"In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace, as an offered "palliative." Juvenal decried it as a simplistic motivation of common people.The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man." Wikipedia
Perhaps the simplest example of 'bread and circuses' was the action of Emperor Nero who blamed the Christians for a fire in Rome which he himself started. He then arrested the Christians and fed them to the lions in a public spectacle known as Damnatio ad bestias ('condemnation to beasts") which was for all intents and purposes was a simple distraction, one that blinded the public from the truth that in fact, their city had been destroyed.
No different than a preschool teacher who runs her students ragged in a series of high energy games in an effort to tire them out and calm them before nap time.
It pains me to write about Quebec's Charter of Stupidity at all, because to do so falls into the neatly laid trap set by the PQ to shift focus away from a dysfunctional province with a dismal record of failure, dishonesty and shiftlessness, led by an incompetent government of self-important, yet witless fools.
Given the dismal state of affairs, it is easy enough to understand why the government would choose to switch focus away from the real problems which are hard to solve, to imaginary problems with the attendant simple solutions.
Because the government occupies so high a public profile, it can easily spread any message it wishes, all with an air of authority, and so the PQ is filling the airwaves with nonsense, paranoia and fear. It is not a particularly difficult feat, but a horrific betrayal of our Western values.
Any decent and honourable government resists the very real temptation to descend into the fiery cauldron of demagoguery and manipulation, usually out of self-respect, pride, decency and the dedication to the democratic principle that was instilled in all of us.
It is no different than deviant parents who school their offspring in racist, cruel, evil and dishonest values, a dubious yet not particularly difficult accomplishment, something no self-respecting parent or decent citizen would do.
Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.
And so the ends justify the means.
In this respect the PQ is traveling down the same line as the Germans and the Russians who blamed the Jews for economic woes, as did Uganda's Idi Amin who scapegoated the Asians as well as Robert Mugabe who blamed the Whites. It goes on and on, today Christians are blamed for the fall of Mosrsi in Egypt today.
Scapegoating is a game that's been played for time immemorial and ever since Adam blamed Eve, scapegoating had been a consistent human trait.
"The scapegoat, Campbell suggests, tends to be an outsider, someone we believe to be “incapable of suffering” and who can be readily dehumanized." -Scapegoat, by Charlie Campell
But the reality is that the civil service is less that 7% minority and of that minority, only a mere fraction wear religious symbols. The problem, if a problem at all, is but a trifle.
The same goes for religious 'accommodations.' The PQ has never really detailed the problem or spelled out the instances of religious confrontation in any detail.
Independent verification by journalists reveal that there are less than half a dozens complaints lodged with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal over accommodations per year.
And so the government proposes a solution to problems that don't exist.
Let's look a little more closely at those civil servants and the problem of religious headwear.
The chart over here indicates that the civil service is 91.5% white francophones, 2% Anglophone and 7.1% visible minorities.
So how many of these visible minorities wear religious headwear?
Let's do some sums, I'm pretty sure you won't find too many Jews in kippahs, dishing out licenses at the SAAQ , the same for Sikhs with turbans.
This issue is about Muslim women who wear the Hijab, who have been roundly vilified in the separatist media, portrayed as medieval oppressed objective lackeys.
So it boils down to figuring out how many of these Muslim women wear the hijab to work at their government job.
Muslims make up about 25% of Quebec's visible minorities, so 7.1% divided by 25%= 1.77% of which, about 60% are women, or 2.4% x 60% = 1%
Of the 1% of Muslim women who work for the government, about (20%) according to Minister Drainville actually wear the hijab, leaving a grand total of less than ⅓ of one percent or about 220 of Quebec's 78,000 civil servants.
A veritable crisis....
This is called 'manufacturing dissent,' creating an issue out of a non-issue.
Now for another argument put forward by the PQ, the one that says that state employees in positions of power, including police, guards, judges and teachers can give the impression of partiality.
Cases in point, a young Muslim appears in court charged in the firebombing of a Jewish school and who faces a judge who is wearing a kippah.
A Hasid car accident victim is treated by a turban wearing emergency room doctor.
A young mother who is concerned that the daycare teacher is wearing a hijab and may be inclined to fill her daughter with non-Christian nonsense.
How will making these people remove their religious symbols change the fact that if they are so inclined, they will change their attitude because they've been stripped of a religious symbol?
If the Jewish judge has it in for the school bomber based on his religious convictions, then kippah or not, he shouldn't be a judge.
If a turbaned Sikh doctor who removes his turban during work hours, harbours certain prejudices and lets it affect his work, he shouldn't be a doctor.
And a teacher who removes her hijab during class, but continues to proselytize in favour of Allah, shouldn't be allowed to teach.
By the logic above, a white driver given a speeding ticket by a black policeman could wonder as to the motives of the policeman.
Should a divorced judge who was badly beaten in his own divorce be allowed to decide a divorce case?
Should a female judge physically battered by her husband in the past be allowed to hear a domestic dispute case?
The government's logic in all this is that those who wear kippahs, hijabs or turbans are by nature partial and unfit for certain positions of power.
Magically taking off their hats, doesn't change who they are. It is preposterous.
People who are unprofessional should be weeded out of the system, but not based on their skin colour, sex or religious affiliation, overtly demonstrated or not.
We all bring our personal feelings and history to work, it remains that we do our jobs impartially and whether our personal baggage is hidden or plain to see, is of no matter.
But in telling Quebecers that religious symbols are unacceptable, the government is telling the public that the wearers of those symbols are unworthy and that signal is a dangerous sign that cannot but lead to discrimination, dangerous confrontation and polarizing ostracization .
A big ado about nothing.....
A crisis that isn't a crisis and a circus led by ringmaster Drainville who will say and do anything to distract the public from the sad reality at hand.
If a few Muslims suffer the consequences, well.... you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
In the meantime the mayor of Quebec Regis Lebaeume unloaded on Minister Agnes Maltais demanding that she face the $5 billion shortfall that cities face in relation to their municipal employees pensions plans. Madame Maltais wasn't overly concerned, telling the mayor (as the school boards were told before) to just increase taxes.
A furious Leabeaume was forced to admit this week, that the PQ government gave in to the union demands and put the issue on hold once again.
How serious is the pension debacle?
I was at a family BBQ and met an ex-fireman from the city of Montreal who retired at the sweet age of fifty.
I imagine he started working at eighteen and had 32 years on the job.
But taking a pension at fifty means he could collect until he's ninety, an impossible burden for the taxpayer.
The very able fireman now works as a salesman while collecting his pension, all the time reminding us that 'them's the rules.'
I bet you haven't even heard of the explosive pension issue, because the media is obssessed with Hijabs and Kippahs.
Lebaume is looking to change the rules that dictate when one can retire and when one can collect, pushing the notion that no government or municipal pension can kick in before 65 years old.
It's an important hot button issue that deserves our attention, but alas, let us by all means put these discussions to the side and face off with nonsensical issues of distraction.
Welcome to the circus, pass the bread.