Montreal, March 20, 2004  /  No 140
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Pierre Lemieux is an economist and author.
by Pierre Lemieux
          On June 17, 1999, in Shawville, Quebec (about 70 kilometres north of Ottawa), Lynn Wilson was harassed by a woman inspector from the Quebec Office de la langue française (OLF, the government bureau in charge of "protecting" the French language in the province), relatively to her shop’s English-only signs. The confrontation ended with several townspeople following the language cop around. Ms. Wilson was charged with refusing to provide information to the language cop, and has just been acquitted.
          The defendant’s lawyer, Mr. Brent Tyler, was later interviewed and publicly told the Quebec government that they should now “call off the dogs.” The precious OLF bureaucrats found this “offensive,” and have complained to the Quebec bar. Mr. Tyler claims that he did not really mean that the OLF bureaucrats are dogs. All this is very funny. Or is it? 
Mad dogs, running dogs 
          Section 433-5 of the French penal code defines a criminal offence called “outrage à agent,” which means “contempt towards an agent of the state,” and which applies to insulting a cop or a bureaucrat. However, it does not generally include public insults, so Mr. Tyler would be safe in France. After all, I myself edited in Paris a book by Lysander Spooner, who called the state “a secret band of robbers and murderers,” which of course they are as soon as we remove their collars.
          Here, the state has not yet criminalized insults to its agents, probably because our statocrats have not thought about it, or perhaps because their subjects are so nice and naïve, anyway. That’s part of New Age philosophy: a prerequisite for social status, wrote American author Robert Wright, includes “not saying hateful things about whole national, ethnic, or religious groups, or even about other people.”
          My own opinion, if the Quebec government is kind enough to let me express it, is that “dogs” is a pretty polite way to describe OLF bureaucrats, notwithstanding what animal rights activists might object. I would suggest, instead, “running dogs,” or “mad dogs.” “Praetorians” is also good. After all, we are at war to protect our traditional liberties, or what’s left of them. 
     “Here, the state has not yet criminalized insults to its agents, probably because our statocrats have not thought about it, or perhaps because their subjects are so nice and naïve, anyway.”
          Even if they are often nice, girl-next-door types of people, bureaucrats must realize that they are morally responsible for their collaboration in destroying our traditional liberties. If they don’t understand, we are completely justified to “denormalize” them (as the feds want to do to smokers and their suppliers). In fact, it is a social responsibility, if there is such a thing. 
Whole packs of state dogs 
          There are two very naïve ideas running around, which the whole history of mankind contradicts. One is that people can have their rights protected if they are not willing to fight for them – and I mean to fight, like against mad dogs. The other naïve idea is that an individual can hope to have his rights respected by other people even if he is not willing to help them protect theirs. 
          Whole packs of state dogs are chasing us, and the OLF breed may not be the most rabid ones. (Moreover, the OLF seems to hire nice female dogs.) Over the past few decades, the federal dogs have been more vicious.
          This being said, I understand why my English-speaking readers would feel that speaking their own language on their own property is an important right. After a century of mounting state power, each one has his own dogs to fight. I am willing to defend the Anglos' rights, but I expect them to defend my right to smoke, drink, baiser, and have guns – in other words, to defend my coureurs des bois lifestyle. Our English-speaking fellow citizens have not been very helpful on this front, but I realize that putting all Anglos in the same bag is as intellectually sinful as amalgamating all French Canadians under the Québécois tyranny.
          The Shawville story, where townspeople followed the female bureaucrat in the streets, reminds me of the historical events reported by economist Mancur Olson: “In Venice, after a doge who attempted to make himself autocrat was beheaded for his offense, subsequent doges were followed in official processions by a sword-bearing symbolic executioner as a reminder of the punishment intended for any leader who attempted to assume dictatorial power.” Thanks to the Shawville resisters for helping keep the statocrats humble and fearful.
          Hippolyte Taine, the 19th-century conservative philosopher, compared the state to a guard dog “that must remain chained up in its kennel.” It is urgent to chain up the dog. 
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