(Another one posted to my Gazette blog)

“A chilling tale of conformity gone mad.” That is how a Wikipedia entry describes a dark story called The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. I studied the piece — about a human sacrifice and mob mentality in a small American town –  in my North American Literature class back in high school, and I never forgot it, though I wish I had forgotten it. It’s a very disturbing story.

I found myself thinking about Ms. Jackson’s story this morning in the context of the “ugly fallout” (see Gazette editorial) of racial incidents that have been occurring in Quebec since the Parti Québécois’ Charter of Quebec Values proposal became public. I’m wondering just how far the PQ will let things get out of hand before they will do they right thing, and withdraw the idea. I’m wondering if a life will be lost . . . I am wondering who might be sacrificed?

If I had thought at first that there was any merit at all to the Charter of Quebec Values proposal, I don’t think so any more. On the surface, the proposal to make public institutions neutral — i.e. free of religious symbols — doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. And there is no doubt that some religious organizations are quite exclusionary and discriminatory, and their symbols don’t always conjure up images of compassion and brotherly/sisterly love. Yet in what seems like hypocrisy, one of those symbols, the crucifix, will still be permitted — albeit small versions — to be worn by employees of public institutions, and it is perhaps the most threatening symbol of persecution for some people: God knows how the Catholic Church and other Christian organizations have sought to oppress LGBTQ people and others.

Still, the fact that half the population is opposed to the charter and feels it oppresses the right to freedom of expression should be enough for the PQ to withdraw it. But if it is not enough, surely the potential for violence should be enough. It’s a small sacrifice to make in the name of peace.