Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Quebec Soccer Headgear

The province of Quebec is about to get dragged through the mud again in the English Canadian media as being a shameful gulag of intolerance and resentment.  At issue: The Quebec Soccer Federation's ban of sikh turbans and hijabs in children's soccer.  Leading the charge in the globe and mail today was Huffington Post blogger (and Quebec resident) Supriya Dwiverdi, arguing that there are sets of rules that apply to white French-speaking Quebecois and others that apply to everybody else.  The subtext in most articles critical of Quebec like this is usually "Oh my god, we are struggling to survive in this barren, horrid, sclerotic place and then the government and the french people make it even more difficult with their bizarre behaviour.  When will it end?"  The question "Does anybody actually care?" is never asked.

In the real world, there are probably more important things we could be discussing than a nine year old being asked to take his turban off.  Yes, we could fumble over ourselves in a race to scream about our "inclusiveness" and "unity" from the rooftops, but the truth is, polls in Canada consistently show the average joe is tired of politically correct bullshit and is rather kow-towed into line on an issue like this under coercion from the media and political elites.

It is an interesting question for the heavyweight legal scholar crowd, representing probably 1-2% of the population who must wrestle with issues like this and come up with coherent opinions around what this affects, as they do with all legal matters.  Is there unfairness? Are an individuals rights being infringed upon? Is the matter causing duress and/or adverse effects on others? What are the consequences for the individual and for society?

In this matter, it appears that 1) An individual is being asked something different than the group, because the group are not wearing turbans 2) It is unfair to someone whose religious belief tells them they must never, ever remove their turban that they must remove it to play soccer, although I would invite them to adjust their religious views for the real world, as Catholics have on the matter of premarital sex 3) Is the matter causing adverse effects on others? Well, there is no "I" in team, and this is a case of special treatment.  I am not a huge soccer fan but I think half the goals I've seen on tv were scored with the head.  So if I'm on that guys team and he doesn't bonk in that sweet pass because he's scared of upsetting his turban or whatever the case may be, then this interferes with the team spirit and team objectives.  What are the consequences for the individual and society.  We already went through this turban BS with the RCMP.  The RCMP  hat, however, is part of a ceremonial costume and serves no real utilitarian purpose.

Those are the legal issues, precedent, and questions to be weighed.  Most people would just use their common sense.  Is this a big deal? No.

And therein lies the answer: somewhere between the two.  I really am past objections over any individuals behaviour that does not jeopardize their own or others' well-being.  After some years of discomfort, I realized burqas have zero impact on other people and they are a fashion choice, so I have no opinion about them anymore.  But Sikhs do have to wear motorcycle helmets and hockey helmets: earthly headgear is a safety matter sometimes, no exceptions.

Children's soccer? I think we can agree there is no life-threatening risk posed by the turban, although I would imagine the more competitive the soccer the more the head must be fully available to make plays.  So what is the right answer? No easy one.  A blanket ban probably does make things easier but I would say just to calm everybody down let the refs evaluate it on a case by case basis.  I think the worst thing we can do in these situations is be dogmatic.  The second worst thing we could do is side with Justin Trudeau and the politically correct police who tell us that this is a major important issue and we are not entitled to our doubts and opinions.