Cover yourself!

So if there are ‘devout’ people around, then anyone living or working or exercising or playing sport in a building near them has a responsibility to make sure that the devout people don’t see anything that they (or, really, some of them) don’t like. Even if that means that a subset of the devout people can see what the other people are doing only by going outside, around the corner, into the alley, where they peer into the windows – it is the responsibility of the horrible non-devout people next door to wear armour or paint their windows black or turn all their lights off, because after all what right does anyone have to wear shorts and a skimpy top for athletic purposes if there are devout people nearby? No right at all of course. Devout trumps non-devout. Right? Right.

Some members of the Avenue du Parc YMCA are upset with the centre’s administrators, who allowed windows on the building’s west side to be tinted in order to placate leaders of a Hasidic synagogue across the alley. The Y members claim the tinted windows compromise the building’s interior lighting and make it hard to practise tai chi and yoga.

Oh grow up. For heaven’s sake. So the Y is a little darker than it used to be; get used to it.

Members of the Yetev Lev synagogue, on Hutchison Street, paid for tinted windows at the Y after they complained their children and youth were unwittingly watching too many women in various states of undress work out at the gym. The congregation’s rabbi said public nudity is not acceptable to his members, nor to any religious Jew.

Public nudity in the sense of inside a building, next door to another building containing people who ‘unwittingly’ watch women in various states of undress. Right; well that makes sense. It’s perfectly fair, too.

But some people just won’t see reason.

[N]ow the windows have opened up a rift over whether the institution went too far to accommodate a minority. Some Y members have circulated a petition demanding the opaque windows be removed because they not only deprive the room of light, but allow a religious group to impose its ways on the majority.“It’s like getting us to wear a veil. Since we represent temptation, we’re being asked to hide,” Renée Lavaillante, who started the petition, said yesterday. “We shouldn’t have to hide in order to exercise in Quebec. We’re a secular state, and shouldn’t hide ourselves for religious reasons.”

It’s also like ordering you to go to the back of the bus – but hey, be reasonable; the back of the bus is a perfectly nice, homey place. Settle down, get comfortable.

The Hasidic community says it is not out to stop women from exercising the way they like. Members just want to find a way to maintain their strict traditions in a secular world, and felt the windows – for which the congregation footed the $3,500 bill – were a reasonable solution.

Of course they were! Perfectly reasonable! Hey, if a neighbour of mine decided he couldn’t stand the possibility of getting a sight of me reading a godless book (which he couldn’t, because I live at the top of a hill and my windows face into thin air, but never mind), of course it would be perfectly reasonable of him to demand that I have the windows painted black, especially if he footed the bill. Why should I mind a darkened living room if it makes a neighbour happy? I’m not so petty, I assure you!

“We have a belief in being dressed modestly, and we want our kids to see women dressed modestly,” Mr. Weig said.

Not just in our own living rooms, but also in their living rooms. We want our kids to see women dressed modestly, therefore we think we have a right to demand that all women everywhere ‘dress modestly’ according to our definitions and no matter where they are. We don’t want much, do we.

Serge St-André, director of the YMCA branch, said the Hasidim’s request had been submitted to an advisory committee, which judged it to be reasonable…“We are geographically at the junction of several communities, and the YMCA has to take on the colours of those communities,” he said…“We try to be responsive to the requests of the community. It’s a challenge to satisfy everyone.”…a Y member walked up to say he objected to the windows. “We can’t let ourselves be imposed upon by extremist religious groups. What’s next? Separate gyms for women and for men? Wearing long pants and long sleeves to exercise?” Outremont resident Robert Dolbec asked. “They [the Hasidim] should cover their own windows. I respect their right to practise their religion, but not their right to impose their religion on us.”…The frosted-window kerfuffle is just the latest flare-up between the fast-growing Hasidic community in Outremont and the larger secular community that surrounds it. In the 1980s, Outremont passed a bylaw banning the wearing of bathing suits in its public parks; the law was struck down as unconstitutional by Quebec Superior Court in 1985…Asher Wieder, a rabbi at the Yetev Lev synagogue, said he hoped the window row would be resolved peacefully. “We felt the way we worked it out was very fair. They still have light in the room and we help our children keep their traditions and religion,” he said. “I think it’s a good compromise.”

They don’t have as much light, but hey, that’s what ‘compromise’ means. So if that neighbour wants me to paint my windows black and I agree to paint just half of the windows, everybody is happy. Compromise is great.

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