France says no to "cultural" gender suppression.

France’s upper house is set to debate banning the “Islamic” Burka (full face and body veil) in public places. I put “Islamic” in inverted commas because, while I know the Q’ran directs women to be “modest”, I don’t believe it requires them to go fully covered from crown to toe.

Full story on the BBC News site

One thought that did occur: Isn’t wearing a Burka in a Western country the exact opposite of “modest”? They’re so outlandish to Western sensibilities that they cause some people to stop and stare.

I do like the fact that the penalty for wearing a Burka is intended to be quite low, while the penalty for pressuring a female family member into doing so is set to be “much tougher”.

What do you think? Is France being culturally and/or religiously intolerant? Or are they protecting decades of gender emancipation?

  • Siberia

    I’d punish people pressuring women to wear a burka, but I find it bad to punish people for actually wearing it; I wouldn’t like people dictating me what to wear by law – even if it’s a burka. I think it’ll only antagonize females and give more ammo to the crazy men.

    My muslim female friends only wear a hijab; everything else is normal (yes, t-shirts and jeans and such).

    • Custador

      I don’t know; governments restrict our choice all the time for the public good. I cannot choose to drive at 150MPH without fear of punishment because it endangers other people, likewise I do not think it is right that people should be allowed to completely obscure their identities in public places. I also don’t think that the “choice” to wear a burka is really a “choice” at all – no choice made on the basis of indoctrination and misinformation can be considered any kind of choice at all.

      • JohnMWhite

        If this were actually about not hiding your identity in public places (something I personally think we have a right to, seeing as the police in the UK feel fit to hide THEIR identities by removing the numbers from their uniforms before battering protesters), I could see the argument for it. But France makes no bones about this being purely because they find Islam a bit scary.

        • Aspentroll

          Anyone could wear a bhurka if his intent is to carry explosives into a building. I think an Islamic male terrorist would wear a bhurka to do do his dirty work. Even a non-Islamic person who might want to rob a bank could conceal his identity and carry a shotgun and other weapons to commit a robbery. There is a multitude of ways a Burhka can conceal
          identity for whatever reason.

          In these troubled times it is wise to use as many ways possible to detect and prohibit crime.

          • JohnMWhite

            Anyone could hide explosives under a trenchcoat or a maternity dress. Should we just ban clothes now?

            • Siberia

              What John said.
              For Custador’s point: but clothes don’t exactly put anyone in danger at all, unlike driving fast. It’s a personal matter – much like wearing high-heels. I do agree it’s not a choice from the women, but I don’t think it’s right to punish them again just for doing what they were already harassed to do. Dunno, sounds like punishing a victim to me.

            • Custador

              Giving criminals an easy and unquestionable way of hiding their identity does put other people in danger, every bit as much as driving too fast.

            • Kodie

              I think I listed a few examples where non-criminals may gather in ordinary situations with their faces covered up. We’d have to have laws where no one may cover their face at a costume party, maybe some criminals will crash it, blend in, and blow the place up. I think it’s a little paranoid to think that would happen, just picking on Muslims’ custom of dress is the exception here. White guys who want to drive motorcycles are ok.

              Like I said, there’s a sign on the door where I bank, and you could reason with it, to remove anything that obscures your facial features — I wonder where all the Muslims in my town do their banking. Reasoned further, I suppose they don’t let women have bank accounts, which would make the matter more serious than what they want to wear (or make them think they’ve chosen to wear) in my opinion.

            • Custador

              Guys who ride motorcycles take their helmets off when they’re not riding, and the helmets exist to protect them from impact, so not equatable at all. There are many, many places where you can be told what you may not wear – shopping malls routinely forbid the wearing of hoods, for example, because they make it too easy to commit crime and get away without being identifiable.

              Oh, and Muslims have their own banking system called (if I remember right) Hawada, because to them the charging of interest (usury) is a sin.

            • dutchhobbit

              When I go skiing I usually wear a ski mask under my helmet. In these situations I’d rather be warm and no one see my face then freeze my nose of. But then just like with the motorcycles, I remove it when finished or eating lunch.

  • JohnMWhite

    I read an article on a feminist blog somewhere in which a woman described how she actually liked wearing the burqa, due to it providing anonymity and basically making her a blank slate, not judged by what she wore (I don’t think she was writing from a place where it would have been seen to be entirely odd to wear it, if I recall correctly). Obviously most women wearing them aren’t likely to have a choice about it, but is that really a reason to ban an item of clothing that someone could, conceivably, want to wear? Either way, I am totally against the notion of a government granting itself the power to police what people wear, regardless of the cultural implications of that clothing. Should the US ban white robes and hoods, allowing them to arrest any Klan member just for wearing it? Should the UK ban Nazi uniforms, and arrest members of the royal family at Halloween parties? Should every nation with a moral compass ban priest outfits and arrest anyone wearing them, due to their intrinsic entwining with pedophilia?

    • Kodie

      I think Custador was right about the obscuring of identities in public places part, but I agree people should be allowed to wear what they want also. There’s a sign at my bank to please remove hats, scarves, and sunglasses upon entering the bank. I don’t like to sound paranoid that everyone wearing a burka could be up to no good, but in general, we allow folks to cover up when it’s cold, or wear a helmet when they are driving a motorcycle — I once saw a guy on a bike wearing a mask that looked like a skull, went by really fast, it kind of creeped me out. I think it’s illegal in matters of “freedom of assembly” for those assembling to cover their faces with masks, but then you bring up Halloween. It’s normal to wear masks and other make-ups so that you look like someone else or that others cannot see who is wearing the costume, and other events like Mardi Gras and other parades.

      I think if someone wants to wear a burka it’s ok. I don’t know how they are going to enforce any laws against someone forcing someone to dress in a burka — seems to me it would not be something someone forced to wear a burka would be free to be honest about, and claim it is her choice either way. The indoctrination is most of the trouble. I would not want the government to tell me how to dress, although another issue — I have to wear a top at the beach and men do not. Force men to cover up their moobies or the other way ’round, I don’t get arrested for topfreedom.

      • JohnMWhite

        And yet there are plenty of topless beaches in France.

    • Tee

      I have no issue with the USA banning white robes and hoods and allowing them to arrest any Klan member just for wearing it? I have no issue with the UK banning Nazi uniforms and arresting stupid royal family members for wearing it (Germany has such laws). Then again I don’t live in those countries (or France for that matter).

      I also see it as a way for France to stop Muslims from immigrating there.

  • Elemenope

    Honestly, my first reaction to this is that it is unenforceable reactionary culture-clash BS. Upon more consideration, however, my opinion turns even more negative.

    The French have a long history of defining their cultural identity in opposition to resident religious minorities, and in some ways this is merely an extension of the same cultural priorities that led to rampant antisemitism not too long ago, exacerbated by the fact that France has a mutually embittered history with the Arabic-speaking world after the disastrous military occupation of Algeria. This is the same crap that motivates homeless shelters to (proudly, publicly) prefer using pork broth so that it cannot be used by poor Muslims and Jews, and also drives the antagonism against icons of worship, such as minaret bans.

    • Roger

      Eloquently put, Elemenope. This is cultural chauvinism masquerading as “liberty.”

      • Custador

        I have to disagree. To me, a burka is the ultimate symbol of female oppression. Women wear them in societies where they have absolutely no rights in law whatsoever, places where even getting raped is considered to be their fault and liable to get them stoned to death as adulteresses. Women who choose to wear a burka do so because they have been indoctrinated over generations to do so – I do not accept that, under any circumstances, it is in any way right to import such oppression to Europe.

        • JohnMWhite

          So you’ll oppress them right back by telling them what NOT to wear?

          • Custador

            Muslim migrants are free to choose to NOT move to a country where the societal niceties make such oppression of women abhorrent. They CHOOSE to move to Europe, and I’m sorry but that does NOT give them the right to totally disrespect our cultural norms. Would you expect a Caucasian woman to be allowed to wander around in a Muslim country in a boob-tube? Or topless? Or would you consider that a case of them being insensitive to Muslim cultural norms? Fact is, we hold ourselves to that standard and they need to hold themselves to it too.

            • JohnMWhite

              “Would you expect a Caucasian woman to be allowed to wander around in a Muslim country in a boob-tube? Or topless? Or would you consider that a case of them being insensitive to Muslim cultural norms?”

              I don’t care one bit about Muslim cultural norms and feel a woman should be free to go topless in any country on Earth. This isn’t about protecting Muslim cultural norms or, as you try to portray me for some reason, preserving the oppression of women: it is about whether or not it is right for a government to tell people what to wear. You can’t say “we don’t like what you make women wear in your society so we’re going to tell women what to wear in our society” without being a hypocrite.

            • Custador

              You might not care about Muslim cultural norms, but that won’t stop Muslim nations from punishing women who don’t obey them with violent retribution.

            • Kodie

              We already do tell women what to wear in the US, and fooled us all into thinking that’s what we want to wear. I think JohnMWhite is correct here. You can’t really single out the Muslim cultural norms in this case. It’s more oppressive to forbid certain choices in this respect. Well, Custador has his piercings (and tattoos?), what if his government told him those were symbols of oppression of a religion they were trying to suppress the growth or popularity of, and he had to take them out or go to jail? I think we all know one thing, they’d have to catch him without his pants on to find out.

              I mean, choices. We are socialized to think is piercing cool? Is tattoos cool? Not too long ago, you couldn’t get what’s called a “decent job” if you had any tattoos showing. I don’t have any tattoos and only my ears are pierced, so am I oppressed because I feel like not modifying my skin? Should self-tanners be illegal because young girls want to be orange? Should we tear the burkas off women and tell them, you have to show a little skin and rub this stuff in so you can be orange like a normal, well-socialized young woman? Why orange? Who are they trying to look good for? They value to appear tan without the sun damage — these are our choices? Look silly or get cancer? Let them wear burkas if they want.

            • Custador

              You keep skipping over a central point here: We are all free to choose what to wear and what not to wear – women in Muslim countries and a lot of Muslim women in Western countries are not. Do you dress the same every day? Do you have days when you want to make yourself more noticeable and days when you just want to wear sweats and go about your business? Great, dandy, so what you feel. A Muslim woman in a burka does not have that choice, and even if she has “chosen” to wear a burka, that is not likely to really be her choice at all.

            • JohnMWhite

              “We are all free to choose what to wear and what not to wear – women in Muslim countries and a lot of Muslim women in Western countries are not.”

              And in France, banning them by law from wearing a certain outfit will make Muslim women in Western countries not free to choose what to wear.

              “even if she has “chosen” to wear a burka, that is not likely to really be her choice at all.”

              You are skipping over the point that you are, once more, assuming every single woman to ever don the outfit was incapable of making up her own mind about it.

            • Kodie

              It may not be a changing fashion from day to day, but you keep missing the point! It is you! I do tend to keep my daily dress code to a very narrow pattern of choices. It can vary by occasion, but I don’t see what that has anything to do with it. I have choices, including throwing away all my clothes and starting over with a couple dozen identical black tank tops and maybe 6 or 7 pairs of gray pants, same shoes every day, do my hair and makeup the same every day. I’m very comfortable with my “uniform,” and don’t take kindly to people telling me I need more color in my wardrobe or try to deal with eyeliner because it will make my eyes sexier.

              What’s the difference? When I worked in an office, this was pretty much exactly how it went. It’s the same luxury as a man who knows his work uniform, or someone who actually wears a uniform to work. I’m comfortable and presentable, and I think I look ok in the mirror. I think wearing a burka to a Muslim woman must be about the same feeling. I don’t say none of them might be intrigued by the fashion world and stifled in their imagination, but all of that is part of a patriarchy also, that tells us how to look, for the optimal oglement by men and to out-hot other women in competition for those men. In another sense, Muslim women are free from that, yes, via oppression. They dress to suppress oglement, by the will of men. It’s two sides of the same fukcing fence.

            • JohnMWhite

              Not to mention Kodie’s point (which I think she made a few times) that France is just picking and choosing which cultural norms to accept and which freedoms to allow with dress.

            • Custador

              In Germany it was once a social norm that Jews should wear a Star of David to show that they were “subhuman”. Do you think that should have been allowed? Women wearing a symbol that says they are second-class citizens – slaves and chattels to their men – is every bit as bad.

              The bottom line here is this: Either burkas are allowed and a lot of women are denied their freedoms and identities, or it is not allowed and a few women are denied the choice to wear it.

              You know what? I know which is better.

            • Kodie

              I do have another comment awaiting moderation if you want to check back later.

            • Custador

              I read it in the moderation queue rather than wait (I’m not a mod, so can’t approve it for publishing, sorry), but I’ll wait to reply to avoid confusion.

            • JohnMWhite

              Custador, I can’t believe you pulled a Godwin. What’s wrong with you? This issue seems to seriously get you hot under the hijab.

              Anyway, long story short, if any Jews ever wanted to wear a yellow star on their clothing, I’m not going to stop them, regardless of the connotations it holds to most people. I will disagree with governments telling people what to wear though, and what not to.

            • JohnMWhite

              Of course, I’ll disagree with individuals telling other individuals what to wear or not to wear as well.

        • Roger

          It’s only “the ultimate symbol of female oppression” because you’ve been acculturated to view it as such. If France is concerned about promoting freedom for all women who live within the nation, banning the burqa is not the start–as Elemenope noted, the likely response is that Muslim men may simply forbid Muslim women from going about in public. How about making sure that a Muslim woman who decides not to wear the burqa has legal recourse if anyone is inclined to treat her badly because of her decision? How about attempting to foster a climate of conversation around the burqa instead of a knee-jerk, patently arrogant and xenophobic cultural superiority complex surrounding the burqa?

      • Biff

        Well put, Custador.

        While some women do choose to wear burkas, a very large majority are forced to wear them by their fathers, brothers, husbands and so on. Even when it is their own choice, they are carefully indoctrinated from a young age to believe in a narrow definition of Islam that requires the wearing of such a ridiculous thing.

        While I fully agree we need to be sensitive towards freedom of expression and religion, this is not even the issue we are discussing. If you want to live in a religious theocracy in which you have full control over every member of your community, step outside the government system and create your own, a la the Amish.

        No one will stop you from practicing your religious beliefs, burka ban or no burka ban. The rest of society should not be forcibly complicit in your own self imposed oppression.

        • gabby weiss

          well said… Biff. You’re right, this is about religious oppression, not freedom of choice.

  • Andy

    I’m on board for the punishment of families who force clothing on women. But as for the actual ban I am opposed.

    Until someone can tell me how telling women what they can’t wear is any less sexist then telling them what they can’t wear I will not support it.

    • JohnMWhite

      Bingo. Ordering women to not wear something because they don’t like them being ordered to wear it is like shooting your foot to stop it itching.

  • Biff

    To me, the burka is a symbol of oppression and religion trying to force its way in the cultural mainstream. Up here in Canada, Quebec recently passed a law stating that to receive ANY government services (including school) one could not wear the burka. I fully support this move, despite the protests and yowling about freedom of religious expression. People are free to believe whatever they choose to believe,but they are NOT free to choose to be less free. The burka makes a woman a prisoner, plain and simple.

    • JohnMWhite

      “but they are NOT free to choose to be less free”

      Yes they are. It sucks that they might make that choice, but it is theirs to make, and to take it away just makes them less free anyway.

      • Custador

        No they are not. They are not in any way free to make that choice. Their priests and their fathers, brothers and husbands can make the choice for them. But the women themselves? No, I really don’t think so.

        • Kodie

          As far as I’ve been able to tell, the LDS or Mormons are beholden to certain rules of modest dress as well. Not as modest as a burka, I’m pretty sure not as violently enforced within their religious observations, but still indoctrinated to cover up over the cleavage and down to the knees. Orthodox Jews also wear clothing that anyone seeing them can tell they are Jews observing certain customs/rules of their religious teachings. My friend gets really mad at the Jews, actually! They shouldn’t dress all in black, with their hats and beards and see the little girls out in winter wearing dresses long past the knees, but not pants like a boy would.

          I think it’s all oppressive, but it’s clothing. If they want to be more modest than the rest of us, so be it. If they are indoctrinated to be hiding their bodies, I think attire is the least worst thing they have going.

          If you want to go further, society has all indoctrinated most of us to dress according to the occasion. Someone upthread brought up high heels. It’s not foot-binding but close. Everyone knows women are “shoe crazy,” right??? It’s a woman’s prerogative to dress really slutty to attract someone, even if I think it’s not for me! Who told her she has to dress like that? The patriarchy. Let’s not pick on the Muslims for this. Much as I’d like to dress as comfortably as I can most of the time, I don’t really want to go out to be seen in my jammies, or try to get a job wearing the torn shirt I’m wearing inside to clean my house. I see people dressed in torn shirts or flannel pajamas, though, and I guess my ultimate answer is “rock on.” I like to think I dress how I really want to, but societal pressure has indoctrinated me to want to dress like an attractive and recognizable female with arms and legs and cute polished toenails and make-up, to dye my hair so it’s not ugly, and show a little cleavage even though I already have a boyfriend. I would not sooner tell a Muslim woman who wants to wear a burka that she’s being oppressed and ought to let her bra-straps show a little for intrigue, or give a Jew woman some lipstick and a pair of short shorts.

          • Custador

            Could you be murdered for not dressing a certain way? Then it’s not really a cogent paradigm.

            • Kodie

              I don’t know what the punishment is for not complying, just that whatever compels people to dress according to their artificial rules must be pretty convincing or they wouldn’t do it. I do think it’s relevant not to single out the Muslims. I think plenty of women think being single forever is the worst fate, and so believe they have to dress a certain way so men will find them attractive enough to strike up a conversation with, court them, or they may even go so far as to sleep with them so he won’t leave her for someone else. The game is hard enough, I don’t agree anyone should be murdered but you are singling out murder or physical abuse as a punishment when we all work with what we have to dress how we think we ought to dress because we don’t like the consequences of breaking the local standards. I oppress myself every time I leave the house in proper clothing when I’d rather be naked… I mean wearing my bedclothes and slippers. I think people I’ve seen who do so are slobs, but it’s not against the law.

              If burkas are at the other end of the pendulum, I still see it as someone wearing their pajamas if they want to. I don’t want to cover up, in this 100 degree (F) heat, I’d rather be dead than have you tell me I can’t wear a tank top. If I were a Muslim, I might rather be dead if you told me I couldn’t wear my burka. If my husband or father told me I’d be dead if I didn’t wear it, or if I was raised to feel very comfortable with it, is not the main issue. It’s a symbol of oppression, but it’s not the oppression itself. Why should the government tell anyone what they can’t wear? They should be more concerned with outlawing actual dangerous behaviors than a superficial symptom of it.

        • JohnMWhite

          As I already said, a woman can (and from what I read, a woman did) freely choose to wear a burqa if they like. To act as though every single one, ever, is bullied into it and incapable of asserting her own will is as belittling as the practice of forcing women to wear them in the first place. Telling women what to do to protect them from being told what to do is no protection at all.

          • Custador

            And as I already said, a choice made because you’re indoctrinated from birth to make it is not a choice at all.

            • JonJon

              Yes it is. Otherwise no one has free choice.

              Everything you have ever done is a product of the culture you grew up in, and thereby indoctrination. I have been indoctrinated to eat popcorn when I go to a movie theater. Nevertheless, I freely choose to eat popcorn when I go to a movie theater, at significant personal cost (that stuff ain’t cheap.) If you insist on personal freedom (which democratic governments do) then you’re going to have to have consistent standards. You can’t get much better than a personal belief and concurrent statement that “I made this choice freely.”

              You’re better off arguing that people should not be allowed to make their own choices. Good luck with that.

            • Custador

              I’ll repeat myself: Either burkas are allowed and a lot of women are denied their freedoms and identities, or it is not allowed and a few women are denied the choice to wear it.

            • JonJon

              Either burkas are allowed and a lot of women are denied their freedoms and identities by private citizens, usually with their consent and often by their express preference, or it is not allowed and a few women are denied the choice to wear it *by their government.* Allowing some people to be oppressed in the interest of equality is different from *actively oppressing them* in a manner designed to only target a racial and religious minority and then insisting that it is still equality.

  • JonJon

    “What do you think? Is France being culturally and/or religiously intolerant? Or are they protecting decades of gender emancipation?”

    I cannot fathom why this is even a question. A nation with a dress code? That’s bad enough. This, however, is a dress code which actively effects only people of a certain “race, color, or creed.”

    Allow me to pose a question to Americans: do you support “English Only” movements in local and state governments? If you don’t support them, you sure as hell shouldn’t think this is a nice idea. If you do, I’d encourage you to think about the ways that this ban goes further than laws mandating that all government business be conducted exclusively in English. For example, this ban does not simply advance a preferred national dress which everyone must wear in a public place, but bans one exclusive kind of dress while allowing all others. It’s like saying that government business in the US cannot be conducted in Spanish, but may be conducted in *any other language,* from Chinese to German.

    As far as I’m concerned the French can do what they like: they’ve already banned all “conspicuous” displays of religious symbols in state schools and by public employees. But please, let’s not pretend this is a good idea. Custador, do you not appreciate the irony that this is being called for in the name of equality? This is deliberate inequality of treatment directed against one religion and one nationality, and they do it in the name of equality. Notice that this law doesn’t ban Yarmulkes (skullcaps worn by some practicing Jewish men,) nor does it ban the wearing of *any other religious symbol.*

    France is a sovereign nation and their parliament can do what it wants, but they shouldn’t be respected for this. No nation should be respected for institutionalizing racism and religious discrimination. Isn’t anyone else alarmed? (Rhetorical question, I see that some people are.)

    I cannot fathom why anyone thinks this is equality.

    • Custador

      Frankly, I’d expect to hear arguments on a similar vein from a fundie: “We are not allowed to oppress [insert demographic here], therefore we are being oppressed”.

      • JonJon

        But isn’t that the argument you’re making, in a nutshell? That oppressing some nationalities or religions is necessary?

        I mean, let’s not pretend that this law will not oppress a part of the French citizenry. It will. But you are effectively arguing that some oppression is necessary (but only for certain people) in order to combat other oppression. From one side that even sounds reasonable.

        There’s a famous quote that (roughly) “The law, in its infinite fairness, prohibits rich and poor alike from vagrancy, begging, and sleeping under bridges.” The idea (if you’ll allow me to make it painfully obvious) is that some laws, although they apply to everyone on paper, are in fact unjust because they are aimed at suppressing the undesired behaviors of only one group of people.

        If it wasn’t so disturbing, I would have laughed at your comparison to gold stars in Nazi Germany. Those stars were a mandatory dress code, enforced by the national government (!), with the specific purpose of humiliating a racial and religious minority trying to go about their daily lives. Jews were not allowed to dress as they liked because of their ethnic and religious heritage. That’s what this law does: it prevents a single specific minority group from behaving in a manner familiar to them.

        Yes, yes, I know I’m turning your point around, and that that wasn’t what you were illustrating. You think that Muslim men who make their wives dress a certain way are as oppressive as Nazis. I got it. But the oppression of women by their husbands is not exclusive to the Muslim world, nor is wearing non-western clothing. I suppose Hindi women who wear traditional clothing are next on your list? No? Why not? They are marked out from their husbands by differences in dress and public behavior. Many of them choose this for themselves, others are brought up in a culture where it is normal, and I’m sure that some husbands force their wives to wear traditional clothing. In fact, I’m fairly certain you’ll find this same breakdown in any culture.

        If you don’t see why this is unjust, not to mention totalitarian, I don’t know what else I can do.

  • KidClyde

    What will a Muslim woman or girl in France wear then? Will Muslim men suddenly be tolerant of their wives and daughters dressing in western clothing simply because of this law. It seems to me that Muslim females in France will suffer most from this law

    • Custador

      A Burka is a form of overcoat which is worn over the top of the other clothes, not the sole garment the woman wears.

      • JonJon

        That is irrelevant to Kid’s point.

        • Custador

          How? Muslim women *already* wear Western clothing – but they put a burka over the top. It’s not like they’re going to be running about naked.

          • JonJon

            And will Muslim men suddenly be tolerant?

            • Custador

              No, but it’s a start. When their sons are used to women being allowed to dress the same, their attitudes might soften. And so on and so forth.

            • JonJon

              So the currently oppressed women will, without consent, have to face their husbands’ anger at something the French government did? They’ll be sacrifices for a potential future good. Great. Who is going to speak up for the women this law hurts *right now*? Is the motivation “well, they’re already oppressed by their husbands, a little more can’t hurt?”

            • Elemenope

              The far more likely reaction to a law like this is that the women who are not allowed to wear a burqa will simply not be allowed to leave their home.

              Not progress.

            • Siberia

              Exactly. That’s what I mean when I say the answer is not making the women pay, but the men who actually force them to wear a burka. Making them pay for doing what they’re forced to do is just victimizing them further.

            • Custador

              I sincerely doubt that the kind of men who insist on their wives wearing burkas are also the kind of men who are capable of going out and buying their own groceries – so I doubt it.

            • Elemenope

              You’re right about that.

              They’ll send their kids to buy the groceries.

            • Custador

              I doubt that, too. I personally know Muslim families in which the young male children (and I’m talking six years old) have more status and authority than their own mothers.

            • Elemenope

              Yes, but not more than their fathers. If it becomes legally unfeasible for the woman to leave the house with a burqa, it will fall to the next lowest on the totem pole.

    • KidClyde

      That doesn’t answer the question. What will they wear that will be acceptable to the Muslim men? What alternative garments are available to them that will not incur the wrath of those men who now insist on the burka? A woman from a Muslim family, living in a Muslim community, must either defy her family, her culture, and her faith, or break the law. Do you believe there will be no consequences for these women if they follow the law and appear in public sans burkas?

  • Agentsmith

    You unwashed godless heathens!!!!!

    When will you self rightous a$$holes condemn the centuries old practice of male genital mutilation on new born boys – otherwise known as circumcision? Like the Muslim requirement for females to wear all manners covers for their bodies, the practice of circumcision is based on religious superstition. Especially in the modern era of hygien, it realy has no purpose besides to please the Sky Daddy.

    This then begs the question: Why would God give you a piece of skin just so you can clip it off of a screaming new born to please himself? Seems kinda kinky.

    By the way, I think the burka is kinda hot, just try to imagine a curvy nude body underneath yearning to be exposed to the cool air….ooooooo.

    • Custador

      Um, if you read back on some of the topics on UF about circumcision, you’ll see that a fair few of us do condemn circumcision as being the male genital mutilation that it is.

  • JonJon

    For all that I disagree with you Custador (and I do), I’d like to say that I’m glad you post! I think guest posts are cool, and I wouldn’t have the guts to do one, I don’t think.

    • Custador

      Thank you, JonJon. Agreement is not my aim, discussion is! I’m pretty sure that you and I won’t agree on this issue, but you have made me consider angles which I hadn’t previously, and that’s important.

  • Yoav

    If they really care about muslim women then the solution is to make sure that women who choose not to wear the traditional costume (while muslim are currently the most visible there are oppressive dress codes forced on women in fundie families of other religions as well). Religious schools must be required to provide a minimal standard of education that will allow girls to be able to integrate into the general society and the education of girls should be uncompromisingly enforced. While I agree with Custador that the burka is a sign of women enslavement this type of ban will not make a real improvement in the life of those it claim to protect.

  • Daniel Florien

    Clothing shouldn’t be banned. If a woman wants to wear a burka, it’s her right. If she doesn’t want to wear one, then she should be protected from thugs who might want her to. And if those thugs try to hurt her because of what she wears or does not wear, then they should be thrown in prison for the protection of others.

    What’s the difference between a government saying women can’t wear burkas, and fundies saying women can’t wear pants? Get out of people’s lives and let them wear what they want! That’s true freedom and equality.

    • Roger

      Thank you, Daniel!

  • Sundog

    I think it’s cultural chauvanism. I also think there’s nothing wrong with that.
    Most of us posting here come from liberal English-speaking non-homogenous states. The US has it’s “melting-pot” concept of everyone bringing the best of their culture and sharing it. Australia has a rather muddled “multi-culturalism” policy that’s never been properly defined. Great Britain is not and never was a single culture, for all that the English dominated.
    At it’s most basic, all of these countries have an idea of making welcome (or at least tolerating) imported cultures. And for us, it’s worked pretty well.
    I see exactly NO reason to impose that same idea on the French. Cultural Tolerance is NOT a right, and if immigrants (or their french born families) wish to practice their non-french cultural activities…the French are under no obligation to allow it. France has NO history of making outside cultures welcome, indeed, just the opposite; this action is fully in keeping with their previous actions, and not, in itself, any violation of international good practice.

  • matt

    Of course it’s religiously intolerant. And it’s about damn time.

    • Kodie

      Maybe the way to counteract the religious thoughts and practices that are socially harmful to both those who practice it and the community at large is by outlawing and forbidding the cosmetic and symbolic portions of that belief rather than confronting the whole messy mess habits they have of threatening, beating, shunning, and/or killing. Let’s think, let’s think on it… yeah, make their mosques fit in, make their dress blend in, that will make it all go away, and for an added bonus, if they do start any trouble, we won’t maybe be able to tell them apart from the other citizens. They’re still going to be Muslims, think like a Muslim, and act like a Muslim no matter what we make them wear.

      I really don’t think of burka-banning as the place to start throwing them over. Once we fail to tolerate their allah-business from the serious issues out, then they will probably stop wearing burkas on their own, don’t ya think?

  • LRA

    Sure France is being intolerant. But could I run around in my western clothes in a muslim country? It would seem then, that they can dish it out, but not take it. If they choose to wear a burka in a western country, then I want to wear western clothes in a middle eastern country. Turn about is fair play, after all.

    • LRA

      ps If they don’t like it, they don’t have to move to France, do they?

      • Custador

        DING! France has its own cultural norms which the vast majority of emigrants understand and obey. If I as an English man moved there, I would expect to have to know the language and accept their societal rules – Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Equality for women is more important than their right to import gender oppression (self-imposed or otherwise).

    • Jabster

      “But could I run around in my western clothes in a muslim country? It would seem then, that they can dish it out, but not take it.”

      I never think this is a strong argument as it refers to an individuals behaviour compared to a goverments behaviour i.e. and individual from a country is not required to endorse the behaviour of their goverment.

      • Custador

        Not really; Never heard of the Morality Police in Iran?

        • Elemenope

          So the solution is to create a culture police in France?

          • Custador
            • Elemenope

              Oh noes, those durn Mooslims have reinvented the MASK!!! Whatever shall we do?

              Come on. Are you seriously arguing that *but for the Burqa*, these crimes would have been prevented?

            • Custador

              No, but I’m saying it made them a lot more likely to succeed and not get caught.

            • Roger

              You just shifted the goalposts there, Custador. First, you were making an argument about cultural norms (“if they don’t like it, they shouldn’t move to France”) and now you’re on about bombings and robberies committed while wearing a burqa? Right. Keep on with that patronizing ethnocentric nonsense.

            • Custador

              This was already discussed as a possible reason for a burka ban. The goalposts were not shifted by me. Also, dismissing a valid point as patronising and ethnocentric does not contribute anything.

            • Kodie

              It’s not really valid if you still allow other masks. Some masks seem fine in context but someone could use them to commit violent crimes. Ski masks and women’s pantyhose over the face are too obvious. Burkas: are they too obvious or everyone ignores them so they are the perfect disguise? What after burkas? A person intent on committing a crime while concealing their identity would not be able to use a burka, so they will give up and not go through with their plan. Sense?

            • Elemenope

              This was already discussed as a possible reason for a burka ban.

              Yeah, but it’s a manifestly silly one. Nobody is talking about banning clown getups, or halloween costumes, or ski masks, or even sunglasses. There is nothing magical about a burqa that makes it better at concealing identity than many other putatively legal methods that don’t happen to be attached to a religious practice.

            • Custador

              No, but the law isn’t being framed in most countries as a burka ban, it’s being framed to ban anything which completely conceals or obscures your identity in a public place (with some exceptions for people who are on motorbikes, etc).

            • Elemenope

              If I’m not allowed to wear a ski mask in January, the state can kiss my ass. And while I personally don’t like clowns, it’s a livelihood for some people.

            • Custador

              Clowns are just creepy. they just are.

            • Elemenope

              Wasn’t Phrankygee a part-time clown? Whatever happened to him, anyway?

            • Custador

              Eaten by a lion?

            • Kodie

              So if I go to France and I see a mime who looks just like everyone else, how will I know to avoid asking him where the metro station is, etc? Or just avoid him in general? No more sad clowns in France, just sad regular dudes.

            • Roger

              Also, dismissing a valid point as patronising and ethnocentric does not contribute anything.

              And dismissing the valid point that your position is ethnocentric doesn’t “contribute anything” either.

            • Custador

              Okay, Roger, you explain to me (with evidence, please) why criminals and terrorists aren’t hiding behind burkas, and I’ll admit my point was invalid. Deal? Because I already explained (with evidence) why I think they are.

            • Elemenope

              I think the relevant point to be made (that I made, somewhat obliquely earlier) is that the fact that some criminals wear burqas does not serve to distinguish burqa wearers in general from wearers of any other means of clothing that obscures identity.

            • Roger

              ‘Dor, you’re full of it when it comes to this “issue.” Let’s go back and deal with your prior argument upthread–Elemenope has already dispensed with your “argument” regarding crime. Your prior argument has been based on an assumption that “when in Rome.” However, there are many other cultural differences that immigrants bring to a new nation which have been accommodated–but the burqa? Oh, no. First, you hide behind an assertion that it’s protecting women. How is liberty and equality for women upheld when the state says that a certain kind of clothing women wear can’t be worn? What “woman” does this law have in mind, hm?

              But fine, let’s indulge for a second your foolish fiction that banning the burqa will diminish crime–why not ban any and everything that could possibly be used in the commission of a crime? Further, the French law that this post references isn’t at all about crime, so your argument here fails.

            • Custador

              I’m finding it increasingly interesting that the conclusion made when people don’t convince me (for example, I already addressed ‘Nope’s comments about other ways of obscuring identity) is that I must necessarily be a complete bigot. Folks, I live in a largely Muslim area.

            • Custador

              Oh, also: The wording the planned law uses is “a garment intending to conceal the face”. It’s not specific to burkas, though they are the obvious target.

            • Elemenope

              Folks, I live in a largely Muslim area.

              What I’m struggling to understand is how that matters. I used to attend school in a majority-African neighborhood, and I currently live in a highly cosmopolitan lower income one. I don’t believe that my passing acquaintance with the ins-and-outs of African-American culture this has fitfully provided gives me much capacity to validly weigh which elements of that culture are objectively better or worse, or more or less threatening, than the one to which I putatively belong. I don’t understand how your comparable experience leads you to believe that you do.

            • Elemenope

              The wording the planned law uses is “a garment intending to conceal the face”. It’s not specific to burkas, though they are the obvious target.

              Much like the Arizona immigration law doesn’t mention Mexicans or people of Mexican descent, but it sure wasn’t written in response to illegal Swiss immigrants. And at least in this country, arbiters are given some latitude to consider the intended target of a law as an explicit target even if it is merely implied by the language of the statute, mostly due in response to our long and painful experience with racism in the law.

            • Custador

              My point is that I chose to live here – I’m not a bigot just because I can see the badness in the minority of Muslims and actually dare to point it out.

            • Kodie

              I wouldn’t say you have an exactly irrational fear of the burka, but you seem to be focusing a lot more energy on the burka in particular than all obscured faces.

              A lot of people are afraid of clowns (as previously mentioned) for that exact reason, but I’ve never heard a call for the prohibition of clownface. Can clowns use this advantage to hurt people? Yes. Have clowns used this advantage to hurt people? Yes. Have we outlawed clowns yet? No. Are people generally suspicious of a clown about town? No.

              Are people generally suspicious of someone who is dressed more like “a criminal”? A monster face or other rubber mask when they are obviously not a clown, not dressed up to deliver gorilla-grams, or a funny cartoon character mascot from an amusement park? Criminals look like criminals and innocent people look like innocent people? Wasn’t Ted Bundy a handsome guy?

              Seriously, you can tell the difference? With the overscare of child abductions, we have had to retrain several generations that scary strangers aren’t always of the ‘typical creep’ look. And also, to retrain people not to have knee-jerk reactions to brown people.

              Seriously, you seem to be singling out one thing, when many ways a criminal can be a criminal if he or she wants to be, and almost nobody else is, no matter what they wear.

            • Elemenope

              Are people generally suspicious of a clown about town?

              For some reason I found this choice of words hilarious. I think it has to do with the cadence.

              It’s like whenever I hear someone say “it is folly!”, I can’t help but in mind stick a voice that sounds an awful lot like Sean Bean say “Not with ten thousand men could you do this…”.

              The human brain, it is a funny thing.

            • Kodie

              I had to pause while writing to decide whether to keep it in or not because I also think it’s amusing.

      • Elemenope

        Not to mention the fact that turnabout to mimic those countries should give any freethinking person pause. You want to act *more* like Iran? How does that make sense?

        • Steve Kind

          Thanks Elmenhope :)

          I never thought I’d find myself quoting 10cc thirty odd years on but:

          “Everyone’s going to be free
          But they’ve got to agree to be free
          They’ve got to agree to be less free than me
          ’cause I rule the world you see”

        • LRA

          The point is that France has a LONG history of being ethnocentric and isn’t about to change that now. They care about preserving their culture so much that they have a special ministry to prevent English words from “infultrating” their language. It does not surprise me at all that they ban the veil in schools and now want to ban the burka. It’s their country and their perogative. If Muslim people living there don’t like it, too bad. The French line is that people must acculturate to *them* not the other way around.

          • LRA

            Further, the fact that Muslim people find this offensive is hypocritical. They do not tolerate western people wearing “scant” clothing in their country, so why should the French tolerate what they see as gender discrimination when their motto is liberte, egalite, fraternite? France is a secular nation, why should they make special allowances for religious traditions that they find offensive?

            • Jabster

              This still does address the two points made by myself and Elem …

              “I never think this is a strong argument as it refers to an individuals behaviour compared to a goverments behaviour i.e. and individual from a country is not required to endorse the behaviour of their goverment.”

              “Not to mention the fact that turnabout to mimic those countries should give any freethinking person pause. You want to act *more* like Iran? How does that make sense?”

              Do you think it would be ok in the French deceided it was ok to stone French Muslim women if they were unfaithful?

            • Custador

              How? The Iranian government enforce their rules in exactly the same way that the French government are proposing?

              For your last ‘graph: I really don’t follow your point. France is opposed to importing Muslim culture, so why would they stone women for adultery?

            • Jabster

              First Part:

              It makes the assumption that all Iranians abroad support the actions of their government no matter what which is a bit patronising not to say unfair.

              Second Part:

              … because part of the argument seems to be that “well it’s ok because Iran treats it’s female population badly so France can to” … so if that’s the case anything that Iran does must be ok. I don’t see justifying our laws should be based on saying “yes but look at what country X does”. Maybe the next time someone is in court for mugging someone they can claim it’s ok as look at what Fred West did!

            • Jabster

              p.s. I’m not certain with the ban in France is correct or not but so far the agruments that have been presented here don’t seem to have been particulary strong.

            • Kodie

              They seem to be suggesting to ban the face veils only, not the whole robe or head coverings. The practice of covering the face as well as the body isn’t overly popular among French-residing Muslims, but according to the article, this may affect tourism from face-veil burka countries. Seems fine and good to disallow travelers, but that’s also money.

              I also don’t know if it’s the equivalent to covering up in Muslim countries, as they are on one hand, afraid of women’s bodies for some crazy reason, but that you are putting something on over your body. What is the other way around, to ask modest people to take something off when they come to your country. Is it the same or different? What if you wanted to go to a country that made you change into a speedo when you arrived, or require that you wear socks with sandals because toes are obscene to them?

              A lot of it is silly, but a lot of it is cultural. There is a cultural modesty in the US that I would not necessarily appreciate another country requiring I wear less of if I visited them, or spreading the belief that it is more liberating for me to dress like they prefer, that it couldn’t possibly be my choice to cover my parts that they are culturally used to being exposed.

              See?

            • LRA

              I’m not saying it’s what I would do, I’m trying to explain how the French think about it. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m saying that’s the French perogative.

              As far as hypocricy goes, my ex lived in Indonesia where western women (like his two sisters) could be harassed or have their arms or legs smacked for wearing shorts. That’s not government action, that is the action of individuals. Do you really think a muslim country doesn’t have men in it that would harass me mercilessly or even rape me for wearing western clothes in their country? And yet they complain about the treatment they get in a western country who finds that kind of behavior repulsive? C’mon!

            • LRA

              ugh! prerogative… hypocrisy…

              spell check fail!!!

  • Dan

    Personally, I have always had a greater amount of respect for the women I have met from Indonesia whom wear beautiful headwear to restrain their hair to maintain their modesty. The issue seems to be if the women are wearing the niqab and hijab voluntarily or are being forced to do so.

    A secondary and often unspoken issue is that of security. Do we in the West believe that “Islamic” terorrists would hide beneath the veil to avoid detection? Absolutely!!!

    Middle ground could be reached if everyone showed a little respect for each other without all the name calling. The Koran calls for modesty, it does not call for sexual oppression by cultural or social mores. This applies to both sides of the issue. Westerners need to understand and respect the Muslim belief in modesty for their women and Muslims need to understand and respect the Western worlds concerns for public safety and security.

  • Steve Kind

    And where does your crusade for other people’s rights stop Custador? Maybe the “liberated” West should invade other countries to ensure that they live up to our enlightened standards?????

    • Custador

      Wow, you just drew totally unfair conclusions about my opinions based on… What? Your own ridiculous reactionary thinking? It’s none of France’s business how other nations conduct their government, so take your conclusions and stick them. Good grief, that made me angry! Reactionary limp-wristed lefties are EVERY bit as bad as tea-baggers and Daily Mail readers.

      • Steve Kind

        Actually, mine was a very restrained comment bearing in mind the blog rules on “no name calling” – something which you feel entitled to ignore above. I think maybe contributors to this thread should read your earlier rant at http://unreasonablefaith.com/?s=custador+swiss in the discussion of which you make wild and wholly inaccurate claims about the levels of Asian/Muslim populations in Britain in an attempt to support your deep-seated Islamophobia and make the astounding statement “In the end you come across a somebody so liberal that they react without thinking that perhaps there might be a basis for some prejudice”.

        It disturbs me deeply that someone should use atheism and claims to “rationality” as a cover for their own patronising ethnocentrism.

        • Custador

          How convenient for you to ignore the end of our prior discussion, Steve.

          I have to say, YOU have no room to accuse me of being patronising. Your first post was designed to do nothing but misrepresent me and insult me (something which you whinge at me for doing – well, excuse me, but at least I’m upfront about it). Your second post is just pure patronising in a can.

          You know what? Leftie Idiot Troll is still just a troll.

          • Steve Kind

            Hmm – as far as I remember, the end of our least discussion was at, or about, your above mentioned statement that “In the end you come across a somebody so liberal that they react without thinking that perhaps there might be a basis for some prejudice”. At which point there seemed no point in continuing!

            As for “going after you personally” is concerned, I hardly think that is justified given that I have not commented on one of your posts for seven months – but I will not leave unchallenged your use of atheism and professed rationality as a cover for bigotry. People can read your comments. No doubt, sadly, a few will agree with you.

            • Custador

              You posted the link, Steve. Go back and read through it.

              You think that I’m a bigot because I don’t want to allow “cultural” oppression of women and because I dislike the negative impact of Muslim emigration to Europe which I see in the news three or four times a week. Well, boohoo. As Jabster said on the forum, how I perceive a religious or cultural group is not based on what they say about themselves (and certainly not on what uber-lefties tell me I should think), it’s based on what they do. Well, I think you’re an idiot because you choose to ignore the negative aspects and worse – to have a go at people who have the audacity to actually say things like “Say, we’re getting a lot more honour killings / forced marriages / terrorist plots / suicide bombings these days than we used to… And they’re all coming from one cultural / religious group….”

            • Steve Kind

              Well – you know I did go back and check – and your last statement in dispute with me was the above mentioned “..there might be a basis for some prejudice” (December 5th, 2009 at 6.15 p.m.),which I didn’t reply to because it was so patently absurd a statement. The thread ended shortly thereafter.

            • Custador

              Lulz… And the REST of that post (and this is SO deeply ironic) was:

              “TEH QUOTE MINING! IT BURNZ!

              “Britain would be “better off” without Islam”

              Said in the context that we can’t seem to have moderate Islam without also having extremeist Islam – and you know that, so why try to quote-mine it to me when I’m the one who wrote it?”

              You quote-mined me calling you on quote-mining? That’s so many kinds of special…

            • Sunny Day

              Being Quote Mined hurtz.

              I think I still have some salve left over from the last time. Though you probably have access to better meds.

            • Custador

              I pretty much keep a stock of calamine lotion on hand at all times just for teh quoteminerz, but thanks for the offer.

            • Elemenope

              On another site I recently got quote-mined (poorly) from a thread on yet another site from two-and-a-half years ago. It was ridiculous.

            • Steve Kind

              Unfortunately, Custador seems to believe that anyone who uses his own words to challenge him is “quote-mining”. Never mind that he has made statements that are unsupported by facts and demonstrably untrue – don’t point it out or you are “quote-mining”.

            • Elemenope

              Well, quoting is usually fair. On the other hand, not only do people’s positions change (putting something of a soft time limit of how long using people’s words is really legitimate), but what is said is often powerfully dependent upon the context in which it is said. Preserving that can be tricky.

              For example, on one thread on the subject of Starship Troopers, I mustered a defense that the book (not the movie) was not fascistic. Someone accused me of being a fan-boy, an appellation to which I disagreed. So they dug up an unrelated thread in which in one comment I had referred to Heinlein as “the master” in order to reaffirm my fan-boy status. Now, of course, three things made that quotation illegitimate. One was that the quote was in the context of a discussion of his influence over sci-fi in general, in which he is widely regarded as a “master” of the genre, and was clearly the manner in which the term was being used. Two was that surrounding comments in which I was sharply critical of Heinlein were excised. Three was that the quoted thread was from two years prior.

              Point is that prior comments can be a legitimate addition to a present conversation, but it is up to the user to be circumspect of the possible pitfalls of the approach; it is probably best used at best as a supplement to other more substantive points.

            • Custador

              No, Steve, I think you’re quote-mining because you’re quote-mining: Taking half of a quote, completely out of context and being intentionally dishonest about the intention of the words used is quote mining. And that’s what you did. Twice.

            • Steve Kind

              Thanks Elmenhope – I think I’d agree with all of that. I’d also stand by all the quotes I’ve pulled from Custador’s posts as being relevant and not significantly out of context. Willing to be corrected on any specific instances though.

            • Custador

              Well, in the first instance I explained why you were quote mining by quoting you in context quoting me out of copntext, and then provided the context which you conveniently ignored. The second time, when you quote-mined me calling you out for quote mining me, you used that post to make some kind of point about how you’re too good to debate lowly old me by (unbelievably) only quoting half of it, totally out of context – whereas the truth is, I called you out on your quote-mining ways and you ran away like a b*tchy little cissy girl.

            • Steve Kind

              Wow – I can’t even *begin* to unpick that. Anyone care to arbitrate?

            • Kodie

              Why don’t y’all go back to the part before Steve quote-mined and pick up the discussion from there.

              Did that help you Steve? You could also say you’re sorry, can we just go back and discuss the topic. It’s not who is right or wrong or who quote-mined what. Maybe it’s right or wrong to do it, maybe someone did it bad and maybe someone just took it poorly, but this is like, not the topic. It’s more like you spelled ‘there’ when you meant to type ‘their’ and it’s overtaken the actual issue, and you’re fighting like roosters over something silly — which you will never settle, and which will never go back to the point you were trying to make on the actual issue here unless you just drop it and go back a couple hours as if this quote-mining thing never happened.

              I never thought I’d be giving internet lessons.

            • Steve Kind

              Yeah – I can do that – or something like it – but going out right now. Tomorrow evening possibly ;)

      • Elemenope

        It’s none of France’s business how other nations conduct their government, so take your conclusions and stick them.

        This is an unsustainable stance, as countries do not exist in a vacuum, and so countries that find themselves in similar situations will often look to one another for solutions that have been tried. It greases the political wheels to have a living example, rather than the argument being in the abstract. Hence, if France bans burqa, it is more likely for other countries to do so; it has a non-trivial effect on how other people in other countries live their lives.

        Given that, Steve’s original question is apropos. Where does it stop? What is the acceptable level of value imposition? What level of force is appropriate?

        • Custador

          Steve’s question is not apropos because he wasn’t asking a question, he was going after me personally:

          And where does your crusade for other people’s rights stop Custador? Maybe the “liberated” West should invade other countries to ensure that they live up to our enlightened standards?????

          First of all, it is not mine and it is not a “crusade”. Second of all, Steve decided right off the bat that I think we should go invading other nations to change their behaviour. I do not. He’s not here to ask questions of me, he’s here to troll me.

          • Elemenope

            I thought it was a plausible extension of the line of thought (characterizing it as a crusade is perhaps unfair, but leaving aside the characterization, the underlying question *is* apropos; how far is too far?). Governments act by using force; laws operate on the function “do/do not do X or Y will be done to you”. If we are to assume, as you have, that a state has the right to impose its own cultural norms over and above the legal rights of its citizens, the next logical step is to do it elsewhere. After all, the only argument against it is legal sovereignty, which has never been a practical barrier to action when a country really wanted to act. The positions normally (and historically) blend into each other seamlessly.

            You could easily distinguish your position from the one his question implies by saying “no”, and explaining why. The question is not trolling, it’s putting pressure on a position to ferret out its weaknesses. In debate, it’s called ‘escalation’. If someone favors taxing sugary soda, for example, a reasonable counter question is whether you’d also be in favor of taxing all sugary foods. It’s fishing for a breaking point in the position, and also upon what logic the person distinguishes the cases if they choose to do so instead of endorsing the escalation.

            • Custador

              France have every right to decide what to do in regards to their own domestic policy. Personally, I think a more logical extension of that line of thought would be: Every other nation has the same right concerning their own domestic policy. To try to take it the other way and say that I meant France has such rights within its own borders equals France should try to extend those rights outside of its own borders seems to me to be reaching somewhat.

            • Elemenope

              It would be reaching but for the fact that historically that is the nearly inevitable consequence. It starts with France banning burqas, and then it becomes France putting diplomatic and economic pressure on its neighbors to do the same. Especially in the case of Europe, it is difficult for any one nation to act alone and not have such effects, or attempt to reinforce their own policies in such a way. Much like, in the US, it would be Texas’ business alone if they wanted to eviscerate their science and history curricula, but for the fact that as the second largest schoolbook consumer, it has outsized–nearly monopsony–power to effect the curriculum nationwide.

            • Kodie

              I don’t know there. It seems to me if you oppose the burka, you oppose the whole concept everywhere people wear burkas by oppression or indoctrination. On the one hand, let France be France and let Iran be Iran. But if it’s oppression in France, then it’s oppression in Iran. It’s hard to read your attitude here if you are taking offense to Steve’s post and not even considering addressing it seriously.

              It seems you’re more ok with France saying “go home, Muslims” than you really are concerned about oppression, moreso that you bring up other issues like hiding bombs and obscuring identities. So Muslims aren’t good for France, but they’re ok if they stay in one place, and if they want to beat their wives and make them wear burkas, it’s ok — because you allow them sovereignty in their own borders, oppression is ok. ???

              Now France isn’t the UK or the US, and they can make their own laws. Turnabout by wearing western clothing in a middle eastern country is tu quoque. I think. Turnabout by making a dress code which specifically forbids the burka makes France no better than Iran for forcing the burka. We can’t tell France what to do, but we can observe their lawmaking and call it what it is. It’s not about equality for women, it’s about sending them back to their country so they can be oppressed somewhere else. Let’s try not to get confused about why we don’t like the burka.

            • Custador

              That’s not what I’m saying at all. Personally I think it’s gender oppression and is abhorrent wherever it is – France, Iran, Timbuktu – but France only has the right to do anything about it in France. They certainly do have the right to (as you put it) say “go home Muslims” and refuse to allow stone-aged cultural practices of oppression to be imported to their own country.

              Let’s go to an extreme here: Do you think Muslim girls (let’s leave aside their location for now) should have their genitals mutilated? Not even if they want to? Because that’s what their cultural and religious upbringing says they should want, after all. Aren’t Western nations oppressing Muslim women by not allowing them to have genital mutilations carried out by their unqualified priests? Tips and icebergs, dude.

            • Elemenope

              But Custador, mutilation isn’t presumptively legal, because it involves physical harm of another. A specific law must be made to validate the practice in order for it to be valid (such as, for example, medical regulations that allow male circumcision). Wearing long covering dresses, on the other hand, is presumptively legal, because it involves no physical harm. A specific law must be made to invalidate the practice for it to be invalid.

              Apples and oranges, dude.

            • Custador

              Actually, thanks to not getting enough sunlight, Muslim women commonly suffer from severe vitamin D deficiencies, and their babies are often born with rickets – Just another way that burkas cause harm.

    • Erik

      You sure convinced me.

      I think it was the five question marks that did it. :)

      • Steve Kind

        Hmmm – Sorry Erik – I’m marginally aware of my misuse of that particular punctuation mark when I’m agitated. Must Try Harder ;)

  • nazani14

    We can allow the burka or chador when Western women are free to Saudi Arabia and Iran without covering their heads.

    I rather wish all Western countries would make a blanket resolution: No aspect of cultural practice, sharia law, or any other ethnic, religious, or national law which breaks our democratically established laws will be tolerated within our borders. That ought to underscore that bride selling, underage marriage, honor killings, cruel butchery methods, genital mutilation, mistreatment of homosexuals, call-to-prayer noise pollution, etc. will not be tolerated. Plenty of young men are unhappy about arranged/forced marriages, too.

    • Custador

      I think you and I might be in the minority here, you know…

    • Elemenope

      No aspect of cultural practice, sharia law, or any other ethnic, religious, or national law which breaks our democratically established laws will be tolerated within our borders.

      Tell me something. Exactly what democratically established law would wearing a burqa break in most democratic countries? Should we also forbid yarmulkes, shawls, headscarves, and turbans?

      bride selling, underage marriage, honor killings, genital mutilation, mistreatment of homosexuals

      For the most part, already illegal, and there are generally no exceptions. I agree that countries which make exceptions in these areas, where actual direct harm and issues of consent are at the forefront, are acting foolishly. Then again, these are distinguished by being matters of direct harm and/or severe cases of abrogating consent rules.

      cruel butchery methods

      Er, kosher and halal butchery methods are fairly humane. Certainly about as humane as those practiced on US factory farms.

      call-to-prayer noise pollution

      Damn those church bells, eh?
      —————-

      I don’t understand this instinct towards legal retribution, as if acting as parochial and narrow as Iran or Saudi Arabia is somehow a solution to the problems of pluralism. The contours of legal behavior are already well-established in pretty much every country, and if they wish to make (however unwise) exceptions, would those not also be “democratically established laws”? Do we get into the game of deciding which democratically established laws are “good” and which are “bad”?

  • Erik

    I can’t quite decide on this issue, but I think Custador is mostly right, as usual. In the end, I think new French citizens should adhere to French culture, not the other way around.

    It’s a tricky question, though.

    • Custador

      “Right as usual” is a very flattering description of me, but I think “strident as usual” is probably more accurate ;-)

      • JonJon

        Haha! Hey, I finally agree with you!

      • Elemenope

        No reason why a person can’t be both.

      • Erik

        Darn them strident atheists. . .
        The way I see it, it doesn’t matter how strident you are if you’re right. Of course, that might just be self-preservation on my part :)


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