You may have seen this video of a New York lawyer going ape-shit over employees of a New York city salad shop speaking Spanish amongst themselves and to customers, much to the consternation of this nativist who took exception.
The viral video took the Big Apple by storm and the complaining lawyer learned the hard way just what power the internet can yield.He was subjected to some good-natured ribbing in the guise of a mariachi band who serenaded his apartment building along with plenty of protesters.
“On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators sang along with the mariachi performers and carried signs that read “Se habla Spanish” or “Racism, no Bueno.” Link
A reminder to all about public outbursts and the consequences in a camera yielding society.
I didn't think much of it until a family member living in New York pointed out the obvious, that things like this play out in Quebec more often than we believe.
The only difference being that here, telling people not to use English is not only acceptable but the new normal.
Remeber this story of a teenager who was told in no uncertain terms that speaking English to an Anglo co-worker in the break room was verboten.
No mariachi band in front of the IGA grocery store, no food truck serving bangers and mash in protest, just muzzled indifference.“Meaghan Moran, 17, got a job working at an IGA on Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier Blvd. in Saint-Lambert. She was told that she didn't have the right to speak English at the store.
A fluently bilingual Anglophone, she told CTV Montreal she picked up on some language tension one day.
“One of the guys I was working with is English and I knew him and he said, ‘No, talk to me in French because we're not allowed speaking English on the floor,” she said, adding that she quickly heard what her friend and ex-employee Alex Caldwell knew: employees don't feel comfortable speaking English anywhere in the store.
“I was warned by a friend in the lunchroom to watch what I say and keep my English down, because the management didn't like it and she got a warning,” said Caldwell.
That didn’t sit well with Moran.
“It's just about the principle. You should be able to speak whatever you like. I understand if they want to impose (some rules) -- I'm not going to talk to clients in English, I would talk to them in French -- but if I want to talk to my friend on my break in English, I should be allowed,” she said. “It's becoming too restrictive.”
Store owner Louise Menard, who also owns other IGAs, refused an on-camera interview, but explained her reasoning in a phone interview. She said she thinks that when employees speak their own languages amongst themselves, whether it's English, Russian or Spanish, even on their own time in the staffroom, it creates tension and misunderstandings in the workplace.
Menard did emphasize that speaking only French in her establishments is not required, rather it's requested.
That isn't what some employees at her Saint-Lambert store are told, however.
When Moran decided to quit, she recorded her conversation with two superiors.
“If we permit languages other than French to be spoken, what will happen in the employees’ room? We'll have a ghetto. We'll have a small group of Spanish, a small group of English,” said one supervisor.” Read the entire story
What passes for racism in New York, is considered as enlightened patriotism here in Quebec where the entire legislature, including our turncoat Anglo representatives, voted to demand an end to the infamous Bonjour/Hi greeting.
Across Montreal, I've heard similar stories where English spoken between co-workers is discouraged and where speaking English leads to a hostile work environment, especially in large institutions like hospitals or in factories and businesses..
The New York story is a stark reminder of just how low we have sunk. The above video reminds us that accosting Anglos over French is no big deal.
I'm betting that many French language militants who watch the above video from New York and Montreal are silently cheering them on.
Perhaps the Société Saint-Jean Baptiste would consider making this lawyer an honourary member.