I've been told to stop simply posting teases to my blog and start just posting my writing here. If I hear enough voices against this reposting, I'm willing to hear whatever suggestions people have. I hope you'll still visit my blogger blog and comment there if you like. Thanks for reading.

Allah forgive me, I'm about to back the Muslims. Just so we're all clear, this isn't a blog about bashing religion. It's calling religions out when they go too far. I mean, I'd love a world without religion, sure, but I'm a reasonable man. I know that's not happening and it's not important because there's something more valuable than a world with or without religion. And that's freedom. And Muslims deserve freedom as much as anyone else. Which is why what's going on in France appalls me. French President Sarkozy said today that Burqas are oppressive, and therefore, he wants to ban them.

"We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity," Mr Sarkozy told a special session of parliament in Versailles. "That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity.

"The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic," the French president said.

Yes, to stop suppression, Sarkozy plans to out-suppress the Muslims. And what's worse is some outside of France are calling for the same. Look, Sarkozy, you're right, burqas are oppressive. They are a sign of subservience. But that doesn't give you or any other government the right to ban them, and it's ignorant and hateful of you to try. It is a person's right to express their religious views however they want within reason.

Meanwhile, back in the states, Americans take that freedom too far. Because while a woman should, if she so chooses, be allowed to wear a burqa in public, no one should force that religion onto others in a professional atmosphere. A private organization is allowed to have a dress code. It sucks and I wouldn't want to work for them if they did, but if you go into a company and they say 'no nose rings,' NO FUCKING NOSERINGS. If a company says we're not going to keep you from being a Muslim, but in this building no burqas, NO FUCKING BURQAS. Don't like it? Get another job. But no government should ever step in and enforce a ban that is equally as oppressive as oppressive articles of clothing they're trying to ban.

Are there Islamic women who are forced into that lifestyle? Yes, clearly. But you can't fight that by shoving them further into the dark. You need to coax them into the light, Sarkozy. Islam will evolve, just like all religions, as soon as it stops being secretive. You're just helping Muslims feel needlessly persecuted by the west and forced to keep their religious practices hidden. And that's where the real danger lies.

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Comment by smb12321 on June 26, 2009 at 10:14am
You are taking a very libertarian view (that I agree with wholeheartedly). Governments have no right to tell us how to dress (or what to eat or smoke for that matter) unlike private firms can do on their premises. The burka reeks of slavery, medievalism, barbarism and chattel. But I have problems with the State setting dress code. I often wonder what those wearing the burka - particularly when they are the only one - are actuallly thinking. I can't imagine a worst fate, knowing folks consider you an object. The burka is not even required by her religion and probably arose from the desert climate and culture.
Comment by Ralph Dumain on June 26, 2009 at 9:09am
A lot of this debate is silly. The dividing line should be how obstructive a religious practice is in the public sphere. A completely veiled woman--it's the polar opposite of public nudity--is obtrusive in our society: the only people in western societies who cover their faces are bank robbers and anarchist demonstrators. But Muslim women here in Washington all wear head scarves at work, which are not in the least obtrusive or offputting. Yarmulkes, Muslim skullcaps and head scarves, turbans--should all be permitted in public spaces as reasonable expressions of the right of freedom of religion. Veils, burqas--on the streets, yes, but in official capacities, in offices, on the job, probably not. Other practices which are deemed to violate human rights--clitoridectomies, withholding of medicines, etc.--should be outlawed.
Comment by Jason Spicer on June 25, 2009 at 9:07pm
It would be great if the prisoners of the burqa would throw off their chains. Unfortunately, subjugated people often have difficulty unsubjugating themselves. I don't care if misogynistic slaveholders get upset if the government busts up their little party. Not really my concern. What matters is that the powerful come to the aid of the powerless. If that causes a negative reaction on the part of those who would continue the subjugation, like, say, cross-burnings or lynchings, then the government needs to go after those transgressions as well. It is distressing to think that there is any hand-wringing in sympathy with the oppressors in this picture.
Comment by Billy Deaton on June 25, 2009 at 1:05pm
What it strikes me as is teaching these disgusting barbarians their place. You know, in the name of freedom. I'd feel much better about the whole thing if all the muslim women just threw off their burqas and refused to wear them anymore. That would be freedom. "You may not wear a burqa or we'll treat you like the muslim scum you are." isn't freedom.

This is a good deal of what I'm driving at. And I agree that the Burqa is oppressive itself. But the means by which an end is achieved is important in the success of that end. To end the practice of wearing Burqas would be a step toward freedom, but if the government stepped in and did it, that action will feel to Muslims like oppression and it will be rejected.

I think we all know that the problem with Islam and all religions is a lack of eduction. That religions prey on the under educated. When the fundamentalist Muslims who engage in this practice learn better, I believe they will begin to throw off the Burqas. And that when they do it that way, it will be successful.

By the way, I'm glad there's been so much well reasoned discussion on this. Don't think my view hasn't shifted because of it. I definitely wish I had written my piece a little differently now.
Comment by Bryan on June 25, 2009 at 5:23am
I think there has been some misunderstanding regarding the burqa. Let me clear things up - it is not a symbol. Again, not a symbol. The star of David, the crucifix that Christians wear around their necks, the ying/yang circle - these are symbols, all of which are relatively benign. The burqa does not share an inch of common ground with these things. Its purpose, the primary reason for its existence, is to keep women down, to dehumanize them, to facilitate their complete submission to God and husband. Saying that a burqa is merely a symbol is like saying that segregation in the american south was also just a symbol. Neither are symbolic of the oppression - they ARE the oppression. To drive this point home even further, would anyone argue that a guillotine was only used as a symbol for divorcing one's head from one's body during the French Revolution? No, it was used to ACTUALLY divorce one's head from one's body.

There is a profound difference between banning a symbolic bumper sticker, and banning a device used in the crushing oppression of Muslim women - the former is required for fascistic aspirations, the latter is required for justice, civility, and equality. Even in a "free society", government is sometimes needed to step in an take an active roll in matters such as this.
Comment by Joey on June 24, 2009 at 10:57pm
I'm always instantly suspicious when someone wants to ban something in the name of freedom.
Especially when it's a pack of Xians doing the banning.
The only muslim girls I ever knew mostly wore jeans and a t-shirt, so it's not like I can ask them how they feel about burqas. (They were cooler about me being an atheist than most of the christians I knew.)
What it strikes me as is teaching these disgusting barbarians their place. You know, in the name of freedom. I'd feel much better about the whole thing if all the muslim women just threw off their burqas and refused to wear them anymore. That would be freedom. "You may not wear a burqa or we'll treat you like the muslim scum you are." isn't freedom.

"We've gotta make them stop because it's a symbol of oppression!" reeks of War on Drugs logic. It's slightly related to behaviors that should be stopped, so we've gotta put a stop to it!
And I'd be willing to bet were this a Christian symbol being banned, most of that majority supporting it would evaporate instantly.
Comment by Mel on June 24, 2009 at 7:23pm
Thats a really interesting article Billyist!
I can understand the attitude of thinking the patches are red-herrings, but we don't see it like that. And for us the girl (whose name I've forgotten) was more like straw that broke the camels back. "You do drugs and kill each other? Fine, ok. It's sad but it's your choice. You kill a kid? No, thats not acceptable, we are really mad now!" Banning the patches is kind of a grassroots thing, I think it was the mayor of the affected town that first supported it and then the idea spread. It less saying "ban the patches" and more saying "our society has decided declaring allegience to a gang is an unacceptable form of public self expression" and banning tattoos (some types are gang associated) is unworkable. Not that I think banning the patches is particularly workable, but our country only has 4 million people in it and the gangs are in concentrated spots, much easier to regulate than somewhere like France :D
Comment by Jason Spicer on June 24, 2009 at 3:14am
billyist, you say "It is a person's right to express their religious views however they want within reason." The burqa is not within reason, nor is it a free expression of a religious view--it is a compulsory expression of a religious (tribal, more accurately) view, though those wearing the burqa may be brainwashed into thinking otherwise. It isn't just a symbol of subservience, it is a tool of slavery. It is just and right and proper to ban it in public. It may well be that a ban will just force the slavery underground. Underground slavery is still repugnant and illegal. If misogynist muslim men resort to keeping their female chattel at home in the case of a public burqa ban, then that would add imprisonment to the crime of slavery, which would be even easier to detect and punish. Allowing the burqa to be worn in public is a tacit admission by the government that slavery is OK. This is unacceptable.

Whether a ban would be effective is beside the point. Such an argument applies just as well to assault or murder.
Comment by Billy Deaton on June 24, 2009 at 3:09am
Bryan: I'm almost with you. I'll agree that where you quoted me, I wasn't being clear enough (perhaps trying to sound more clever than concise). But, your slavery analogy brings up another simple sort of moral adage: "Your rights end where mine begin." The difference is that slaves are without legal rights. A Muslim woman, if she is not willingly Muslim, still has legal rights. She could, ideally, run away, find a lawyer and take legal action against her oppressor. Perhaps, France would be better served to make that a more obtainable option.

It's hard for me to defend this, because like most people here, I know that Islam is a terrible oppressive, violent religion. But I know that a government shouldn't try to force values upon its people. And I know that the Burqa practice ought to end. I know it's morally wrong. But it isn't the governments place to do that. Maybe in France, but as an American, I'd hate to be told I can't have my 'fuck bush' bumper sticker or FSM 'fish'.

Amer: You're dangerously close to telling immigrants to abandon their cultures when they leave their home countries. What if there's a war in ...let's say Syriana. A Syrianian moves to America or France to avoid the war. Are they no longer allowed to eat Syrianian foods? Teach their children the Syrianian language? Promote Syrianian literature?

All religions are suppressive, guys, I'd like them to go away. I just think using the government to achieve that end is wrong.
Comment by Bryan on June 24, 2009 at 1:36am
"...no government should ever step in and enforce a ban that is equally as oppressive as oppressive articles of clothing they're trying to ban."

I wonder if the Confederacy and their plantation owners gave a similar response to the oppressive legislation of the Union when slavery was outlawed. Afterall, the draconian ban did deprive plantation owners of continued business success and it did chip away at the southern white man's lawful right to racial superiority.

That being said, I can't honestly fault Sarkozy for wanting to take away from a fundamentalist Muslim his right to be a successful, misogynistic tyrannt. Maybe you're right, maybe Islam will someday/year/century evolve on its own, shedding its fundamental-leanings in the proccess, but in the meantime there's no reason why France or any other western nation should have to sit idly by and accommodate some of Islam's most unjust, brutal and backwards social norms while Muslims are citizens of secular, modern societies.


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