Ville de Granby Takes The Lead In Protecting Endangered Official Feels

[AP: Ville de Granby, Québec, Canada] Shouting their slogan Je suis important, vous ne pouvez pas irriter mon cul délicate, public employees celebrated a legal victory over internet abuse this week in Granby, a town in southern Quebec.

That victory came when the Granby municipal council unanimously passed an amendment to expand Article 17 of the municipal code. For years that code has forbidden the populace to "provoke, insult, revile, blaspheme or harass" police officers or municipal employees in the course of their duties. Last week's amended explicitly expanded the ban to prohibit insults online or in social media.

"This measure patches a gaping hole in our protection," said Robert Riel, deputy mayor of Granby. "People felt free to insult public employees online. Now they know they can't." Riel — occasionally pausing to collect himself — described how his ability to do his job had been ruthlessly disrupted by citizens criticizing his competence, his policy choices, and his 2010 arrest for attempting sexual intercourse with an award-winning snowman in Granby's public square during the town's Winterlude festival.

"That snowperson was extremely realistic and provocative," Riel added. "But my feelings are just as real."

Though it had strong support from elected officials, local police were the driving force behind the recent amendment. For two years, Granby law enforcement has been the target of relentless criticism, questioning, and even satire by the Facebook group Les policiers zélé de Granby, without any regarding to their rights as public officials and Canadians to be protected from offense. Some of the unflattering commentary was not even in French. Marco Beauregard, directeur of the department, recounted the toll that insults have taken. "My officers are out there ever day, putting themselves on the line," he said. "I owe it to them, and to their families, to do everything I can to make sure they come home at the end of the shift with their feelings intact."

Officers have reported being upset, disquieted, and even hurt by social media comments. "How can a public officer do his or her job," Beauregard demanded, "when people feel free to question the way they do it — and even to mock them? What makes them think they can talk about whatever they want?"

"My journey of improvement on anger-management issues is not an appropriate topic of public conversation, especially after last September," argued Beauregard, referencing an incident that led to the partial destruction of a traffic barrier, two police cars and the lobby of a local Tim Hortons.

"Being Canadian means standing up for your rights," said municipal council member M. Pascal Bonin. "That's all we are doing — using our authority to stand up for our right not to be insulted. It's a fundamental right, and it shouldn't yield to anything."

Bonin himself has been the target of rude jokes regarding his name, despite his repeated and patient explanations that it is pronounced Bon – eeen. "If citizens can say what they want about civic employees, you're going to see the whole culture of public life change," he said. "Before you know it, the only sort of people who will run for office or take a public job are the hardened sort that can just shrug off criticism as part of their job, or who think that they are only there to serve the public."

"And what would that look like," Bonin asked, shuddering.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Mu says

    So, are violations of Quebec municipal code enforceable in the US? Need to know before introducing Granby to Ms. Streisand.

  2. Dave says

    I'm already looking for real estate in Granby. It's one of the few places where I know I can sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that my police are protecting me without fear of insult.

    I believe in freedom of speech, but there have to be limits placed on it in a liberal democracy. Otherwise, the terrorists will win.

  3. W_G says

    If I wasn't a Canadian and know all too well how true this article really is, I'd swear it was a masterful Onion tribute as well. This sort of belief in the right to not be insulted or have your feelings hurt seems to be spreading. Another recent ruling in Ontario here put a restraining order on using the name of a particular bureacrat in any social mediaposts. Between these examples and the Human Rights Tribulals up here I dispair for true freedom of speech.

  4. Dave says

    JCB — I would love to answer but giving you a forthright and honest answer might constitute an offence.

  5. nk says

    I understand that in Granby there is precedence in molesting a snowman — the mayor goes first, then the police chief, then the civilian municipal employees followed by the police force, in their respective orders of. rank. The population is last but by then precedence is academic since the snowman is not fit for much in the way of sexual pleasure after the crossing guards have had their turn..

  6. says

    It is a disturbing sign of the times that I had to go read the original article to be able to tell how much of this was accurate and how much was satire. It is even more disturbing that very little of it is satire / exaggeration.

  7. Jack B. says

    But the site now has more than 7,400 “likes,” with one person suggesting police officers should fill out “hurt feelings” reports, and a new “Granby Police” Twitter account popped up — a parody of the real account.

    It sent this reporter a message Tuesday: “It is not nice to talk behind people’s backs … You are on thin ice. Govern yourself accordingly.”

    Nicely played, Popehat (or Popehat reader)

  8. Mikee says

    The Streisand Effect is in full force on their facebook page. Nearly 40 one star reviews full of insults in the last 24 hours.

  9. nk says

    W_G, some years ago a Greek politician got an injunction against a comedian to keep him from mentioning his name in his comedy routines. "The Unmentionable", as the comedian started calling him, is now part of popular Greek folklore.

    I'm the same nk — I made a typo in my email.

  10. Resolute says

    If it wasn't Quebec, I would have guessed satire. Since it was Quebec, I knew it was real.

    Then again, it isn't always just Quebec. The Alberta town of Taber made international headlines with an idiotic behavioural bylaw – created by police – that was basically a bigoted attempt at curtailing the local Mennonite population.

  11. Thomas says

    What'd I do? All I said was that piece of halibut was good enough for the mayor of Ville de Granby!

  12. ketchup says

    How on Earth are they going to enforce this? They have no clue whether I am in Granby or Grand Cayman. Good luck trying to subpoena Popehat trying to get my info.

  13. Dan Weber says

    Did we at least reinforce The Wall before insulting the great freemen of the north?

  14. TimL says

    A heavy favorite in the 'Real Or The Onion??' national championship.

    My thoughts precisely.

    It was believable when college kids complained about their feelings, but this is ridiculous.

  15. RB says

    Mu, since they are from Quebec, please be sure to post all insults in French. We wouldn't want to hurt their feelings by assuming they speak English after all.

  16. Paul says

    Ketchup, I fully endorse the idea of Granby going after Popehat so long as we're all given enough warning to get popcorn first.

  17. Terry Cole says

    RB: Such insults would have to be the Quebec patois of French, surely? Ken White has made a good start – although "cul délicate" should surely be "cul délicat" (masculine form of adjective). C'est un point délicat que celui-ci…

  18. IgnatzEsq says

    This never would have happened in the Ville de Grandy. Though that might be because the Ville de Grandy has been flattened by atomic monsters.

  19. Jubilee says

    “The whole thing snowballed,” Riel said. “You know how Facebook works. You get a ticket in Montreal, you’re not happy, you have a friend in Granby and they “like” it and share it and add to it and they’ll often exaggerate about a police officer they don’t even know. And the things said were awful, naming police and giving their badge numbers.”

    Abusing the police by sharing their badge numbers. Those cruel and feckless citizens should know better than to try and hold police accountable. They're the good guys! Why aren't they sharing criminals' names and badge numbers? I suppose if police don't want anyone to know who they are they could try randomizing their badge numbers every day. And their names. Better also use voice modulators and remotely operated drones – then they'll never have to suffer hurt feelings again.

  20. Windy Wilson says

    So, is this the Riel Rebellion II? Canada is not America; its fundamental beliefs are "Peace, Order, and Good Government". America's are "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness".

  21. Tyson says

    Paul May 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm
    Ketchup, I fully endorse the idea of Granby going after Popehat so long as we're all given enough warning to get popcorn first.

    It would be highly entertaining. I'd imagine that the response to such a subpoena would be "Snort my taint!" accompanied by a copy machine photo of Ken's ass.

  22. says

    I am a cop. Hath not a cop eyes? hath not a cop hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with federal pork, hurt by imaginary weapons, subject to unwarranted public scrutiny, yet shielded from prosecution, terrified of the unarmed black man, as a civilian is? If you prick us, do we not make you bleed? if you tickle us, do we not taser you? if you sobpoena us, do we not testilie? and if you blaspheme us, shall we not revenge?

  23. MrBill says

    I looked at their Facebook page and the comments are brutal. Not to mention highly entertaining.

  24. En Passant says

    Bad Lieutenant May 8, 2015 at 10:49 am:

    I am a cop. Hath not a cop eyes? …

    Well played, sir, well played.

  25. Philosopherva says

    I am disturbed. According to Wikipedia, "Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God, to religious or holy persons or things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable." Do the council-members of Ville de Granby, and for that matter do its good citizens consider that a lack of reverence towards the police as equivalent to a lack of reverence to.the divinity?

  26. Lys says

    The inclusion of blasphemy in this list is likely a reference to how Bad Words work in Quebec. In Quebec's French, the most offensive curse words are derived from Catholic church terminology; the chalice, the host, the tabernacle, etc. It's possible that Granby is trying to explicitly make it illegal to use ecclesiastical terminology to be mean to a city official online.

    If I understand the list correctly, it's not so much that they want to stop you from blaspheming the police themselves so much as they want to stop you from blaspheming at the police.

  27. VPDC says

    Here in Montréal, the police themselves like to insult city officials, such as the mayor.

    Of course, that doesn't stop them from tear-gassing ordinary citizens who have the audacity to make similar insults.

    As for our fundamental beliefs… I think it's not that we believe in a "right" to not be offended up here anymore than the American public at large does. But we do lack a strong legal framework for protecting our free speech from sniveling whiners with delicate feelings and political clout. :(

  28. nk says

    Well, they're French. And French does not always translate well directly into English. "Blasphemy" is a broad term, like our "profanity", which also, strictly speaking, means insulting something sacred but is used broadly for all kinds of trash talk.

  29. NickM says

    "It would be highly entertaining. I'd imagine that the response to such a subpoena would be "Snort my taint!" accompanied by a copy machine photo of Ken's ass."

    It would be even better if it came from Via Angus.

  30. says

    Excellent point about losses in translation from French. You reminded me of what I read 30 years ago about Quebec in particular– that while English speakers rely heavily on sexual or excretory terms for curses, Quebecois prefer what would elsewhere be considered perfectly innocuous religious terms, eg "tabernacle." I do not know if that is still true, but it would not surprise me

  31. nk says

    By Aphrodite's rosy nipples, Hugo, often the difference between a curse and a prayer is purely a matter of intent; and as often both lead to the same result — which is to say nothing — by the sacred memory of Roger Zelazny.

  32. Quite Possibly A Cat says

    First can municipal violations in Canada reach out to people outside the municipality?

    Second, I would like to inform the municipal workers, specifically the poopyheads that made this law, that I disbelieve they attend to their duties, I say that their mother was a turnip and their father some sort of pasty shade of red. I hope my criticisms came across in an insulting manner. Finally, I challenge you to game of CHESS! TO THE CHECKMATE! Or stalemate. I do hope you rise to my provocations.

    Alright, I got blaspheme, insult, revile and provoke. I'm not dedicated enough to get harassement by engaging in this multiple times, so four out of five should suffice.

  33. Dyspeptic Curmudgeon says

    Bravo Ken! You have passed the senior class translation exam. You even have the Quebecois patois correct. Very few Frenchman would use 'cul delicat' in that spot. 'Fesse delicate' maybe, or even 'ass delicat'.

    So for the master-class examination, please translate to Quebec patios, your inimitable phrase "Snort my taint".
    Of course, show your work!

  34. Terry Cole says

    Dyspeptic Curmudgeon: You got the gender agreement, well done. Fesse is thigh. Not generally a naughty word. Cul is butt (but délicat really needs that acute over the e). So a cul de jatte has both legs cut off just below the butt (used to be a fairly common sight after the first world war). Oeuf corse, cul is very naughty, especially in the narrower meaning of gonadal fork, but they use it anyway. Never heard a French person use the word "ass" in that (or any other) context, possibly because un as is an Ace.

    Man one can have fun being a grammar nazi, especially in a language with an academy.

  35. Jean Naimard says

    Regarding “blaspheme”… No, they don’t (seem to) see themselves as gods.

    It’s just that 99% of Québec swear words come directly from roman scatholic liturgy… «Hostie de câlisse de sacrament de tabarnak de calvaire de criss de barême» is what a québécois swearing sounds like. So, officially, “blaspheme” (the “misuse” of religious words) is considered as foul language, hence the interdiction…

    This comes from having being nearly enslaved by the scatholic church which, until 50 years ago, heavily controlled our daily lives*. Once we said “no more of this bullshit”, and dumped religion where it belongs, on the garbage heap of History, we stopped being religious en masse; church attendance went from more than 95% to less than 8% in a single generation (children-molesting priests have been part of our folklore for generations — well before it became an issue throughout the world; there’s just nothing we could have done about it. In the past, priests have been cleared of murder by juries, despite further than “reasonable doubt” evidence being produced…).

    Such has the anger towards the scatholic church has been so big that we have adopted it’s vocabulary as offensive, shocking words, to show the utter contempt in which we hold that institution.

    * This was thanks to a constitutionnaly-mandated total control of education in Québec, a 1867 reward for, 30 years prior, not having supporting the Patriotes rebellion that called for responsible government, and that has been savagely repressed.