Thursday, August 25, 2016
France: Making Secularism Look Idiotic One Moronic Law at a Time
Look, I've never held myself up as a bastion of tolerance and brotherly love. I have no patience for religionists who wear their foolishness as a badge of honor. I look at Hasidim attire as patently idiotic; I don't want a waitress' "dead Jew on a stick" necklace dangling in my food at a restaurant; and I find Muslim head scarves and burkas ridiculous.
But I acknowledge that how I feel has exactly nothing to do with people's right to wear what they please as long as it doesn't interfere with my rights or exceed the bounds of good taste (i.e. wearing only an athletic supporter while teaching a class on thermodynamics in a publicly funded college would be an example). As a secularist it's simply a matter of live and let live ... their goofy garb not withstanding.
Evidently the French don't share this mentality. Their laws involving religious garb or symbols have become so draconian as to actually embarrass me as an atheist / secularist.
If you haven't read about it, the police in France forced a Muslim woman to remove more of her covering at a beach than her religion and modesty permits. It's the law! It's part of the law that also says one cannot wear yarmulkes, or any distinctive religious garb publicly that falls outside the "norm" of French culture. It is a law so beyond the pale that when I first learned of it I thought it was an article from the satirical site The Onion. It isn't. It's quite real. Read the whole story here.
It smacks of a bizarre reversal of what was done to the non-religious or to Jews during the Spanish inquisition: "You damn well better start eating that pork, or we'll arrest you for being a Jew!".
What the heck has happened here? How can a nation whose motto is "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" speak of liberty and equality and brotherhood on one hand, while the other hand holds a baton ready to punish those less deserved of liberty or equal treatment because of what they wear?
I wonder how it got to that point.
I wonder how much worse it will get there.
I wonder if it can happen here.