Oh, Canada!

The thought police are flexing their muscles:

A gay man in Montreal has been awarded $1,000 by Quebec’s Human Rights Tribunal after he was called “fifi” by a used car salesman.

According to the judge’s decision, the man suffered emotionally from the comments. His name cannot be released because of a publication ban.

“Calling someone a ‘fifi’ constitutes a scornful way of referring to homosexuals,” Judge Michele Pauze concluded. “The use of this term wounds and adds to the disgrace and lack of respect of human dignity a person (can suffer), homosexuals in particular.”

The decision stems from an incident in November 2001. The man was driving a hitchhiker and stopped at a used car lot when his passenger, 20-year-old Dominic Lanthier, said he was looking to buy a used vehicle.

The two men walked into a dealership in Sorel, about 70 kilometres northeast of Montreal. While he was out of the driver’s earshot, used car salesman Marcel Bardier said to the hitchhiker, “Fais attention a lui, c’est un fifi (pay attention to him, he’s gay).”

Lanthier told the man what the salesman said. The gay man told the judge the comments made him feel dehumanized, humiliated and degraded.

I’ve heard the umpires called worse names at Busch Stadium, and it’s tame compared to some major league parks.

Heck, I was called worse nearly every day in high school. (Chorus? Gay. Debate team? Gay. Drama club? Double gay. Swing choir? Liberace gay.)

This is nuts. Yes, we are supposed to treat our neighbors with dignity and respect. (As a Christian, I’m supposed to take it even farther; Christ said I’m supposed to love my enemies.) But getting the government involved in the enforcement of civility is a bad idea. That way lies fascism.

It’s a short step from prosecuting name-callers to arresting people for speaking ill of the government. Frankly, I’m stunned that the people of Canada tolerate it.

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