this post, I learn that Eric Amber and the people at St.Catherine Theater do not want money spent by people who still nostalgically hang on to their backward cultures.  He is shutting his theater down and moving on to some other city where only people who have completely abandonned their primitive ways are allowed to talk back to the Anglos, somewhere like Toronto or Singapour:

« Due to the overwhelming racism and bigotry in French society toward minorities and non-french cultures, Theatre Ste-Catherine will be closing in protest. Effective immediately TSC will no longer be accepting bookings and will closed permanently Dec. 21, 2009.»

Cool.  Now maybe some uneducated bigot like Gilbert Rozon, who happens to run the biggest English-language comedy festival in the world, or André Ménard or René Angelil can buy back the theater and make some money while Eric Amber relocates to Peterborough where no linguistic and cultural bastards will try to crash his productions.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

July 19, 2009 at 10:10 am

496 Responses

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  1. But constitutionalizing French as a requirement above and beyond governmental services infringes on individual rights and freedoms.

    It is perfectly acceptable, because those restrictions against english signage only apply to businesses, and businesses cannot have human rights and freedom
    because they are not human
    … This is the whole idea behind law 101, to prevent companies from posting english signs so they do not
    FALSELY ADVERTISE
    to immigrants that Québec is not french. And no court will ever rule that anti-false-advertising laws are not a reasonable restriction to free speech.

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 5:59 pm

  2.  

    Thank you for invoking the BNA Act, James, because had the intentions of the Fathers of Confederation been adhered to, ALL of Bill 101 would never have become law in the first place because there are federal powers in the BNA Act that never would have allowed Bill 101 to see the light of day. I devote an entire chapter of my book to that (chapter 3, linked to above).

    You are just pissed at being forced to do something you will never do willingly: learn french.
    All your argumentation boils down to the simple fact that you do not want to learn french, either because it’s beyond your capability, or you find it demeaning.

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

  3. Ah yeah… Video Roma. I still think I owe them like 37$… But I still have their hularious membership card with both me and JFs picture on it…

    angryfrenchguy

    July 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm

  4. And from New Jersey!!!

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  5. If I do or don’t speak French, that is my loss…and my own business.

    Being the majority doesn’t mean — or, at least, shouldn’t mean — that you get to impose your language on others.

    Yes, certainly, in the area of governmental services we have to have one (or possibly two) official languages. But outside of governmental services it is simply not the government’s business what language I speak.

    Tony Kondaks

    July 20, 2009 at 6:09 pm

  6. Where did I even mention Bill 101 in this post, let alone the last 25?

    “I’d just like to point out to the Eric’s and Tommy’s out there that there are roughly 500.000 to 750.000 Anglophones in Québec and about 3 million Francophones like me who speak, read and consume English-language culture but still expect to be informed and to buy our tickets in French.”

    Eric Amber is free to keep his little theater open if feels like it and he thinks he can turn a profit with only the unilingual cultural enuchs of Hampstead and the Ghetto.

    Turns out he can’t and he blames his own failure on the separatists. Classic.

    angryfrenchguy

    July 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm

  7. Ah, Vinster171, you make too much sense.

    You really should read my book because that’s pretty much the premise upon which it is based.

    Tony Kondaks

    July 20, 2009 at 6:11 pm

  8. You’re partly right.

    If someone doesn’t want to learn a language, they shouldn’t be forced to.

    Jean, why don’t you learn Mohawk or Cree, one of the languages of the majority when the first French habitants paddled their way down the St. Lawrence River 500 years ago?

    Tony Kondaks

    July 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

  9. I guess you read this article diagonally. Take another stab at the article.

    Hamer, maybe you’d like to get off your moral soapbox there. Men have, do and will always stare, look at or contemplate women. It’s part of nature. Maybe you drank the radical feminist kool-aid, but “checking out the honeys” is part of life. There’s a difference between looking at pretty women and gang-raping them on pinball machines, a big one. Take a chill pill and pipe down your mock self-righteous vexation.

    DAVE ID

    July 20, 2009 at 6:15 pm

  10. Perhaps there’s less diversity of opinion among Anglophones.

    Pure Laine

    July 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm

  11. Actually, Tony, students of real history (that’s things that actually happened) as opposed to the the Great English Montreal myth of the Magic Anglos vs the Evil Sepratists Fairytale know that early french settlers intermarried a lot and “produced metis children who would hardly consider themselves French at all, and might well not speak the Language.” Nichlas Ostler Empires of the Word. (Great book, FYI)

    It was not util the British imported the type of segregation you are valiantly trying to defend and entered in their unholy alliance with the local catholic church to implement it that language and fluid mixing between French and natives stopped.

    angryfrenchguy

    July 20, 2009 at 6:42 pm

  12. Oh my god the whole world revolves around learning french which as a language increasingly loses ground to the others.

    ABP

    July 20, 2009 at 7:59 pm

  13. Tony, why don’t you learn Huron or Ojibwe, which were majority languages in what is now Upper Canada, since renamed “Ontario”, and which, following the defeat of La Nouvelle France and its aboriginal allies in the Seven Years War, were largely exterminated by the British Empire after it began its more than 200-year long and highly successful inferiorizing of everything that wasn’t anglophone, white and protestant, and its highly successful cultural genocide against French Canadians and native people?

    And might I say that I look forward to the translations of your e-book in the aforementioned languages.

    James

    July 20, 2009 at 8:00 pm

  14. Just because it’s losing ground we should stand by and let our cultural heritage just whiz by quicker? Obviously you don’t understand the meaning of anything about the language issue in Québec.

    DAVE ID

    July 20, 2009 at 8:05 pm

  15. I like to look at pretty young girls. Older ones too..who are nice looking. I guess thats just human nature and I am not about to change that scenariou.

    Nothing wrong with that….I suppose if you have a problem with that, perhaps is it you like to look at young boys…or you are getting ready to push daisies.

    One or the other!!

    ABP

    July 20, 2009 at 8:08 pm

  16. Congratulations ABP. You just admitted that you’re a pedophile.

    Enjoy your prison time.

    Hamer

    July 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

  17. Politics is not moral. It wouldn’t be right, but that’s irrelevant.

    Reinstating slavery simply would not work.

    Protecting the land of white farmers in Zimbabwe probably wouldn’t work either.

    Whether an idea is good, just or right is great for parlour room debate, has only a slight bearing on reality.

    A democracy only exists inasmuch as society accepts it. Italy was a parliamentary democracy until 1922.

    In any case, Bill 101 in its current form has been affirmed as Charter compatible by the Supreme Court. You may disagree, but in our current democratic system, the goverment doesn’t pay you to wear ermine robes.

    Fon

    July 20, 2009 at 8:47 pm

  18. Dude yer a troll.

    Have we hit the Godwin mark yet?

    DAVE ID

    July 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm

  19. A you know.

    Those the protest the loudest are usually the guilty.

    Anyways, if you don’t find women beautiful then you likely have a problem or are one of the others.

    I doubt I will spend any time in prison for llooking at someone and thinking they are pretty. Last time I checked, it wasn’t a crime.

    ABP

    July 20, 2009 at 9:44 pm

  20. Jean, why don’t you learn Mohawk or Cree, one of the languages of the majority when the first French habitants paddled their way down the St. Lawrence River 500 years ago?

    My Mik’maq ancestors [BLEEP!] on you.

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 10:03 pm

  21. Perhaps there’s less diversity of opinion among Anglophones.

    Can’t really blame them… None of the english “separatists” I know are very keen in making their position public; they know very well the ostracization they will get from other englishes…

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 10:07 pm

  22. Oh my god the whole world revolves around learning french which as a language increasingly loses ground to the others.

    What are you doing in Québec if you don’t speak french? Why do you expect WE should learn english while you don’t learn french?
    Enlighten us please.

    Jean Naimard

    July 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

  23. No, you don’t mention Bill 101, that’s true.

    Does that mean you’re changing your mind about it?

    Tony Kondaks

    July 21, 2009 at 12:52 am

  24. I’m not an internet troll. I apologize for my previous comments and for hijacking the thread.

    Hamer

    July 21, 2009 at 1:11 am

  25. Of the examples I cited, two, the Canada Clause ruling and the ruling on Bill 104, specifically invalided parts of Article 73 of Bill 101, so your claim that this article has been “upheld” is quite false. You present no refutation of my claim that the Trudeau constitution opened the door to the weakening of the educational (and signage) provisions of Bill 101. This is a matter of public record.

    You present no evidence whatsoever that Bill 101 is “killing French” in Québec, and social scientists giving serious attention to this matter have found that the decline of French coincides rather with the weakening of Bill 101. eg. http://www.lautjournal.info/default.aspx?page=3&NewsId=1641

    And, I reiterate, in Canadian jurisdictions where Bill 101 is not in force, the situation of French is one of unmitigated catastrophe. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7074/is_8/ai_n28757023/?tag=content;col1

    You also contradict yourself, since various passages in your book purport to laud how well French is faring in Québec and suggest any concern for its fate is bloated paranoia. You also trivialize such concern by suggesting the only people who have any genuine business worrying about the fate of their language are aboriginals. Evidently the hypocrisy of this posture escapes you. Canada has just as much responsibility for the assimilating of native and the destruction of their language as it does in the case of francophones. The Mohawk language isn’t faring one iota better in Ontario than it is in Québec, and for the same reasons, and it was Canada who closed Mohawk-language schools. Ditto for Cree in Manitoba and Ontario, which is faring much *worse* than it is in Québec. Another bamboozle.

    James

    July 21, 2009 at 1:15 am

  26. You also contradict yourself, since various passages in your book purport to laud how well French is faring in Québec and suggest any concern for its fate is bloated paranoia.

    He is anglo-saxon, and thus is culturally unable to understand the concerns of a different culture.

    You also trivialize such concern by suggesting the only people who have any genuine business worrying about the fate of their language are aboriginals. Evidently the hypocrisy of this posture escapes you. Canada has just as much responsibility for the assimilating of native and the destruction of their language as it does in the case of francophones. The Mohawk language isn’t faring one iota better in Ontario than it is in Québec, and for the same reasons, and it was Canada who closed Mohawk-language schools. Ditto for Cree in Manitoba and Ontario, which is faring much *worse* than it is in Québec.

    Actually, law 101 also protects aboriginal languages; indian schools are run in the native languages (so the mohawk language is faring better in Québec than in Ontario). In Québec, 80% of the natives speak their ancestral language, as opposed to only 20% in the rest of Canada (and, conversely, 80% of inmates in canadian prison are natives, as opposed to only 20% in Québec).
    Only in Québec you will find whites willing to listen to an algonquin rapper or innu folk/country.
    On the North Shore, you will find thriving Innu communities with their own radio stations. And go ask any Moonsoonee cree indian if he’d rather be living in Québec. The answer will displease diehard federalists…
    Whenever the Québec government negociates with the natives, it is done on a nation-to-nation level, quite unlike when Ottawa does it in a condescending master-to-moron way.

    Another bamboozle.

    Bamboozling is the name of the game for federalists. Only through deception can such an lopsided régime can survive in a democratic context. Kondaks is, as federalists always do, trying to pull the wool over our eyes. His arguments about aboriginals clearly shows that he is also utterly clueless about them, and he only uses them as cannon fodder to further his anglo-saxon hegemonist views over Québec.
    The english care no more about the aboriginals in Canada than they cared about the dalit in India, except when they can be used against another “troublesome” nation.
    So, once again, from the depths of Southern United States, Kondaks shows yet another time how utterly clueless he is with regards to Québec.

    Jean Naimard

    July 21, 2009 at 2:04 am

  27. “There’s a difference between looking at pretty women and gang-raping them on pinball machines, a big one”

    There is also a difference between looking and gawking. There is nothing wrong with looking at a girl that caught your eye. But that’s different than staring at every girl that you pass by while slobbering all over yourself. If you don’t happen to be that type, it doesn’t automatically make you a fag. It just shows that you have class, and you’re not a desperate loser.

    There is also something weird about going to McGill library to gawk at girls that are 20 years younger than you. You don’t have to be a queer to think that something might be off right there.

    allophone

    July 21, 2009 at 7:38 am

  28. “I apologize for my previous comments”

    Hamer, I hope you’re being sarcastic.

    allophone

    July 21, 2009 at 7:54 am

  29. What proportion of anglo Canadians attend English only schools, or for that matter what proportion of British, or any other nationality attend schools in their own language ? Why would Quebec be any different ?

    Dave

    July 21, 2009 at 9:52 am

  30. Allophone, you to should read the article again. He did say it was 15 years ago in his early 20s. Diagonal readers are the worst.

    DAVE ID

    July 21, 2009 at 10:32 am


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