‘Beyond the face-covering ban, the bill also sets out broad limits for all requests for religious accommodation. It states a request has to be “serious,” respect the right to equality between men and women and “the right of every person to be treated without discrimination.”‘

Quebec is well on its way, not only toward a significant burqa ban, but just as importantly toward an effort to discriminate between “serious” and non-serious religious accommodation requests. The intellectual laziness and social irresponsibility of beliefs like Katha Pollitt’s – “[R]eligion is what people make of it.” – make the world safe for crushing restrictions against girls and women in otherwise advanced countries.

You don’t get to say that your religion mandates that your eleven year old daughter have her clitoris cut off and her vagina sewn up and her head and body covered in veils. You don’t get to say that your religion mandates your wife can’t leave the house – ever – or if she is allowed out, it’s only under guard and under total veiling. You don’t get to say that “due to my firm religious beliefs … it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women.” It’s perfectly okay for you to run your own cult in which you ban yourself from contact with the female race, but you don’t get to call this a religion, and you don’t get accommodations based on it.

You’re free to sue your daughter’s school because it won’t let you be on its grounds fully veiled. You will lose the suit, and it will cost you a lot of money and the court system a lot of time to get to that foreseeable outcome, but you’re free to do it.

But no state, and no institution within a state, is compelled to accommodate every demand made upon it simply because someone somewhere presents some behavior or other as religious.

‘The Audacity of Blaming Sex Addiction’…

… is an article in The Atlantic about Harvey Weinstein.

These are … problems of power and status that manifest as a violent disregard for others — a failure to acknowledge the autonomy of women or a problem accepting it and a compulsion to revoke it by force. So it feels especially jarring to hear that same person professing a lack of agency in these acts.

Whether you refuse to let women out of the house unless they cover every inch of their body with a black sheet, or refuse to let women transact business with you unless they take off their clothes and go down on you — whether it’s All clothes off! or King-sized sheet on! — it’s quite the same thing: The violent revocation of women’s autonomy.

The only thing that differentiates American from French culture in these matters is that when Dominique Strauss-Kahn (an uncannily identical twin to Harvey Weinstein) was himself finally outed, bigshot philosophers defended him.

[Bernard-Henri] Lévy says … that the man he calls a friend of 20 years, “bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd.”

BHL is a smart guy, but he seems unable to grasp that you can be an articulate, enlightened economist, or a sensitive maker of art films, and a primate.

‘[I]f the average college campus is not quite the Maoist re-education camp of right-wing fantasy, there are enough embarrassing incidents like the one at William and Mary to suggest that parts of the left disdain the First Amendment.’

The problem is that we have no agreement about which ideas are beyond the pale, and the people least willing to draw necessary distinctions are the most strident. Student activists are naturally going to test boundaries and make maximalist demands. Yet while I’m under no illusion that they’re interested in the opinions of Gen X liberals like myself, someone should tell them that if the principle of free speech is curtailed, those with the least power are most likely to feel the chill.

Michelle Goldberg tries to bring reason to the latest group of campus activists who successfully shut down free speech – this time at William and Mary. The target: A speaker from the nefarious ACLU.

I understand that for a lot of young leftists, it doesn’t make sense to equate what they see as hate speech with the speech of the oppressed. It’s harder for me to understand why they think that if First Amendment protections are weakened, the left — and not, say, the Trump administration — will be allowed to define what is hateful and what is not. After all, it is extremely common to hear people on the right describe Black Lives Matter as a hate group. A Louisiana police officer injured in a protest against police brutality recently tried to sue the movement and one of its most prominent members for incitement.

It’s certainly true that it’s easier to enjoy free speech when you’re privileged. It doesn’t follow from that, however, that eroding free speech protections helps the vulnerable. When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose. If the students at William and Mary aren’t frightened off activism by their experience with national notoriety, they’ll probably learn that soon enough. Luckily, if they ever do come face to face with forces determined to shut them up, the A.C.L.U. will be there.

Or you could read this, by Conor Friedersdorf.

Vile Islamophobic Denmark Bans…

… the burqa.

A Remarkable Thing is Happening in Europe.

It’s called democracy. Europe’s people and its institutions are banning the burqa. Austria is the latest country to do this, and the results of a recent poll suggest Denmark could be next.

Less than a quarter of Danes oppose a ban on the burqa and niqab, according to a new survey.

A majority of the population support banning the two types of Islamic veil in public, according to an opinion poll carried out by Epinion on behalf of broadcaster DR.

According to the poll, 62 percent said they support a full ban on wearing the burqa and niqab in public, while 23 percent said the veils should continue to be allowed.

These figures are in line with surveys in most other European countries.

Social Democrat MP Mattias Tesfaye, a member of parliament’s immigration committee (Udlændinge- og Integrationsudvalget), told DR that he was not surprised by the result of the poll.

“I am provoked myself when I see a woman in a burqa. Not so much by the woman, but by what it stands for. I actually perceive it as a form of prison,” Tesfaye said.

It’s been fascinating to watch the … uncomfortable split between intellectuals who persistently lecture the population and the courts of Europe about their appalling reactionary ways… about how all decent people obviously see imprisoned women among us as a signal instance of human rights … and the actual voice of the people and the courts across the continent. (And yes – there’s this.). Large majorities of people, it turns out, don’t consider it their civic duty to collude in the forced or the unforced public annihilation of a country’s women.

My Favorite Fatwa

The beyond-thrilling news that women are now permitted to drive cars in Saudi Arabia (What’s next? Walk down the street without a male guardian?) reminds UD of her favorite edict from that country, known to all as The Adult Breastfeeding Fatwa.

Since an unrelated man and a woman being together in the same room is strictly forbidden…

Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Muhsin Al-‘Obikan, an advisor at the Saudi Justice Ministry, recently issued a fatwa allowing the breastfeeding of adults. The fatwa is aimed at enabling an unrelated man and woman to be secluded in the same room, a situation which Islam considers forbidden gender mixing. The rationale behind the fatwa is that breastfeeding creates a bond of kinship between the man and woman, … thus making it acceptable for them to be together in seclusion.

The order generated a lot of controversy. (Egypt even saw some nipple retraction.)

One columnist pointed to a paradox, namely that the fear of gender-mixing is prompting clerics to encourage lewd behaviors like women breastfeeding grown men.


In an earlier post, UD imagined Rate My Expressers entries for women-taught university courses in Saudi Arabia:

Hard initially to get hold of her nipple; once locked on, very good.

Slow. Too much class time spent pumping, sucking. Female students look bored.

Plays favorites. Feedings should be fairer.

Talks endlessly about how much better she lactated when she taught at a more selective school.

Milk production fine, but men sleepy after, and professor seems unable to wake them. What are they teaching in ed school these days??

A Great Graphic.

Design: Joe Scorsone
and Alice Drueding.

Quotation of the Day.

“Take for example, female genital mutilation,” Anderson said. “So, they say ‘that’s a cultural practice.’ I’m sorry, no culture should be able to whack off sex organs, so you can’t have pleasure anymore.”

Karrin Anderson, a professor in the Colorado State University communications department.


Also: Check out the great “Girls Belong in School” poster on the page.

No sacrifice is too great when it comes to assuring your daughters …

… a joyless, mutilated future.

Dr Nagarwala … has supporters – 17 of which have offered to put their own homes and assets on the line to free the doctor from jail until trial …


Number Nine… Number Nine… Number Nine…

Laura Kipnis’s endlessly repeated Title IX investigations at UD‘s befuddled alma mater, Northwestern University, begin to sound like the famous Beatles song. She keeps getting investigated for sex discrimination and found not guilty of it. Her life is heading into Groundhog Day territory, waking up every morning to the same effort to nail her for nastiness.

She wrote about her first investigation in a recent book:

Her prior Title IX investigation, she writes, “has made me a little mad and possibly a little dangerous. . . . I mean, having been hauled up on complaints once, what do I have to lose? ‘Confidentiality’? ‘Conduct befitting a professor’? Kiss my ass.”

Failing to bring her down via Number Nine, Northwestern tried to ruin her for incivility.

The dean ultimately found that Kipnis did not violate the civility policy…

Rats. How about her violations of The Free Woman policy? She’s been flouncing around being a free woman – can we go after her for that?

No. Let’s stick with Title IX. A law professor specifies, in the New Yorker, how it can be used:

Title IX can … be used to discourage disagreement, deter dissent, deflect scrutiny, or register disapproval of people whom colleagues find loathsome. The problem is not with Title IX itself, much less the generic capacity of any rule to be used as a pretext for unrelated ends. Rather, it is the growing tendency to try, in the words of Kipnis’s book, “to bend Title IX into an all-purpose bludgeon.” This warping is made possible by ambiguous and undisciplined understandings — misunderstandings — of sexual harassment and its harms… Title IX is too often conscripted to serve purposes antithetical to the education of citizens in a democracy, in which disagreement, dissent, or disapproval should lead to argument, not to an infinite loop of institutional investigation.

The Flying University at Reed College.

Kudos to Reed College, which has, under repressive conditions, found a way to continue to educate its students.

[Reed College professor] Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, a professor of religion and humanities, declined to lecture alongside [protesting] students who, he said, equated [his humanities] course — and by extension him — with white supremacy. He invited interested students to visit his office, and approximately 150 of them did so … resulting in an impromptu lecture.

Hidden in out of the way places, packed into private offices, the determined students of Reed pursue the life of the mind. It is the Polish Flying University system again. An underground system that has found its way – has had to find it way – to America.



As the burqa bounces its tragicomic way through democratic cultures, on its way to oblivion…

… this blog follows the bounces… For instance, the dumb Australian political establishment, rather than ignore Pauline Hanson’s now-notorious burqa stunt, decided to make a big deal out of it, decided to use it as a way to broadcast to the country their goodness and her evil.

But here’s the deal on the burqa: Don’t go there. If you insist on going there, you’re quickly going to find out that a strong majority of the people you assume are applauding your virtue favor a ban on it, and also on the niqab.


And right after that unpleasant discovery, politicians of all sorts – seeing an opportunity – are going to wage a big ol’ campaign to ban it, as it has been banned in so many other countries.

If the self-regarding moralists in Australia had listened to ol’ UD and just not gone there, the broadly shared but still pretty latent upset many Australians feel at the sight of socially annihilated women would probably have stayed latent. But now that you mention it …


As with the British journalist Allison Pearson, once the burqa is as it were in your face, it’s hard to keep ignoring it.

… I was uneasy at the sight of a five-year-old girl in Tower Hamlets given into the [foster] care of a woman who wears a burqa, which covers her whole body and face. …I consider the burqa to be an extremist garment, which makes the wearer unable to interact with wider society. Therefore, I would not want a child of any religion or ethnicity fostered by someone who wears one. Plenty of people agree.

Foster carers of all kinds do a wonderful job, but social workers are bidden to place children in environments that are sensitive to their needs… A carer in a burqa is hardly a tolerant role model for a British child in the 21st century. Courageous Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are fighting to cast off the life-limiting garment which a misogynist belief system imposes on them.

“Women are no longer chattels who can be taken and any part of their body be cut to curb their sexuality.”

The brave and tragic Bohra women who fight at least to protect the next generation.

Consider signing the petition.

Bravo Birmingham

A public protest – now in its second day – outside a mosque with an FGM-friendly leader.

This is the only way you’ll end it – a combination of public protest, and punishment in the courts.

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