Monday, October 23, 2006

Veiled threats

I know I'm a bit late into the game on this one but forgive me, for I have been sick as a butchers dog with e-coli and trychonosis. Might as well throw in some mad cow (no, I'm not talking about my ex-wife) and bird flu for good measure. Oooh, and SARs. Yup, I have been unwell. Actually I still am. Ne'er the less, my brain functioneth. My body not.

Anyway, to the point.

The recent comments that the wearing of veils dividing the community got me a little stressed in looking at the response from the veil-wearing brigade. I looked at the "human rights" argument and freedom of expression, and then I remembered the young lady from BA who was chastised for having a small cross on a necklace that she wore while working. Head-scarfs for Muslims are fine, but a small cross is not. And this is me speaking as a devoted and passionate atheist.

Once more, the nanny state panders to the minorities: pet hate of mine. For example, in my local council office which is in Manchester, there is some sign or other. Underneath the English is a Welsh translation. Underneath the Welsh translation is a phone number to call if you are partially sighted (???WTF???) and underneath that there is the equivalent message in Welsh (yes, I do read some) saying the same thing. So let me get this straight. On every board across the whole of the GM area, we are catering for partially sighted Welsh people? In England. The mind boggles.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for looking after minority groups but really, do we need to be so anal? The 80/20 rule exists for a reason. In the case of minorities I would apply a six sigma rule. Outside of that, it goes from the statistically viable (if not economically) to the utterly daft.

In the immortal cliche, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. We have three choices, and I know this will rile Stan no end: (i) total freedom to worship whatever we want whenever, (ii) a compromise whereby all faiths are treated equally or (iii) ban everything religious. (i) is a dangerous precedent, (ii) seems reasonable, (iii) seems pinko commie.

As with everything in life, nothing is absolute and a compromise is always the way to go. Stan thinks I am right of the parrot on Maggie's shoulder. Not so. Common sense may be an oxymoron but it is the future.

Veils be damned. Turbans, fine. Scarfs fine. Buddhist tattoos fine. Crosses on necklaces, fine. Whatever the Sikh dot thingumy is, fine. But when you detach yourself from a vital means of communication, you cross the line. When I was a kid, a woman with just her eyes peering out of a slit of cloth would have made me literally sh*t my pants. You have to remember how kids look at the world. I would never have noticed a necklace because it's so surrepticious and inoccuous. A veil is in your face (pun intended).

The problem that we are facing is that we think that the issue is in the here and now and it isn't.
In order to stabilize, we need to see the future and a fully integrated culture. Us Westerner native types have to give (and have, ref national dish = curry) and the Asian immigrants need to understand our Western values and what we think is tolerable. We were still a democracy last time I looked. I think the outcry over the veils and the amount of support that statement got shows an aversion to veils. Live by the will. If you don't like it, go somewhere that does. You have your right to your religion and dress sense, but don't insult us by saying you wear these things by choice.

I don't want to M-bash, but "what kind of God can this be anyway, when you have to prostrate to Him five times a day. With hate in your heart and a gun in your hand, His way the only way to understand. Underneath the black cloud of I*lam." Ten points for anyone who can name the song.

Wow. I really went off on one there. Soz.


Stan said...

The veil issue is certainly the one with the lowest percentage of "don't knows" I have come across for a while.

Personally I think that all religions should be free to practise their beliefs, except where the actions contravene the secular law-of-the-land that the person has voluntarily settled in e.g if you want to stone adulterous women - get ye hence to Iran.

I have no problem with Protestants - only with Protestant Paramilitaries like the UDR. Similarly I have no problem with Muslims, only with Suicide Bombers and those whose views amount to good ol' fashioned Treason.

In the case of the school-teacher and the check-in clerk, they are contravening no statutory law, but they are (presumably) both breaching dress-codes they signed-up for when starting their jobs. Once in work they can fight to have the dress-code changed, but until it is changed, they should obey the code or find alternative work.

Seem to remember a first-century religious leader who told his followers to "Render Unto Caesar" i.e to obey the Earthly laws as well as the heavenly ones.

Incidentally, it's not unknown for Atheism to be more dangerous than any Religion (check out Mao and Stalin).

Great to have you back, compadre.

Kenny said...

I just realised that I missed a vital point in this little rant-let. A salient aspect of the veil debate is the oppression factor. If you wear one of these things, how do you smoke your cigs and drink your pints? Kenny wants to know!

Stan said...

Going to suggest you get some Diversity Training, Kenny. While we're on the subject though - probably a blessing they don't let women drive - in that outfit you're not safe reversing I wouldn't have thought ...

Flitcraft said...

Massive state cults of glorious leaders tend to co-opt a lot of what is normally religious behaviour into more easily controlled earthly channels. (Think of things like veneration of saints, foundation myths, uncritical thinking about sacred texts which must not be contradicted by empirical observation etc) They have more in common with religions which deify a living founder (Moonies for example) than the strain of modern sceptical atheism you can trace to people like Richard Dawkins and A C Grayling.

Religions should be free to practice beliefs which do not harm others or break the law, but that doesn't exempt them from critical examination and comment. The full face veil, to take one example where I'd say criticism is merited, is an outward symbol of conservative Islamic religious practices which enforce a radical degree of social apartheid on men and women outside of the immediate family, and which subordinate women to men. It's not an innocent wee tea-towel over the face, it's a bit more than that.

Stan said...

Cheers Flit - always thought you were the smartest person to come out of Scotland since John Napier of Merchistoun.

Wish I had some Muslim Fundamentalist friends who wouldn't agree with me as much though !

Flitcraft said...

Just publish a few pics of The Prophet and you'll have lots of fundy Muslim visitors to debate with! Dunno about them being friendly though :-)