One for the Good Guys
A Sihk man's challenge to Ontario's mandatory helmet law has failed. His beliefs forbid him from wearing anything over his turban, which earned him a ticket a few years ago while riding his motorcycle. He tried to have the law overturned on religious grounds, claiming that it was discriminatory against devout Sikhs.
The lawyer for his side said:
"Observant Sikhs are put in the impossible position of choosing between ordinary, everyday activities and observing their faith," said lawyer Scott Hutchison, who is representing the OHRC. "That is religious discrimination."
I call bullshit. It would be religious discrimination if you said that Sikhs were banned from driving at all, or that Buddhists couldn't be doctors. Whatever happened to everyone being treated equally under the law? Why does choosing to believe something mean you get to be exempt from the hardships you take on from holding that belief? What's next, kosher pork?
Ultimately, he lost on the grounds that the public good of the helmet law outweighed any perceived benefits from putting a class of people above the law. If the only way to obey the law and the strictures of your religion is to not do something, don't do it, even if you really, really want to. No one is forcing you to ride a motorcycle, you are choosing to. If you don't like the law, fight to change it (which is what the plaintiff is now considering doing). Also, whatever happened to the understanding that driving was a privilege and not a right? If you don't meet the standards, you don't get to do it, period.
Score one for the rule of law. Let's hope the trend spreads, and that any revision to the law doesn't have a religious exemption in it; either keep it as is, or do away with it entirely.
maybe if this sig is witty, someone will love me.