Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Intolerance in representative democracies-Belgium ban of full-face coverings

An obvious concern is that plebiscites can be quite intolerant, or that a nation's people's intolerance can be reflected in the laws they choose to approve. Switzerland recently passed a referendum against minarets. But representative parliaments can be intolerant against Muslim minorities. Belgium just outlawed clothing that does not allow one to see a persons face, i. e. full-face niqab and burqa.

(The law does allow people to cover their face if their work requires it, e. g. a welder's mask or a surgeon's mask. And there is a procedure to have police approve masks at certain carnivals. But what about a ski mask against the cold?)

And, of course, the United States has incidents of rendition, internment of the Japanese, and Jim Crow.


  1. 0%to 5 % clothing models, movie stars, pop stars, socialites invade our magazines, Tv screens, game consoles, mobile phones, bilboards. The West does nothing.

    Now, Muslim women want to go with 100% clothing in public.

    What's the big deal?

    Double standards?

    Let's fight for helpless Muslim women!

  2. Obviously, this blog is a place to discuss how to determine the laws, not
    to debate the laws themselves. And just as obviously Mr. Naing is
    concerned about the specific issue on which he writes.
    The issue of contradictions, double-standards and holier-than-thou sentiments
    is not new to this issue or to religious intolerance.

    One of the most dramatic is child abuse and animal cruelty laws, where
    laws were passed against animal abuse before those against chidl support.

    A church worker brought a case of child abuse to the attention of the
    American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
    In order to protect the victim, the ASCPCA declared children a member
    of the animal kingdom.

    And I heard the author of Fast Food Nation speak at our
    University. He mentioned people being concerned
    more about cruelty to animals raised for food than injuries to the workers.
    And during the tantalum boom in the Congo, the West was more concerned about
    the gorillas and chimpanzees than the people in the conflict zone.
    (See Charlie Furniss
    Geographical, July 2004, Volume 76, Issue 7, 55 to 61
    Going Ape, Susannah Meadows, Begun Bret, Katherine Stroup
    mnew Week 04/23/2001 Volume 137, Issue 17
    for these issues)

    So what about Mr. Naing's concern. Should we force the voters in a democracy
    to face their double standards? On
    the voting, should the budget for the ASCPCA be
    right next to the budget for the government agency that protects victims
    of child abouse? Should the approval for the laws against head and
    face coverings be next to the approval of laws against nudity in
    advertisements, movies and pornography? Who should decide? (One can envision
    a special jury to decide what is next to what and there are computer
    science techniques for clustering things based on associations that
    are voted separately.)