Niqabs and schools


by Kulvinder
21st February, 2007 at 3:51 pm    

It was almost a year ago during the Shabina Begum case that I said banning girls from wearing the niqab would probably lead them to being home schooled, and as a result they’d have less contact with the ‘outside world’

Another case has come up in Buckinghamshire. The girl in question has been taking lessons at home since October, and I for one am doubtful if she’ll go back to school now. Her three older sisters were apparently allowed to enroll whilst wearing the niqab. The justification for the ruling is a tad odd

the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions – a key element in effective classroom interaction

Says who? Personally I much prefer written text to spoken presentations. Regardless I’ve interacted with women who wear the niqab, and have never had a problem understanding them.

the necessity to enforce a school uniform policy under which girls of different faiths would have a sense of equality and identity

Forced ‘equality’ is nothing but the act of a despot. If the parents have contributed, via their taxes, to the funding of the school they should be allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like.

security – the head teacher had said an unwelcome visitor could move around the school incognito

It would take a pretty spectacular level of incompetence to miss someone moving about a building in a niqab. Besides which I hate decisions based on ‘security’

the need to avoid peer pressure on girls to take up wearing the veil

Ah there we go, knew we’d get there eventually. Its really about social engineering.

The glee with which some greet the stripping of these girls of their identity is quite frankly shocking. I have no doubt that some will do little more than rejoice at this ruling, but I for one feel desperately sorry for a girl who has had her sense of self undermined by school bureaucrats. Costs were awarded against the family. I’m sure she feels happy and free.


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  1. Bert Preast — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    “Forced ‘equality’ is nothing but the act of a despot. If the parents have contributed, via their taxes, to the funding of the school they should be allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like”

    You’re having a laugh, surely?

  2. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

    You’re having a laugh, surely?

    No, obviously state run education is an absurd idea and everything should be private. But in the absence of that if you pay your taxes to support the education system the education system should meet your requirements. And before you ask i have never had a problem with naturism, I do not have a problem with naturism now. If a teacher or pupil wanted to go to school naked id have no objection.

  3. bananabrain — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:18 pm  

    he’s ‘avin’ a larf.

    these girls (and their backers) don’t want contact with the outside world anyway – this just gives them an opportunity to grandstand about it. suppose my religious beliefs are those of nudism. do i get to disregard school uniform policy, then?

    and where do i pin my prefect’s badge?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  4. Sahil — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    You know where bananabrain ;)

  5. Bert Preast — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:22 pm  

    Kulvinder, child naturists in school are not my concern. I’m a great believer in learning about equality early, and kids whose parents can’t or won’t buy them the latest fashions are getting the shitty end of the stick. There should be a school uniform, and not liking it is no grounds for a paerent to withhold the child from schools.

  6. justforfun — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    Kulvinder – your article has allowed me to change my mind on school uniforms and still keep the moral high ground. You see, my son’s and daughter’s uniforms are getting a bit too expensive and I have been looking for a way to save money (I’m a miser at heart) – they grow so fast and the trousers and skirts etc from Asda are not long lasting.

    Now after half term, I will send them back in white sheets, and to save their embarrasment on the walk to school I’ll give them pointy white hats. Any similarity to Klansmen will be incidental and not intentional.

    Justforfun

  7. bananabrain — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    in fact, seeing this thread and the anti-american paranoia on the other one makes me think you’re having a really weird afternoon.

    1 – 2 – 3…

    are you chavez
    aaaare you chavez
    aaaaare you chavez in disguiiiiiise?
    aaaaare you chavez in disguise?

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  8. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    There should be a school uniform, and not liking it is no grounds for a paerent to withhold the child from schools.

    Actually its pretty reasonable grounds.

    Now after half term, I will send them back in white sheets, and to save their embarrasment on the walk to school I’ll give them pointy white hats. Any similarity to Klansmen will be incidental and not intentional.

    If you wish, i wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    are you chavez

    Hes less harmful than bush.

  9. Chris — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    I assume this article is a spoof?

    Yes??

    Please???

    I wonder how this girl’s parents would react to the presence of the naturists’ kids.
    Not so keen on “freedom to manifest religion” then, I suspect.
    No, no, only *our* religion please.

  10. Whatsamuslim — on 21st February, 2007 at 4:41 pm  

    Kulvinder – What I don’t understand is why this case had to go to court for a judge to decide on what a person can wear. Schools have uniforms,surely the parents must have realised there daughter had to adhere to the schools uniform.

    This is another example of a young child being used by others to get across a certain political message.

    It is sad that the parents have decided to ruin there daughters education to try and make a pointless point.

  11. Scribbles — on 21st February, 2007 at 5:16 pm  

    “The glee with which some greet the stripping of these girls of their identity is quite frankly shocking.”

    Kulvinder, wearing a shapeless garment which covers everything but the eyes is stripping a person of their identity. It turns a woman into a non-person, with no identifiable or individual features at all.

    “If the parents have contributed, via their taxes, to the funding of the school they should be allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like.”

    Allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like? But just who is making the decision here? Is this really the kind of choice a school girl would naturally make? Did they come up with this idea all on their own with no social pressure at all?

    Should other girls be allowed to go to school in biker gear or bikinis because their parents also pay taxes?

    The niqab is cultural dress associated with countries where woman have no rights and are certainly not allowed anything so whimsical as a “sense of self”. It is not healthy that young women here use their freedoms to promote a garment associated with such female oppression.

    Or rather, as I suspect is the case in this instance, it is not healthy that parents are using their daughters to promote such a seperatist and victim mentality.

  12. lithcol — on 21st February, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

    I too feel sorry for this girl. She is obviously in need of therapy. Perhaps she suffers from social phobia, facial dysmorphic disorder or just plain Wahhabi fundamentalism.
    I imagine she will leave school at 16 and be immediately married off. Spending the rest of her life having children and staying at home.
    I am always surprised that the niqab is defended by certain individuals in the west, when in many Muslim countries it is banned in public places.
    Personally, with all the cctv around I prefer the burqa when I am out and about in town. Also useful if you want to escape the country.

  13. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 5:40 pm  

    Unfortunately my posts are being censored by the website, because it hates me.

    To reiterate what i’ve said in my censored posts, i have no problem with nudism, if you want to wear a KKK outfit you should be allowed to. Chavez is a demonstrably ‘less bad’ leader than Bush.

  14. Bert Preast — on 21st February, 2007 at 5:47 pm  

    Hey Kulvinder, have you got a sinister goatee? If not I’d consider growing one.

  15. Nick — on 21st February, 2007 at 6:02 pm  

    “The glee with which some greet the stripping of these girls of their identity is quite frankly shocking.”

    Er……. meanwhile in the real world…….

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007
    /02/21/nmuslim21.xml

  16. Jagdeep — on 21st February, 2007 at 6:29 pm  

    I love a bit of satire and spoofing like this! Well done Kulvinder.

    Ummm…..

  17. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 7:06 pm  

    I don’t really do satire well, and am flattered that people think i do. I meant this all seriously.

    The general consensus seems to be that it would be ‘better’ for these girls if they just stopped wearing the niqab and wore what ‘we’ told them to wear. The problem with the niqab is some vague notion of ‘seperation from society’. I’m simply pointing out the utter idiocy in banning them from wearing it and driving them further into the shadows.

    I make absolutely no apologies for the fact im on the side of the 12 year old schoolgirl.

  18. Derek — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:01 pm  

    Kulvinder – interesting comment. I have no objection to anyone wearing or not wearing what they want – but they must be prepared to accept the consequences. If they have a stud in their nose, a tattoo on the forehead, a burglar’s mask over their eyes – I don’t care. But I do care when they expect the people they come in contact with to treat them as if they were part of the mainstream and cry unfair, unjust, racist, bigot, old fogey or when things do not go their way. as long as people are prepared to accept perfectly legal “discrimination” then no problem. The niqab should NOT be banned but those who wear it should accept that there will be restrictions as to what they can do in this society

  19. justforfun — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:03 pm  

    Derek – well put.

    Justforfun

  20. lithcol — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:24 pm  

    Is Kuvinder a closet nosophobic? Or is it teeth, lips etc?

    Personally I have always found eyes to be the most sexiest attribute. Especially at the moment of orgasm.

    Bring back the burqa, remove all temptation.

    What a tosser Kuvinder is.

  21. Nick — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:25 pm  

    Frankly I think it is a sad reflection on our society that this child’s parents are not subject to investigation for child abuse. Sorry, but that’s what it is, in ANY country or culture.

  22. Don — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:25 pm  

    I hate decisions based on ’security’

    In a school?

    Is this the case where the local authority was unwilling to fund the legal costs and an Oxford-based muslim organisation offered to do so, as they were, I gather, sick of fundies using their children to grandstand?

    And I find it hard to believe that a twelve year old’s ‘sense of self’ is bound up in hiding her face from the world. Are you sure her father didn’t influence her just a little? For his own sense of whatever.

  23. Taj — on 21st February, 2007 at 8:49 pm  

    The niqab issue is a little muddied over the lack of consensus that most Muslims have over it; is it a central, fundamental expression of Islamic faith or is it an optional cultural extra?

    Let’s (for the sake of argument) suppose that it is a crucial element of Islam for women.

    But first: What are the reasons for banning the wearing of a symbol in a public space? Safety might be a factor, but, in the area of personal expression, a certain issue come into play: namely, is the symbol advocating violence/libel against a person or certain groups? As far as I can see, that’s the only reason for outright legal action against an item of clothing (although I’d be glad for the legal bods to help me out on this issue; you can’t prosecute someone on fashion grounds can you?).

    People might be offended by the niqab – they might see it as a negation of simple human interaction; they might resent that it suggests that all men have a predatory gaze – but, in my opinion, it doesn’t directly advocate violence or libel against anyone.

    Of course, a school setting isn’t exactly a conventional public space; there are certain rules and regulations that pupils have to follow. As I’ve said, the niqab might be a hindrance to certain social interaction (which is fairly important when you’re learning), but, aside from the safety issue, it only bumps into a concrete regulation in one area: uniform.

    In Britain, we seem to have managed (up until now)pupils’ need for religious expression with the need to wear a school uniform. I imagine there would be an outcry if, as in France, it was decreed that turbans, skull caps, crucifixes etc couldn’t be worn with the uniform in a school setting.

    As I mentioned at the start, there isn’t a consensus on the religious nature of the niqab. However, I’d argue that it should be allowed as an item of religious self-expression. A person’s choice of appearance, so long as it isn’t advocating the harm of others, should be respected.

    Of course, there’s always the issue of whether it is the niqab-wearers choice to don it or whether they are pressurised into the decision. In this particular case (partly as a result of the lengths the girl and her family went to), I’m surmising that it was her choice to wear the niqab.

    In a slightly different area of the discussion, I think that banning the niqab because of the perceived disempowering effect it has for women would not have the intended effects. Those women who feel emancipated by the niqab would have lost their right to self-expression. I believe those women who are limited by it would have their persecution shifted into another sphere; in their case, banning the niqab would be targetting one symptom of their persuction but not its root cause.

  24. Shuggy — on 21st February, 2007 at 9:02 pm  

    “If the parents have contributed, via their taxes, to the funding of the school they should be allowed to let their daughters wear whatever they like.”

    Really? What if she wanted to wear a burlesque costume to school? Or perhaps a medieval suit of armour?

    “The justification for the ruling is a tad odd

    “the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions – a key element in effective classroom interaction”

    Says who?”

    Me, that’s who.

    What’s odd about it? No doubt I’m suffering from ‘Islamophobia’ or some other ‘Orientalist’ disease but personally I think I’d find it easier to teach pupils if they weren’t wearing a moveable tent in the goddam class.

  25. lithcol — on 21st February, 2007 at 10:09 pm  

    Did you see that Monty Python chap somewhere in a town in northern Pakistan. No women on the street. The ultimate burqa, four walls. No congestion on the streets and no sexual temptation. No wonder the goats had a worried expression on their faces.

  26. Sunny — on 21st February, 2007 at 10:42 pm  

    Lithcol – shut up and fuck off please.

    What a tosser Kuvinder is.

    Kulvinder is a hardcore libertarian and I don’t share his view but I give more respect to people who try and engage with it intellectually than see this as a spoof article.

    Coming back to the original point – I think libertarianism is not a concept that applies to or should be applied to schools, and neither do I think the 12 year old girl is fully aware of her actions. In addition to that, I have no problems with social engineering because at some level a lot of that goes on anyway. Might as well be explicit about it than pretend it doesn’t exist.

    The question is where do you draw the line. I think schools is not where the line is drawn – that is more about what is acceptable at home.

  27. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 10:47 pm  

    Kulvinder – interesting comment. I have no objection to anyone wearing or not wearing what they want – but they must be prepared to accept the consequences

    I’d support you in your quest to have the right to refuse service or business to anyone you didn’t like.

    In a school?

    Especially in a school. Indoctrination of statism begins with a fear of the outside, whatever that outside may be. I think its incredibly harmful to teach children to be weary or afraid if a stranger turns up at their school.

    I still don’t understand how a person in a niqab is meant to be more inconspicuous than the average person. If anything the exact opposite is true. If i walked into a school wearing a suit, and i walked into a school wearing a niqab, which would attract more attention?

    And I find it hard to believe that a twelve year old’s ’sense of self’ is bound up in hiding her face from the world. Are you sure her father didn’t influence her just a little?

    I have no idea, id hazard a guess that the opinions of either parent played a determining role.

    For the sake of argument lets assume that fathers in these types of cases make their daughters wear niqabs to keep them seperated from the outside world. What exactly will these rulings do to prevent that? If anything they’ve reinforced everything the fathers have been saying about the ‘outside world’ The barbarians have behaved exactly as he said they would.

  28. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 10:52 pm  

    Really? What if she wanted to wear a burlesque costume to school? Or perhaps a medieval suit of armour?

    *sigh*

    I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Nor if she were nude, nor wearing a morris dancers outfit or anything else you can think of.

    What’s odd about it?

    Its lacks empathy. Especially as they’re trying to be less scary.

  29. William — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:02 pm  

    It should be a concern how many protests to the girl wearing the the niqab are down to an inability to cope with difference. If it is her genuine choice what is the problem. It is conceivable that she is misled in some way or is pressurised but does not realise it in which case that is a concern. Of course there are even many muslims who would like her to conform. However if it is her genuine choice then we schools and the people in them should be able to be tolerant towards difference because that is what tolerance is as long as it does not collude with harm.

  30. William — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:03 pm  

    It should be a concern how many protests to the girl wearing the the niqab are down to an inability to cope with difference. If it is her genuine choice what is the problem. It is conceivable that she is misled in some way or is pressurised but does not realise it in which case that is a concern. Of course there are even many muslims who would like her to conform. However if it is her genuine choice then the schools and the people in them should be able to be tolerant towards difference because that is what tolerance is as long as it does not collude with harm.

  31. Nick — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    Forcing a child to cover her face in shame at her own identity should not be tolerated. All you are tolerating William, with your misplaced cultural relativism, is child abuse.

  32. Kulvinder — on 21st February, 2007 at 11:24 pm  

    I don’t agree with your definition, but what if through her own choice covering her head in shame IS her identity. Being extremely unpretentious is as valid as being extremely ostentatious.

  33. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:06 am  

    “I’m expressing with my full capabilites, now I’m living in correctional facilities”

    Man, those dudes could philosophise some. How did it all come unstuck?

  34. Chairwoman — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:06 am  

    I think poor Kulvinder’s had a rush of blood to the head today.

  35. Chairwoman — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:09 am  

    Bert – I look forward to future doctrates based on the Philosophy of Robbie Williams.

  36. lithcol — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:12 am  

    Oh dear Sunny, please forgive me. I have upset you and you want me to fuck off.
    Well, I don’t think I will. Kulvinder is confused, and your interpretation of what I am saying is confused.
    Although it was impolite of me to call Kulvider a tosser, I maintain he has a less than adequate grasp of the issues involved. You say he is a hardcore libertarian. What do you mean? Free drugs for everyone. Child sex (passé) big M, sex in public etc. Come on. There are limits and a free society decides what those are.
    Regarding the veil, or burqa, in the West it is perceived as demeaning to womanhood and reveals a mindset of certain believers in Islam that is deeply misogynist. Indeed both are frowned upon in many muslim majority countries, and certainly so by progressive muslim thinkers.
    I am sorry I used intemperate language, but I did not envisage that a supposedly educated and civilized individual such as yourself would descend to the level of the gutter. That some on this blog cannot help venting their spleens by using expletives is understandable, but you should not descend to their level.

  37. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:17 am  

    Chairwoman – your Robbie Williams guess is closer than I ever dreamed you’d get. I’m deeply impressed. But I’m not going to be the one to break it to you that there exist even more unsavoury characters than Robbie in pop culture. I’d be too scared.

  38. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:19 am  

    “That some on this blog cannot help venting their spleens by using expletives is understandable, but you should not descend to their level.”

    Why should Sunny be held to a higher standard? Have beard, will explete I say.

  39. Katy Newton — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:32 am  

    I’m not going to be the one to break it to you that there exist even more unsavoury characters than Robbie in pop culture. I’d be too scared.

    Bert, Mum was best friends with Jimmy Page as a girl and her best girl friend got off with Jimi Hendrix – I think she can cope with the news :-D

  40. lithcol — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:34 am  

    Well fuck me Bert Preast I can mix it with the best of them. I just feel that that Sunny is different. Differently abled. You know, sort of saintly. Blessed by some higher authority.
    That is his main problem. He feels he knows it all. Perhaps as a mere mortal I should tell him to fuck off.
    Unfortunately, my early upbringing inhibites me.
    But hey, why should it!
    Fuck off Sunny, get a grip.

  41. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:35 am  

    Not what I said – I said I was too scared to break the news to her. That’s your job.

  42. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:36 am  

    Lithcol – I can’t honestly believe you’ve never been told to fuck off before. So why are you getting in such a tizzy? Grow a sinister goatee, then come back for another pop.

  43. lithcol — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:45 am  

    Dear Bert, when the word fuck is mentioned it usually in relation to an activity that any full blooded man is ready to rise to.
    But yes, I have been told to fuck off. Usually by some dickhead without a sinister goatee.
    Does Sunny have a sinister goatee, or is he just a goat.
    Anyway, the use of expletives doesn’t get my goat. Intolerance and ignorance does. I don’t think Sunny is guilty of either.

  44. Shuggy — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:47 am  

    I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Nor if she were nude, nor wearing a morris dancers outfit or anything else you can think of.

    I dare say – but other people would. You know – parents, teachers, probably most pupils – the sort of people, in other words, who might have a crepuscular idea of how an educational institution works.

  45. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:49 am  

    If you want to get a goat, get a goatee. Or just a goat, whatever lights your candle.

  46. lithcol — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:52 am  

    Actually, I have always preferred sheep. Goats are so smelly.

  47. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:56 am  

    Sheep have lovely eyes. Goats don’t.

  48. lithcol — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:00 am  

    Off to bed. Counting sheep. Got to give a lecture tomorrow. The decline of rationalism in a postmodern world ( or what a load of wankers some thinkers are ).

  49. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:02 am  

    I’m just a white man van, but I’m a wanker too.

  50. Bert Preast — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:03 am  

    Er, I’m also apparently drunk. Enough for tonight.

  51. Don — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:11 am  

    Kulvinder,

    Come Monday morning I’ll be playing my part in the indoctrination of statism by taking the register. I realise that is anathema to a libertarian but we tend to find that in schools it is of practical value to know that those who are meant to be there are, and those who are not meant to be there are kept out. Hence security. So we monitor and we check. There is CCTV and there is a check on visitors. Sorry for being such a slave to the system.

    It may be true that in most schools today an intruder in a burkha would stand out, but in the situation you are proposing they would be very far from conspicuous.

    If you walked into a school wearing a suit you would be asked your business; if a significant number of students were niquab clad and you wore a niquab, different situation.

    ‘For the sake of argument lets assume that fathers in these types of cases make their daughters wear niqabs to keep them seperated from the outside world.’

    That’s fair. I’m not claiming it’s the only reason, just that we could reasonably consider it a problem to be addressed, rather than a right to be respected.

    ‘The barbarians have behaved exactly as he said they would.’

    I think I know you well enough to assume that ‘barbarians’ was meant to be in inverted commas.

    But you have been exceptionally provacative in this post. If it is driving people further into the shadows, maybe we shouldn’t have so many shadows. Maybe shedding some light would be useful.

    On
    “the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions – a key element in effective classroom interaction”

    Says who?”

    I think Shuggy has more or less covered that. Ask any teacher if they can perform effectively if their students are masked and there will be a broad concensus. It is deleterious to teaching and general communication. Which is the primary function of a school.

    As for ‘social engineering’, who is aiming for that, the school or the dad?

  52. Paul Moloney — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:46 am  

    Worst.

    Article.

    Ever.

    (Sorry, Sunny, but it _does_ come across as a spoof. Do you think pre-pubescent girls bringing a court-case arguing they should be allowed to go to school naked(*) is reasonable?)

    (*) Kulvinder: “I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Nor if she were nude…”

    P.

  53. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:52 am  

    Free drugs for everyone.

    Freely available, not free.

    Child sex (passé) big M

    Big M?? I’m unsure what country you’re living in but sex with children is completely legal in the UK. Our age of consent is below the age you’re no longer considered a minor. The debate about the age of consent is distinct and separate from allowing sex between adults and children. Obviously i feel a state determined age of consent is absurd.

    sex in public etc.

    Yeah thats fine.

    NB #32 I was trying to say a 12 year old who wants to sing in front of an audience of 30,000 people is ‘as okay’ as a 12 year old who wants to hide from the world.

    ‘Being extremely unpretentious is as valid as being extremely ostentatious.’

  54. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:01 am  

    if a significant number of students were niquab clad and you wore a niquab, different situation.

    I’m 6’5. It’s impossible to be secure about anything so why worry?

    But you have been exceptionally provacative in this post. If it is driving people further into the shadows, maybe we shouldn’t have so many shadows. Maybe shedding some light would be useful.

    I’m unsure what you mean by that.

    I think Shuggy has more or less covered that. Ask any teacher if they can perform effectively if their students are masked and there will be a broad concensus. It is deleterious to teaching and general communication. Which is the primary function of a school.

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree, i had to look up deleterious :)

    As for ’social engineering’, who is aiming for that, the school or the dad?

    Both. That doesn’t make the school look any better.

  55. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:09 am  

    Do you think pre-pubescent girls bringing a court-case arguing they should be allowed to go to school naked(*) is reasonable?)

    You people have real issues with the concept of nakedness in general and naked children in particular. I feel awkward putting it this way but generally you’re more hung up about it than desis.

    Could everyone please stop asking me this, its getting difficult to find new ways of saying the same thing.

    I have no problem with naturism and if a 12 year old felt it was an important part of his/her sense of self, of course id support them. I wouldn’t do that in a giggly manner either. If that was who they were i would not want to make them feel uncomfortable – of course i think it would be reasonable.

    What would you do point at them and laugh? Mock them? forcibly clothe them? Make them feel shit?

  56. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:20 am  

    Kuvinder,

    Whilst I am largely a libertarian, I’d have preferred that you kicked off the discussion on realistic grounds. We have, IMVHO, now so politicised the veil, that wearing it is fashionable.

    Much like punk rock tattoos. Disgusting, but, my god, how they express freedom. Not. The blue jeans for the 21st c.

    I saw a headscarf with Kalvin Klien patterened into it. So politics and fashion converge. I used to wear a Che Guevara T shirt too.

    Pathetic, really.

  57. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 4:14 am  

    I’d have preferred that you kicked off the discussion on realistic grounds.

    I did! Its not my fault the only imagination for argument half the people in this thread have is for undressing or dressing 12 year old girls before asking me, would you accept that?

    Anyhoo the recent article/links on harrys place about the ‘fashionising’ of the Keffiyeh was quite interesting. I wouldn’t say the same has happened with the niqab just yet.

  58. Nick — on 22nd February, 2007 at 7:53 am  

    “I don’t agree with your definition, but what if through her own choice covering her head in shame IS her identity. Being extremely unpretentious is as valid as being extremely ostentatious.”

    She’s a CHILD Kulvinder. If an adult male was having sex with her it would be regarded as stautory rape in this country, regardless of whether she “really really” loved him. If an adult woman wants to wear this ridiculous garment for whatever profound culturally or psychologically backward reasons, then that is her shout. A child is not considered capable of making this choice.

  59. Galloise Blonde — on 22nd February, 2007 at 8:33 am  

    Nick, you’re not going to beat Kulvinder with that line of reasoning: as he says above

    Obviously i feel a state determined age of consent is absurd.

    Anyway: the head’s description of her reasoning is pretty lucid Link. I have kids. They ask me questions. And when they do, I try to explain up to the point where I visibly see them understand, by looking at their faces. Asking them, ‘Do you understand’ is useless, because they a) don’t like looking stupid and b) have a touching desire to please their mum. So I keep at it until I see their little faces light up with understanding. Teachers need to be able to do this too. The report says “Teachers [need] to be able to tell if a pupil [is] paying attention or distressed or enthusiastic.” and I would agree with that.

    “If a stranger is on site, then it is simple to approach and ask them their business.

    “However, if pupils wore the niqab, then identifying those on site becomes difficult and it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for an unwelcome person wishing to move incognito to wear a niqab herself.”

    It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Kulvinder may be 6’5″, but does anyone else remember that story from a few months back about the adult paedophile who was enrolled in an American school? It’s unlikely, sure, but possible for a slightly built man to enter a school in such a disguise.

  60. Chris — on 22nd February, 2007 at 8:51 am  

    “I’m on the side of the 12 year old girl”

    Are you really?

    Well your “libertarianism” certainly sounds like that of a 12 year old…

    (Perhaps you’re against compulsory education too?)

    In any event, she had been offered a place at a school which does allow the niqab, but chose (or her parents chose for her) to keep her out of school and to attempt to force this school to change its already perfectly reasonable uniform policy. She lost.
    Tough.

  61. sonia — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:22 am  

    I’m interested to know more about this girl and her parents – the dynamic between them. It’s reported as if it’s what she wants, but i think if it’s the parent’s decision that should be made clear – that it’s about the parent’s freedom with respect to their childs’ education environment.

    I think Kulvinder’s foucs on the result of this action -that she’ll be homeschooled – is pertinent. i might not like the fact that i suspect her parent’s are too controlling – but it sounds like staying at home and losing a lot of contact with other human beings/kids isn’t going to be much good, though it might not automatically be bad either – i’m going on the assumption that the parents are a bit forcing things on her – which is of course my assumption from having an insight to the sort of mind that would be so paranoid about a 12 year old. but those are of course my value judgments.

  62. sonia — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:28 am  

    so i think the ban is not productive. i sympthasize with the thinking behind it, however it won’t help anyone and seems to politicize the veil even more. so instead of kids naturally questioning why their parents want to enforce a certain behaviour or another one, they’re being encouraged to take ‘sides’ ( one authority versus another one) and therefore will probably be more accepting of something they might otherwise give more thought to. it’s setting up an artificial dichotomy as well.

  63. Tasneem Khalil — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    These sorts of bans are NOT based on any policy to do with equality. Rather aimed at engineered exclusion. What next? Ban kids wearing turbans at the school? And btw, niqab has more to do with cultural choice than any religious edict. That is we can label this Muslim, not Islamic.

  64. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

    If a teacher or pupil wanted to go to school naked id have no objection

    liar liar pants on fire (anything to make sure an argument stands huh?)

    i think kids should also be allowed to wear swastika armbands, since they are a hindu symbol as well as a Nazi emblem

    On the other hand, as a tax-paying father i will insist my kids’ school bans all overtly offensive symbols — whether it’s the burka, the niqab or the swastika.

  65. Don — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    Tasneem,

    That’s very positive assertion, and requires that the head and the governors have a sinister agenda. I think you should expand on why you believe this to be so, particularly in the more closely examined Sabina Begum case. In that one at least it was clear that the exclusion was indeed engineered, by the girl’s brother and his associates.

  66. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

    You people have real issues with the concept of nakedness in general and naked children in particular. I feel awkward putting it this way but generally you’re more hung up about it than desis.

    Who’s “you” and, tell me, why are desis different?

  67. Chris — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:24 pm  

    sonia – if that’s what Kulvinder is saying, he’s wrong.

    She’s been offered a place at a school which allows the niqab, which she (or her parents) turned down, keeping her at home in and trying to force this school to change its policy.

  68. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    Well your “libertarianism” certainly sounds like that of a 12 year old…

    liar liar pants on fire (anything to make sure an argument stands huh?)

    I take my philosophical opinions seriously; i see no point in having them otherwise. The implications of advocating individualism and rejecting statism are far more profound than most who call themselves libertarian are willing to accept. If you want to mock my sincerity go ahead, but you aren’t actually making an argument.

  69. sonia — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    yes the school hasn’t got any reason to change it’s policy – that’s true as well. it’s an unfortunate situation all round – i think the parents should be thinking hard about what they’re trying to achieve, it’s their responsibility – they had the kid. Parents seem to cause all the trouble in this world it seems.

  70. Nick — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:50 pm  

    BTW what about being culturally sensitive to all the other kids in the school who might be intimidated by this poor child? I suppose that was (one of the) arguments the school made – but in its own way its sympotamitic of a wider trend in the UK isn’t it – individualism and the (so-called human) right of the individual over the community. One might almost say it is the logical conclusion of Thatcherism and “choice”. So to that extent I suppose these medievalists are being ultra-modern…

  71. bananabrain — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:53 pm  

    kulvinder,

    i don’t mock your sincerity, but i do suggest that its practical effect is bathetic.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  72. Arif — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:58 pm  

    Hmmmm. I appreciate Kulvinder’s attempt to be principled on this issue. I think that it is always very difficult to defend consistent principles as people will challenge it without feeling the need to defend priciples of their own.

    I am happy to argue that libertarian principles are important principles among lots of other important principles, and I am interested in the principles used to justify forcing people either to wear a niqab or not to wear a niqab. Both sides appear to me to have a genuine feeling that what they demand is minimal respect for the person involved, and cannot believe that a self-respecting person would disagree.

    Well, I think it is possible to be a self-respecting niqab wearer and a self respecting non-niqab wearer. I have met people I could put in each category. But I can see that the instinct to see it oppressive is strong in people. It is even feared with some people comparing it to nazi insignia and KKK outfits – so I assume people are genuinely scared that a niqab wearing person is thereby signifying some kind of hatred towards others. I’ve never felt that, so am I naive?

    My own instinct is to see schooling as oppressive. But of course other people see it as liberating, educating and all sorts of other great things. For me the sight of a child in school uniform makes me feel so sad for them being penned in at institutions where they have so little control over their circumstances, are judged and often bullied, having to conform while being exhorted to be individuals and sitting quietly while a well-meaning teacher gets them to think about things that seem completely irrelevant.

    So a burkha-wearing child going to school makes me depressed for the child abuse I perceive in schooling, and makes others depressed for the child abuse they perceive in wearing a burkha. Perhaps neither of us should project our own feelings on to the child and just let her go to school if she wants to and wear a burkha if she wants to.

    If I see anyone forcing her to go to school or wear a burkha, then I could challenge them, but if they don’t just tell me to mind my own business, I’m sure they’ll say they are doing it for her own good and even for the good of society. Because I’m sceptical about such an argument, I guess that makes me a kind of libertarian too. If I take that line, it’s also not fair for me to say she should take off a burkha for her own good or for the good of society, the arguments for ease of learning, promoting equality, stopping infiltration or avoiding creating a generation of religiously inspired fashion-victims can be used as important principles, but they can be used by either side, with the ultimate validity in the eye of the beholder.

    The eventual decision often seems to be made on the basis of majority opinion or local pressure rather than the woman’s own wishes, and each seem oppressive to those on different sides of the argument. Each woman makes her decision under whatever pressures and as Derek (#18) says, she has to live with the consequences of other people’s fears, hatreds, sympathy that come her way as a result. My own contribution, I hope, will be to respect her and expect her to respect my own way of being too. And maybe that is another aspect of being libertarian.

  73. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 12:58 pm  

    oooooh Sonia, how cutting :)

  74. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

    you to goota admit though, Rousseau is a mighty good read

  75. Sunny — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:54 pm  

    But hey, why should it!
    Fuck off Sunny, get a grip.

    See there’s only one problem lithcol – I run this website and if I don’t like how some commenters behave towards others, I can ban them and delete them. I have the power (and yes, I love having it too). So. Stay within the confines of good discussion and you can post. If you don’t, you’ll get abuse from me and your posts will be deleted. Kapiche?

    Anyway, back to the discussion.

    I think you all make some good points, and I like Kulvinder’s article because they push the boundary of what is considered ‘normal reasoning’. But the problem is that some seem to react in an absurd manner without reading what Kulvinder is saying.

    As Galloise Blonde points out, Kulvinder is quite libertarian on most issues including sex…. and drugs and anything else. So if you’re going to convince him then you’ll have to use stronger arguments not pithy ridicule.

  76. ally — on 22nd February, 2007 at 1:55 pm  

    Seems to me that school is one of those places where arbitrary rules are inevitable and understandable. There has to be some kind of consensus on rules and procedures, and that can include dress-codes / uniforms.

    Kulvinder, I’d have expected your libertarian principles to lead you to the conclusion that being forced to attend school was absurd – but that each individual (or in this case parent) should have the right to choose between a school that has rule A and a school that has rule B.

    No?

  77. sonia — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:00 pm  

    don’s 51. “As for ’social engineering’, who is aiming for that, the school or the dad?” is definitely worth noting. this sort of thing shows clearly the ‘competing’ strands of social engineering/pressures we as individuals all face, from many different directions. the twin institutions of authority – ‘schools’ and ‘family’..

  78. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:04 pm  

    Arif,

    This thread is completely off the wall. When you suggest that education as such should be a voluntary matter:

    “Perhaps neither of us should project our own feelings on to the child and just let her go to school if she wants to and wear a burkha if she wants to”

    who do you think would make the decision for a five year old? Certainly not the child, nor the person the child could or would become in twenty years time.

    It is generally accepted that the law, which we have all, at the very least deferred to, requires children to be educated. As in that there is both a common and individual good forthcoming.

    Assuming you could write at all without education, do you think you’d be able to put forward sophisticated arguements?

  79. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    Kulvinder, I’d have expected your libertarian principles to lead you to the conclusion that being forced to attend school was absurd – but that each individual (or in this case parent) should have the right to choose between a school that has rule A and a school that has rule B.

    No?

    The education system is pants; I agree with Arif.

    And yes parents should choose which schools to send their children to, and yes i know the parents could send their daughter to another school. The core of my argument isn’t that she could be educated in another way, rather the entire approach to dealing with seclusion from society is counter-productive. I forgot to put it in speechmarks before (as Don pointed out) but the ‘barbarians’ have behaved exactly as expected.

  80. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:27 pm  

    It is generally accepted that the law, which we have all, at the very least deferred to, requires children to be educated.

    But the law also doesn’t specify what that education should be; ill try and find the case that brought up the issue in the 80s. Its a weird go-between of nothingness. You specify that X must be done, you make no judgement on what X is. I know he largely re-wrote his opinions on the tractatus in philosophical investigations, but wittgenstein’s dictum ‘what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence’ rings true.

    The state cannot say what education is lest it phase-lock everyone into one type of thinking. All ideas must be free – free to discuss and free to educate. It cannot dictate a newtonian view of the world because it cannot predict another einstein coming along.

    If the children must be educated, but you don’t categorically state what education is; i see no harm in letting the entire process be voluntary.

  81. Sunny — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

    It cannot dictate a newtonian view of the world because it cannot predict another einstein coming along.

    Rubbish – that would mean you simply have no stance on anything. The better way would be to have a Newtonian view until another Einstein comes along and blows it all out of the water and then everyone is forced to accept the new consensus.

  82. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:34 pm  

    Holy shit i forgot it was Harry what done it.

    In the case of R v Secretary of State for Education and Science, ex parte Talmud Torah Machzikei Hadass School Trust (1985) (Times, 12 April 1985) Mr Justice Woolf held that:

    education is ‘suitable’ if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.

    Link

  83. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:38 pm  

    So if you’re going to convince him then you’ll have to use stronger arguments not pithy ridicule.

    Or maybe i don’t have to because time will change him anyway

  84. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    Rubbish – that would mean you simply have no stance on anything. The better way would be to have a Newtonian view until another Einstein comes along and blows it all out of the water and then everyone is forced to accept the new consensus.

    But the state (a free state) cannot dictate it. If the state education system is teaching Newtonian physics it can’t judge that those who aren’t being taught it (by homeschooling for example) are deviants to be prosecuted.

    The point im trying to get across is there is no universal definition of what education (in the sense of ideas taught) is.

  85. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:39 pm  

    ..I mean, we don’t have to

  86. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    Or maybe i don’t have to because time will change him anyway

    My greatest fear, deep deep down, is growing old and becoming a reactionary. I couldn’t bare the thought of being bitter at the world.

  87. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:06 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    I know this will seem reactionary to you, but learning to read, write and count seem to be pretty fundamental tools for doing nearly anything beyond manual labour in this world.

    I’d agree with you that, at the highest levels, Einsteinian Physics, or probably more correctly these days, Quantum Physics, do have a better view of the Universe that poor old Newton. That is one high falutin’ arguement about whether a 5 year old should go to school to be read, oh I dunno, “My Pet Goat”, for instance. When I went to school, a very long time ago, we were taught Newtons Laws, although the teachers would admit the caveat that they weren’t absolute. I think you’ve got to be able to count, do algebra and calculus and stuff, learn Newtonian Physics before you go for broke with Einstein. (Not that I ever did)

    Terry Pratchett said in one of his books about Discworld Science that the whole process of education means telling the neophyte that what they learned last year was not the whole truth. Bloody irritating, I’d imagine.

  88. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:13 pm  

    but learning to read, write and count seem to be pretty fundamental tools for doing nearly anything beyond manual labour in this world.

    Is that the limit of what you’d consider everyone has to do? If a parent doesn’t do that are they guilty of neglect? For comparison what if a school has a certain percentage of students who can’t read/write, aren’t they equally guilty of neglect?

    Even within the confines of reading/writing, what language? Would it be ok if i teach my children only in aramaic and arithmetic in base_16.

    Without an absolute dicate on what education is; the entire process is by definition voluntary. As an extention of that i see no harm in opting out of all together if you choose.

  89. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:23 pm  

    we all fear growing old Kulvy.
    not being an anarchist doesn’t make you a reactionary though

  90. bananabrain — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

    Terry Pratchett said in one of his books about Discworld Science that the whole process of education means telling the neophyte that what they learned last year was not the whole truth. Bloody irritating, I’d imagine.

    the same could be said of spiritual development; as one learns more about one’s religion, one learns that ideas such as “We Are Great And Non-[whatever] Are Poo” become less prevalent as sophistication takes hold – which is why fundamentalists are eejits.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  91. Sahil — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:29 pm  

    Why are my posts not being posted (well the computer said that I’ve posted the same message twice but I can’t see them), is anyone else having trouble??

  92. Sahil — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    Kulvinder I think you’re being way too trenchant on this issue. Education IMO has a few aims:

    1) enable individuals to interact effectively with their social and physical environment. Forms of education that do not provide this fuction will be ‘evolved’(sic) away from a curriculum e.g. Latin is not really taught in most schools nowadays.

    2) Non-education of children has negative externalities in our society e.g. crime WILL DEFINATELY rise, and other forms of social malaise will also mushroom. The fiscal spending on education therefore is actually a net fiscal gain in the long run. Plus education enables further growth and a potentially more cohesive and tolerant society with informed agents carrying out their actions.

    3) If I’d add in an arbitrage argument and continue with the evolutionary theme, everyone should have the same education. As this is the education that is the most useful to enable one to interact with the social and physical environment.

    Okay this should post now.

  93. Katy Newton — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    I believe Newtonian physics is MY area.

    It is a shame that I do not understand Newtonian physics, really.

  94. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:33 pm  

    mind you I once read an article about how wearing a burka or niqab was the new punk
    female nihilism yeah baby

  95. Jagdeep — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:35 pm  

    we all fear growing old Kulvy. not being an anarchist doesn’t make you a reactionary though

    I can just see Kulvinder as a trendy 50 year old anarchist with a pony tail smoking spliffs with a bunch of sixth formers explaining why he’s against a statutory age of sexual consent.

    Anyway, so, who has won on this thread, can’t be bothered to read it all.

  96. El Cid — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    everyone’s a winner, hooray

  97. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 3:50 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    “Is that the limit of what you’d consider everyone has to do? If a parent doesn’t do that are they guilty of neglect? For comparison what if a school has a certain percentage of students who can’t read/write, aren’t they equally guilty of neglect?”

    Is this a trap I’m supposed to fall into? It is pretty obvious that some children are incapable of learning anything much. So it is not necessarily neglect.

    For the average dude though, I’d have thought education was there to help you get along in the world. A parent that taught it’s child only base 16 and armenian would be a failure as a parent, although I must admit the example was funny.

    On another thread here there is an arguement being made that brides from Asia should be expected to learn English as a method of empowerment. (If I knew how to highlight in red like you do, I’d have highlighted “method of empowerment”)

    A parent who does not want to empower their child is a chav, in my view.

    There you go. If the parent is a complete utter failure it is incumbent on the state to impose some level of authority, for the sake of the child. And opting out of education altogether is not a realistic alternative, for the reasons Sahil outlines in #92.

  98. sonia — on 22nd February, 2007 at 4:11 pm  

    95. jagdeep :-) you are droll that’s why i like you

  99. Don — on 22nd February, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Hey, my post hasn’t shown up!

    Pity, it was a mazer. Elegant phrasing, irrefutable logic, wry humour and even an apposite poetry quotation. It would have conviced you all. Still, lost now. Just have to take my word for it.

  100. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    Jagdeep when the revolution comes there won’t be any sixth formers :)

    I think this basically boils down to you lot believing in society as a non-abstract concept. To you there is a ‘society’; to me theres a set of individuals who interact at various and changing levels. Teaching your children aramaic wouldn’t be ‘odd’ if you were from certain cultural backgrounds, and nor was my example of arithmetic in different bases meant to be absurd – different civilisations have used other bases and base 10 isn’t inherently better.

    A bride wanting to learn english in order to communicate with those she wishes isn’t exactly contradictory to my views, to requote/paraphrase the woolf

    ‘as long as it does not foreclose the individual’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.’

    The core of the argument for state intervention is that the parents can fail; since i don’t accept society, failure is a meaningless term. You’re basically saying the parents refused to conform; i don’t think they should be made to conform.

    Incidently im not sure about the link between education and crime, how does that work? If you don’t let me go to university ill stab you?

  101. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 5:28 pm  

    It didn’t show up the first time so i thought id repost. What Harry had to say about prison overcrowding

  102. Shuggy — on 22nd February, 2007 at 5:28 pm  

    All ideas must be free – free to discuss and free to educate. It cannot dictate a newtonian view of the world because it cannot predict another einstein coming along.

    This reminds me of the horse-manure we got at teacher-training college about ‘authoritarian theories of knowledge’. Because if you insist that the earth moves round the sun and you think, as I do, that flat-earthers are perhaps not the best people to be teaching science, well that’s so, like, oppressive man. I object to this bullshit being described as ‘liberal’; it’s hippy crap – as is your frankly weird notion of being cool – like, totally – with teaching naked 12 year old girls. I trust you wouldn’t anyway but if you ever entertain the notion of becoming a teacher, it might be an idea not to mention this – how to put it? – relaxed attitude towards pupils’ dress-code.

  103. William — on 22nd February, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    Nick #31

    “Forcing a child to cover her face in shame at her own identity should not be tolerated. All you are tolerating William, with your misplaced cultural relativism, is child abuse”

    I am afraid what I am thinking has even worse jargon than the phrase cultural relativism, it’s called the interior frame of reference of the human being. All that worries me is could forcing this girl to conform in itself become another form of oppression even if unwittingly it was done in the belief that she was being rescued from oppresssion.

    Don’t get me wrong I am sometimes tempted to use phrases like medieval claptrap when thinking of some issues not just to do with religion but sometimes so.
    At the moment I wonder what the real wishes of the girl are and whether she knows her own mind or not. Also if all this is oppression is it Islamic oppression or patriarchal oppression; is it medieval Islam or medieval patriarchy.

    Arif #72

    “Well, I think it is possible to be a self-respecting niqab wearer and a self respecting non-niqab wearer. I have met people I could put in each category. But I can see that the instinct to see it oppressive is strong in people”

    My thinking exactly

  104. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 6:00 pm  

    Because if you insist that the earth moves round the sun and you think, as I do, that flat-earthers are perhaps not the best people to be teaching science, well that’s so, like, oppressive man.

    The earth is moving in a straight line through curved space-time.

    I trust you wouldn’t anyway but if you ever entertain the notion of becoming a teacher,

    I don’t agree with the education system; so no i wouldn’t become a teacher.

  105. Shuggy — on 22nd February, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    Pedantry to avoid engaging with the point? That’s your prerogative, I suppose. Let’s try a straight question instead: flate=earthers should be allowed to expond their theories in a science class – yes or no?

    I don’t agree with the education system; so no i wouldn’t become a teacher.

    Is it just the fact that it doesn’t generally accommodate either naked people or those who are disposed to wearing moveable tents, or do you have some more fundamental objection? Like the authoritarian stance the system takes against proponents of alchemy, perhaps?

  106. Shuggy — on 22nd February, 2007 at 6:26 pm  

    flate=earthers should be allowed to expond

    Or even, “flat-earthers should be allowed to expound”. But you knew this anyway, what with being a recipient of an education. Whether you wanted it or not. Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

  107. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 6:53 pm  

    Let’s try a straight question instead: flate=earthers should be allowed to expond their theories in a science class – yes or no?

    Obviously they should, but noone should be forced to listen to them.

    Is it just the fact that it doesn’t generally accommodate either naked people or those who are disposed to wearing moveable tents, or do you have some more fundamental objection?

    A more fundametal objection. The institutionalization of education into a homogeneous blob has been one of the worst aspects of the late 20th century. Rather than being a process of self-discovery and improvement its become about jumping through hoops. Finding the path of least resistance and playing the system – by looking at past papers and practising exam technique is as, if not more important than questioning and understanding. Infact the idea of universal standardised testing could only have been thought up by philistines.

    But you knew this anyway, what with being a recipient of an education. Whether you wanted it or not. Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

    It depends what you mean by good or bad. Like any other student i learned to pass exams whilst understanding the least amount of information possible. Its ‘good’ to get recognition, on a personal level its ‘bad’ because its not what learning should be about.

    I have grown far far more through personal endeavour than through the system.

  108. Sophocles — on 22nd February, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    Kulvinder, surely we all need basic education. Learning to read and write the language of the culture we are born into. Some basics regarding numbers, and an introduction to science and the art of critical thinking.
    Socialization is basically up to interaction with your peers and your caregivers. Hopefully, they are up to the task.
    As to the basic content of the curriculum, I agree with you. By the age of 13 I preferred reading Bertrand Russell and other freethinkers, science fiction and anything that stimulated my mind. I dispatched Christianity by the age of 14 and have not looked back since.
    I do not agree with your views on drugs for example. The developing human brain is uniquely susceptible to disruption caused by drugs, and also to abusive sexual, mental and physical input.
    I abhor statism ( do you mean the nanny state or something more sinister ?), however, unlike Thatcher I do believe in society. But only if it open to change and does not limit the possibilities inherent in every human being. Provided of course their individualism is not expressed at the expense of others.

  109. Shuggy — on 22nd February, 2007 at 7:57 pm  

    Obviously they should

    Obvious to you, possibly – but not to many others, I’d suspect. I’m with the others.

    The institutionalization of education into a homogeneous blob has been one of the worst aspects of the late 20th century.

    Really? Much worse than, say, Stalin’s gulags, the Holocaust, two world wars? Do you intend to provide argument or evidence for this point in the usual fashion? Did you prefer the 19th century model – and if so, which aspects of this did you find most appealing? The higher rates of illiteracy, entrenched class systems – what?

    Finding the path of least resistance and playing the system – by looking at past papers and practising exam technique is as, if not more important than questioning and understanding.

    You’re conflating two issues here – and you’re preaching to the choir. There’s too much assessment in schools. I think you’d stuggle to find a teacher who disagreed with this. But you’re throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater here.

    Like any other student i learned to pass exams whilst understanding the least amount of information possible.

    This would be one of these occasions where you really should speak for yourself…

    I have grown far far more through personal endeavour than through the system.

    Hmmm – could you estimate your likely spiritual stature had you been unable to read and write?

  110. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 9:25 pm  

    Obvious to you, possibly – but not to many others, I’d suspect. I’m with the others.

    Saying knowledge shouldn’t be censored just selectively ignored isn’t exactly difficult to understand.

    Really? Much worse than, say, Stalin’s gulags, the Holocaust, two world wars? Do you intend to provide argument or evidence for this point in the usual fashion?

    Late 20th century. But yeah its worse than all those things raised to e and with sugar on top. Thats what i said man.

    I thought i had provided an argument, its become a process onto itself rather than a process of discovery. Much more so than in the past.

    Did you prefer the 19th century model – and if so, which aspects of this did you find most appealing? The higher rates of illiteracy, entrenched class systems – what?

    Sorry, im not sure what point you’re trying to make.

    This would be one of these occasions where you really should speak for yourself…

    Meh, fair enough.

    Hmmm – could you estimate your likely spiritual stature had you been unable to read and write?

    In what language? I learned to read and write at home, ive honestly tried to think of some memories of reading at school and the earliest i can think of was aged about 8 when i had to read out loud. My memory of reading at home is far far earlier.

  111. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:12 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    You didn’t respond to my post, 97, I believe. It is probably more of a thrill to take on a real live blogger like Shuggy, but I deserve a reply too. You have not, thought this through. It is classroom anarchy, with as much sense as the poor little buggers in ‘Lord of the Flies’.

    “We don’t need no education,
    We don’t need no thought control…..”

    Finish it for yourself. That is where you are coming from. An anarchic, fucked up, society. That is what most of us are trying to move away from.

    Frankly, Sunny notwithstanding, your ridiculous conflation of ‘liberty’ with ‘stupidity’, and your inability to seperate them says more about you than it does about the world at large. Remember, I bought the T Shirt.

    I don’t happen to think that Libertarianism is any model for the future. What do you think?

  112. Kulvinder — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

    I thought i did in #100? Apologies, im not ignoring you. Which bit didn’t i address?

  113. douglas clark — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:52 pm  

    OK. Re-reading it, I can see it as a sort of reply. I thought you were responding to Jagdeeps points.

    You said, in post 100, the following:

    ” think this basically boils down to you lot believing in society as a non-abstract concept. To you there is a ’society’; to me theres a set of individuals who interact at various and changing levels. Teaching your children aramaic wouldn’t be ‘odd’ if you were from certain cultural backgrounds, and nor was my example of arithmetic in different bases meant to be absurd – different civilisations have used other bases and base 10 isn’t inherently better.”

    May I try to deconstruct that?

    “think this basically boils down to you lot believing in society as a non-abstract concept”

    You mean, perhaps, that we think society is real? OK, lets assume it is not, for a moment. Why don’t you jump the bones of the first chick you fancy? Or is that Libertarianist enough?

    “Teaching your children aramaic wouldn’t be ‘odd’ if you were from certain cultural backgrounds, and nor was my example of arithmetic in different bases meant to be absurd – different civilisations have used other bases and base 10 isn’t inherently better.”

    Well, maybe. If the kids were being brought up in a society that saw aramaic as the dominant language and base 16 as a valid format, sure, it’d be OK. As neither idea applies in the UK right now, only chavs would do it. Or complete, utter idiots. This is not an arguement you are presenting, it is stupidity wound up in choices for the foolish.

    “The core of the argument for state intervention is that the parents can fail; since i don’t accept society, failure is a meaningless term. You’re basically saying the parents refused to conform; i don’t think they should be made to conform.”

    Well, what do you say to your own construct mate? The parents didn’t fail, they were chavs, the children didn’t fail, they were the sons and daughters of chavs, conformity is shite and oops I’ve just been stabbed by my heroic idiots.

    Get a grip.

  114. Tahir — on 22nd February, 2007 at 11:54 pm  

    ‘We don’t need no education… We don’t need no thought control..’ I thought this was Dizzy Rascal…

  115. douglas clark — on 23rd February, 2007 at 12:01 am  

    Tahir,

    I’ll bow to your superior knowledge. I thought it was Pink Floyd, however the correct quote is apparently:

    “We don’t need no education…”

    Cheers

  116. Kulvinder — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:10 am  

    You mean, perhaps, that we think society is real? OK, lets assume it is not, for a moment. Why don’t you jump the bones of the first chick you fancy? Or is that Libertarianist enough?

    I’m unsure what point you’re trying to make. To reiterate what i said in another thread society isn’t ‘real’ the one that i desire is only better than the one that exists in the sense it would allow more people to do what they want. Re-reading i’ve used the word society in two different ways and for that i apologize. A parent can only fail if there is an emphasis on conforming to ‘something’. Since i don’t accept that, to me failure is a meaningless term.

    I’m certainly not advocating a situation where you can kill anyone without consequences.

    As neither idea applies in the UK right now, only chavs would do it. Or complete, utter idiots. This is not an arguement you are presenting, it is stupidity wound up in choices for the foolish.

    ‘education is ‘suitable’ if it primarily equips a child for life within the community of which he is a member, rather than the way of life in the country as a whole, as long as it does not foreclose the child’s options in later years to adopt some other form of life if he wishes to do so.’

    Now imagine a ‘community’ of say two. There is no requirement to consider the rest of the country. As long as the person isn’t denied the option to change their opinion at a later date i see no problem with them being taught something completely different to the rest of the country.

    Well, what do you say to your own construct mate? The parents didn’t fail, they were chavs, the children didn’t fail, they were the sons and daughters of chavs,

    If thats the life they wanted, they didn’t fail?

  117. Tahir — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:15 am  

    Douglas, I was being tongue and cheek, trying to point out the lovely way in which knowledge is trasmitted from classics, to rock, to garage and the inner city. I think it’s pretty cool how music travels cultures in more ways than one.
    T

  118. douglas clark — on 23rd February, 2007 at 8:21 am  

    Tahir,

    Oh! Thanks for letting this philistine down lightly.

    Cheers

  119. douglas clark — on 23rd February, 2007 at 9:04 am  

    Kulvinder,

    Thanks for the reply. To try to clarify what I think I think.

    Two things.

    Libertarian philosophy, taken to extremes, is anarchy. And not in a nice sense. It becomes the rule of the strong and the weak have no redress through the wider group. one persons freedom is another persons subjugation.

    To take this example, where you apply the views of the parent to the wellbeing of the child, is a classic example of the rights of one individual – the child – being subsumed by the rights of the parents. I’d have thought any normal parent would want to enable their child to cope in the society that is in front of it. How exactly speaking fluent Armenian and doing your sums in a way no-one else understands seems to me to be a prescription for alienation. And, likely, a life on the welfare state. It would not be fair on the child.

    Second point.

    Contrary to the courts decision that you quote, life is not a game. We cannot reset errors. I was pants at learning foreign languages when I was at secondary school, but I seem to get by in English that I, presumeably, learnt at my mammys knee. It is in early childhood that we have the greatest capacity for learning, mess that up and you’ll be in recovery ever more.

    So a society completely without intervention is a society without aspiration for it’s own future. And would be failing it’s weakest members.

    Beyond that level, do as you will.

  120. bananabrain — on 23rd February, 2007 at 10:59 am  

    Late 20th century. But yeah its worse than [the holocaust] raised to e and with sugar on top. Thats what i said man.

    kulvinder, if that is really what you think, then you are more of an idiot than i took you for previously. i suggest you learn something about the uniquely evil things that were done to the victims of the holocaust, jewish, homosexual, JWs, gypsies and the disabled. look up dr mengele, why don’t you?

    http://www.yadvashem.org/

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  121. Katy Newton — on 23rd February, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    Oh for crying out loud. Comparing genocidal rampages to the current state of education, whatever your opinion on either, is like comparing the taste of an apple to the taste of a wooden chair. They just aren’t the same thing. I think that Shuggy’s original comparison was misguided and that Kulvinder was equally misguided to take the comparison and run with it. Are you lot running this debate to score stupid points or are you trying to find some sort of truth?

  122. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    Children should not be forced to feel different to their peers because of their parents

    They should rebel and find their own identity

    Full stop.

  123. Chairwoman — on 23rd February, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Kulvinder – You have rambled on at length expounding your views.

    May I point out that Aleistair Crowley summed up your philosophy extremely succinctly:

    “Do what you will shall be the whole of the law”.

  124. Kulvinder — on 23rd February, 2007 at 12:50 pm  

    #120/121/123

    I realise sarcasm isn’t easy to spot on the internet but i thought the ‘Thats what i said man’ bit made it clear.

  125. Kulvinder — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:05 pm  

    Libertarian philosophy, taken to extremes, is anarchy. And not in a nice sense. It becomes the rule of the strong and the weak have no redress through the wider group. one persons freedom is another persons subjugation.

    This is really becoming a debate over semantics. Theres nothing i can really say other than it isn’t what you think it is.

    I’d have thought any normal parent would want to enable their child to cope in the society that is in front of it. How exactly speaking fluent Armenian and doing your sums in a way no-one else understands seems to me to be a prescription for alienation.

    By ‘in front of it’ i assume you mean whatever the predominant culture is? If a person rejects that, why would they want to cope with it? Its perfectly acceptable to be alienated from it as long as the option to change your mind isn’t taken from you.

    I don’t think education or learning even at its most basic level has ever stopped at childhood, it certainly hasn’t with me. Unless the predominant culture is static what the child learned at an early age will become obsolete of its own accord. They cannot stop learning regardless of the path they take.

  126. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    What a child learns at an early age is fundamental to the person they become. As Rudyard Kipling said an all that. Teach a little girl women should be covered up because they’re dirty little body makes good men go to hell is a surefire way of fucking her shit up as an adult, regardless of how much Female Eunuch and Path Less Travelled she reads in later life

    Parents & teachers, stop forcing your views on kids. Show them your way, explain the difference between right and wrong, let them learn from their own mistakes, and let them choose their own path

  127. Katy Newton — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    Kulvinder, I stopped being able to work out when you were being sarcastic when you set out your pro-cannibalism stall :-D

  128. Kulvinder — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    But theres no ethical difference between it and organ donation!!! :(

    I’d only say the market price should reflect the disability caused.

  129. Chairwoman — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    “Parents & teachers, stop forcing your views on kids. Show them your way, explain the difference between right and wrong, let them learn from their own mistakes, and let them choose their own path”

    In many societies that is exactly what does happen. One can only demonstrate, eventually each must come to his own conclusions.

  130. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    It should happen in all societies. Which is why anyone that says denying a child the shackle of wearing a niqab is a breach of human rights is a dickhead

  131. El Cid — on 23rd February, 2007 at 1:49 pm  

    Parents & teachers, stop forcing your views on kids. Show them your way, explain the difference between right and wrong, let them learn from their own mistakes, and let them choose their own path

    I’ll drink to that

  132. sonia — on 23rd February, 2007 at 2:21 pm  

    yes, and “market prices” aren’t affected by social institions (or cartels ) themselves, with just as many normative connotations..

    “Teach a little girl women should be covered up because they’re dirty little body makes good men go to hell is a surefire way of fucking her shit up as an adult, regardless of how much Female Eunuch and Path Less Travelled she reads in later life”

    ain’t that the truth.

  133. Don — on 23rd February, 2007 at 2:35 pm  

    Always something worth checking out here;

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2007/02/22/hijab/

  134. sonia — on 23rd February, 2007 at 2:50 pm  

    heh

  135. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 23rd February, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    “It was almost a year ago during the Shabina Begum case that I said banning girls from wearing the niqab would probably lead them to being home schooled, and as a result they’d have less contact with the ‘outside world’”

    Wow, how did girls used to get educated then? Have they all been sitting at home in their nijabs wishing that they could go to school? Or is this by product of Muslim radicalization and its assoicated distaste for all things western a new thing which everyone must accept and adhere to?

    I smell an extremely high content of BS in this issue, this article and this author.

    TFI

  136. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 3:09 pm  

    Controversial for the sake of being outrageous, methinks

  137. Arif — on 23rd February, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

    Douglas (#78) just replying to your observations. Yes I think schooling should be voluntary. Education is something I think we all get from experiences as well as knowledge passed on by people we respect enough. I certainly did not learn to read and write at school. Many people learn to use computers and other electronica outside their schools, far beyond the abilities of a lot of their teachers.

    If some people don’t have the resources to have widespread experiences I’d see that as an argument for redistribution or common assets, not an excuse for schooling. I understand you see schools as liberating. I don’t think it necessarily is. And I take the same view of the niqab.

    Parents can force 5 year olds into one or other or both. The law might even demand it. But for my part, I would be reluctantly following laws and pressures I would prefer did not exist by doing either of those things to my children against their will. Sure I might arrogantly force them to do lots of other things against their will and make their lives absolutely miserable like any parent would, knowing they’d most likely look back at the horror of childhood with rose-tinted glasses later. But I wouldn’t like schooling and niqab wearing on my conscience.

  138. Don — on 23rd February, 2007 at 3:48 pm  

    Voluntary education would very quickly lead to three categories of citizen;

    1. Those who, like Arif, are blessed with a social/familial network which enables them to learn to read and write, and to systematically study maths, science, languages and literature to a high level free from the constraints of school. I suspect that they would be numerically few.

    2. Those whose parents pressured them into going to school even when thay would rather watch telly or play with their friends.

    3. Those whose parents just took the easy option and let their kids watch telly or play all day.

    Group 3 would become a self-perpetuating illiterate underclass with no prospects. And I would dispute any claim that a five year old who wants to stay home is making a meaningfull decision about their life chances.

  139. limpia — on 23rd February, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

    Simple question: Is it possible to get sufficient air with the nose covered?

  140. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    Anything to stop smelling the bullshit the men around them spout I s’pose

  141. Sahil — on 23rd February, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    #138 Exactly Don, this is what I think that this entire voluntary education premise is missing. I hated many of the topics I studied in school and now only understand how I can use them to help me out. Teenagers and kids DO NOT HAVE VISION. And I’d to your point 3 to say that this is a severe cost on society via a host of negative externalities.

    Parents also do not own children!! Their opinion should not be the only one that counts. Moreover kids simply don’t have the experience or knowledge (hell this is true of many adults) to take actions that achieve their supposed goal. When this occurs an external agent such as public education can be vital in ensuring that children have an grounding in the knowledge or transferable skills required to interact with their physical and social environment, to the benefit of all.

  142. sonia — on 23rd February, 2007 at 5:08 pm  

    good question limpia

  143. justforfun — on 23rd February, 2007 at 5:10 pm  

    Make schooling voluntary? My God! what a great idea.

    On reflection though – perhaps only for those parents who can put down a £1million bond so that their kids can be looked after when they are adults. I’m afraid for the rest of us it should be compulsory. Oh to be rich – I could just kick my kids out the door with a American Express Black Card. Real ‘Fire and Forget’ missiles, with their own bucket carrier following them through out their lives, scooping up their poop.

    Arif – promise me it was a typo!

    Justforfun

  144. Kulvinder — on 23rd February, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

    Controversial for the sake of being outrageous, methinks

    No. It isn’t satire or a spoof either.

    This thread wants to go in a million different directions, and damnit id take it there. But that would be too much. Ill point everyone to reply #79 and bow out.

  145. Kismet Hardy — on 23rd February, 2007 at 5:52 pm  

    Wow. You fascinate me Kulvinder. And frighten me a little also

  146. Arif — on 23rd February, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

    What justifies forcing children into schools?

    For some it is because they believe it is the best place to learn about the world. I don’t believe that.

    For some it is because they think parents can’t be trusted to take care of children properly. I can see that point, but I also don’t think schools are places I would want to trust my child to.

    But just because so many people don’t trust me to take care of my child, I have to send them to an institution.

    The economic structure and stuff mean that I’m wouldn’t be able to look after my child during the day either, unless I had very special ways of subsisting, or hadn’t been brought up in an urban environment myself. So that’s another reason to make a child go to school.

    But they just aren’t great reasons. More like fears and pressures which narrow our choices. I feel we’re so used to schooling, soon we might see children as ticking timebombs who will destroy us unless institutionalised from an early age!

    Maybe great familial networks are what are required and we should make society educational by going in those kinds of directions. How? I don’t know, but I can at least try to make for a more caring society by my own actions. I don’t have much faith in schools making us caring and sharing.

    I had some luck and advantages that got me some certificates to tell me other people approve of the way I tell them things they want to hear. A lot of people don’t get that. And a lot of people would get even worse treatment at home than being bullied and labelled a failure etc at school.

    However, just because I can’t see enough justification for forced schooling, doesn’t mean I see justification for neglect or other mistreatment of children. I am trying to search for humane principles to regulate the way we treat one another, and I can see others consider this naive. But without that, I am left with little else but hopes, fears, habits, prejudices and “might is right”.

  147. Don — on 23rd February, 2007 at 7:19 pm  

    Arif,

    You haven’t mentioned but I’m assuming that you are familiar with Paulo Freire and Ivan Illich. You might be suprised to know that a lot of teachers are, too. The options you seem to yearn for are not available to Joe Public with limited resources, and are not likely to be in a post industrial society which must try to prepare 10 – 12 million kids for the big bad world. There is nothing to stop individuals trying to find an alternative, but even if you managed to be a part of some sort of local educational co-operative at what point would that become an institution? When the first rule was made?

    Anyway, try this;

    http://www.pinkyshow.org/archives/episodes/061127/061127_illich.html

    Oh, and I’m fairly sure you are familiar with this, but just to get teachery on you;

    But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:
    Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
    Shades of the prison-house begin to close
    Upon the growing Boy,
    But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
    He sees it in his joy;
    The Youth, who daily farther from the east
    Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
    And by the vision splendid
    Is on his way attended;
    At length the Man perceives it die away,
    And fade into the light of common day.

    http://www.bartleby.com/145/ww331.html

  148. Tahir — on 24th February, 2007 at 2:00 am  

    wouldn’t Freire say education is one big prision, and that we need to break the education system and go through a process of political consciousness to change the world or something … A bit too Marxist for this thread so far… I think. Freire is my hero in fact.

    I kinda think education is like one big panoctic prison, too, where we’re education into being clones like our parents and persons who respect authority. Building the masses in our own image.

    Trick is without an education I wouldn’t be able to see through the smoke-screen so it must have some value.

    Looking across the world with 77 million children out of school, but who are desperate to be inside one, these debates become a bit redundant. We’re incredibly lukcy in the global North.

  149. limpia — on 24th February, 2007 at 3:22 am  

    i know what would be good- if a medical experiment was done that would measure oxygen levels in the brain (I DONT KNOW HOW ACTUALLY) with and without niqab, and also immediately after wearing it and also not wearing it(same person) do cognitive testing. This could have the effects of sleep apnea.

  150. sonia — on 27th February, 2007 at 10:44 am  

    yeah tahir’s got a point worth thinking about. anyhow its obvious with all this kind of thing ( just as there was in france) that all that will happen is it will encourage more girls to wear niqabs/hijabs out of ‘rebellion’/symbol of ‘i’m different and proud to be different’ type thing and all that. in similar ways to how some girls who grow up in countries where the authorities are keen to enforce their dress code – try and flaunt that dress code. parental authority probably looks like less fun to flaunt when there are a bunch of legislators out there. really authoritarians aren’t very smart are they – they’d have worked this out long ago. Some one might let the Saudis and Iranians know, and Jack Straw, and they could do swop tactics. one lot have a bunch of girls hiding their minis under the abbaya and are trying to force them to keep covered up, and the other lot cant see why girls are so keen to cover up ..so reverse your tactics gentlemen?

  151. limpia — on 28th February, 2007 at 11:08 pm  

    dont forget tho, it is a security issue in any setting that is public.

  152. Rowshan — on 1st March, 2007 at 1:34 am  

    Is it a security issue in Muslim majoirty countries to wear a hijab, too?

    or just in Muslim minority nations?

  153. El Cid — on 1st March, 2007 at 10:46 pm  
  154. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 12:43 am  

    Well normally i wouldn’t come back to the thread, but…

    Obviously im one of the degenerate-liberal-hippie types that thinks they’re being atrociously persecuted. Even those in this country who put limits on the freedoms of others based on arbitrary judgments of ‘adulthood’ would say consenting adults should be allowed to do as they wish. I’m unsure how else they justify allowing any type of adult sexual activity that goes beyond male/female intercourse for the purposes of procreation.

    The depressingly inevitable cries of ‘think of the children’ ignores the point that there is no emphasis on relationships to have children. Even then i’d never condone any judgments that decided which people could or couldn’t have children based on their genetic makeup. The hark-back to the nazis and the disabled is obvious.

    Unless anyone wants to start screening couples who aren’t related to make sure they’re genetically compatible noone should have any right in judging these two. I seem to remember a deaf couple that wanted deaf children and unless you want to physically sterilize those types of people as well; judging Patrick and Susan is pure bullshit.

    That aside i don’t really see what the big deal with incest is. I love my sister and my mother but the thought of having sex with them physically repulses me to the core, but i don’t resort to knee-jerk indignation at two people who need each other and just want to get on with life. Interestingly incest itself isn’t a universally defined term, cousin/cousin relationships are considered incest in some US states.

    I’d be interested in anyone who wants the law to keep them separate to tell me how they define incest, and more importantly why. Also from that id like to know if they have the courage of their convictions to call for the same treatment against the disabled or those that are carriers of genes that cause genetic disabilities.

  155. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 12:56 am  

    nb although i welcome thoughtful counterarguments anyone who posts anything along the lines of

    ‘hahaha Kulvinder have sex with your family’

    ‘you’re joking/silly/stupid/not serious’

    ‘would you think the same if a grandfather wanted to have sex with his son and grandson?…now what if we change the son to a daughter’ etc

    will seriously go down in my estimation. Yes its an uncomfortable discussion, yes its awkward, but try not to be types who giggle in the corner because they can’t deal with their emotions.

  156. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2007 at 1:46 am  

    Kulvinder,

    You are some confused dude.

    Really, do you have any morals at all? Chairwoman got it right when she said ‘do what you wilt shall be the whole of the law’. She was quoting a Satanist called Alesteir Crowley. He made much the same case that you do, him from a belief in his entitlement to be a complete utter arsehole.

    You do not like the comment ‘think of the kids’, upthread, ’cause it limits your ability to argue a ludicrous case. As I said before, one mans freedom is anothers subjugation. The point about laws is trying to balance that out. And it is often a generational thing.

    Whilst they was no attempt in this scenario to have kids the principle of not allowing incest is pretty well established. Whilst it was just a taboo, perhaps based on a deeper understanding, it would be OK to argue against it. Inbreeding is however, scientifically, a very bad idea. did you see the banjo player in ‘Deliverance’? Exogamy Rules!

  157. limpia — on 2nd March, 2007 at 1:59 am  

    Rowshan- i think it has the capacity to be a security issue anywhere

  158. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 2:10 am  

    Really, do you have any morals at all?

    I’m a moral skeptic. I pretty much set out the questions at the end of my post because i knew this would come up. To give you an idea of why ‘morality’ is nothing but a personal construct; do you think that those who are carriers of defective genes should be prevented from having children?

    Inbreeding is however, scientifically, a very bad idea

    I’m not convinced of a purely genetic link between intelligence and heredity, but for the sake of argument if it was shown to exist, inbreeding would be a very good idea. Encouraging traits that you want by selective breeding has after all been long used in the livestock.

    You didn’t answer my questions btw, if inbreeding is a bad idea, how would you define it? (taking incest and inbreeding to have the same difference in this context). Are half-brother/sister relationships ok with you? What if its first cousins? What if the first cousins had parents who were twins (in which case its effectively a half-sibling relationship)?

  159. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 2:22 am  

    btw i realise that between post #155 and #156 ive made a ‘do as i say not as i do’ type contradiction. But i justify asking questions on the basis that…its my ball and ill er…my questions are meaningful and attached to an argument.

  160. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2007 at 11:45 am  

    Kulvinder,

    I think people should be given the facts about the likelyhood of their genetic defects being passed on from one generation to the next. In other words, they should make a decision made on the best information available. Which assumes a couple of things, that they are capable of action based on what they are told. And that they are able to look beyond their own gratification and understand consequences. Moral agents, if you will.

    Which is unlikely to be the case if they are the not able to understand the issues, what with being the only Armenian speaking, base sixteen adding, uneducated cannibals in the community. If they were then I could see the villagers marching with their pitchforks and tallow torches in the dead of night….

    It is when you conflate these liberties that we end up with a society, another taboo word for you, I know, that would be unrecognisable, and not in a good way.

    And, btw, selective breeding and inbreeding are not the same thing. Presuppose a billionaire and cloning becoming a reality. Would it be OK for the world to be engulfed with his spawn? No, it would not.

    There are huge challenges that genetic science is throwing up already to social structures, and I personally think we’ve coped pretty well with them. If it were to be scientifically proven that the risk of inherited disorders was significantly reduced by stopping first cousins marrying, would you see that as a ridiculously overbearing state, or sensible concern for future generations?

    To answer your last sentence of 159. As a general rule, it is probably a good strategy to not marry into your own family. I knew a couple who had the same surname before they got married and they had to prove quite a lot of separation before they were allowed to get hitched. IIRC it went back to grandparents.

    As I understand it, attempts have been made to breed for intelligence. It doesn’t work. How many children of famous folk remain anything much more than B-List celebrities?

    It might amuse you to contemplate the feted George Bernard Shaw, who many viewed as a genius. At a social do, he was approached by the most beautiful woman, who said:

    “We should marry, our children would be a combination of beauty and brains!”

    to which Shaw replied,

    “But what madam, if they had my looks and your brains?”

    Ho hum.

  161. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    Just to clarify are you now ok with the relationship or not?

  162. The Common Humanist — on 2nd March, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

    The Niqab is a item of female oppression and gender apartheid and apart from that the covering of the face apart the eyes is considered by many to be v v v rude indeed in this country.

  163. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 2:08 pm  

    Its generally thought to be polite to read an article and thread in order to appreciate the direction it has taken.

  164. The Common Humanist — on 2nd March, 2007 at 2:30 pm  

    Just making a statement on my opinion on the Niqab, thats all.

  165. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2007 at 4:04 pm  

    The Common Humanist,

    I actually think it is quite fashionable, much like Che Guevara T-Shirts were to another generation. The more people like you make a song and dance about it, the more likely it is to become prevalent, and enduring. Personally, I find extreme facial piercing an adornment too far, but so what?

    Kulvinder,

    I was enjoying our discussion, but you lost me with post 162. Please clarify. Assuming it was meant for me.

  166. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 4:11 pm  

    I was enjoying our discussion, but you lost me with post 162. Please clarify. Assuming it was meant for me.

    I couldn’t see anything in your post that explicitly stated that you wanted to prevent or allow the couple from living as they wish. I’m unsure whether you were saying you thought it unwise but allowable.

  167. douglas clark — on 2nd March, 2007 at 5:31 pm  

    Point. To be clear, I think that there are good genetic reasons for separation, and I think the law should follow the science. So, unwise and disallowable. If the science changes, then my views would change. I’m not in favour of meaningless taboos.

  168. The Common Humanist — on 2nd March, 2007 at 5:36 pm  

    Douglas,
    But body piercings are not often imposed by a patriarchal and mysogenistic culture though are they?

    Off for the evening.

    regards

    CH

  169. Kulvinder — on 2nd March, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    I think that there are good genetic reasons for separation, and I think the law should follow the science. So, unwise and disallowable…

    … I’m not in favour of meaningless taboos.

    As i said in #155 there is no emphasis on a relationship to produce children, is the genetic rationale dominant to you? ie if they agreed not to have children or were sterlised, would it be ok?

    Would you allow them to have babies via IVF and all the foetuses were screened for disability (not all their children are disabled)?

    I realise im asking questions here, but im trying to work out how you’ve mapped this in your mind. From my pov its obviously all ok – id prefer them to use IVF and screen foetuses, but i wouldn’t object if they didn’t.

    You’ve said you’re not in favour of meaningless taboos which is a massive step in dealing with prejudice (kudos) but what im interested in is how does that carry forward to how you view other similar problems.

  170. douglas clark — on 4th March, 2007 at 9:01 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    Interesting stuff this. I apologise for being so slow to respond. You set me thinking.

    I don’t think brother and sisters should screw each other, but, to be frank, there is not a great arguement if you take the child out of the equation. As you did. If you put the child back into the equation, then, no, it is wrong. As the child will be, or the childs, child will be a genetic disaster.

    European Royal Families come to mind.

    What I have been thinking about is the whole question of given beliefs. Y’know, ideas that certain things are given to us in childhood, and that these are immutable. Which, hopefully, is what you are arguing against, ’cause otherwise you are too far to the libertarian wing for me to understand.

    I accept, indeed welcome, a Libertanian viewpoint, and I’d support a sceptical view of fashions in morals. But the difference, I think, between us is that I do not view life as a game to be played, at least in the terms you set out.

    Can I expand on that viewpoint? It is fair enough to suggest that anything is allowed. The US, the Taliban both argue that. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it is so.

  171. Kulvinder — on 6th March, 2007 at 1:04 pm  

    So you accept it without the kids? And there i was planning a big homosexual incestous argument in my head!! :)

    Lets explore the genetic angle. Assume for the sake of argument that you are a judge at the ECHR and a brother and sister brought a case saying it was unfair to ban them from having kids when people who were an equal genetic (or other) risk of causing disabilities/illnesses were allowed.

    If i were making the case id say something along the lines of, theres a real chance of HIV+ parents passing on the virus to their children. The law doesn’t ban them from having kids and nor are they forced to seek medical help, but there is medical assistance to reduce the chance of harming the baby. So m’lord it is deeply unfair to prevent this couple from persuing the same path. We do not prevent procreation even if there is a non-trivial risk of foetus infection, why should we prevent procreation if there is a non-trivial risk of genetic disability?

  172. Kulvinder — on 6th March, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    btw as you said this also got me thinking on morality and sexuality. I find the thought of sexual relations with my relatives repulsive, yet i don’t think wholesome thoughts about the olsen or barbi twins. Having sexual thoughts about incest is disturbingly easy!! :|

  173. Katy — on 6th March, 2007 at 2:18 pm  

    You have unwholesome thoughts about the Olsen twins?

    *slightly freaked*

  174. Kulvinder — on 6th March, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    Speaking on behalf of the male species, i can confirm any fascination isn’t a result of their intellectual capacity or because we appreciate their fashion sense. :(

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