The family of Luc Cagadoc, a young Filipino student from Montreal, claims the boy was discriminated against by his elementary school's staff for eating his lunch Filipino-style -- cutting his food with a fork and scooping it into his mouth with a spoon. This week, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal came down on Luc's side, awarding $17,000 to his family for racial and ethnic prejudice. The episode provides yet another example of how over-reaching the human-rights industry has become and how desperately it needs to be reined in.
In 2006, Luc, who is now 11, was apparently reprimanded repeatedly by the lunchroom monitor at his school in Montreal's Marguerite Bourgeoys school district for allegedly disrupting the other young diners by "eating like a pig," using his two-utensil technique to slurp food into his mouth. On several occasions when he refused to stop, he was made to sit by himself at a separate table. When his mother, Maria-Theresa Gallardo, questioned the principal about her son's treatment, she claims he said Luc should learn to "eat like a Canadian."
Ms. Gallardo insisted that the fork-and-spoon dining method is so integral to Filipino cultural identity that an attempt to stop her son for eating that way amounted to racial or at least cultural discrimination. The school board countered that no one ever said Luc should learn to eat "like a Canadian" (not that we see anything wrong with school officials teaching children the sort of decorum required in Canadian society); and that the reason he was repeatedly admonished by the lunch monitor was that his loud and animated eating was disturbing to some of his classmates.
It is impossible to tell which version of events is true. The Quebec Human Rights Commission (a separate entity from the rights tribunal that made the award against the school board) refused to take up the case for lack of evidence when Ms. Gallardo first approached them. Too much of the case depended on whose word could be taken as true...I don't get it--the QHRC said there wasn't enough evidence to proceed, but the QHRT not only accepted the case but used the same absent evidence to rule in favour of the complainant?
Something smells really bad here--and it isn't the food in school lunchroom.