The Index

Ominous sounding list of words banned from the National Assembly (or, rather, L’Assemblée Nationale) in Quebec City.

For centuries, the Catholic Church maintained the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, listing books that Catholics were not allowed to read. It was a very long list, including Protestant heresies and scientific tomes by the likes of that renegade Copernicus.

The spirit of the Index is alive and well in a very secular Quebec. There, at least 400 words and phrases are hors piste in terms of debate. The Speaker of the Assembly (he or she is the boss of daily proceedings in the legislature) decides which terms go on the index, and has discretion to reprimand anyone with the temerity, for instance, to call another member a “Yes man” or a “pickpocket”.

Yet the ban doesn’t just apply to English words, mais non. Other listed words and phrases include “Bonhomme sept-heures”, “boss des bécosses” and “vire-capot”. And lest you be tempted, “Lucky Luke de Twitter” (whatever that means) is also banned.

This list is likely to grow, and Parli, guardian of the political lexicon, will be ever vigilant in seeking out and sharing forbidden political speech. But, mon Dieu, there are probably some limits to what even Parli would share. That’s the problem with limits on free speech, who decides?

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Paulo Barcellos Jr.

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