Someone else’s clothes


by Rumbold
23rd July, 2008 at 9:36 pm    

A senior politician was widely praised today after launching an attack on the kilt. Speaking to a national newspaper, the LabourConservative MP spoke about how a kilt was a sign that that the wearer subscribed to an extreme anti-English ideology: “Kilted men make me uncomfortable,” said the MP, “especially when it is windy.” He went on to point out that the modern kilt is not even Scottish, having been invented by a non-Scot who was a member of a religious group opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “What does this say about the wearers?” wondered the MP. “Some of them can’t even speak English.”

Earlier in the week, an MP from the ConservativeLabour party attracted similar applause when he attacked men who wear suits: “Where I live, all you see are men walking about in the street in suits. Either they are off to Parliament to claim expenses, start wars and tax the poor. Or,” continued the MP, “they work in the City where they spend all day coming up with complex financial packages that benefit no-one, so that they can spend their huge bonuses on strippers. The suit is a badge of corruption, greed and moral degeneracy.”

Unsurprisingly, the above examples are fictitious. But this is what those who wear the hijab, jilbab, niqab et al have to put up with. Jack Straw said that the full veil was a “visible statement of separation and of difference”. Apparently your type of clothing can indicate an acceptance or a rejection of British values. What about socks with sandals? Michael Gove claimed that wearing the niqab (full veil) was an endorsement of “Islamist politics.” No wonder women are supposed to take so long getting dressed, when their clothes say so much about their views. I wonder what my clothes (trousers, short-sleeve shirt), say about me?

It is unclear what business it is of politicians to lecture people on how they dress. The diversity of dress in Britain is immense, and how one chooses to dress outside work should be an uncontroversial topic; it is nobody else’s business. Jack Straw and Michael Gove weren’t calling for veils to be banned, but both were insinuating, in that mode familiar to modern politics, that something should be done about it. The famous picture (which I can’t find) of two Muslim women, clad from head to toe in black, sticking two fingers up at the camera, provoked outrage in some quarters, even if plenty of others would have done the same. With Britons the most spied upon people on the planet, from CCTV to council snoopers, going out in a veil seems more and more attractive.

Are there some Muslim women who are forced to dress in a particular way by family members, and/or in-laws? Yes, and of course that is wrong. But so is being told by politicians that the way that they dress is a negative political and social statement.


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  1. fabius — on 23rd July, 2008 at 9:47 pm  

    A point perfectly made.

    Were Scots/Traders made into the focus of the public’s neuroses as muslims have been no doubt they too would have to endure this tyranny of prevailing opinion.

  2. El Cid — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:16 pm  

    You forget in this attempted satire that covering your face is by definition an anti-social statement.
    Wear what you like but you all means, but if you wear no knickers I reserve the right to think you are a slapper, if you wear a string vest with gravy stains you are very likely a slob, and if you wear a niqab I will consider you anti-social.
    Is that eloquent enough for you fabius?

    and stop willfully mixing up the full veil with the hijab. we can see what you are doing.

  3. persephone — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:28 pm  

    Rumbold: how come you get to make your point as a whole blog in itself when there are other related blogs upon which your point could have been made (and have been made)on this site?

  4. Ravi Naik — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

    Rumbold, your post is borderline dishonest by conflating the niqab with the hijab. It is also rather naive. There are laws in this country – made by politicians – that prevent you from walking naked or indecently in public places. Does that bother you?

  5. Ravi Naik — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:34 pm  

    Sorry El Cid (#2), I just noticed you said the same thing. I replied almost immediately without reading your comment.

  6. Tu S. Tin — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:43 pm  

    I love when everyone says they dont care what anyone else wears then they talk about just that for days and days and days…

  7. El Cid — on 23rd July, 2008 at 10:59 pm  

    I’m only responding to the post Tu S.Tin (assuming you were talking about me)

  8. fabius — on 23rd July, 2008 at 11:27 pm  

    Cid: Agree the full veil is not the same as the hijab, and I wouldn’t entirely disagree if you said that – at least in this country – wearing the full niqab is anti social (well it isnt conducive to being social in this society anyway) – my own mix up of the hijab and full niqab certainly wasn’t willfull.

    Correct me if i’m wrong but I believe the point of this “attempted satire” is that stronger assertions are made about women wearing niqab than mere assesments of character traits.

    you wouldnt say that because a woman doesnt shave her arms she’s a bra burning feminist, that a goth is a possum sacrificing worshiper of hades or a punk is an anarchist would you?

    I think your thinking was fairly whack if you assumed that because a woman wore niqab she ‘condoned islamist politics’ (whatever that means)

  9. DavidMWW — on 24th July, 2008 at 12:10 am  

    The niqab is different.

    Kilts, suits, turbans, Levi 501s – all say something about the wearer –
    something that the wearer wishes to convey about their nationality,
    job, religion, musical taste, whatever. It says, “I am x”.

    The niqab is different because the wearer is not just saying something
    about themselves – they are also implying something about everyone
    else. They are saying, “I am x, and you are y”.

    And “y” is not very complimentary. If the non-niqab wearer is a woman, then the implication is that she is at best immodest, at worst sluttish; if he is a man, then he is easily distracted by the sight of a female, or at worst dangerously libidinous.

    Whether the statement is being made by the niqab wearer herself or by someone related to her is another question, of course.

  10. Kulvinder — on 24th July, 2008 at 2:42 am  

    You forget in this attempted satire that covering your face is by definition an anti-social statement.

    No it isn’t; you may find it anti-social but by no means is it anti-social ‘by definition’. I certainly have no problem with anyone wearing or not wearing what they wish.

  11. Sunny — on 24th July, 2008 at 4:41 am  

    DavidMWW: The niqab is different because the wearer is not just saying something
    about themselves – they are also implying something about everyone
    else. They are saying, “I am x, and you are y”.

    Huh? You’re making that assumption though, aren’t you? In your head, she’s dissing you by wearing that. Its her fault. By the same logic, if a woman is walking around in a bikini, is she looking down on more covered up people as prudes?

    The whole point in both these cases is that women should dress how they want to, without being harassed or judged over it.

  12. Boyo — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:38 am  

    Yawn. If you can’t see the difference between a woman covering her face and a man wearing a skirt, then yer silly. So if they want to dress stupid, then let them, but as a supposed liberal why defend the kind of thinking that wants, quite literally, to de-face the female? What absurd times we live in!

  13. DavidMWW — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:05 am  

    Yes, Sunny, I am making that assumption. It is an assumption based on the explicit reasons given for wearing such garb, and the ideology which promotes it.

    Bikini-wearing does not have the same ideological framework behind it, so your comparison does not really use the “same logic”.

    Certainly women should dress how they want to without being harassed over it. But to suggest they shouldn’t be judged is absurd. I reserve the right to judge anyone by my impeccably high standards, just as I expect them to judge me by their own inferior ones. :)

    Doesn’t everybody?

  14. Rumbold — on 24th July, 2008 at 9:40 am  

    Thanks Fabius

    El Cid:

    “You forget in this attempted satire that covering your face is by definition an anti-social statement.”

    Why? Why shouldn’t I be able to cover my face if I want to? Why do my choice of clothes indicate a political statement?

    “Wear what you like but you all means, but if you wear no knickers I reserve the right to think you are a slapper, if you wear a string vest with gravy stains you are very likely a slob, and if you wear a niqab I will consider you anti-social.”

    You are entilted to your opinion. And as for conflating the niqab and the hijab, they are different garments, but the principle is the same.

    Persephone:

    “How come you get to make your point as a whole blog in itself when there are other related blogs upon which your point could have been made (and have been made)on this site?”

    Writer’s privilege.

    Ravi:

    “There are laws in this country – made by politicians – that prevent you from walking naked or indecently in public places. Does that bother you?”

    That would be one for debate, but leaving that aside, I don’t see the difference between wearing an all-eveloping outfit and wearing shorts and a flowery shirt.

    DavidMWW:

    I think that you are reading too much into the wearing of the niqab. Does wearing a particular type of clothing mean that you are condemning something, or could it just be because you like that type of clothing? Britain is packed with CCTV cameras, mobile phone cameras, etc. The niqab doesn’t seem an unattractive choice in that light.

    Boyo:

    ” So if they want to dress stupid, then let them, but as a supposed liberal why defend the kind of thinking that wants, quite literally, to de-face the female? What absurd times we live in.”

    I am defending the right of the feamle to wear what she wants, without being accused of damaging cohesian/being anti-British.

  15. Boyo — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:18 am  

    I know Rumbold, that’s why your position is absurd.

  16. Rumbold — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:26 am  

    I don’t get it.

  17. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:48 am  

    @ 14 ” I am defending the right of the female to wear what she wants, without being accused of damaging cohesian/being anti-British.”

    Defending the right of a female to wear what she wants is commendable. Where it fails is that in this case what she wears (nikab)damages cohesion – in a very real practical sense and not just conceptually

    Must be great to have the privilege of stressing one’s point so visibly. But please let it have some solid rationale

  18. Rumbold — on 24th July, 2008 at 10:57 am  

    Peresphone:

    “Must be great to have the privilege of stressing one’s point so visibly. But please let it have some solid rationale.”

    Actually, my position is the default position. It is up to those who think the opposite to prove that it does damage social cohesian.

  19. Hermes123 — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:00 am  

    I have a serious question about all this hijab/niqab business….if the Scots are supposed to wear nothing under their kilts, what do girls wear under their burka? I guess it’s probably the latest bikinis, or maybe nothing at all!

  20. Ravi Naik — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:15 am  

    That would be one for debate, but leaving that aside[...]I am defending the right of the feamle to wear what she wants, without being accused of damaging cohesian/being anti-British.

    You can’t have it both ways. If you want to leave “indecent exposure” aside, then you can also leave the niqab as well as a separate issue to debate. Your post is rather annoying because it assumes that the majority of people or politicians have a problem with hijab and other ethnic attire. They don’t. It is rather an open-shut case that as a rule women should be free to wear what they want.

    I don’t see the niqab as an anti-social statement, anti-British or even as a slap in the face to other people. However, unlike the “suit, the “kilt” or the “sari”, it undeniably stems from communities with an appalling record on women’s rights. The niqab has always been introduced as compulsory in communities where the majority of women wear it. In our country, it prevents women from having a normal interaction with other communities. The worst thing is that such attire is propagated to 2nd and 3rd gen immigrants, who are born and raised here.

    It is rude to wear masks in public, just as it is rude to expose yourself. To have a normal social interaction with people we need to see their faces.

    This is something we want to discourage because it prevents integration, not encourage it. This debate is totally separate from the right to express yourself though what you wear because the niqab is meant to isolate people from the larger community. That’s something no other attire achieves.

  21. El Cid — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:31 am  

    For the benefit of Kulvinder and Rumbold

    I repeat, as far as I am concerned people can wear what they like.

    Moreoever, the niqab is anti-social by definition.

  22. persephone — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:44 am  

    @19 “I have a serious question about all this hijab/niqab business…what do girls wear under their burka? I guess it’s probably the latest bikinis, or maybe nothing at all!”

    From people I have known it varies. Some wear salvar kammeez, those who are wealthy wear western designer togs. Some UAE women who wear nikab when at home in UAE don western ‘modest’ clothes when abroad in non arab/muslim countries – these seem to be in a minority and where they say their husbands/families accept this.

    I have not met any that wear bikinis.

    Out of interest has anyone experience of asking & what responses did you get?

  23. Ala — on 24th July, 2008 at 11:56 am  

    I have a friend who used to wear only underwear under the jilbab on a hot day: it is probably the most comfortable way for anyone to dress on a hot day. But I guess I shouldn’t have said that as now everyone will be using their imaginations when they see a woman in jilbab. Is it too late to delete this comment? Oh wait I have a few seconds to, let me just tie my shoelace here quickly in the mean time…oops too late.

    Another friend wore a niqab when she didn’t want to be recognised by members of our community and get stared at, harrassed and harangued by them, as she had done the unspeakable and changed her religious beliefs somewhat. My point is, stop politicising people’s dress, as I can tell you now, people don’t wake up every morning and open their wardrobes with politics in mind (except maybe me when I wear my t-shirts with political slogans).

  24. Amrit — on 24th July, 2008 at 1:11 pm  

    @Ala:

    Haha! That’s actually pretty brilliant. I wish I could’ve done that when I was in India last year…

    @ Rumbold:

    ‘It is unclear what business it is of politicians to lecture people on how they dress.’

    Very true, and do you know what sprang to mind reading the latter part of that phrase?

    The policing of women’s dress in Iran since the Islamic Revolution. Ironic, huh?

    I honestly think that if people stop giving the hijab/niqab undue attention, then the amount of 2nd/3rd gen Muslim girls wearing them would fall. Some of them are pressured into it yes, but some of them are also probably just stupid/misguided and looking to ‘make a statement’.

  25. Rumbold — on 24th July, 2008 at 7:51 pm  

    Ravi:

    “You can’t have it both ways. If you want to leave “indecent exposure” aside, then you can also leave the niqab as well as a separate issue to debate.”

    Personally I don’t have a problem with the idea of public nudity, though it wouldn’t attract me.

    “Your post is rather annoying because it assumes that the majority of people or politicians have a problem with hijab and other ethnic attire.”

    I don’t think people have a problem with most ethnic clothing. However, the niqab, and to a lesser extent the hijab, have been pilloried. Speaking anecdotally, I have heard a number of people make comments in a negative way about what Muslim women wear. I doubt that my experience is unique.

    “It undeniably stems from communities with an appalling record on women’s rights. The niqab has always been introduced as compulsory in communities where the majority of women wear it. In our country, it prevents women from having a normal interaction with other communities. The worst thing is that such attire is propagated to 2nd and 3rd gen immigrants, who are born and raised here.”

    As I said before, any pressure on women to dress in a certain way is unacceptable.

    Ala:

    “I have a friend who used to wear only underwear under the jilbab on a hot day: it is probably the most comfortable way for anyone to dress on a hot day. But I guess I shouldn’t have said that as now everyone will be using their imaginations when they see a woman in jilbab.”

    Nice. A wonderful image.

    Amrit:

    “I honestly think that if people stop giving the hijab/niqab undue attention, then the amount of 2nd/3rd gen Muslim girls wearing them would fall. Some of them are pressured into it yes, but some of them are also probably just stupid/misguided and looking to ‘make a statement’.”

    I agree. For a few women, it probably is a deliberate attempt to annoy the tabloids and their readers. Can’t say that I wouldn’t do the same.

  26. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2008 at 1:31 am  

    I think it’s amusing that there are those who keep insisting that they are down for women having the freedom to wear a hijab or niqab, but then passing strong judgment (it’s “anti-social,” etc). Freedom of opinion, I suppose.

  27. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2008 at 1:33 am  

    Ravi:

    “I don’t see the niqab as an anti-social statement, anti-British or even as a slap in the face to other people. However, unlike the “suit, the “kilt” or the “sari”, it undeniably stems from communities with an appalling record on women’s rights.”

    What about India, with its appalling record on women’s rights?

    Maybe we should start looking at saris, chania cholis, salwaar kameezes, lehengas– all those clothes that have stemmed from India where terrible women’s rights violations occur– under a different light!

  28. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2008 at 1:35 am  

    Ravi:

    “The niqab has always been introduced as compulsory in communities where the majority of women wear it.”

    I agree that there is something slightly different about making dress legally compulsory, but you would agree that social forces and pressure act just as strong, which keep wearing certain kinds of clothes, no?

  29. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2008 at 1:37 am  

    Chani cholis are, I think, a tool to sexualize and objectify women and make them pleasing to the eye of men.

  30. Desi Italiana — on 25th July, 2008 at 1:39 am  

    Saris are oppressive, designed to facilitate the reeling in of women by men who can grab the sari-ends, denude them, and then prey upon these women.

  31. Sunny — on 25th July, 2008 at 2:20 am  

    what she wears (nikab)damages cohesion – in a very real practical sense and not just conceptually

    Oh rubbish, frankly. It doesn’t damage any cohesion, its just that some of you are intent of taking offence at seeing a woman in it.

    DavidMWW – you can make all the judgements you want, I just think they’re unnecessary vindictive. Besides, why behave like the kind of behaviour you condemn? Its like the logic used by many fools who say that Mosques shouldn’t be allowed in this country until Saudi Arabia allows Churches. Do you really want to be as intolerant as Saudi? Same logic applies here.

    As a liberal, I support and defend the right for a woman to wear what she wants. Its the same right as some person saying what they want to – however offensive it might be. If some “liberals” can’t see the comparison, then frnakly they’re not aware of the concept properly.

  32. Kulvinder — on 25th July, 2008 at 2:49 am  

    Moreoever, the niqab is anti-social by definition.

    I reject your definition.

    However, unlike the “suit, the “kilt” or the “sari”, it undeniably stems from communities with an appalling record on women’s rights.

    Oh please. The same could be said about the Sari and Sati.

  33. BenSix — on 25th July, 2008 at 2:56 am  

    “Same logic applies here.”

    Not unless he rejected the right of Muslim women (or anybody else) to wear the niqab.

    Ben

  34. halima — on 25th July, 2008 at 7:22 am  

    “Personally I don’t have a problem with the idea of public nudity, though it wouldn’t attract me.”

    Good point. Can’t we say the same for the Niqab?

    Let’s try it.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with covering up, though it wouldn’t attract me.

    We’re not having a huge debate about nudity here but we are having a debate about the niqab.

    Why? Both are a women’s right to choose. We judge one but not the other.

    Because one is acceptable in some societies and the other isn’t.

    Who decides what’s acceptable? The majority?

    Surely JS Mill’s biggest contribution to western democracy was safeguards against the tyranny of the mob.

    Just because the majority population finds Niqab rude we make a girl wear something that goes against her entire ethics – and not just her daily fashion choice. She’s not harming anyone.

    And I still don’t understand why the niqab is rude. I don’t need to see people’s faces to get to listen to them or find them acceptable. I think it’s a real test in human relations to be able to accept people as they are – not using appearance to judge.

    With the popularity of virtual comms on this site and blogging, I would’ve thought most people on this site would find this OK.

    I tend to engage with people’s thoughts and ideas – not what they look like or whether I can make eye contact. Yep, that’s how we do things in England, but that’s not how we do things in other parts of the world – East Asia. The world is bigger than an island.

  35. persephone — on 25th July, 2008 at 11:58 am  

    @ 31 “what she wears (nikab)damages cohesion – in a very real practical sense and not just conceptually. Oh rubbish, frankly. It doesn’t damage any cohesion, its just that some of you are intent of taking offence at seeing a woman in it.”

    What’s rubbish is the other blog of the The Sun suggesting a black man is intentionally photoshopped out – seems there are quite a few of us intent in taking offence….

    Anyhow, the face being covered impedes communication eg if you are standing next to a nikab wearer and want to gauge their reaction, speak to them to break the ice if you do not know them etc it helps to see their face & body language. That is what is meant by damaging cohesion in a ‘practical sense’. It is not taking offence, it is wanting to have a dialogue which is a positive thing, no?. Behaviourly, it is a large part of how humans communicate with each other.

  36. bananabrain — on 25th July, 2008 at 12:44 pm  

    it is not just that. i have no problem with kilts, hijab, jilbab, snood, sheitels (well actually i think sheitels are stupid) – but i *do* have a problem with niqab – in this country, at least – and that is that people who cover their *faces*, as opposed to anything else, in western european culture are people with something to hide. it is the same with hoodies. that is the message that goes out, whether it is hamburglar, dick turpin, zorro, or spider-man. the culture we live in is not a value-free, neutral, tabula rasa society, viz the comments about knickers, string vests and so on.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  37. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

    I bet the “Is He a Jew PoliceSlipUpBanana” would be the first to shout anti-semitism if a Muslim said they had a problem with some Jewish dress. But come to Muslim dress and then you hide behind the ole “our culture” line. So what is your culture? No one has ever been able to define it. So what is your dress culture and where is your evidence that it is supported by the western europeans? After all less than a century ago they decided in numbers we weren’t part of their culture and brought in gas chambers.

    Your Eurabia Bird in the Mail is the first to complain if a Muslim said they didn’t like some European dress but hey its ok for you to decide what Muslim can and can’t wear. Worst she won’t even complain and will support you.

    Say Muslims didn’t like ultra Orthodox dress as that isn’t part of “our western euopean culture” would you find that acceptable?

    BTW Some Europeans do feel intimidated by Ultra Orthodox dress I’ve seen it myself at the Airport where they just look and get out of the way. But you’d be up in anti-semitism arms as would Strawless if anyone said that.

    You also realise that some Ultra-Orthodox are covering more and more so would you also ban them from that dress in taking a lead from Muslim women?

    As the Ultra-Orthodox go so may some Orthodox and from them Christian, so at which religion will you draw your cultural line?

    After all the culture you refer to is often portrayed as a Judeo-Christian Culture so if Judeo-Christian people cover more and more then how do you say that isn’t acceptable as the culture is Judeo-Christian.

    I suppose I fail your Judaism test again because I dare to disagree with you :-)

    BTW How about a little test for you, Jews from which region prepared both sides of a Torah parchment differently. It isn’t an easy answer but hey those that know Torah history would know. Good Luck.

    Which writing is considering closest to the original Hebrew and why? Thats a really easy one to help you recover!

    Till after the sabbath ;-)

  38. DavidMWW — on 25th July, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

    As a liberal, I support and defend the right for a woman to wear what she wants. Its the same right as some person saying what they want to – however offensive it might be.

    As a liberal and a progressive, I don’t differ from you on your practical stance on this issue.

    But as a progressive liberal, I intend to exercise fully my right to express my distaste for this horrible garment, and for the illiberal, regressive ideology that lies behind it.

    Why don’t you?

    Your right to dress as you wish is inseparable from my right to point and laugh.

  39. Avi Cohen — on 25th July, 2008 at 6:26 pm  

    A progressive liberal is simply one who claims to support freedom but then wants to limit freedom to what they feel comfortable with.

    I find body pierced people unslightly but I am not going to say that they can’t do that. I find skinheads intimidating with their uniform but you don’t hear people complaining about their dress and the need to adjust it.

    This is a nonsense argument. If women wear those garments of their own choice what the hell is it to do with me, you or anyone?

    Jack Straw didn’t argue or debate with them he hid away and debated only via newsprint and controlled debates. So people who say they will debate rarely do.

    Does Jack Straw speak out against some Goths whose men lead them via a leash? Nooooo so why is that not a subject for dodgy ideology?

  40. halima — on 25th July, 2008 at 6:42 pm  

    39. well said.

  41. DavidMWW — on 25th July, 2008 at 8:57 pm  

    Well said my arse.

    A progressive liberal is simply one who claims to support freedom but then wants to limit freedom to what they feel comfortable with.

    Pure bullshit. Upon what evidence do you base this silly charge that I want to limit anyone’s freedom?

    There appears to be a strong current of opinion here that says people should simply shut up about the niqab. Keep schtum. Don’t judge. Sssshh.

    Who is it again that is supposed to be limiting freedom to within their comfort zone?

  42. Rumbold — on 25th July, 2008 at 9:01 pm  

    DavidMWW:

    I am not challenging your right to criticise the niqab, just whether or not criticising the niqab (especially in the sort of language used by Messers Straw and Gove) as a negative, anti-society, anti-British statement is right.

  43. DavidMWW — on 25th July, 2008 at 9:26 pm  

    Fair enough, Rumbold.

  44. Ravi Naik — on 26th July, 2008 at 6:07 pm  

    A progressive liberal is simply one who claims to support freedom but then wants to limit freedom to what they feel comfortable with.

    That is a rather silly assertion, considering that progressive liberals will be against any measure that they consider to be repressive. Freedom is not the end, but the means to create a just society that gives the greatest amount of liberty to each individual, and equal opportunity to them. If freedom is used to repress or hinder this, then it becomes a problem.

    If a regressive culture believes that women should not attend school or be educated, would Sunny and Rumbold be against forced education? Would they be against children being taught the national curricula?

    Is it illiberal to take that freedom? Or we assume that such measure is required to provide equal opportunity in our society, so that, for instance, one day this child can become a teacher and help the community at large?

    Where do we draw the line on freedom?

  45. Rumbold — on 26th July, 2008 at 8:10 pm  

    Ravi:

    I am in favour of compulsory education up to 16, and if we have to have a national curriculum, then anyone should be taught it.

    What would you do about the niqab?

  46. Ravi Naik — on 26th July, 2008 at 11:04 pm  

    I am in favour of compulsory education up to 16, and if we have to have a national curriculum, then anyone should be taught it.

    Oh, let me see if I can do it as well as you and Sunny:

    “As a liberal I defend the right for parents to choose how they want to educate their children. Just because you and the majority of people are intent to find it offensive that girls are not given an education, or that some teach that Creationism is a scientific fact, does not give you the right for an authoritarian state and a xenophobic society to force their version of knowledge to them, if they choose not to accept it. I defend that freedom, and if you don’t, then shame on you for being a bigot – just mind your own business – and stop harassing them!”.

    What would you do about the niqab?

    I would start by having an honest debate about people concealing their faces in public, and a long-term study on whether it hinders the prospect of normal social interaction with other communities, and the prospect of employment and equal opportunity. I particularly would like to see the effects on 2nd and 3rd gen immigrants would are born and raised here.

  47. BenSix — on 26th July, 2008 at 11:30 pm  

    “Oh, let me see if I can do it as well as you and Sunny if I believed otherwise…”

    Apples and oranges.

    Belief in creationism – and, indeed, pontificating to one’s children on the subject of creationism – is entirely legal. Therefore, in this rather loose allegory one would be allowed to emphasise the importance of the Niqab – and, indeed, wear it – despite warnings against it.

    This would, of course, lump the Niqab in with high calorie foods.

    Respectfully,

    Ben

  48. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:01 am  

    Apples and oranges.

    No, it is really apples and apples. Perhaps green and red apples. :)

    Belief in creationism – and, indeed, pontificating to one’s children on the subject of creationism – is entirely legal.

    It is not about belief in creationism as faith, but as science (hence I wrote “creationism as a scientific fact) – in other words, parents might object their kids to be taught evolution as part of the national curricula, which they believe goes against their religious beliefs.

    This is the point: what should a liberal like Sunny and Rumbold do? Agree with the authoritative state to force a version of the truth against parents wishes, or accept that in the long-term, forcing students of all genders to study the same curricula allows them to compete, interact and level the field when they are older? In case you are wondering, Catholics and Anglicans accept both versions Evolution and Creationism. Evolution as part of the national curricula, and Creationism in Sunday school.

    I contend that covering your face in public or at work does not level the field, it hinders equal opportunity, social interaction and cohesion with the larger community. I think it would be wrong to ban niqab to 1st gen immigrants who were born and raised elsewhere completely covered. But it is cruel that such practice is propagated to 2nd and 3rd gen, who are born and raised in this country.

  49. BenSix — on 27th July, 2008 at 1:19 pm  

    Ravi,

    “No, it is really apples and apples. Perhaps green and red apples. :)

    I believe that you’re wrong, but that still made me laugh.

    “It is not about belief in creationism as faith, but as science (hence I wrote “creationism as a scientific fact) – in other words, parents might object their kids to be taught evolution as part of the national curricula, which they believe goes against their religious beliefs.”

    But they’d still be entitled to explain to their children why the teachers are nincompoops and creationism is a scientific fact. To apply this to the Niqab, then, the Government would warn vociferously against it, but one would still be entitled to wear it.

    Of course, we’re still trying fruitlessly to align the subjective and the – unless we’re going to slip too far into epistemology – objective. Still, it’s your allegory.

    As long as the government funds schools, it exerts control over schools.

    “In case you are wondering, Catholics and Anglicans accept both versions Evolution and Creationism. Evolution as part of the national curricula, and Creationism in Sunday school.”

    I’m not sure that that’s true. I went to an evangelic church myself and, as the patrons were undecided, they avoided the issue altogether.

    “I contend that covering your face in public or at work does not level the field, it hinders equal opportunity, social interaction and cohesion with the larger community.”

    Well, why stop there. Hoods would have to go for similar reasons, multi-coloured clothes are far too conspicuous and a single, one-piece black garment would have to be worn, to ensure that class differences are not highlighted.

    Respectfully,

    Ben

  50. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 5:53 pm  

    But they’d still be entitled to explain to their children why the teachers are nincompoops and creationism is a scientific fact. To apply this to the Niqab, then, the Government would warn vociferously against it, but one would still be entitled to wear it.

    You missed the point and the analogy. The point is that the government FORCES students to go to school until they are 16 years old, and does not give parents the choice to decide what it is taught or who gets taught. This goes against freedom of parents/community. As a liberal, I support such decision because I believe that such “authoritative” action is necessary to level the playing field. Similarly, I would support the government action to ban people from conceiling their faces in public *if* that hinders the playing field, integration and equal opportunity. (I am not sure about the exact effect of the niqab, though I have a strong feeling about it).

    The analogy is literal: the government plays the same role in both cases – enforcing an authoritative action to level the playing field.

    I’m not sure that that’s true. I went to an evangelic church myself and, as the patrons were undecided, they avoided the issue altogether.

    BenSix, I am talking about Catholic and Anglican Churches, not Evangelical – and that’s unambiguous. If you got Catholic schools, priests teach Darwinism/Evolution in school, and only teach Creationism in religion classes. I know, because I’ve studied in a Catholic school and they taught the national curricula unchanged. I also went to Sunday school, and Creationism was taught as God creating men using evolution as a tool.

  51. El Cid — on 27th July, 2008 at 6:56 pm  

    My son is 10 and goes to Catholic school and they haven’t touched Darwinism or the big bang, not yet anyway. When does the national curriculum supposedly address the big issues? Just curious

  52. BenSix — on 27th July, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

    Ravi,

    “You missed the point and the analogy.”

    I’m sorry to be so petulant but I haven’t, haven’t and will stamp my metaphorical foot to prove it. I have a fairly sizeable bit between my teeth and I won’t countenance the possibility of letting it go.

    “The point is that the government FORCES students to go to school until they are 16 years old, and does not give parents the choice to decide what it is taught or who gets taught.”

    Let us go through the analogy:

    You are aligning

    - School teaches child that [element of curriculem] is fact.
    - Parent contradicts school.
    - Child may accept either view.

    With:

    - Government decrees that Niqabs must not be worn.
    - Parent contradicts Government.
    - Child relents to the declaration of the state or becomes a criminal.

    The latter is wrong, as the former can only be aligned with:

    - State says not to wear Niqab.
    - Parent says wear Niqab.
    - Child may accept either view.

    “The analogy is literal: the government plays the same role in both cases – enforcing an authoritative action to level the playing field.”

    I hope I’ve shown that this is not true. In the former it is intended to level the playing field, while in the latter the levelling is forced.

    Your allegory, then, could only be used to suggest that one either accepts all compulsory governmental initiatives or none. Either one accepts that the state can decide on all aspects of a child’s life or none of it.

    “BenSix, I am talking about Catholic and Anglican Churches, not Evangelical – and that’s unambiguous.”

    The two statements were not connected. The former ‘I’m not sure that’s true’ is self-evident as you hadn’t substantiated your claim and the latter is merely an anecdote.

    With a certain petulance and a dash of determination,

    Ben

  53. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:25 pm  

    You are aligning
    - School teaches child that [element of curriculem] is fact.
    - Parent contradicts school.
    - Child may accept either view.

    Oh I dispair. I am not aligning this at all, as it is rather pointless whether parents contradict or whether the child accepts. I am talking about government taking away the choice and having an authoritarian decision for promoting equal opportunities. Here is what I am aligning with:

    1) Parents want to have a choice on how their children are educated. Parents feel that the government has no right to force their children to learn the national curricula. They want choice to whom they want to educate, and how they are educated.
    2) It is assumed that such choice and freedom creates a huge handicap and educational gap when kids get older: the playing field is not even!
    3) So the government FORCES children to learn the same curricula. No choice is given.

    1) …choice to wear niqab.
    2) It is assumed that such choice and freedom creates a huge handicap when they get older: the playing field is not even!
    3) So the government discourages/bans the niqab.

    The logic is flawless, except for the assertion in 2), which I have no proof but a strong hunch that it is true. And that is why I think we need a debate and studies on that issue.

    The former ‘I’m not sure that’s true’ is self-evident as you hadn’t substantiated your claim and the latter is merely an anecdote.

    This is the wikipedia article on the subject. Money quote: Catholic schools teach evolution, not theistic evolution, as part of their science curriculum. They teach the fact that evolution occurs and the modern evolutionary synthesis, which is the scientific theory that explains why evolution occurs. This is the same evolution curriculum that secular schools teach. Catholic schools do teach theistic evolution in their religion classes though.

  54. BenSix — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:37 pm  

    Ravi,

    “I am not aligning this at all, as it is rather pointless whether parents contradict or whether the child accepts.”

    Of course it isn’t. The Government discourages many things – smoking, excess drinking – without (for the moment, at least) banning them.

    “I am talking about government taking away the choice and having an authoritarian decision for promoting equal opportunities.”
    “3) So the government FORCES children to learn the same curricula. No choice is given.”

    And as I’ve said, above, this cannot be aligned with prohibiting a garment/idea. It seems that I paraphrased your opinion correctly here:

    “Your allegory, then, could only be used to suggest that one either accepts all compulsory governmental initiatives or none. Either one accepts that the state can decide on all aspects of a child’s life or none of it.”

    “3) So the government discourages/bans the niqab.”

    Ravi, you must surely be aware that there is a sizeable gulf between the Government discouraging and banning? It’s a difference that I’ve been trying to put across throughout this discourse.

    “The logic is flawless”

    I hope that the points above refute this claim.

    “Money quote:”

    Forgive me, I assumed that you referring to the creationism of Biblical or Qur’anic literalism.

    Ben

  55. BenSix — on 27th July, 2008 at 9:44 pm  

    I’m aware, and sorry for the fact, that I’m sounding a little tedious – and therefore smug – so here’s my post, in brief:

    “If you want to see the difference between discouraging and banning then buy a packet of cigarettes and scratch off the warning label.”

    Ben

  56. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:21 pm  

    And as I’ve said, above, this cannot be aligned with prohibiting a garment/idea.

    Agreed, Ben: to be 100% aligned, it would be a ban, not discouraging it. But still, it shows that there is a precedent for the government to remove the choice and freedom in order to level the playing field. Is forcing children to learn the national curricula against parent’s wishes, an illiberal or liberal measure?

    This is what I am asking: where do we draw the line.

    Ravi, you must surely be aware that there is a sizeable gulf between the Government discouraging and banning? It’s a difference that I’ve been trying to put across throughout this discourse.

    Fine, I concede that I was rather careless when making my analogy. Should not have used the word “discouraged” in #53. Thanks for correcting it.

  57. BenSix — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:24 pm  

    Ravi,

    “Is forcing children to learn the national curricula against parent’s wishes, an illiberal or liberal measure?”

    It’s an interesting question, and one that I, somewhat regrettably, don’t have a refined opinion on.

    Ben

  58. Avi Cohen — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:38 pm  

    “Pure bullshit. Upon what evidence do you base this silly charge that I want to limit anyone’s freedom?

    There appears to be a strong current of opinion here that says people should simply shut up about the niqab. Keep schtum. Don’t judge. Sssshh.

    Who is it again that is supposed to be limiting freedom to within their comfort zone?”

    No it isn’t bullshit because you are selective about what you oppose is mainly worn by dem foreigners innit mate.

    No one is saying you need to stay quiet but the way you put forth your argument.

    As I said Goth clothing is much more repressive in some circumstances to women but you don’t peep about that do you.

    Brown women may find female skinhead garments oppresive and threatening but no one says anything about that do they.

    Is a modestly dressed women more or less oppressed than a women who keeps having to pull down her skirt, check her makeup is ok?

    As long as a women is making up her own mind then who gives a damn?

    Equally is the wearing of certain western female clothing enforced on women? Do women who work in the business world have to dress in a certain way to get on and thus isn’t that oppresive to women?

    So come on if you truely support the opposition of all repressive clothing then at least look at what women have to wear in the workplace. Which equally is repressive because they are having to do something and not necessarily what they want. The number of times at work I’ve seen women who feel uncomfortable in their work clothes but they feel they have to wear them to get on. Thus you have a different repression.

    Many women I’ve spoken to hate some of the work rituals that are forced upon them so come on lets stop hiding behind the niquab and tackle the whole area.

    Has femminism really brought freedom or in some areas a different type of repression?

    One woman, quite senior in terms of position taht I heard speaking to some visitors once complained that she didn’t like haking hands with men but always felt she had to do it. She was English, Middle Class, well educated and she isn’t the only one I’ve heard say that.

    Does Jack Straw or Michael Gove address these issues? Do they bollocks. It is always easy to criticise the East but in recent decades women feel more comfortable workingwith eastern men than western. Wonder why the bloody hell that is.

    The Niqab is a false area to divert people away from the harder to tackle issue of womens rights and the politicians are just leading people down this road to divert attention from the failure to really tackle the issue of womens rights.

  59. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:51 pm  

    My son is 10 and goes to Catholic school and they haven’t touched Darwinism or the big bang, not yet anyway. When does the national curriculum supposedly address the big issues? Just curious

    El Cid, not sure about the national curriculum because I didn’t grew up in this country. But I was 12/13 when I learned what science had to say about the big issues.

  60. El Cid — on 27th July, 2008 at 10:57 pm  

    Yeah, that rings a bell with me and I went to a non-denominational school in Tottenham in 1977-1984.

  61. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 11:04 pm  

    Of course, another point that no one has made is that concealing your face – unlike any other attire – actually creates an asymmetrical form of interaction with someone that does not hide its face. In a social context, our faces expose not only our unique identity as individuals, but also a series of emotions which we catch through visual cues.

    So you can understand why hiding your face can actually create social barriers in a society where the vast majority does expose their face, and expects to see your face in order to have a normal social interaction. There is no other attire that achieves such nefarious effect.

  62. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2008 at 11:10 pm  

    My son is 10 and goes to Catholic school and they haven’t touched Darwinism or the big bang, not yet anyway

    El Cid, are the teachers at your son’s school priests?

  63. douglas clark — on 27th July, 2008 at 11:20 pm  

    El Cid and Ravi,

    I’d be bloody well over the moon that even an ‘Idiots Guide to Natural Selection as the Origin of the Species’ was even hinted at in primary or secondary education. It doesn’t even seem to appear much in Tertiary Education. You can get a biology degree without it being a subject of examination.

    You can pass exams without even knowing about this? Which is, of course, ridiculous.

    I’d argue that your informed layman probably knows as much about this subject as your average University Biological Sciences graduate, who has not educated themselves further.

  64. Don — on 28th July, 2008 at 12:06 am  

    Jumping in late here, but parents do have the choice of home schooling or evangelical academies if they are twitchy about evolution etc.

    So the analogy would surely be that the state does not ban x but insists that x is not acceptable in state institutions (schools, hospitals, passport control etc.) Non-state institutions might reasonably look towards a similar stance. A genetics company or a university research department in paleontology could well look askance at a research assistant applicant who was unshakeably convinced that the world was around 6,000 years old, and a bank could insist that no-one enter its premises while covering their faces.

    Its about balancing freedoms. I assume we are only talking about full-face covering? Objecting to head-scarves would be ridiculous. But if you choose to exercise the freedom to cover your face, some areas will be closed off.

  65. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2008 at 12:28 am  

    No Don it is not. It is about faith being pumped into people. Absent anything else. It is whether other folk are willing to see that as wrong or morally neutral, as I think you do.

    Any extremist position, including and not excluding an atheist position, is just too strong for me.

    But neither side seems to understand the society they actually live in. Which is 80%, don’t care. Neither side has a majority when compared to those that have declined to answer.

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