Saturday, March 04, 2006

Interesting reactions to the Kirpan ruling,

I'm glad I'm not the only one who views the latest Supreme Court Decision to be based on absolute crap. Get a load of the logic used by the Court to justify its decision:

une telle prohibition empêche la promotion de valeurs comme le multiculturalisme, la diversité et le développement d'une culture éducationnelle respectueuse des droits d'autrui.


Translation: Such prohibition discourages the promotion of values such as Multiculturism, diversity, and the development of an educational culture respectful of freedom of religion.

I decided to listen in on some talk radio shows (both in English and French) yesterday, to listen to the reaction of people concerning the reasoning behind the this ruling.

(Hand to God, I'm not making any of this up!)

  • One young caller who described himself as a nudist, claimed that he will got to school on Monday totally buck naked, and should the school send him home or take disciplinary actions, he will challenge their decision all the way to the Supreme Court, expecting the same reasoning to take hold.
  • Another student called in to state that he will be creating a new religion which makes it mandatory for every follower to carry a AK-47 with him starting at the age of 12. And will simply fall back on this decision to allow him to take his gun to school.
  • (There were many callers like this, made up probably 40 per cent of the calls taken I heard)
  • One caller made a very good point: How could the Supreme Court allow something in schools that isn't allowed in Airplanes (pocket knives). What if a Sikh decides to take his Kirpan on the plane, and gets it confiscated will he claim that his "freedom of religion" is being threatened in the name of "multiculturism"?
  • One teacher said that she doesn't understand why she's supposed to take away Tylenols pills from students (non-prescription drugs are banned in most schools) but allow a Sikh student to carry something that puts the safety of all students in jeopardy.
  • However, one women who agreed with the ruling argued that the Kirpan is no more dangerous than a pair of scissors or the many equipment that is found in art department. (Good point...sort of...IMO that's more of "apples and oranges" comparison).
  • A few teachers even hoped that Jean Charest would use to the Notwithstanding clause to protect Quebec schools from the decision.
  • One lawyer: Whatever happened to "equality", I thought that was the reasoning for behind the SSM decision, why isn't it for this case?

14 Comments:

At Saturday, 04 March, 2006, Blogger VW said...

Before I reply, allow me to give you this link:

http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/rec/html/2006scc006.wpd.html

This is the actual text of the Supreme Court judgement, in English. I've always found it's better to quote from the source instead of the news story.

Now, about your caller's reactions:

-- Those who speak of starting up new religions to protest this ruling tend to be those in whose lifestyles religion plays a peripheral role at best. They would also run afoul of the Supreme Court's own definition of religion:

"Defined broadly, religion typically involves a particular and comprehensive system of faith and worship. Religion also tends to involve the belief in a divine, superhuman or controlling power. In essence, religion is about freely and deeply held personal convictions or beliefs connected to an individual's spiritual faith and integrally linked to one's self-definition and spiritual fulfilment, the practices of which allow individuals to foster a connection with the divine or with the subject or object of that spiritual faith."

This comes from an earlier Supreme Court judgement:
http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/pub/2004/vol2/html/2004scr2_0551.html

In order for your callers' positions to stand, they would need to demonstrate that their proposed regalia (or lack thereof) qualify as a sincere representation of a spiritual belief, rather than as a mere prop for protest.

In the end, the discontent with this ruling can be tracked back to two sources:
a) ignorance (and therefore irrational distrust) of the Sikh religion in general and the kirpan in particular; or
b) ignorance of the proper role of religion in society.
b)

 
At Saturday, 04 March, 2006, Anonymous Jim said...

I am an atheist and therefore beieve that there is no proper role of religion in society. I find it astounding that this gang of eight judges think they can grant to religious people rights that they won't grant to me. Clearly equality is not their aim but punishing Harper for daring to expose the judicial appointment process to public scrutiny.

 
At Saturday, 04 March, 2006, Anonymous Rob said...

Implicit in the court decision is that schools can't demand a secular common denominator for students but must allow symbols like the hijab that emphasize the differences beween people even if, like a Taliban turban, which conveys a militant desire to destroy infidels. Presumably, the same reasoning can be extended to mutiple marriages, prohibition of education of women, and the stoning of dissidents.

 
At Saturday, 04 March, 2006, Anonymous Anne (happier in Ontario) said...

This ruling could be easily tested for it's fairness if an existing established religion decided that it become mandatory that their followers must carry a knife of similar proportions at all times too. Will the Supreme Court then rule that it is okay for 50% or more kids to be bringing these knives to school? Kids of opposing faiths and beliefs all armed? I wish this would happen just to expose the hypocrisy based in some of these decisions handed down.

Do you think that Sikhs would step forward to support this or oppose it? Would be interesting to say the least.

 
At Sunday, 05 March, 2006, Anonymous Mike in the U.S. said...

That sort of insane. I carry a .45 eagle often but never to school, oh well.

 
At Sunday, 05 March, 2006, Anonymous Mike in the U.S. said...

that is sort

 
At Monday, 06 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seen today on RDI (french CBCnews): Sikh community members who work at the Montreal port are ready to go to court to be allowed not to wear the mandatory protective hard hat, but their turban instead.(http://radio-canada.ca/regions/colombie-britannique/2006/03/06/001-turban_sikhs.shtml)

Does anybody remember why we forced people to wear hard hats in the first place? I think expressing religious beliefs is NOT a valuable reason to bend the most basic measures of health and safety.

 
At Monday, 06 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense intended, but opinions voiced in ignorance carry very little weight.

Many are having this knee-jerk reaction to the SCC decision, calling it everything from leftist to hypocritical, to insane and so forth. However, the SCC was in a far better position information-wise, than the vast majority of those who are whining about the Multani decision.

The SCC considered all of the facts, the decisions at the divisional court and court of appeal, canadian and foreign jurisprudence on the matter, it considered the Sikh concept of the kirpan, it measured legitimate safety concerns against legitimate religious requirements, it applied a Charter analysis in determining whether reasonable accommodation was possible.

If you are going to argue against the decision, at least have the intellectual integrity to read all of the available information on the matter. Otherwise, all you have are these tired and nonsensical arguements of "I'm going to start a new religion which allows me to carry a gun". The ignorance and/or stupidity of a poster is revealed via such comments.

If any of these posters would take a little bit of time to read the case and figure out how the Charter works (especially the Oakes test), they would understand that none of our freedoms are 100% guaranteed. In other words, these religious rights are allowed up to the point where they can be accommodated. In cases like this, the argument then rests on whether an outright prohibition is justified - this is very difficult to justify since some reasonable accommodation can almost always be found.

And no, this does not mean that Sikhs will only now start wearing kirpans in Canadian schools - Sikhs have been wearing kirpans in Canadian schools for 100 years or so. And goodness gracious, not a single incident involving kirpan violence in school - how is that for a track record?

I'm not saying an argument against the decision cannot be made, but please try to understand at least something of the Sikh religion and the concept of the kirpan before bellowing how the decision is garbage.

As it is, most of the woefully weak arguments that are being raised by those against this decision were dealt with in past decisions - for God's sake, read them!

I have no problem with differing opinions, and can respect arguments raised after careful consideration of the matters.
However, I have little respect for ignorant/uneducated opinions voiced in knee-jerk fashion.

Again, please spend a little time understanding what the Sikh religion entails and the concept of the kirpan and then measuring this against the backdrop of Canadian legislation and jurisprudence. I think many of you will find the decision isn't so bad after all.

regards,
Perpinder Singh

 
At Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, Blogger The Arabian Knight said...

Phantom Obersvor:

"religion is about freely and deeply held personal convictions or beliefs connected to an individual's spiritual faith and integrally linked to one's self-definition and spiritual fulfilment, the practices of which allow individuals to foster a connection with the divine or with the subject or object of that spiritual faith."

I agree with that, problem is many nudists can easily claim that their lifestule helps them spiritually and in some cases a conncection with the devine. The problem arises as to how to measure the seriousness of each religion, and it should'nt fall in the hands of the state.

I've heard on a program as well, that some Sikhs in France have managed to get around the Kirpan banning by replacing them with some kind of diamond. Maybee that was something that they could have looked into rather than estavlishing a different set of rules for students.

 
At Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, Blogger aliandra said...

Perpinder Singh;

How big is a kirpan anyway? Is it like a pocket knife or are Sikh kids gonna be walking around in school with scimitars?

I don't think folks here are being ignorant and you're no doubt correct in saying that a kirpan leads the wearer to violence. The argument is really about what extremes of behavior and dress should be tolerated in the name of religion?

Anon;

Speaking of hard hats ...

We had a case here in New York City where a Sikh cop refused to wear his policeman’s hat because of the turban. The police commissioner said too bad - the hat is part of an officer’s uniform. The case went to court on grounds of religious discrimination. End result – the Sikh and the turban were re-instated.

Odd thing was that there was another Sikh cop in the precinct who had no problem with taking off his turban and wearing the hat.

Jim;

Atheism is a belief system too. In fact, you just stated you believed religion has no place in society.

 
At Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, Blogger aliandra said...

Oops .. that should be "that a kirpan DOESN'T lead the wearer to violence"

 
At Thursday, 09 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the arabian knight -

While there may be some individuals who are willing to wear paper cut outs of kirpans, others are not. The question comes down to whether the belief held by the individual is sincere. As per Sikhism, the sincerity behind wearing the kirpan goes back to 1699 when Sikhs first began wearing kirpans as an article of faith. In this light, the court will not look at what some members of the particular religion may find acceptable but will look at what the individual in question actually believes.

The nudist example is interesting, but ultimately is poor as a comparison to the kirpan case; the kirpan is not being "thrust" (excuse the pun) upon anyone and no one is being forced to observe or participate in the religion via the kirpan. At most, the accommodation being made is that the kirpan is being accepted as an article of faith.

Nudism, on the other hand, if it were a genuinely held religious belief would also have to be measured against the backdrop of the Charter. Could reasonable accommodation be made for the nudists? Were the limits placed on the nudists right to practice their religious right to be nude sufficiently justified in a free and democratic society?

In Canada, there is no religious right which is guaranteed to be free from any restrictions or restraints. However, and rightly so, the onus falls on the institution which imposes the restriction to justify it as minimally impairing the right in question.

Perpinder

 
At Thursday, 09 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Aliandra,

In general, the kirpan does not have a set size, and can range from a few inches to over a foot.

Most tend to be a few inches - 3 to 6 inches perhaps.

With school children, local school boards may have certain limits for kirpans. In BC, I think school boards asked the kirpans to be no bigger than 5 or 6 inches (don't quote me on that).

However, in the case of Multani, the restrictions on the kirpan went beyond just size: the kirpan was to always be kept in a wooden sheath, which specifically had to remain attached to the gatra (shoulder strap), and the entire kirpan, sheath included, had to be wrapped tightly in a cloth envelope and sewn shut so as to completely prevent removal. Moreover, the kirpan would be subject to random checks by staff to ensure everything was in order.

The Multani family had agreed to these strict restrictions imposed by the superintendant but the school board was not happy with them and demanded a complete prohibition.

I don't disagree with you that there exist, at least hypothetically, limits on what can aspects of faith and or dress are allowable. Would these aspects place an undue burden on other members of society? Would other members of society face undue hardship because of these aspects? Would complete prohibition be the only answer or could another avenue be taken which would minimally impair the rights of X to practice his/her faith?

In this case, you have a child wearing kirpans subject to the restrictive measures their school boards may impose. Are they a threat? A pandora's box of violence just waiting to erupt? I don't think so. This pandora's box hasn't opened in over a hundred years of kirpans being in Canada..perhaps this particular box only exists in our heads...

Furthermore, any child wanting to commit violence can find any number of more lethal "weapons" at school, such as pencils, pens, bottles, baseball bats, belts, textbooks etc.

regards,
Perpinder Singh

 
At Thursday, 15 July, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

票貼 借貸 借錢

 

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