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Filed Under: Opinion

I have three admissions to make. First, I have lived in Montreal for nearly 15 years and I don’t speak french. Second, to all those forming some kind of immediate opinion about me based on that information fragment I say: I proudly could not care less about your opinion. Finally, it is my intention to start learning french in the near future in spite of, not because of the bleating ignoramuses telling me I must.

“How long have you been in Montreal? You don’t speak French? Shame on you!”

I think it would be surprising to many people the frequency with which people think it is appropriate to say just that. It's critical to say I’m not talking about people who are surprised, or friends that ask why I haven’t learned yet, or even request I do. Surprise could be warranted and curiosity is the finest spice of life; what I am referring to nearly complete strangers casting vociferous shame upon me all while blissfully knowing absolutely nothing about me. Even more amazing is how perfectly acceptable this is considered to be by most people.

Can you imagine a world where it is considered acceptable and justified to confront strangers with any random notions of perceived insufficiency? Shall I start quizzing people on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership treaty and their plans to affect its progression? Can I castigate strangers for not having a well formed answer? I’ll tell you what, in my opinion, and I’m 9/10ths of the way to saying objectively, the TTIP is immeasurably more important than your or my choice of language. I choose the example subject advisedly, but that subject could be any one of a virtually unlimited number of topics all of which are way, way more important to me than what languages you, or I have learned.

This is what I like to call a non-issue. A non-priority. Go ahead and make it something important to you, if you like. That’s great. Just please keep in mind that I couldn’t care less what phantasms and threats you imagine hide in the recesses of the english language. You probably don’t care how much I hate everything Michael Bay has ever committed to celluloid. I, at least, have the good sense to not confront you with that opinion as if it is your obligation to know it.

That I’ve lived in Montreal this long without learning the majority language is a testimony certainly to my stubbornly selective social isolation; and it is little embarrassing, to say the least, that I haven’t simply picked french up by osmosis. But a shame on me? No. Not.

The unvarnished truth is that I don’t care enough to invest my energy placating the demands of the sort of people I’d really rather agitate. French may well be a part of your identity, it is certainly a part of the city’s identity, and it is undoubtedly a part of Quebec’s identity. But do I care about your identity? No, not really. That’s yours. Your thing. All I really know for sure is for a select few of you part of that identity is being an intrusive jerk. Identity is a mirror, a descriptor, not a code of conduct. The world changes and grows. Deal with it.

Here’s the thing; I have lived in an anglophone neighbourhood, and frequented anglophone businesses, and enjoyed anglophone friends, and worked for anglophone companies. I didn’t need french. I don’t care about french. French is like english in that it is a utility. It is a communication protocol. French is to a conversation what the HTTP protocol is to the internet. Do you care about the HTTP protocol? No, of course you don’t, because it doesn’t matter. The sites matter. The people matter.

The people matter a lot, actually, and recently I have been lucky enough to be introduced to and mostly warmly welcomed into a new community in Montreal. The specifics of that community are immaterial to the point, excluding that these members happen to be mostly french.

So there you go; after 15 years of dealing with the snide, crass and juvenile baying of french-first jerks to no effect at all, I’ve now started looking to carve time out of my schedule to learn french. My level of caring about said jerks and their opinions about french or Quebec remains at exactly zero, but all it took was a couple cool folk I like to spend my time with and the simple desire to be less of a burden to them by forcing them to use an alternate language.

Magic, right? There’s a reason to move learning french into my priorities beyond ignorant, ideological xenophobia. My priorities follow lifestyle demands with little resistance or fanfare, and with no need for senselessly obtrusive laws or screeds. Do I expect I’ll be more like the kind of people who would author such ignorant things once I’ve loaded another communication protocol into my head? Obviously not. It would be ridiculous to think otherwise.

The lesson to learn, dear jerks being jerks, is if you want others to agree with you, you should probably set about being open, cool people instead of insulting and bullying. You’re free to keep that part of distinct culture all to yourself.


Filed Under: Charity

Just a short update, a very long time in coming. The Animal Housing project is not dead in the slightest. I've been trying to contact the author of the Gazette story to organize some kind of unified movement towards replacing the shelter which was destroyed, but my correspondence has fallen into some kind of black hole. The nature of that black hole in uncertain. It may be purposeful, or it may be bureaucratic.

Regardless of the reason, I think it's time to give up on unifying with any kind of established structure for the purpose of rallying. That leaves us to find a path on our own. This effort isn't over, it just stalled. It is stalled in a way I don't intend to become stalled in again.

What we need now is an intelligent way forward, and a solid goal. I'll be looking into individual organizations to find out where an infusion of money would be best allocated to do the most good, but what I'd really like is to find out what the community thinks would be a good way to proceed.

Please comment on this thread with any ideas you may have about the best way to progress with respect to fund raising, or fund dispersal. If anyone has any general comments, now would be a great time to raise them.

This isn't over.


Filed Under: Charity

Humans like to kill humans, steal from each-other, rape, lie and pillage, but cats and dogs are just cats and dogs. They just love us.

Marlboro, the cat.

Buzz, the cat.

Grizzly, also, the cat.

Notre Dame de Stanbridge - Amidst the collapsing tin roof, the few blackened walls that remained and the water bowls covered in ash, it was the cat's charred skeleton that stood out.

What was once a refuge for this cat, and as many as 150 others, burned down yesterday morning, killing most of the feline population.

I intend to reach out to local Veterinary clinics and businesses and to the Gazette to try to secure donations, ideally matching donations, but I'd like to have a semi-meaningful private commitment to show a seriousness to the cause. That means you. I'm willing to commit $200.00 CAD up front, and additionally I will match the largest private commitment up to another $100.00, or more depending on response. Every cent of every dollar will be applied directly towards reestablishing a shelter to replace this one lost. I will be investigating whom exactly that will be because as the story says, `Perret isn't planning to rebuild the shelter', but I think we can convince her otherwise. If not, I'm sure there is an appropriate end point personality we can find to pick up the torch.

This uncertainty means that I'm only asking for a commitment, not actual monies at this point. It is my intention to be entirely transparent about what money goes where when transactions actually take place. No, you don't get any kind of tax rebate, just the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you're a decent human being.

You can make a commitment by commenting on this story, or emailing me Jimmy/Aaron Cameron. Your donation will be highlighted and its virtue extolled to the best of my meager abilities.

Please take a moment to look at your own loved dog or cat, and think of their being stuck on the street because no suitable shelter exists to take care of them. The shelters opened and run by people like Claudine Perret give refuge and medical attention to thousands of orphaned, abandoned or otherwise homeless animals every year and they deserve our support. This shelter's damage has been estimated at approximately $75 000, but the damage its loss will do to the resident animal population is much greater than can be expressed by a number.

For those who own fewer pets than is considered socially uncomfortable (oh, something like 3), can inquire about adopting an animal by calling 450-296-4219.

We all talk about doing something for our community, let's actually do something this time. Comment here or email me, Jimmy/Aaron Cameron.

After the fact...

Progress: One Thousand!

2007.06.22 04:29pm

We're less than 20 hours in and already we've hit one thousand in commitments thanks to Joe, Margaret, Andrew, Robert, Valentine and others. Also, we already have one large corporate sponsor which has offered up free advertising once our ducks are in a row.

I'll post updates as things progress. Let's keep this ball rolling. Thanks again to everyone who has already signed on. Tell your friends.


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