Mar. 25th, 2006

rfmcdonald: (Default)
The much-criticized east-coast Canadian seal hunt has begun, over the complaints of the McCartneys and Bardot and the leading animal-rights groups and, indeed, all of the potential consumers of Atlantic Canadian seafood who'll be participating in the retaliatory boycott of said highly-valued export commodity.

The seal hunt is a complicated issue, if only because of the sheer number of highly contested issues. A case can be made that the seal hunters play a vital role in preventing seal overpopulation, though I have to wonder what happened to the seal-consuming predators that should be filling that role. I'm not going to even try to tackle the issue of humane kills and if that's even a possibility. Others are tackling these issues, and good for them.

All that I have to add is a simple observation. What sort of an society requires fisherman to go on the cracking dangerous sea ice at the end of winter to go, hunt down, and kill dozens of marine mammals just to make a poverty-level living? Forget about animal rights. You could probably make a less polarizing argument by condemning the seal hunt on grounds of human rights.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
Today's Toronto Star reports that, finally, French condescension towards the non-French members of la Francophonie has finally caused some of them to crack.

Why do you write in French? The question asked this week at the Paris Book Fair to its francophone guest writers seemed innocent enough. After all, this year the fair had chosen to celebrate not one country but a common language shared by francophones from Montreal to Phnom Penh, from Lyon to Brazzaville, from Bucharest to Port-au-Prince. And so this question — why do you write in French — seemed innocent, if not totally justified.

But for Québécois writer Monique Proulx, it was not innocent. It was rude, paternalistic and insulting. Asking me why I write in French is like asking why women have breasts or if it hurts when they grow, she fired off in the Paris daily

Enough is enough, she went on. Can't you see that the way you relate to la Francophonie, with France on one side and all the other half-breeds and diluted by-products on the other, can't you see I repeat, as I lose my cool thanks to the three litres of maple syrup I shoot up every day while writing in my furry teepee and smoking spruce gum cannabis, can't you see you are perpetuating the same candid condescension that set fire to your cities and suburbs recently. Personally I can't take it any more ...

La Francophonie started in the 1960s not so much as a French initiative as an initiative by la Francophonie's periphery, emerging from efforts by emergent Francophone nations to multilateralize their relationships, to cultivate relationships among Francophones which weren't necessarily dominated by France. The wider Francophone world has responded well to the initiative. France hasn't responded, it seems, by allowing these other Francophone cultures equal status with its own. This is a problem since, as Ethnologue confirms, the French language is a global language. The date is shortly coming when there will be more first-language speakers of French outside of France than inside, the bulk of these in Francophone Africa. Showing some grace to these future generations would be nice, never mind far-sighted.
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