Warning: contains comments on Islam
Disclaimer: not Islamophobia
I am pathologically predisposed to not being current. So although some crazy bastards killed a man in London the other day, apparently in the name of Islam, that is not what I want to talk about. I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t know how to address it. Although what they did was in keeping with their own Book, I’ve recently had a discussion with ChosenRebel about how similar behaviour is perfectly consistent with the Christian’s Book. And yet, all the Christians and Muslims I have ever met have perfectly rationalised that they are good Christians and Muslims despite feeling no guilt about preferring peace. If we could pin point what makes most people separate from the ghastly content of the Books we might be able to make some headway.
As I am predisposed to being out-of-date, let’s talk about Lawrence Krauss and the Debate that Wasn’t (I call it that because it devolved into something else, and almost didn’t happen anyway). Krauss was involved in a debate with a Muslim to discuss the question of which was more sensible. The debate was terrible. Before the debate Krauss complained that he had been promised a non-segregated audience, but that segregation was clearly being enforced. He wouldn’t have turned up if he had known, because he doesn’t want to be seen as condoning it. Also, he felt lied to.
At the end of the debate an audience member discussed the fact that she wanted to be segregated from a late-attending man who was sat near her. And this brings up the issue of liberties. Krauss was right to want the audience to be free to mingle and mix. But, the woman was right to note that her own sensitivities were being infringed upon by that man expressing his Krauss-given right to mix.
I have certain sensitivities. Public execution is one of them. I will not go to a public execution, no matter what country I am in. Notice, I take that responsibility upon myself. The woman was as free as I was to wait for the debate to come out on Youtube. The event was advertised as non-segregated, and if that would have been offensive to her she should have either accepted the risk or not attended. She should not have accepted the risk and then complained.
Stop this being an Islamic gender-segregation issue for a moment, and see it as a race issue. Imagine a person going out into the public, where they know full well people of all ethnicities are, and then complaining that a black person stood behind them in a queue. That black person has every right to be in the queue, and not wanting to be near a black person is simply an outdated sensitivity you need to get over. Imagine the issue again, where one of the people is gay. Imagine it again as an age issue, between the over-65s and the under-65s.
The same issues come in for the burka. In countries that enforce the burka, the burka is oppressive by definition and infringes on a woman’s rights. A woman may find the burka empowering, but its enforcement is subjugating. In countries that do not enforce the burka, women that wear the burka are either showing respect to their religion, feel empowered by wearing a burka, or are under pressure to wear a burka from their family, partner or community. It is only the latter one that goes against one’s freedoms. The response of some countries (I’m looking at you, France) to ban the burka is a violation of one’s right on par with enforcement to wear it.
Burkas can, however, be banned in some circumstances. Assume it can be demonstrated that a child’s emotional development can be stunted by being unable to read the facial expressions of the adults around it. Now, imagine, that a teacher in a school—who will see children for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for several years important to that child’s emotional development—hides her emotions behind a full-face burka (until this point I have been using the word “burka” the way may do in the West: wrongly. I have been using is as an umbrella term for the full-body covering and face-covering. However, the garment that also covers the face is actually called a niqab).