Everyone was right. And wrong. Everyone was ignorant. And yet there was a speck of truth in it, too. Opposition MHA Jim Bennett rose in the House of Assembly Wednesday to complain that the team overseeing the transition from four school boards to one has no elected representatives on it.
In a typical flourish of hyperbole, he called them the "ayatollahs of education."
A few minutes later, Justice Minister Darin King rose on a point of order, saying the member for St. Barbe should apologize. Why? Because the term ayatollah is associated with violence, with "mass murder and death."
First, King must have missed the uproar when former pope Benedict XVI made a speech at the University of Regensburg in 2006. Benedict stepped in a pile of interfaith do-do by quoting a 14th-century Christian emperor, who said: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
Now, spreading holy dictums at the point of a sword was de rigueur for many religions in medieval times, especially Christianity. But to echo such a generalization about the founder of Islam in this day and age was, at the very least, a sign of encroaching dementia.
The pope later apologized.
First, let's be clear. The only similarities between this point of order and the point of privilege against NDP MHA Gerry Rogers in April are 1) King's penchant for demanding apologies, and 2) his fear that violence lurks around every corner.
Was he so far off associating ayatollahs with violence? Not entirely.
Local Muslims pointed out Wednesday that ayatollahs are religious leaders. They are clerics, just as Christian priests are clerics.
That's true. Except the top ayatollah is also the supreme leader in a theocracy like Iran. It was the ayatollah who oversaw the mob attack against U.S. diplomats, ordered a hit on British author Salman Rushdie, and gave the order to crush post-election protesters.
These, one assumes, are the ayatollahs King was thinking of.
Bennett, meanwhile, says he was thinking only along the lines of unelected power. He could well have said the "clerics of education" or "high priests of education," but that may have garnered him a little flak from the local church community. Or not. Who knows?
Either way, it's a little harsh on the folks tasked to whip up one mammoth board out of the few we have left.
The members of the team, who were plucked from the province's existing school boards, have pretty tough decisions to make.
So, here's a little wrist-slapping for both honorable members.
Darin King shouldn't make off-handed accusations involving subjects he knows little about, including Facebook and Muslim clerics. And Jim Bennett should tone down the rhetoric.
And the outcome? The Speaker ruled there was no point of order.