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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 10.04.04

RICKY BLUE

And justice for all? Not if you're in Quebec

Last fall, the Baie d'Urfé Town Hall was spay-painted with slogans: "Canadians go Home," "Une Ile une ville française", "Quebec Libre" and "FLQ" among them.

This last slogan, recalling the Front de Liberation du Québec, a terrorist organization famous for bombs, kidnappings, and murder, is key. It was written to intimidate the community.

The vandals were even caught with explosives. It was in fact the closest thing West Islanders have ever experienced to a real terrorist act.

It was a reaction to a byelection in which a majority of Beaconsfield/Baie d'Urfé borough residents, many non-French-speaking, had the temerity to elect a non-French-speaking person to be their mayor.

Was it a hate crime?

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation states: "Hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by the victim's race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor."

And Canada's Criminal Code, Section 319 (1) states: "Everyone who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace," is guilty of an indictable offence can be imprisoned for not more than two years.

If this is not a hate crime, what is?

Though their defense denied it: "Just because you express an opinion in such a way . . . does not mean it is hateful."

They were, in effect, arguing that in Quebec the condition of being a unilingual English speaker makes one a legitimate target for this kind of act. In fact, the vandals were simply making a legitimate political statement because: "These opinions are held by millions of Quebecers." (As if they heard a voice that said: "We are the people of Quebec and we approve this message.")

For me, that is one of the most cunning and revealing defenses to emerge from Quebec courts for a long time.

It implies that if you grow up in a society that has divided the population into two groups, Your group and the Other group; and are indoctrinated to believe that the very presence of the Other group is a dire threat to Your group; and where Your government has even made it public policy to harass and fine the Other for displaying itself openly; and where Your political leaders habitually blame almost everything that goes wrong on the Other group; and where Your educational system preaches that Your history is one long struggle against the Other group; and where Your artists and media consistently portray the Other as villains and exploiters; then of course you would have a legitimate right to express that view in graffiti form.

Their defense was cunning because it put the judge on the spot.

How could she now call it a hate crime? Then she would have implicitly indicted the entire society that bred it. And we all know how reluctant the courts are to be seen as anti-Quebec. The political repercussions are too great.

There's a classic Jewish joke about this situation. On their way to Auschwitz a prisoner yells: "You Nazi Pigs! You murderers!" The other prisoners try to quiet him down. "Shh," they say. "Don't make trouble!"

It looks like the suspended sentences for the Baie d'Urfé vandals were a classic case of justice denied so as to not make trouble.

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