Sikhs, Saguenay and the World Order of Men Without Hats

with 35 comments

Men Without Hats

One of the great band logos of history: 514's Men Without Hats

A couple of years ago I was hired by Vanier College, an anglo CEGEP, to take some students on a field trip for what was either an architecture or religion class. It wasn’t exactly clear. Anyway me and the kids spent the day driving around Montreal, stopping at various synagogues, churches and temples.

The teacher seemed like a very nice, and from what I could hear from behind the diesel engine, knowledgable man. He was your stereotypical CBC/As things happen fellow with glasses and toast crumbs in his beard who made it a matter of principle to address me in French even though on that day he was the paying customer.

Just before noon we stopped at St.Joseph’s Oratory in Côte-des-Neiges. The teacher gave the students a brief introduction to the story of the not-yet-saint Brother André, the lowly doorman who was commanded by God to build a big-ass church on Mount-Royal and to dedicate it to Jesus’s dad.

Then, before letting the students out of the bus, he informed them that catholic tradition demands that visitors to a church uncover their heads.

« Of course », he added, « if your religion requires you to cover your head, you may keep your hats. »

All of the sudden, all was made clear.  That day, on the mountain, the lord came to me in the shape of that small man in a plaid shirt who looked like someone my dad would hang out with, and gave me the kabbalistic key to the split-level logical architecture used by the English Canadian media when discussing issues religion and law.  Here was the  wisdom of Younge Street used to solve conflicts between different incompatible religious requirements in all its simple clarity:

The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.

Everything made sense now. This was how MacLean’s Martin Patriquin could write an article about tensions between Outremont’s Hassidics—a hat and whig-wearing sect that openly enforces ethnic purity—and their secular neighbours, and portray the latter as the intolerant ones.

This was how Montreal Gazette could simultaneously argue that the religious paraphernalia of Sikhs (a hat people) is so holy that our democratically elected legislators are not qualified to even have an opinion about it AND that Christian (a hat-less faith) prayers and crosses do not belong in the civic space and that MNA’s are not only allowed, but required to legislate.

The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.

Of course.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

35 Responses

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  1. “So you’d be taking their money, but not spending it on them.”

    That’s exactly my point. Get it? Think harder.


    March 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm

  2. “That’s exactly my point. Get it? Think harder.”

    I guess I must have misunderstood, cause if that’s the point, that’s not much of a point…


    March 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

  3. “How about we make English an official language of Québec, allow English on signs, English-only signs, give the English schools the right to accept any kid they want. How about we do that and take the provincial funding that goes to MGill, the General Hospital and the Lester B. Pearson School Board and give it to l’Université de Montréal and the CHUM.”

    Or better yet, give me a 10% flat tax rate. You do this, and I’ll sing praises to your state, even if it spends all of my 10% on the OQLF or on Pauline Marois’s fourth mansion, and allows Swahili on signs while keeping the ban on English.

    As it is, you take half my income and can’t even give me a mile of decent road.

    “cause if that’s the point, that’s not much of a point…”

    His point seems to be: “you don’t like the state because it keeps fucking you over. If it didn’t, you might like it better”.

    This guy is a twit of monumental proportions.


    March 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm

  4. 100% agree with adski


    March 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

  5. Second degree doesn’t work with everybody, AFG.


    March 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm

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