Head Asplodey Challenge for Professionally Aggrieved Grievance Professionals

Canada and the world of Grievance Identity Politics is headed for a major clarification as a lesbian goes into a Muslim barber shop demanding a butch cut. The Muslims gave her the boot. So whose exquisite and offended sensitivities are we supposed to shed tears for. In one narrative, this is an a brutal act of imposition of western cultural imperialism on an oppressed caste who are trying to resist our cultural hegemony. Clearly, it was done with the specific intention of targeting and attacking Islam in the name of Western Values.

In another narrative, this is ruthless and outmoded heteronormative behavior whereby Abrahamic religion continues its long history of oppression of gays and womyn.

For some reason, I’m reminded of an essay in Woody Allen’s Without Feathers, purportedly by Hitler’s barber. At one point, in a reflective mood, he says, “I am sometimes asked if I was a aware of the moral ramifications of what I was doing.”

Continuing in the vein of common sense, I think that people should not be forced to do anything that they regard as sinfully giving approval to moral acts they abhor. At the same time, I don’t see how a haircut is a moral or immoral act. So she should be able to get her haircut where she pleases. At the same time, people who go around picking fights with barbers just because they are Muslim are human toothaches. So my question is not really “Who should win?” but “Why can’t they both lose?”

Prescription: Canada should sentence them both to read my essay on Insensitivity Training. Then Canada should sentence itself to reading it too.

  • Dan C

    This video, once posted in 2008 on this blog, is a far more fun response to these matters:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ivkw27k9J0c

  • Igotfreshmilk

    The story you linked to was from Nov. 2012. Surely there must be an update by now? Could you use your investigative skills to give us the current state of the case?

    • Dave G.

      I’ve looked, and haven’t found what happened with the case. I’m guessing the reason it’s suddenly being picked up is because of the national dialogue from the recently vetoed Arizona law. Not so much the law, but things that were said. Online and on TV interviews, you had a growing number of people saying that religion shouldn’t be a reason to avoid doing something the law demands. So somebody probably stumbled across this and recycled it. Kudos to anyone who can find out what happened in this case, but I do think the reasons it’s suddenly in the news are worth looking at as well.

    • TJPW

      There is nothing wrong with commenting on a less-recent news story (although it might not be considered ‘news’). However, it would be good to preface one’s comments with a note that this story is a few years old.

  • Tom Leith

    > she should be able to get her haircut where she pleases.

    Why? Doesn’t the barber have to be pleased as well? Should the barber be allowed to hang up a sign that says “Come on in, I might sell you a haircut.”? Why not?

    • Billy Bagbom

      You make a good point, Tom. Although I think the sign should probably read something like, “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone We Don’t Like for Any Reason Or None.”

  • Marthe Lépine

    In my little town, the only barbershop is owned and operated by a woman, and I am sure she would have been more than happy to do the requested cut. I am sure that there must be at least one such shop in a big city like Toronto. In my opinion, going out of one’s way to challenge one particular shopkeeper because of his culture or beliefs is actually one of the worst forms of discrimination.

    • Almario Javier

      You realize that for these sorts of people, anything can be justified in the name of their god, Progress?

  • Almario Javier

    I’m afraid that the greivance brigade will likely unjustly throw the Muslim under the bus. A lot of them have even more contempt for Islam than they do for Christians. To them, all these people who gasp, want to practice their religions, are bars to their utopia of completely unmoored, unencumbered progress.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      You touch on something that tends to happen in these cases: that there becomes a hierarchy of victimhood groups. We saw this with Prop 8 in California, how it was okay to bash black people if they voted against gays. When victims collide, the grievance professionals have to determine where they each go in the pecking order. Who is the victim-est of them all?

      • Dave G.

        Gays will trump. As we’ve seen in other cases, invoking racial stereotypes or using sexist slurs against women can get a pass – if it’s directed against the right people. But under no circumstances is slamming the LGBT world going to get a pass. And there’s probably reasons for that.

        • Almario Javier

          IMO it’s largely that the sort of LGBT persons that are politically active are on average richer than his black or other person of color counterpart (having complete ability to “choose” to have children helps) So they interact with the elites more often. The working class, or anyone below upper middle class… not so much. It’s the bobos looking after their own.

          • Dave G.

            Interesting, but I don’t think that’s it. It could have something to do with it, but I’m guessing the rather religious nature of opposition to LGBT normality is the main issue.

            • said she

              That, along with the LGBT’s take-no-prisoners attack style, which puts fear in the hearts of many. Tho muslim extremists are pretty scary, too… in a very different – and less immediate – way.

            • Almario Javier

              On the other hand, it seemed to me, that during Prop 8, for example, the Yes side had a more diverse ethnic and class base than the No side. If only Anglophone white middle class and upper could vote, likely the No side would have won. Then again, traditional religion is rarely the province of the upper classes anymore…

  • gwythe

    This was resolved with a confidential agreement in Feb. 2013. Interestingly, CNN ran the story a couple weeks ago. I don’t recall them mentioning that the story was old or that it had been resolved. Ironically, the woman’s first name is Faith.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/02/22/rights-complaint-against-muslim-barber-who-refused-to-give-woman-haircut-quietly-resolved/

  • Cypressclimber

    Well, in one interview I saw with the barber, his explanation was that not cutting women’s hair is the thing, as a matter of modesty.

    Not that I share the scruple, but I can see that. If your religion emphasizes separation of the sexes — as Islam and some elements of Judaism do — then a barber doing what he did follows.

  • SteveP

    We’ll probably never hear F. McGregor deconstruct herself to O. Mahrouk: “I realize that I ‘othered’ you by exercising my white privilege in using the force of the HRC against your person. What I did was a brutal and violent–an irrational reaction stemming from the enculturated classism in which I live. I apologize and offer back to you what I have taken.”

  • Heather

    Yeah, it’s weird that this story is making a resurgence and has the whole lesbian angle emphasized. When it actually happened a couple of years ago, most of the news coverage about the complaint I saw (and there was a fair bit, as it was a local story to me) more accurately reflected that his refusal to serve her had nothing to do with her sexuality but merely the fact that his barber shop catered exclusively to men so that he could avoid violating his religious prohibitions against touching women to whom he was neither married nor related.

  • Kristen inDallas

    “I think that people should not be forced to do anything that they regard as sinfully giving approval to moral acts they abhor” To be totally fair… I don’t think people should be forced to do ANYTHING that isn’t acutely necesary for the overall functionality of society. (such as paying taxes, fulfilling contractual obligations, or serving out consequences of previous illegal behavior, etc.).
    If I walk into a sports-clips, I don’t expect to be able to get highlights or a keratin treatment. Some high end salons won’t do buzz cuts (or presumably mullets or bad perms or anything else that might hurt their rep). And there’s always the chance that a particular stylist just doesn’t know how to do a particular cut and declines service rather than risking a botched job. I’ve had plenty of bartenders refuse to make a particular drink, and even though mcdonalds has eggs in the kitchen all day long, they still make you order off the lunch menu after 11:00. None of this is remotely religious or conscience based, beyond the basic religious tennant of free-will extended to all human persons. Since when do we get to demand what kind of services a person provides based on nothing more than who we are (as customers) and what we want?

  • Sherry

    They could give her a bad haircut. Just saying…


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