Monday, January 28, 2008

Another language barrier.

The kids have become very enamoured with Guitar Hero III, and are showing an unprecedented desire to learn about music and to hear new things. This has made me excited, and I have attempted to encourage this newfound appreciation at every turn. Today, I made up a CD of all songs from Guitar Hero III so my step-son could listen to it in the car as I drove him home from his babysitter's. I tried to include his favourites - Holiday in Cambodia, Paint it Black, School's Out. I think every kid loves School's Out at some point in their lives. I can remember discovering that song when I was about his age, and I insisted upon playing it every time school ended for the year. I played it all day, and then pretty well forgot about it until the next year. I think for most kids, their involvement with Alice Cooper both begins and ends with School's Out. I was fortunate enough to become interested in his other works later on in life, and discovered the pleasures of Only Women Bleed, I'm Eighteen, Welcome to My Nightmare, and Billion Dollar Babies. I think he may still be a little young for that stuff. But perhaps the seeds have been planted, and he will discover it as I did, six or seven years from now.

Then, I realized I had miscalculated. Although I own every song on Guitar Hero, I still download the songs illegally, since it is faster. (Of course, I download only songs I already own. Is that any less illegal? I am going to assume it is, and thereby avoid fines and prison time.) One of the songs I dowlnoaded was the Charlie Daniels Band's The Devil Went Down To Georgia. In the middle of the song, the phrase "son of a bitch" comes through loud and clear. Our 8-year-old is always quick to point out curse words in songs, whether they are actually there or not. He will say things like "that sounded a lot like the S-H-I-T word!" Which always makes me smile a little inside. The S-word, I get. But if you're spelling it out, you clearly know the word. You know what it sounds like, and you know how to spell it. And yet, you are still offended when you hear it. This time, he said "that was the B-I-T-C-H word!" Which was a level of spelling even beyond the usual. But I understand, to a degree. He knows he is not supposed to be hearing these words, and he knows he is supposed to be offended when he does, so he reacts accordingly. Frankly, there are worse words in most songs, I feel. Holiday in Cambodia, for example, contains several references to Pol Pot. If you are trying to shelter your child from the evils of the world, I would think you would rather have them hearing swear words than learning about the man behind the Khmer Rouge and the ethnic cleansing of up to 1.7 million people.

But then, they are not my own children, so I go by the rules laid out by their mom. And those rules are no swearing, and no teaching about genocide. Our 13-year-old, however, is learning about the holocaust in school, and so we have had several guarded conversations on the subject. But this instinctive aversion to swear words is OK for a child. I don't think it is OK for an adult. At a certain point, the instinct to become offended by things will hamper your development as a human being. Which is what has happened to people like Michel Thibodeau. At this point, people like M. Thibodeau are not only instinctively offended by certain things, they are going out of their way to BE offended by those things. His bus driver said "good morning", not "bonjour". So he is pushing to have all bus drivers be bilingual. This is, of course, just as ridiculous as that police guy. But apparently, they are everywhere.

What irks me the most is when they give their statements in English to the papers. If they speak English, why be concerned about the language in which you are served? I am bilingual. I like being bilingual because if I am put in a situation where I am being served by a unilingual francophone, I am still able to communicate. I have chosen to be bilingual so that I have an easier time in Canada, wherever I may be. In various jobs, it has been easier for me to serve francophone customers because of the ability to speak French. As far as I'm concerned, being bilingual is desireable, and it is a courtesy to others. But the only others to whom it is a courtesy are unilingual people. If everyone was bilingual, there would be no need for people to speak both languages, right? It's a self-defeating premise. If everyone, in all of Canada, spoke both languages, there would be no need for one or the other, or for bilingualism at all - anyone could be served in English anywhere at any time. Or in French.

So attempting to regulate and enforce bilingualism, in Ottawa or anywhere else, is also self-defeating. It strikes me it is up to the consumer to become bilingual if they want to be served in one language or another, and not the store owner or cop or bus driver or airplane flight attendant. (This is the same guy who sued Air Canada - and WON - because he couldn't order a 7up in French. I looked it up - 7up, in French, is 7up.) It's a sad way to view the world, and frankly, a childish one.

14 comments:

  1. I think Michel Thibodeau should go after the Quebec businesses that don't serve in English. I'm not against bilingualism, but it should be a two-way street.

    As for Guitar Hero III -- my wife and I are hooked on it. It rocks. My kids play it too. I swear someone at CHEZ plays it because a day doesn't go by where I don't hear at least two or three of the songs played on the air.

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  2. I think Michel Thibodeau should go...well, you get the picture. Seriously, people like that are just spoiling for a fight and if M.T. lived in the middle of the most unilingual country in the world, he'd just find something else to make trouble about.

    The only reason people like that get as far as they do with their nonsense is because the rest of us aren't willing to have the Political Correctness Nazis looking down their noses at us and calling us bigots. Well, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! As far as I'm concerned, people like Michel Thibodeau can just bloody well go to Quebec and stay there if they don't want people speaking to them in English.

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  4. I don't agree with Michel Thibodeau's opinions, in either language. I will, however, stand up for his right to have them.

    I did not attend, nor have I read any transcripts of the proceedings in Thibodeau's court experiences with Air Canada, but let's face it, who really likes Air Canada? If the lawsuit was about any other facet of Air Canada's (in my humble opinion) crappy service, we'd be applauding the verdict. Michel Thibodeau's complaint, however, strikes a nerve with all of us. I'm not sure how they found 6 unbiased jurors on the Air Canada case, nor if they can do it again with this one.

    Because I don't know exactly what was argued and what laws pertained, I can't say whether my opinion would be that suit was a miscarriage of justice. If I trust the judicial system, then his current suit will end with a fair verdict.

    If OC Transpo's policy is bilingualism, then they should pony up, even if Thibodeau is the biggest jerk in Canada. If they could not support bilingualism, then why have it as a policy?

    If you walked into a store and there were signs everywhere stating "75% off everything" and when the clerk rang up the purchase, he charged you full price, wouldn't you ask what the heck was going on? Further, even if you could afford it, what if you were told that those signs mean nothing, except to make the owner feel that he's competitive in his business? One more...suppose it was the only store in town available to you (the other 2 being outrageously expensive)?

    While this is clearly a silly idea to most of us, the idea that OC Transpo says they are bilingual doesn't make it so. Why put up the signs if you can't deliver the discount? And while you and I would simply nod and say 'I am bilingual; it doesn't matter to me', others may take offense out of principle.

    What I am saying is, while I may not feel the need to stand on that principle, I can't protest someone else's right to do so.

    We are very quick to condemn the Don Quixotes of the world, when we see their fight as misguided, foolish, frivolous, even evil. I don't believe, however, we would be where we are now if not for some of those Don Quixotes, fighting the windmill giants.

    For certain, there are false knights, those whose deeds are driven by greed, or revenge, or spite. Perhaps Thibodeau is one of them. He may be a shit-disturber of the worst kind. He may be out for the glory, or the money, or maybe he's getting back for some perceived inequity in the past. If so, and if wins his case, it's the travesty of justice we should deplore, and not an apocryphal saviour who has accomplished his skulduggery.

    If, on the other hand, he truly believes in his fight, and if the court truly finds in his favour, then we need to either believe that justice has won out (whether we agree with the verdict or not), or we need take up our own lance and sword against the system and fight for change...and hope that we are not labeled another Don Quixote.

    Or we do what many of us do many time in our lives(present company included). We shrug our shoulders, shake our heads and continue living our lives. Maybe write a letter, or a blog, or reply to someone else's blog and say "hey, someone should do something about that!"

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  5. Ah, but the Don Quixotes of the world are the ones that make us smile! Some maniac charging at windmills gives spice to the rest of our lives because we can smile along with the charming delusion. We can recognize the foolish misguidedness of his actions, and we feel more sane for having seen someone else insist upon fighting lions or defending the honour of an imaginary damsel. In this case, however, M. Thibodeau appears to be in full possession of his faculties. He would be like Don Quixote if he were NOT crazy, the kind of guy who attacks a windmill simply to call attention to himself, and at the same time attempts to take the rest of us along for the ride. To insist to the rest of us that the windmill is bad, that the windmill deserves to be taken down, and that it is not a windmill at all, that it is in fact an evil giant disguised as a windmill. But he is not crazy. He knows it is just a windmill. And the rest of us look at it too, and say "that's just a windmill". But if ten or twenty people buy into the rhetoric, and begin to see the giants as well, then he can have a little laugh at OUR expense, and there is no longer anything charming about it!

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  6. The child you are refering to is not your stepson. I've stayed silent long enough. You have done NOTHING to qualify yourself as his stepparent. He is quite simply your girlfriends son. It is insulting to anyone who is a stepparent for you to refer to yourself as such. At best you are his playmate.

    Todd

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  7. Assuming that Eric and his girlfriend have lived together long enough (I don't recall how long that is), the law recognizes them as a husband and wife under "common law" -- does it not?

    And if the definition of a "Stepson" is "a son of one's husband or wife by a former partner"... then why can he not call the boy his stepson?

    I fail to see how this is "insulting"... and I have a feeling this is going to turn into some kind of religion discussion.

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  8. TODD, I think you're being deeply, deeply insulting to Eric by reducing his relationship to a boy he loves and supports to simple "playmate". I won't repeat what Scott said in reply to your ridiculous comment, except to add my voice to his.

    You have no right to pass judgment on Eric. I have a stepfather myself - a legal stepfather, who has been married to my mother for 35 years. This legal stepfather was never around when I was a child. He was always working, so I can say very confidently, from the position of one who has experienced a stepfather, that Eric has every right to the title and his stepson is lucky to have him.

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  9. Eric knows why. And it has nothing to do with religion or "law". It has to do with facts.

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  10. Todd,

    You are a farking tool.

    Keep your personal issues to yourself.

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  11. I would like to welcom my girlfriend's ex-husband to the conversation! Good day sir, I am glad you have stopped making the superhuman effort of keeping "silent" and have decided to join in! I have been wracking my brain to come up with a reason for why I can't possibly qualify as a step-father. You suggest I clearly know the reason why, and yet, I'm afraid you have overestimated me, for I am still at a loss. Perhaps it is because I have not yet passed the step-father bar exam, maybe then I would have done SOMETHING to qualify as such. If it has nothing to do with religion or law...then on what basis could such a splitting of hairs possibly be arrived at? Oh well. However, it seems to me if I had a son of my own, and that son was taken in by my ex's partner, and had a good relationship with my son, and loved him and considered him his own family, that would make me happy. But, I'm not in that situation, I could be wrong. Maybe I would get upset. Maybe I would bog myself down with semantics. And maybe I would choose a public forum in which to air those grievances, because I too would feel as though a private email did not do enough damage. I might think all those things. But then, I am not in that situation. Hey - thanks for your comments, everyone else!

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  12. Heh! I suspected this was the case.

    Todd... I'll give you the benefit of doubt and assume that you're a good father. Eric being a step-father doesn't take anything away from you being a Father, so relax.

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  13. Eric - This crap has been brought to my attention by a former co-worker (someone I believe may have started all this non-sense to begin with).

    It is no secret that Eric is not my favorite person in the world. He does, however, like the company of my son. My son also enjoys spending time with Eric, which is great. My son goes there and spends every second weekend and Eric does take care of him.
    A public forum is not the place to discuss our problems if we have some. If I had something to discus with Eric I would do as I have done in the past and invite him out for coffee or a drink and we could talk. I do however feel that our last attempt at communications fell short and what I had to say fell on deaf ears. But an attempt was made by both parties to make some headway.

    As for the rest of you, it is quite admirable that you have come to the defense of your favorite radio personality. It does show that he has a loyal fan base.
    I am a FANTASTIC father; don’t kid yourself in thinking otherwise. No one, NO ONE, in his life has done more for my son than I have. I have no misgivings about who I am and my role and importance in my son’s life.

    I don’t wish this to turn into some form a rant so I will finish off by saying that I am sorry if the previously mentioned person offended Eric. That person will be dealt with.

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