Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mulitcultursim, Religious Freedom and the Kirpan Ruling.

Brigitte Pellerin has a good article that appeared in the Montreal Gazette this mourning, which explains the position of the people who opposed the Kirpan ruling last week by the Supreme Court. She summarizes the feeling perfectly as many walked on eggshells not to try to sound culturally insensitive in the whole matter.

I also couldn't help but notice that there seems to be a Canada/Quebec divide on reaction to the ruling.

It’s difficult to condemn the Supreme Court’s kirpan decision without sounding like a bigot. But I’ll try anyway. Using the excuse of multiculturalism to give minority groups special status within public institutions is wrong and dangerous.


Thus I also reacted negatively to the 2004 Supreme Court ruling, Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, giving orthodox Jews the right to build temporary “succah” huts on their balconies even though they had signed a contract saying they wouldn’t. The Court explained that if “a person’s belief at the time of the alleged interference with his or her religious freedom” is sufficiently sincere, as it was deemed to be in Northcrest, then of course the contract isn’t valid. It was an atrociously bad, and dangerous, decision. Orthodox Jews should have the same right as anyone else to sign, or not sign, a contract depending whether its provisions suit them on whatever grounds they think important. And the same obligation as anyone else to do what they promised. By ruling otherwise, allowing intensity of belief to override one’s solemn word, the court opened the door to all sorts of other claims, not always as inoffensive as a temporary hut.


I don’t think most Sikhs want their kids, but no one else, carrying serviceable weapons to school. But the Supreme Court says public schools should grant Sikhs special privileges because God wants it. And all us non-Sikhs are allowed to do is show respect. It’s wrong, and it’s dangerous – not because Sikhs are, but because others may be.

Read all of it online here.


At Wednesday, 08 March, 2006, Anonymous primvs pilvs said...

If these things are not a danger why did they say that banning them from court rooms and airports is fine? Extreme court hypocricy.

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

The article boldly states the kirpan is a serviceable weapon.....pray tell, is not a pen a serviceable weapon? Is not a baseball bat a serviceable weapon? Is not a wet towel, snapped at a naked behind, a serviceable weapon?

Yes! Yes! Yes! They all have the potential to be weapons but then why the hangup over the kirpan? For those unaware of what the kirpan entails, its form is of concern. There is a perception that it is dangerous.

However, perception alone is insufficient reason to deny a religious belief. Something more is needed. Unfortunately for those opposed to this decision, all they can point to is their perception of the kirpan and nothing substantive.

Furthermore, once the kirpan is restricted in the fashion mentioned in the decision, there may be pillows out there more dangerous.

Perpinder Singh

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

primvs pilvs -

Before you go condemning the court for being hypocritical, have you considered the facts of the case? Have you analyzed all of the relevant Canadian decisions and then turned your eye to how other jurisprudences such as the USA have considered the kirpan?

If not, then you have some audacity calling the SCC hypocritical when you haven't done the basic legwork to support your point.

Regarding why kirpans aren't allowed in courts, it's a matter of context. For instance, as far as I am aware, lawyers wearing kirpans are allowed in court and there is at least one case in BC where a judge expressly allowed an articling student to wear a kirpan. However, the judge placed a restriction: she was not allowed to come with X distance of the accused.

On that same note, in another case, Sikhs were not allowed to wear kirpans in court. What was the context? They were all accused of a violent crime.

Furthermore, consider courts and airplanes generally as compared to school.

A person may go to court a few times in his/her lifetime, and may fly once a year. These are temporary instances as compared to school where a person will spend the majority of his/her growing years.

Flowing from that, there is the transitory nature of courts and airplanes to consider. Schools, where other students and teachers get to know each other, know their own students far better than do courts know visiting public or airlines know clients.

That said, even in courts and airlines, there exists the possibility of accommodation. Steel cutlery is still used in first class by many airlines - perhaps those kirpans judged by trained security to be no more dangerous than on-board cutlery could be allowed. Perhaps the airlines, for an additional fee, could provide Sikh passengers with kirpans they deemed no more dangerous than on-board cutlery.....these are all hypotheticals to illustrate accommodation is not out of the question.

However, given the safety-security paradigm existing since 9/11, it is unlikely such accommodation will take place with airplanes. With courts, in Canada at least, such accommodation is already made in many cases, albeit informally - there are no written exceptions for the kirpan as to date.

As a matter of interest, the SCC allowed the public to wear their kirpans into court for the Multani hearing - quite "hypocritical" of them, wouldn't you say.

Perpinder Singh

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

票貼 借貸 借錢


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