Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Quebec Pastafarian's Discrimination Case Thrown Out For "Wasting Court's Time"

So here in Quebec, a judge - one Stéphane Sansfaçon (Stephane NoWay) - has thrown out a Montreal Pastafarian's discrimination case and accused her of wasting the court's resources.
“Too many people implicated in real litigation with consequences that could affect their lives or those of their children or enterprise are waiting their turn in court for us to be silent about the monopolization of these resources to determine if the plaintiff can be photographed wearing a colander or pirate hat,” he said.

“We forget too often that the courts are a public service with limited resources that must not be abused.”
The timing of this really couldn't be better, considering the recent controversy about Muslim women being allowed to wear their Niqabs while swearing oaths, citizenship, etc.

In fact, I mentioned this I wrote recently in a Facebook comment about how I would have no problem whatsoever with anyone wearing any headgear to drivers license offices or swearing in ceremonies - so long as no religion was privileged over other faiths or atheists:
I'm perfectly fine with allowing people to wear any head covering they feel fit at swearing in ceremonies and at government offices when ID is required. In fact, I would love to see a discussion divorced entirely from religion where we simply discuss how much this would cost and who's paying - or how it could be implemented with no extra cost. Once this is implemented, women can choose to wear niqabs or Storm Trooper masks at their swearing in ceremonies. Then perhaps this guy any others like him would get justice as well.

In other words, a properly secular country would work towards a security protocol for supporting generic head and face coverings. Then they would figure out how to implement it so that any extra required labour or staff or ceremonies etc would be paid for - preferably by those who wish the service. Of course, this will never happen because governments like to use these issues as wedge issues for their own gain.
Well, Mr. Sansfaçon is not interested in this. He doesn't see Pastafarianism as a real religion. I assume this is because there are not as many Pastafarians as Muslims, or maybe because there aren't as many buildings for worship or wars fought in His Noodly Appendage's Name. I would argue that both religions make about the same amount of sense.
Judge Sansfaçon said the fact she had a valid driver’s licence while wearing the accoutrements of her “religion” meant there was no real question to decide.
Sarcastic air quotes are not mine.

The Pastafarian in question is Isabelle Narayana, who was not able to wear the colander of her own religion but was allowed to come back dressed up like a Muslim Pirate.
Narayana, who claimed to belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster whose members are known as Pastafarians, went to court after the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) said she couldn’t wear a colander or pirate hat in the photo. She’d shown up to renew her permit at an SAAQ office in March 2014, in full pirate attire, but was denied. Only medical or religious exceptions are allowed to the no-head-covering rule.

Narayana argued that since the exception applies to Muslim women, it should apply to her as well, given her religious affiliation. Court was told she subsequently showed up at an SAAQ office for the photo wearing a head scarf, which she told the court was the costume of a female pirate who happened to be Muslim. The head scarf met SAAQ rules and the photo was taken, but she said she still wanted the court to rule on whether her rights were violated by the original denial.

Yes, this is funny, but there is satire here and with it comes a disturbing truth. The judge seems to have missed the point here. This demonstrates precisely what I do not wish to have happen. When you specify that religious people get free exemption from certain laws or obligations, the State then needs to somehow pick and choose what's a religion and what's not a religion.

(Image source)

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