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Posted 4/15/08
This is an article adapted from Valerie Stoker’s “Zero Tolerance? Sikh Swords, School Safety, and Secularism in Quebec,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol 75, no. 4, Dc 2007, pp.814-839.

“On 18 November 2001, 12-year-old Sikh student Gurbaj Singh Multani was playing outside of Montreal school, when his kirpan or ceremonial dagger dislodged from its sheath and fell to the ground. Unaware that the kirpan is an article of faith that all amrithari or “baptized,” Sikhs must wear as perpetual marker of religious identity, a concerned parent reported the incident to the school principal. The principal, in turn, invoked the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons and sent Gurbaj home.”

“In May 2002, Judge Danielle Grenier of Quebec Superior Court issued a declaratory judgment that nullified a decision by the Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board to prohibit the kirpan. She also authorize Gurbaj to return to school with his kirpan subject to certain conditions that were intended to allay concerns about and that were agreed to by both the school the Multani family: Gurbaj would have to wrap his kirpan several times in cloth before sewing it shut inside a wooden sheath, and would have to subject it to periodic verification by school officials. The compromise on the kirpan’s sheathing resembled other kirpan decisions in other countries with large Sikh populations such as Brittan and the United States where the courts have generally found that the kirpan is not a weapon but a religious artifact, and such, should be exempted from weapons’ bans.”

In march of 2004, the Appellate Court reverse the court’s declaratory judgment, deciding “that the compromise of the kirpan’s sheathing acknowledged the kirpan’s inherent danger and thereby supported parents’ concerns that allowing Gurbaj to wear it posed an undue hardship to non-Sikh children.” The appellate Court “effectively classed the kirpan as a weapon, subject to the school’s zero-tolerance policy.”

The issue was finally resolved in March 2006 by the Supreme Court of Canada who ruled unanimously in favor of Hurbaj. “The SCC rejected the argument that the Kirpan posed threat to school safety, especially when sheathed according to the Superior Court compromise, and concluded that prohibiting the kirpan from school premises excessively infringed Gurbaj’s religious rights.”

So...opinions?! XD
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Posted 4/15/08
So...Gurbaj is allowed to keep his kirpan? Good!!

Latter-day Saint have religious garb as well (it is not a weapon, and it is kept below our clothes, but it is there, none-the-less). When Ian was in the military, doing basic training, he wasn't allowed to wear them, because it wasn't "issue". Our clothes deliniate lines of modesty, and by demanding that we wear shorts, or sleeveless shirts, the military infringes on my religious rights. No one will get hurt, but it certainly makes us uncomfortable.

There was a debate in Edmonton with (sikhs? The ones who wear turbans) about wearing inappropriate headwear on the job for Transit workers. After much debate, the sikhs were allowed to keep their turbans, and they are dyed to match their uniforms.

In a country where religious freedom is granted, a zero-tolerence policy is exactly that...intollerant. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Most of the people here (in North America) came here, either they did, or their ancestors did, to escape religious prosecution. These countries are founded on people escaping oppression.

How have managed to lose sight of that?
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Posted 4/15/08
Because the liberal movements in America have devalued our past, they devalue values. They find a lot of support because it’s simply more convenient. You see, it takes a great deal of effort to create a society in which people are tolerant of one another. Everyone thinks that the liberals are about tolerance-but that’s a load of political deceit. The tolerate what’s convenient for them-but I tell you, once you start expressing opinions that they don’t like-everything is different.

After all, it is not fascism if they do it. American Democrats are the equivalent of Canadian Closet Democrats. They’re extremely fascistic, and-like them, so are the extreme left wing.

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Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08
Little exaggeration, there, Magnus?
1) Sufi is a known, "registered" religion. The dagger it traditional, and a common part of the Sufi "costume" (costume as in mode of dress, not as in "clown") I doubt the same ruling would be made for someone who belongs to "Joe's Church".
2) The young man in question agreed to wrap it in cloth, and then sew it inside the sheeth...subject to random and periodic examination.
3) We have freedom of religious expression here in Canada, and it is against the law to deny that freedom. I mentioned something similar in my last post.
4) Violence in schools is not nearly as prevalent here as it is in the States. We are more open, and accepting here. Racism is virtually non-existant, as is gang violence. We can give a little more lee-way than would be permissable in the States.


Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08

magnus102 wrote:
3.Same in America. Note however that you also have free speech in Canada, and it is just as restricted as it is in America.

No, it's more restricted in Canada. A bunch of the Canadian so-called hate speech stuff would get ruled unconstitutional in the US.
Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08

SeraphAlford wrote:
The issue was finally resolved in March 2006 by the Supreme Court of Canada who ruled unanimously in favor of Hurbaj. “The SCC rejected the argument that the Kirpan posed threat to school safety, especially when sheathed according to the Superior Court compromise, and concluded that prohibiting the kirpan from school premises excessively infringed Gurbaj’s religious rights.”

So...opinions?! XD

Yea, generally my opinion is that this is politically correct bullshit, similar to not requiring Muslim nurses to scrub their entire arms before an operation. However, given the compromise that renders the artifact mostly inert as a weapon, it doesn't seem that unreasonable.
Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08

magnus102 wrote:
^^^^ Don't you think that it sets a dangerous precedent? I did not know that about Muslim nurses. It kind of makes me angry to be honest.

Yea, sort of, but the compromise seems like it mostly renders the weapon inaccessible. Really though, is the guy going to go to hell if he's without his knife thingy for the duration of school? Overall it seems to me that practical considerations should almost always win out over arbitrary religious things like this.

The nurses thing was in England. Not sure how that got resolved.
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Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08

magnus102 wrote:

I have to say I think they made the wrong decision. The item in question is not itself dangerous, but the legal principle it creates is. If we allow one weapon (and the dagger can be used as such if he say removed it fromt he sheath in the bathroom), then we can not prevent other weapons that are said to be religious just because they are religious. Let us say that I think that in order to please my god, that I must have with me at all times a nuclear weapon that I can cause to detonate by blinking. Under the precedent set by this ruling there is no legal basis for preventing me from having it at school. While people are free to practice their religious beliefs, they have not right to endanger others by doing so. We restrict free speech in such a fashion. We can not yell out the word fire in a crowed theater, or he has a gun at the airport. Why? Because such things may cause others to be in danger. In the same vein we must restrict religious beliefs.

You also can not make an argument that w can determine how dangerous an item is in each case. If we did that we would have an utterly subjective ruling for every person who bears such a religious belief. How much more dangerous in a bomb than a dagger? I would say a lot, but that is not something which others need necessarily agree. In order to be fair I would suggest, that a no tolerance policy on weapons is the only logical answer.


How much more dangerous is a bomb than a dagger? Well then, how much more dangerous is a dagger than a pencil, Magnus? Those ceremonial items aren’t even made to hurt anyone in modern Sikhism. They’re just what I called them, ceremonial items. Dangerous in their original form-but he wasn’t allowed to keep it in its original form, there were certain criteria set out for him.

Your fascistic standard is too extreme, by it we’d all be walking to school naked. Actually, we’d be rolling-because our limbs would have to be surgically liberated. Our tongues would be ripped out too. After all, not everyone agrees how dangerous “dangerous” is. I mean, I might find that your hand is more dangerous than my particle of anti-matter.

I’ve actually stabbed somebody through the forearm with a pencil before-in school, got suspended-almost sued for assault with a deadly weapon. I’m not proud of it, but I did. Should pencils be removed from schools? No, because they’re “reasonably safe,” and a little less so than a bundle of cloth with a sheathed dagger attached to its interior.

Really what your saying only further demonstrates what I was talking about. It’s liberal fascism. To some degree this is necessary. I’m not allowed to sexually harass my co-workers. Laws dictating our work-place behaviors are fascistic ones-but I support them, within reason. Fascism isn’t bad, extreme fascism is bad-extremes in general are bad.

Look at it historically, how often do extremes work out for the betterment of society? Look back in time-better, look in the modern world. When people are forced to worship in secret, to hide behind closed doors to practice religion-bad things come. Innocent people locked in prisons for decades at a time, tortured…

You argue that people may not agree upon what “dangerous” is undoes the rest of what you said.

To some dangerous is walking down the street alone. To others that’s just fine, but juggling knives is not. Juggling knives is probably considered dangerous. To you dangerous is a dagger, but others might not agree. Actually, I’m quite fine with blades-as long as their not too long. Yeah, I don’t mind kids bringing their swiss-army knives to school. So, why is it that you get to decide what’s dangerous and what’s not? You decide daggers are dangerous, but what if I decide chairs are dangerous? Why is your opinion so much more important than mine?

Most schools in America have begun to attach desks to chairs, making them heavy, and oblong-less dangerous-because they were being used on large scale to cause people bodily harm. By your standard, instead of this reasonable compromise, we should’ve gone with an extreme decision and simply made children sit for eight hours a day-on the floor. We’d be doing work without surfaces.

The early Christian church decided that allowing Jews to preach was dangerous. According to them Jewish preaching was a weapon that endangered the state-not to mention the eternal security of Christians. So, they passed laws regulating Jewish behaviors. One thing they did was regulate Jewish apparel-as you’re trying to do to this Sikh boy.

The result of the churches actions was a chain of events that ended quite horrible. Read my “anti-Semitism” post in the thread on Judaism here in this religion forum to get just a tiny taste of what this extreme fascism caused. You claim you want to keep people safe, but your methods are counterproductive-if that’s really your intent.

Extremes are foolish. They’ve never worked before, yet we just keep on trying it. This is what I hate about the modern left-wing. They seem utterly incapable of looking into the past. (To be fair the modern right wing seems utterly incapable of looking into the present. I recently spoke with some republicans who were completely convinced that the war was boosting our economy and reaping positive results every day.)

I like the courts decision. That dagger wasn’t a weapon. It was a ceremonial item-and in fact, in Sikhism it’s a sin to use it to hurt anyone in all but the most extreme self-defense. Those daggers are meant to be baubles, decorations, apparel-nothing more. None the less they are dangerous items. The court made it no longer dangerous-less dangerous than a pencil.

As far as that imaginary weaponry you pulled out of your back-side, well if you could make it cease to be dangerous-sure, go ahead and walk around with it.

Anyway, you should note that there are certain substances that are illegal to carry-including many of the components for modern nuclear weapons.

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Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08
A gun is a weapon, too. Like they say...if you ban guns, then only criminals will have them. A weapon is a weapon, and it's how you use it that matters. I have heard of NO cases where a Sufi's ceremonial dagger was used as a weapon. I have heard of forks, butter knives, pencils, X-acto knives, and tons of other things being used as weapons, though. The attitude that a religious person cannot have part of their religion displayed because it might be dangerous can be taken to the same extreme as your "bomb" theory. How 'bout a rosary? Ooh...all those beads...choking hazzard. Unwrap a turban, and you've got something to strangle another person with.

Magnus...I think you are simply trying to stir things up with an extreme position. I'm pretty sure that if this were a "banning guns" thread, you would be screaming for the right to bear arms. Personally, I think the reason you are against the knife is because it falls under the heading of "religion", and we are all pretty sure how you feel about that. Before you tell me off, make sure that I'm wrong.
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Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08
I’m not saying people have the right to step on other people’s rights. Actually, I said quite the opposite. That circumcision you brought up does step on somebody else’s rights. I don’t support that. Actually, I’m staunchly against it-or any kind of circumcision that isn’t agreed upon by the person being circumcises. However, in the case I’m defending nobody’s rights are being stepped on. Nobody is being endangered. Nobody is dying.

Do I have the right to decide who’s beliefs are extreme? When I’m being endangered, you bet your back-side I do.


The dagger is still arguably dangerous, as it can be removed form such a sheath.


The sheath is sealed onto the dagger, physical. On top of this the dagger is subjected to scrutiny from school-officials to make sure it remains safely secure. You’d more easily kill somebody with your hands than his kirpan.

As far as the intent behind the item, well there are several errors to your argument. First off, what does the inventors decision for his invention have to do with anything? Nuclear weapons were the result of science-the result of the pursuit of knowledge. Throughout history many weapons have been created on accident. Chemical weapons have been created on accident.

What the item is being actively employed for is what matters. Kirpan are actively employed as decorations. Use some intellect here, if the point of the kirpan was to be used as a weapon then why would they agree to let it be covered at all? They wouldn’t, but luckily the Kirpan is an item kept for ceremonial purposes only.


something serves a practical purpose it can be argued that we can have it present. We can reject things made to be weapons…without any practical benefit.


The Kirpan does have a practical purpose and a practical benefit-neither of which involve harming anyone. The Kirpan is worn to symbolize a Sikh’s baptism into the Khalsa, a big thing in a Sikh’s life. We have a right to pursue happiness. This kid is finding his happiness through religion, through carrying a Kirpan. Now then, do I have the right to kill people if it makes me happy?

No, because that steps on the rights of other people. However, him carrying a bundle of cloth with a piece of ceremonial clothing (by your definition a weapon must be made to be a weapon, and the kirpan is not, so it must just be an item and not a weapon,) inside of it does not. What he’s wearing doesn’t at all effect me.


Legal decisions such as this one are the thing that will allow these outrageous acts to go on


Only by people who take them out of context. However, that’s a two-sided sword your swinging.




We can not tolerate allowing this weapon, because if we do so, then we have basis for blocking what might be considered as dangerous religious practices, and I think this was an awful move on the part of the court.


That’s a load. The court didn’t rule that he keeps the kirpan period-they ruled that he keeps it so long as he doesn’t put anyone in danger. You seem color blind, but rather or not your able to see this, not everything is black-or-white, one extreme or the other.

They compromised-a health and fair decision, nobody is having their right to public safety taken away, nobody is having their religious rights taken away.


We can not allow personal beliefs to alter the policy we have in place to protect people, as if we do then there is no way to stop it from growing out of control, without becoming real fascists and choosing which beliefs are “safe enough” Lets just make our safety policy without this crap as a consideration.


Oh, I see! So to avoid having to become fascists…we’re going to be fascists! That’s brilliant, Magnus. Yeah, and god forbid we actually change. I mean, everyone is so happy with the system now. I mean, seriously, could you imagine if we actually tried to make things better? My God, Magnus!

Laws change, and laws should change. Should we have taken your same logic and applied it to an earlier time-not letting events change our system, everything would’ve fallen apart. America would not exist.

Anyway, the right to religious freedom came around before these new weapons banning laws. So, technically-if anything is changing anything, it’s this “zero-tolerance,” changing our “tolerance,” not our “tolerance” changing this lack thereof.

Anyway, cases do effect other cases. However, that doesn’t mean we should let that interfere with the cases as they come. That is also fascism.
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Posted 4/16/08 , edited 4/18/08

magnus102 wrote:
So what?


I’m not saying people have the right to step on other people’s rights. Actually, I said quite the opposite. That circumcision you brought up does step on somebody else’s rights. I don’t support that. Actually, I’m staunchly against it-or any kind of circumcision that isn’t agreed upon by the person being circumcises. However, in the case I’m defending nobody’s rights are being stepped on. Nobody is being endangered. Nobody is dying.

Do I have the right to decide who’s beliefs are extreme? When I’m being endangered, you bet your back-side I do.


The dagger is still arguably dangerous, as it can be removed form such a sheath.


The sheath is sealed onto the dagger, physical. On top of this the dagger is subjected to scrutiny from school-officials to make sure it remains safely secure. You’d more easily kill somebody with your hands than his kirpan.

As far as the intent behind the item, well there are several errors to your argument. First off, what does the inventors decision for his invention have to do with anything? Nuclear weapons were the result of science-the result of the pursuit of knowledge. Throughout history many weapons have been created on accident. Chemical weapons have been created on accident.

What the item is being actively employed for is what matters. Kirpan are actively employed as decorations. Use some intellect here, if the point of the kirpan was to be used as a weapon then why would they agree to let it be covered at all? They wouldn’t, but luckily the Kirpan is an item kept for ceremonial purposes only.


something serves a practical purpose it can be argued that we can have it present. We can reject things made to be weapons…without any practical benefit.


The Kirpan does have a practical purpose and a practical benefit-neither of which involve harming anyone. The Kirpan is worn to symbolize a Sikh’s baptism into the Khalsa, a big thing in a Sikh’s life. We have a right to pursue happiness. This kid is finding his happiness through religion, through carrying a Kirpan. Now then, do I have the right to kill people if it makes me happy?

No, because that steps on the rights of other people. However, him carrying a bundle of cloth with a piece of ceremonial clothing (by your definition a weapon must be made to be a weapon, and the kirpan is not, so it must just be an item and not a weapon,) inside of it does not. What he’s wearing doesn’t at all effect me.


Legal decisions such as this one are the thing that will allow these outrageous acts to go on


Only by people who take them out of context. However, that’s a two-sided sword your swinging.




We can not tolerate allowing this weapon, because if we do so, then we have basis for blocking what might be considered as dangerous religious practices, and I think this was an awful move on the part of the court.


That’s a load. The court didn’t rule that he keeps the kirpan period-they ruled that he keeps it so long as he doesn’t put anyone in danger. You seem color blind, but rather or not your able to see this, not everything is black-or-white, one extreme or the other.

They compromised-a health and fair decision, nobody is having their right to public safety taken away, nobody is having their religious rights taken away.


We can not allow personal beliefs to alter the policy we have in place to protect people, as if we do then there is no way to stop it from growing out of control, without becoming real fascists and choosing which beliefs are “safe enough” Lets just make our safety policy without this crap as a consideration.


Oh, I see! So to avoid having to become fascists…we’re going to be fascists! That’s brilliant, Magnus. Yeah, and god forbid we actually change. I mean, everyone is so happy with the system now. I mean, seriously, could you imagine if we actually tried to make things better? My God, Magnus!

Laws change, and laws should change. Should we have taken your same logic and applied it to an earlier time-not letting events change our system, everything would’ve fallen apart. America would not exist.

Anyway, the right to religious freedom came around before these new weapons banning laws. So, technically-if anything is changing anything, it’s this “zero-tolerance,” changing our “tolerance,” not our “tolerance” changing this lack thereof.

Anyway, cases do effect other cases. However, that doesn’t mean we should let that interfere with the cases as they come. That is also fascism.
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