[Editor’s note: I thought I’d bump this year-old post—seems timely, somehow. Here’s the mandate, bearing out my suggestion that mockery may be the best response to this appalling institutional artefact.]
I’m all for the new Office of Religious Freedom the Conservative government is due to unveil, pun fully intended.
It won’t be accessible to Canadian niqabis, presently denied social services, employment and the right to vote in Quebec, and citizenship in Ottawa. But it will provide, for this reason and others, untold opportunities for ridicule.
Perhaps the recent ban on niqabs in France, Belgium and the Netherlands would be a good issue for the spanking-new Office to address, or the ban on minarets in Switzerland. No? Why ever not?
On the other side of the ledger, since we must be even-handed, the denial of the right to teach creationism in US public schools is a clear abrogation of religious freedom, as is forcing children to be exposed to the secular-humanist dogma of evolution. Perhaps Gary Goodyear can have a word with the ORF and get the matter brought up at the UN.
Then we have those ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. They are being denied the right to force women to the back of the bus—literally—but the outcry by secular Jews at their misogyny has caused them to feel so excluded that they’re now dressing up as Nazi concentration camp victims. What to do, what to do? How will the ORF respond? Do we need an Office of Women’s Freedom as well? Can you imagine the interoffice memos?
Stephen Harper and his band are about to establish a new site of struggle, but one where they are hopelessly outgunned by the forces of mocking laughter. Do they realize what a pit they are digging for themselves?
Imagine Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, but in a society with freedom of speech. Think of the fun they’d have with Big Brother if there were no memory hole. “Hey, the chocolate ration’s going down, not up! Can’t those Minitru bozos do simple arithmetic?”
Bring it on, Harpercons—I, for one, am looking forward to the lulz.