Posted on | May 29, 2011 | No Comments
In 2007, Hérouxville became the laughingstock of the province, the country, the rest of the world even for its ludicrous « life code » which banned behaviours apparently sanctioned by religions but not allowable in Québec. Wearing a burqa, stoning, excision, everything was included, yet this backwater village counted only one black family, and was in principle safe from the wave of reasonable accommodation unfurling across Québec.
In a documentary movie released last week, Liberté, Égalité, Accommodements, director Stefan Nitoslawski revealed this life code as pure fabrication, a monumental farce built to laugh at accommodations in practice in larger cities. Homage to irony, its hidden meaning was never fully grasped by urban media, but it nevertheless told much about the bemused and mocking views of rural folks.
In many respects this sounds like a typical Disney movie, in which a deeply urban person, superficial, disconnected from « real values » end up stuck in a remote location in the country (think about Cars for example). In these movies the stranger generally ends up discovering that redneck simplicity hides a primal form of common sense, and leaves as a better person.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) we are in the real world, not in a Disney movie. The same media which unleashed their sharp wit on the Herouxville folks are back at it today, unable to stand the fact that they were fooled like preschoolers by those which they consider inferiors. It is the case for example of Yves Boisvert in La Presse. He quotes amongst others Gérard Bouchard, who demanded apologies from the two writers of the life code.
What is still not understood in big cities is that this infamous reasonable accommodation crisis was once again a typically urban phenomenon. Rural dwellers, dependent upon self-centered media who forced down their throats front pages that did not match their local reality, were more than entitled to laugh about this. Playing the offended virgin only reinforces the image of media groups as disconnected from their audiences.
The accommodation crisis was mostly a crisis of stereotypes. We should applaud the fact that for once, the stereotype was turned back against those who most actively spread it around.