Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Indirectly, yes.

I understand both your argument ("can't legislate morality, it's counterproductive") and the diarist's ("can't we all get along, this is a freedom of expression issue").

But at root, I disagree with both.

In the "can't legislate morality" case, I agree, we cannot legislate the content of morality. But we can influence (or reduce that influence, as in this case) one group's attempts to forcibly impose their set of morality upon another, largely unwilling group.

An example, perhaps a bit more extreme in content but all the same along the same lines: we might not be able to get men to stop thinking it is acceptible to beat their wives (and yes, imams do preach this and have been expelled from France for this), but this doesn't mean we should simply stand back and accept that they do so. There are very good public policy reasons not to accept this, not to mention moral reasons. Similarly, we might not convince islamists living in London to stop wanting to force their daughters or sisters to wear a veil when they go to school, but when we legislate that no one can wear one at school, we're supporting those majority who do not want to wear it, but are forced to.

So no your opinion does not directly support this patriarchal treatment of women, but indirectly, in many cases, it does.

I also get the freedom of expression argument, but as a matter of course, as long as we're all in a cohesive society, with strong solidarity mechanisms, where I help you and you help me under agreed-upon conditions (almost as a contract) as is the case in France (and should be moreso), there must be a mutual respect of individual and community. Community supports the individual, and the individual adheres to community standards.

And what those standards are is a matter of interpretation and taste. But if there are standards, there are standards, and those dictate the limits of acceptable expression. The limits have a political determinant of course, and there needs to be respect for proper minority rights under the universal declaration of human rights. But end of day, if you chose to live outside of the limits of acceptable expression, you break that contract which underpins solidarity, just as in undermining the mechanisms of solidarity, you break the contract which underpins cohesion. It's a two-way street.

I personally side with those who would strengthen both cohesion and solidarity, for in my view, you cannot have the one without the other, and this is exactly what we see in Europe today. Declining cohesion, and the so-called welfare state is under attack.

This is not a coincidence.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 12:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
("can't we all get along, this is a freedom of expression issue")

That really is not what I've been trying to say.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 01:49:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know I am vastly oversimplifying your point of view here, and it is unfair of me to do so because in truth, you have (at least as far as I see) a comprehensive approach to this issue, 90% of which I am in full agreement with, ie the larger problem to tackle is underneath the symbol, it may be in some cases an issue (we may disagree on the extent to which it is) and in these cases it might need to be addressed.

Am I inaccurate though to presume the standard "freedom of expression" formulation, having nothing necessarily to do with being a symbol of oppression of women, as seen in the discussion you were having with Helen?

That's really the only bone to pick I have, though it's a rather important one in Europe these days (perhaps far less so elsewhere).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 17th, 2007 at 11:17:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the late response.  Been sort of out of commission.

My argument at its most simple, I guess, is that a singleminded fixation on banning or restricting use of the the hijab is at best counterproductive and divisive, and at worst (as in Bavaria) nakedly racist.

Freedom of expression may be implicit in that, but it's not the core of the argument at all.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Jan 18th, 2007 at 03:29:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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