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Daniel Alexandre Portoraro

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Why Learn, When You Can Protest?

Posted: 05/16/2012 5:10 pm

Back in March, Michael Ball of the Montreal Gazette described the then-novel Quebecois protests as "charming." In his piece, "Those kids made me smile," Ball argued that while he did not agree with the motives behind the protests, their conduct -- sorry, comportement -- was "admirable." He claimed that there were "No arrests. Face (and sometimes breasts) were exposed and not hidden behind bandanas. The police even thanked the protesters for not straying from the predtermined route, allowing them to control traffic accordingly."

Oh, how times have changed.

Today, the behaviour of one-third of Montreal students was anything but exemplary. In fact, it was downright disdainful, disgusting, and completely nullified the effects of March's "charming" march.

Due to a recent court injunction, students -- once protesters, maybe still protesters -- have gone back to attend the classes they pay such supposedly high rates for. These were the same classes which the striking students led to being cancelled for quite some time.

And, of course, in the name of solidarity, how did those still striking respond? By storming the Université du Québec à Montréal. But rather than keep to themselves and chant about in the hallways (like some graduating class prank), these supposed fighters for student rights decided to flood into the classrooms of their peers, grabbing their once-comrades by the arm in attempt to push them back into rank, spray-painting the walls, and throwing their books on the ground -- maybe not a capital offence, but surely a symbolic one considering the costs of course materials.

But maybe most disgruntling of all was that when those paying students decided to film the disruptors in the middle of the act, protesters attempted to grab their phones out of reach -- funny, considering how if the police were to do such a thing, we would all be privy to an uproar regarding civil rights, a totalitarian, Orwellian state.

This use of vicious violence and vandalism runs contrary to any feeble notion of solidarity; in fact, this represents a dire schism in the Quebec student protests movement; one reminiscent of some sort of purge, the "if you're not with us, you're against us." Never mind that these students are paying to learn, and that many, because of these strikes will have to prolong their studies by another year; the movement must come first.

This Friday, Quebec will decide on its own variant of the mask law that's caused so much controversy amongst protesters, and former protesters alike. But in light of Wednesday's events, if these supposed masked avengers, these bandana'd student fighters are so quick to turn on their own kind -- manhandle them, hurl insults, vandalize the property of others, and attempt to erase any trace of evidence -- then maybe such legislation intended to hold people accountable is necessary to snap these children out of their delusions that such behaviour is what will allow their voice to be heard.

The sorry fact of the matter is that with only one third of students in Quebec left on strike, we should hope these vandals would stay out of university, and keep up their charade of fighting for what is justifiably theirs; after all, that would increase the likelihood of actual students to find employment after graduation. Students who instead of donning cowardly, immature masks, are actually working.

 

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