The shows listed were in english and therefore so is the message.
You obviously can't read in english because you are an
estce que vous comprenez l'expression anglophone: Go Fuck Yourself?
On behalf of the local news industry, I’d like to offer my thanks to Eric Amber of Théâtre Ste. Catherine, which despite its name is an anglo venue.
You see, despite the people in space, the huge investment scandals and the giant rocks falling on people’s heads, it’s kind of a slow news period right now. Hockey is in the offseason, politicians are on vacation, and most of the people who would make serious news are instead outside enjoying the summer.
Perhaps subconsciously sensing this, Amber decided to do the following things to ensure coverage in the local media:
- Be an asshole
- Be an asshole on a language issue
- Be an asshole on a language issue in writing
- Be an asshole to someone who didn’t provoke him
- Create a PR crisis for one of the city’s biggest festivals right in the middle of it
- React childishly when called on about his behaviour
- Refuse to apologize
For those who haven’t seen the news in La Presse, the Journal, Le Devoir, The Gazette and elsewhere, francophone group Les Sages Fous was receiving English-only messages on TSC’s mailing list about Zoofest shows related to the Just for Laughs festival. They sent a rather matter-of-fact email asking that they be removed from that list unless the messages are sent in French. A bit snarky, but not unreasonable. Amber responded by calling the guy an uneducated bigot and telling him to “go fuck yourself”.
Louis Préfontaine was the first to break the email on Wednesday, and it spread from there (including the requisite Facebook group). Préfontaine also has a follow-up and the raw text of the back-and-forth.
It’s happened to everyone. Maybe you’ve just been dumped, fired or made to wait on the phone with Bell to fix a billing issue. You’re frustrated and tired, and someone sends you an email that sounds snarky. It’s the last straw and you let them have it. Realizing your mistake, you later apologize.
Amber, unfortunately, didn’t do this. Instead, he told Le Devoir and the Journal about other emails he got from francophones which relentlessly attacked him. The emails weren’t from Les Sages Fous, but Amber made the mistake that far too many make in this unending language debate and painted everyone on the other solitude with the same brush, as if one is responsible for the actions of everyone who speaks the same language.
Which brings me to this: On behalf of the anglo community, go fuck yourself Eric Amber. You’re the last thing we need right now. Because those idiots who comment on Patrick Lagacé and Richard Martineau’s blogs will start painting all of us with the same brush, and that makes us responsible for your behaviour.
To bring this drama to an even higher level of absurd assholity, Amber has been sending the following message to those emailing him to condemn his comments or ask what the hell he was thinking:
Due to the overwhelming racism and bigotry in French society toward minorities and non-french cultures, Theatre Ste-Catherine will be closing in protest. Effective immediately TSC will no longer be accepting bookings and will closed permanently Dec. 21, 2009.
I’ll assume you mean francophone Quebec society and not the society of France (though you could make such an argument about racism in the motherland). But let me get this straight: you’re going to shut down the venue over this? Either TSC has been on the financial ropes for some time (which is certainly plausible) or you have the thinnest skin on the planet.
I don’t agree with some who say that TSC should be sending emails in French. I don’t see why, any more than I would see why The Gazette would advertise in French (except when it wants to, like it’s been doing the past few Sundays). But that’s irrelevant now, because you had to be an asshole.
No matter how long this goes, it’s going to end eventually by you eating a truck full of crow. Better start now before more has to be shovelled onto your plate.
UPDATE: Just when you thought this ridiculousness couldn’t get any worse, it seems the Jeunes Patriotes and their ilk are doing their best to prove Amber right about bigotry in Quebec. Amber says he has been receiving death threats, and the JPQ are organizing had a protest at 4pm Sunday – 30 people showed up. Josée Legault also turns this into a language issue, painting all anglos with the Eric Amber brush.
And apparently someone has setup a Twitter account for the sole purpose of calling me an asswipe fascist.
Patrick Lagacé has a follow-up on his blog. Hour complains how this is unworthy of newspaper coverage … with an article in its newspaper.
UPDATE (July 22): Crow special, Table 1! Amber also speaks to The Gazette’s Pat Donnelly where he takes great pains to prove he’s not a bigot. He also does an interview with Radio-Canada where he says he never expected to start up such a shitstorm.
His apology (also on Donnelly’s blog), which you’ll note is in both languages:
To whom it concerns,
There has been much media activity in recent days that began with an email that I sent to the theatre’s mailing list. Les Sages Fous were upset after receiving an all-english message regarding Zoofest programming as part of the Just For Laughs festival.
I reacted inappropriately to their request to receive emails only in French and for this I would like to apologize. However, I would like to explain that I did so not simply due to this one response, but rather because I often receive a disproportionate amount of negative feedback whenever I promote English events that are hosted at Theatre Ste Catherine.
Although it is true that I lost my temper, it must be said that it was in no way an attack on Quebec or French-speaking Canadians as was implied by some of the media covering this story. As I myself am French Canadian and a francophone from La Beauce region of southern Quebec, to hate French culture would be to hate myself.
I truly regret offending any of my French brothers and sisters, however I do not believe this would have become an issue if certain media had not sought to create discontent. As such, this situation has been blown out of proportion to the point where it now stands. Unfortunately, not only has this resulted in negative publicity for both Theatre Ste-Catherine, Zoofest and the Just For Laughs Festival, but as my personal information has since been released, I have received hundreds of hate letters including several death threats.
Due to the actions of certain individuals who fanned the flames of hate within a community of extremists, a great hurt was inflicted upon me personally that I fear could threaten the harmony of Montreal. I am upset with the intolerance that I receive on a daily basis as displayed by the many hateful emails that have been written. I also believe that the French language and culture is alive and strong, and need not be afraid of others.
When I first opened the theatre five years ago, which I myself built in what was a very troubled neighbourhood, my intention was to create a venue for people of every culture to come together for the celebration of art and unity. It would be regretful to have to shut the doors to those who have come to make Theatre Ste-Catherine their home and meeting place.
Again, I would like to sincerely apologize to Les Sages Fous, The Just For Laughs Festival, Zoofest, all of Theatre Ste Catherine’s company members as well as anyone who has been affected by this situation.
I wish I had addressed this issue sooner because of the hurt it has caused.
Theatre Ste. Catherine
À qui de droit,
Depuis quelques jours, bien des médias et sites Internet s’attardent sur un courriel envoyé récemment par moi-même à un inscrit de la liste d’envois électronique générale du Théâtre Ste Catherine. Je répondais alors à un message provenant de la troupe Les Sages Fous, qui protestait avoir reçu un courriel en anglais concernant la programmation anglophone du Zoofest dans le câdre du Festival Juste Pour Rire.
Ma réaction face à leur demande, de recevoir une version française de ce même courriel, fut inflammatoire et non justifiée et pour cela je voudrais sincèrement m’excuser. Ma réplique très agressive s’explique en partie par le fait que Le Théâtre Sainte Catherine est toujours ciblé par des messages francophones très négatifs et diffamatoires concernant nos évènements anglophones et ce, tout au long de l’année.
Malgré l’important manque de jugement dont j’ai fait preuve, il se doit aussi d’être clarifié qu’en aucune façon, mes remarques visaient le Québec ou la Francophonie, tel que certains médias l’ont laissés entendre cette semaine. Étant moi-même francophone ayant grandit et provenant de la région de La Beauce, dans le sud du Québec, d’émettre de pareilles insultes envers la Francophonie serait contradictoire et impensable.
Je regrette sincèrement avoir offensé mes propres frères et soeurs Francophones, mais suis tout à fait convaincu qu’une couverture médiatique alarmiste et sensationnaliste n’a fait qu’aggraver la situation. Cette réaction incroyable de la part des médias provoque non seulement une publicité extrêmement négative pour Le Théâtre Ste-Catherine, mais engendre également une campagne négative envers le Zoofest et le festival Juste Pour Rire. Il est aussi important de noter que je fais personnellement maintenant face à des menaces de mort et insultes personnelles très inquiétantes.
Il m’attriste donc de constater que suite aux actions marquées de quelques individus qui avaient pour but précis d’encourager la haine et l’extrémisme, l’harmonie culturelle de notre ville de Montréal est affectée. Je suis déçu par le niveau d’intolérance présent dans les centaines de courriels et de lettres que nous avons reçus cette semaine, surtout parce que je suis profondément convaincu que malgré ces incidents isolés, la culture Française est essentiellement forte et inclusive au Québec.
Lorsque le Théâtre Ste Catherine a ouvert ses portes, il y a cinq ans, un théâtre que j’ai moi-même fondé et bâti dans un quartier très désavoué de Montréal, mon rêve était de créer une scène, un endroit où tout le monde pourrait se réunir, quelle que soit leur culture, pour célébrer l’art et la communauté. Aujourd’hui, ce théâtre est bel et bien vibrant et il serait dommage de devoir fermer ses portes au public et aux artistes qui le fréquentent maintenant en si grand nombre.
Je souligne donc à nouveau mes excuses sincères envers Les Sages Fous, Le festival Juste Pour Rire, Zoofest ainsi qu’envers tous les membres de la communauté du Théâtre Ste Catherine et tous ceux et celles qui sont affectés par cette situation.
En regrettant de ne pas m’être prononcé plus tôt sur ces évènements importants,
Théâtre Ste. Catherine
UPDATE (July 23): Amber just couldn’t keep his bloody mouth shut. He sends another email to Les Sages Fous taunting them.
UPDATE (Aug. 4): The Mirror weighs in.