Dress in Educational Establishments

muslim dress.jpg

All around us, in our courts, in the oppressive liberty-destroying Bills being rushed through Parliament, we see the disasters of multiculturalism, the system by which too many Muslims have been allowed to grow up in this country with no sense of loyalty to its institutions, and with a sense of complete apartness.

The Shabina Begum case never had anything to do with modesty

I don’t know whether you caught young Shabina Begum talking on the television yesterday, but, as I studied the pictures of this exceedingly good-looking and confident young woman, I was suddenly conscious of a paradox.

Here she is, at the centre of a national media storm, and one that has been very largely whipped up by her own supporters. There goes our Shabina, batting her (rather beautiful) eyes through her visor, and thereby exciting the interest of millions of otherwise apathetic viewers, who are not only infidels but very possibly male infidels at that.

This is the 17-year-old from Luton whose dress sense and physical form are now the number one subject for conversation in every household in the country; and yet for years we have been asked to believe that the reason she wanted to vindicate her right to break school rules, and wear a tent instead of shalwar kameez, was to protect – in the word of her lawyer, Cherie Blair – her “modesty”.

What total tripe. This ludicrous and lamentable case had nothing to do with “modesty”. I don’t believe she wore the jilbab to “regain control of her body” any more than I could hope to wear a smarter suit and thereby regain control of my own.

This case wasn’t even about religion, or conscience, or the dictates of faith. At least it wasn’t primarily about those things. It was about power. It was about who really runs the schools in this country, and about how far militant Islam could go in bullying the poor, cowed, gelatinous and mentally spongiform apparatus of the British state.

Until yesterday, it seemed that there was nothing to stand in the Islamists’ way, from the moment on September 3, 2002, when Shabina’s brother and another man turned up at her school, and told a harassed maths teacher called Mr Moore that their Shabina was going to wear the full jilbab in the name of her “modesty”, and that, if they didn’t jump to it, the school would be sued.

And since the school refused to knuckle under, the extremist Islamic organisation Hizb-ut-Tahrir backed a case for breach of her human rights, and soon Shabina had a starring role in the great Rocky Horror Show of British self-flagellation, featuring Cherie Blair, Matrix Chambers, assorted terrified judges and a chorus of cretinous articles by retired feminists, famous for living colourful lives in the 1970s, in which they declared that the jilbab was really rather lovely and “empowering”, and that they wished they had worn one themselves.

Of course I don’t really blame the Prime Minister’s wife for the rubbish she spouted on Shabina’s behalf. We all understand the cab rank principle for barristers. We know the size of her mortgage, and, if her firm had not trousered the £50,000 in legal aid, then someone else would have picked it up. But I do blame the Court of Appeal for its invertebrate performance, and to judge by the tremendous ruling yesterday from Lord Bingham and other Law Lords, I am not alone.

As Lord Bingham points out in his ruling, the Court of Appeal was quite wrong in its assessment of Shabina’s human rights. Yes, she has the right to freedom of religion, but she could not manifest that freedom in such a way as to prejudice the school’s ability to ensure discipline and order, and to run things in the way it wanted.

Even in Strasbourg, home of the European Court of Human Rights, there is a long-standing tradition of upholding the discretion of educational establishments in matters of dress – not least in several important cases defending the right of Turkish universities to ban headscarves.

How could the Court of Appeal have missed this? Is it really possible that British appeal court judges have less robust common sense than the judges of Strasbourg?

Or is it also that our judges suffer, like other parts of the British Establishment, from a certain leeriness and timorousness about Islam? I detect in the Appeal Court ruling in favour of Shabina, that was so ignominiously crushed yesterday, the same hand-wringing wetness that inspired some poor Welsh bishop to resign the editorship of his local church news after he was found to have printed a Danish-type cartoon of positively ovine inoffensiveness.

I am by no means a maximalist in all this. I would certainly not ban all Muslim attire, such as headscarves, from all state schools, not least because that would be discriminatory, unless we simultaneously banned Sikh turbans, Jewish yarmulkes, and so on.

I might add (before I am lynched by Hizb-ut-Tahrir) that my own Muslim great-grandfather was a passionate wearer of the fez, and much resented that his elegant red pillbox-and-tassel was deemed to be backward-looking and Islamicist, and banned by Kemal Ataturk, father of the modern secular Turkey.

But the demands of these men – the brother of Shabina and his friend – were outrageous. As the Law Lords have shown, Shabina’s rights to freedom of religion were not infringed, because she could have taken herself to neighbouring schools that did allow the full jilbab, itself a sobering thought.

More importantly, by proposing to force the jilbabbed Shabina on the school, the men were deliberately setting out to undermine the careful compromise uniform that the school had worked out, which was approved by the Muslim Council of Great Britain.

They no doubt wanted to push the girls into a terrible game of holier-than-thou in which they competed, whether under pressure from their male relatives or not, to conceal ever greater stretches of their anatomy.

They weren’t doing it for Shabina; they weren’t doing it for the other female pupils; they were doing it to show that they could, and to take another yard of territory in the kulturkampf of modern Britain.

All around us, in our courts, in the oppressive liberty-destroying Bills being rushed through Parliament, we see the disasters of multiculturalism, the system by which too many Muslims have been allowed to grow up in this country with no sense of loyalty to its institutions, and with a sense of complete apartness.

In rejecting Shabina’s case, the Law Lords have provided a small but important victory for good sense, for British cohesion, and for the right of teachers to run their own schools.

166 thoughts on “Dress in Educational Establishments”

  1. Boris is quite right again.

    A few weeks ago the same sort of ‘people’ were kicking up fuss at Newcastle University about shifting timetables in order to go to prayers on Fridays.
    Interestingly, when asked for his view, the Archbishop of York refreshingly remarked that such ethnic groups should follow the long-standing traditions of educational institutions that had permitted them to study there.
    Another all-too-rare common sense viewpoint.

  2. It’s a bit odd. Fark pointed out:

    British high court, which requires judges and attorneys to cover their hair and wear robes, rules that Muslim students are prohibited from covering their hair and wearing robes

  3. I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again:

    What makes this country Great is our tradition of allowing immigrants to join our society, a tradition that stretches back at least 2000 years. We are a mongrel nation, and should be proud of that, because that is our strength.

    But this strength comes from the integration of the newcomers.

    If the newcomers aren’t prepared to come and join in, and be British(!), then maybe they have come to the wrong place. It’s akin to trying to play cricket with boxing gloves on. It ceases to be cricket.

    Just saying.


  4. But couldn’t you beat the pants off anyone who played cricket with boxing gloves on? One must be practical!

    My sister rides a motorcycle, and when she was out here in BC visiting, it horrified her that Sikhs are allowed not to wear helmets. It means a lot to them not to take the turban off, but from my point of view I see a substantial market for specially-oversized helmets. If they fit over top, no problems. If they don’t, the gene pool is out a few bikers, just give it some time.

  5. I remember a case, moderately recently, involving a young “hoodie” (as I believe they are called) who was allegedly a persistent petty offender. The lout went to Strasbourg to protest that his human rights had been abrogated by an interdict from a British court precluding him from wearing his “hoodie” top in public. The presiding judges found that the aforementioned prohibition would impair his ‘self-development’ and called for the interdict to be revoked. The reason for the original court order was because his “hood” also impaired the capability of police officers to identify him from CCTV footage. My view on the aforementioned young man would be to say simply: “Fine sonny Jim, you can wear what you like but, if we catch you in this getup again we’ll do you for ‘going equipped for crime’!”

    Many years earlier I also recall being rather nonplussed when crash helmets were made compulsory for motorcyclists although Sikhs were exempted because they wore turbans and couldn’t fit a helmet on. Surely, I thought, if the law is appropriate for one person, it’s proper for all otherwise why have it in the first place? No one (even if you are a Sikh) is put under any obligation to ride a motorbike but, if they want to, an obligation is placed on them to wear a crash helmet. Take your pick: crotch rocket or turban but not both. What’s wrong with that?

    It offends my sensibilities when religious observances allow perfectly reasonable laws to be evaded on the pretext of divine authority. Did the young lady in question hand in a note? “Please Sir! I’ve got a note Sir. about my fancy dress outfit, Sir. It’s from God Sir!” It reminds me of Ali-G, when asking a drugs officer if the possession of Marijuana was permissible if it was part of your religion and: “…you had a couple of Bob Marley records…” It would be laughable if it wasn’t so close to the truth!

    This contemporary love affair with human rights is becoming increasingly blurred with human convenience and certain, non-precedential, concessions. As Boris stated, there are schools in Britain which will happily allow you to do geography while you’re wrapped in bin liners; of course, the young lady’s friends probably don’t go to such a school and she might have to take two buses in the morning, i.e. terribly inconvenient for her, but not, which is really the point, impossible.

    I’ve never had much time for the sort of human rights promulgated on the Strasbourg stage because I don’t think that I, personally, actually have many. If I listed the ones I think are inalienable they would probably be limited to:

    1) Right of association – I can be friends with who I like
    2) Right to rub myself out – no-one can stop me unless I’m sectioned or paralysed
    3) Right to seek happiness – whether I’m successful is an entirely different issue
    4) Right to hold my own opinions – again, no-one can stop me from doing this

    Things that would be NICE would be:
    1) Right to life
    2) Right to liberty
    3) Right not to be tortured
    4) Right to a job
    5) Right to housing, food, water…

    But I don’t see these latter points as rights. Sure, it would be great if they were rights but a right (in my opinion) is something which CANNOT be taken away from you.

    When examined in this light these, alleged, rights rather fall away. I can be murdered (probably by raincoaster) because, if someone knifes me I can’t pull out a contract and say: “Sorry mate.. right to life mate, sod off!” Similarly, if I were to contract some terminal disease, I can’t just show my physician my ‘right-to-life’ card and tell him: “Sort this out will you doc? Must be some sort of admin problem”. The right to wear some arbitrary set of togs at the whim of the currently elected pontiff (of whatever cult) seems to be more of a concession than a right and this is the view, it would appear, the Law Lords have held in this instance.

    Anyway, regardless of my religious prejudices, I’m delighted that the Law Lords aren’t as vertebrally challenged as the Court of Appeal.

    By the way, do this crew “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” ever dress down a bit when they’re not at school, or do they approve of casual sects?

  6. God bless Boris for saying this.

    How much respect and tolerance for her different cultural values would a 17 year old Western girl receive if her family chose to go to live in a strict Moslem country, and she wanted to go about wearing a mini skirt?

    Or for that matter if she dressed modestly, but went about trying to persuade Moslems to convert to Christianity?

    Unfortunately there is no point even trying to put that sort of comparison to a militant Moslem. They will never, ever recognise comparisons between justice for Moslems and justice for unbelievers.

    From a Western point of view this seems to be unfair. From a Moslem point of view I assume that being ‘fair’ to unbelievers should not come into it, since all unbelievers are destined to be boiled alive for eternity, so what need do they have to understand us?

    The future worries me.

  7. I am Peter Horxxxx and was Royal Equerry to Prince Philip in the 1950´s. During this time I experienced very strange incidents at Buckingham Palace.

    I would like you to come together and help me gather the factual evidence needed to help Mr. Alfayed and the Met Police force. The following information needs your support and help in finding people who can verify these claims:

    1) Dr. Jack Miller, former master of Churchill college, Cambs, UK has information about the death of Princess Diana.

    2) He allegedly works for the Security Services and owns an accident investigations company called RB Hawkins Cambridge.

    3) In September 1997 he told colleagues at Churchill college he was suffering from Pagets Disease.

    4) Dr. Miller was a council member of the Winston Churchill memorial trust http://www.wcmt.org.uk at the same time of Sir Richard Vickers.

    5) General Sir Richard Vickers was also equerry to Queen Elizabeth in 1956, shortly after me. I totally distrust this man but he has very powerful friends in the British Military.

    6) I also believe that Sir Richard Vickers is also in charge of the Queens Private army that was formed by Lord Louis Mountbattern.

    7) The private army is funded by funds from the Winston Churchill memorial trust and was involved in monitoring Diana before her death. (note: the link to Nicholas Soames who I also distust)

    8) General Sir Richard Vickers was the former Director of Sandhurst Military college where both Harry and William are studying.

    I really need your help and you are welcome to tell your friends and anyone in the media. We need to do everything possible to help the police and bring people to justice.


  8. Didn’t Janus have 2 faces?


    Still, glad to see that thread hijacking is becoming popular! lol


  9. What was I just saying about nutters? Splendid! Welcome, Mr. and Mr. Janus.

    Joe, a theist like myself would never murder you. We’d leave you to God and chuckle knowingly behind our hands.

    I agree that there are many activities we enjoy in our countries that are not compulsory, and I believe that if you wear a turban and want to ride a motorcycle you should contact helmet makers and get them to put out for you with a special helmet, just as one example. That said, if somebody’s head goes splat because they didn’t, I find it difficult to get upset about the loss.

    I’m not sure, though, how this girl’s outfit can be outlawed in her school as, essentially, a menace. From an objective point of view, she’s really wearing MORE clothes than most girls; is this really all that bad, if (IF) that is what she wants to do? Now we have MAXIMUM clothing standards for girls? Given the gender disparity in government, this is just a little worrying.

    Oh, and if I’ve seemed a little crankier than usual, it’s because I am. Sorry about that, it shouldn’t last. Keep your head down and your chin up.

    Janus: you didn’t mention the Reptilian Issue. Are you uninformed, or just being terribly discreet?

  10. Raincoaster: School uniforms are designed to prevent any one individual from standing out. It’s a dress code that keeps all the pupils on an even base, keeping things, well, “uniform”. It has nothing to do with how much more or less would be covered.

    Its an old trick.



  11. I agree that school uniforms are a good idea, but I didn’t see anything in any of the articles I read indicating that her school was a uniform-wearing school. Boris mentions the shalwar kameez as an option. So it seems (correct me if I’m wrong) that we have the courts telling the girls when they’re wearing too many clothes, in an environment where they usually get to choose their own outfits. God, if it’s up to the government, all the teenage girls will be in string bikinis before the year is over.

  12. “More importantly, by proposing to force the jilbabbed Shabina on the school, the men were deliberately setting out to undermine the careful compromise uniform that the school had worked out, which was approved by the Muslim Council of Great Britain.” – Boris’ article, above.

    The mention of a uniform that you missed, raincoaster.



  13. I deplore the arrogance of such people in attempting to bring down the fabric of a school’s society by insisting on dressing in a manner heretofore prohibited.

    I for one am immensely glad that the Law has , for once in such cases , NOT been an ass.. Given that each person is an individual; in a normally uniformly integrated society such as a school, an exception in that uniformity, particularly in manner of dress, stands out like a sore thumb.
    This cannot be allowed.

    Someone, ( I think it was Trevor Phlips), said , (and I paraphrase), “If you don’t like the food, go eat in another restaurant”.

  14. Well said Boris!

    Well judged judge!

    This is where the good old British, and no doubt Canadian, tradition of compromise and pragmatism comes in. But it takes both sides to be prepared to compromise for it to work. The school had done its bit by providing an alternative acceptable apparently to most if not all of the other Muslim girls. The young woman in question had been set up by a radical Islamacist outfit.

    For those of you intetrested in comparative fundamentalism you might spot a basic difference between Islam and Christianity as a religion. The Koran is taken as the word of God laying out laws for all to follow or be damned. If you heard the radio report on madrassas in the last couple of days you will have heard how young Muslim boys are trained to read and memorise the Koran in Arabic. This is seen by some of our ‘liberal’ ‘intelligentsia’ as a sign of great respect for learning. If the dear old C of E suddenly started getting its candidates for confirmation to read and learn the Bible in Latin or perhaps Greek and Hebrew we would hear lots from the same ‘liberal’ ‘intelligentsia’ about how hidebound it was.

    Islam has no notion of rendering unto Caesar that which is due to Caesar. When people like Locke were promulgating ideas of tolerance it could only work if the different religions at the time would consent to leave temporal matters to a relatively secular government. Yes I am aware that the CofE appoints bishops who are in the HofL, that Prince William is not allowed to marry a Catholic floosy even if he could find one silly enough to want to do so and that Christian feastdays are also state holidays. Nevertheless the British way of governement and the British state is overwhelmingly secular in practice, yet being tolerant of people’s own religious convictions or none. idlex mentionaed fundamentalism elsewhere. British Christian fundamentalists carry placards criticising gay sex and get arrested. Islamic fundamentalists are the law in many countries where they hang gay teenagers from cranes. British Christian fundamentalists protest with banners about plays and films which they find offensive. Islamic fundamentalists usually have the tacit if not open support of their governments in rioting and burning down embassies when an obscure Scandewegian paper publishes cartoons, some time after the event and with extra pigs added to the cartoons when put on leaflets.

    Now I’m not a member of the BNP and – hoary old chestnut I know – I have many Muslim friends I like and respect. When we get to talk about these things they as individuals show a greater pragmatism and tolerance than do many of the representatives of Islam that are quoted by the press and courted by such friends of freedom as the Mayor of London. Some of the Muslim ladies I know wear scarves and some don’t. All wish to get along quietly in a way that makes them comfortable and are prepared to compromise to some extent. Is this a non sequiter given what I said first? I don’t think so. Christianity has become vastly more tolerant than it was because of the Enlightenment (maybe because of enlightened self interest). Islam still has to have its enlightenment experience. Many Muslims want that to happen. I think we have a duty to support them by standing up for the principles of the Enlightenment.

    Incidentally I heard Mona Siddiqi on thought for the day talking about how the Naughty Old Vatican was trying to go back on its apology about the crusades. Could Mona have a word with a substantial iman or two about apologising for the unpleasantness that was only halted at the gates of Vienna in 1529 and 1683?

  15. Come on Jack, stop messin’ around!

    Call for a ban the lot of ’em, the bloody troublemakers. As a plus, Blair would be obliged to leave the country to practise whichever curious variant of Christian orthodoxy he’s agreed with Gee Dubya.

    You know it makes sense.

  16. School uniforms are designed to prevent any one individual from standing out. (Psimon)

    That was what I was told when I was handed my school uniform. In practice, it didn’t work. The same uniform, exquisitely tailored, worked wonders in making individuals stand out.

    And why should we want to stop people standing out? Doesn’t this have a touch of the Levellers about it?

    I can think of very few solid reasons why people should adhere to dress codes. I think it’s handy if you’re a soldier to instantly recognise one of your own side. Same when playing football. I think certain public officials should be instantly recognisable. e.g. police. And in certain trades and industries wearing hard hats and steel-tipped boots is surely essential.

    But beyond that, it seems to me that it is not reason, but mere fashion – and even fear -, that dictates what people wear. And there is at present an asymmetry between the sexes: women can wear pretty well anything, while men are stuck in suits.

    It would be refreshing to see Boris deliver a speech in the House of Commons wearing cycling shorts and an oversize purple vest decorated with palm trees, and emphasizing his debating points with a bicycle pump.

  17. Fact : Zionism / Islam conflict
    Fact : Islamic Militancy is destabilising world economy
    Fact : Tony Blair on invasion of Iraq : ” God will judge me” (the electorate is irrelevant)
    Fact : Vatican prohibition on contraception with AIDS running rampant in Africa

    Do you really want the complete list? It’ll take me months!

  18. Dear All,

    Im taking A-level Politics at this moment in time and I’m currently writing a piece on the countries views of the Conservative Party these days. You all seem to be somewhat pro-tory, so if any of you have any comments for me or any useful information then please, email me at dangohon@aol.com.

    Cheers, and happy blogging 🙂

  19. < Things that would be NICE would be:
    1) Right to life
    2) Right to liberty
    3) Right not to be tortured
    4) Right to a job
    5) Right to housing, food, water…

    < But I don’t see these latter points as rights. Sure, it would be great if they were rights but a right (in my opinion) is something which CANNOT be taken away from you.

    OK, so you’re saying that rights-protection is pointless, because the only true rights we have cannot be taken away anyway? Must say I’ve never heard that one before.

    Surely a crucial purpose of civilised society is to protect those rights which can be taken away from being so. Hence the Police lock up criminals to stop you being murdered, the NHS tries to cure your ailments to stop you from dying of them, the courts give you a fair trial to maintain your liberty, the goverment refuses to use torture, etc..

    It is, in my opinion, therefore incomparably important to recognise that recently the government has actively stopped doing the last two, with imprisonment without trial and extraordinary rendition, not to mention the “anomaly” stance on Guantanamo Bay.

    Also, as has been shown by the Mary-Ann Lenehan case, the Police/probation service seem increasingly willing to allow criminals to walk the streets and murder people.

    Which leads me conveniently to my pernultimate point, which is that criminals are geenerally punished by the removal of certain rights (2 and 4 in your list, Joe, or 1,3 and 5 as well if you happen to end up in Guantanmo!) and that this has been increasingly eroded by Blair’s government. You could even say, if you wanted to stretch the point slightly too far, that the situation is being reversed.

    And that is why/how Blair has taken Britain’s once-great society, and crumbled it into self-righetous, celebrity obsessed, inarticulate dust.

  20. Boris

    Your column in today’s Telegraph was spot on. If only you’d stood for PM then perhaps we’d have had some powerful guns to defeat the islamofacists in our midst.

    Islam we are told, time and time again, is a peaceful and tollerant religion. What tosh. It is as intollerant as Christianity was during the crusdades where pagans, heretics and unbelievers were slaughtered in their thousands. A man has been sentenced to death for converting to Christianity in Afghanistan. The Taliban blew up centuries old statues sacred to budhists. Home born Muslims from Bradford murdered 52 Londoners last July and only a month ago saw protests on the streets calling for a repeat performance.

    There is no tollerance in Islam so we should not tollerate it here.

  21. Militant Islam? Would a lawsuit by Hutterites (Amish-style German-speakers in the midwest) to allow their girls to wear Christian headcoverings be a sign of “militant Christianity”?

    Shabina fought for the rights of Muslim girls in Britain, in the same way that President Bush fights for them in the United States. They both deserve our praise.

  22. I’m quite taken with what the Dutch have been doing recently – putting out information videos for people wishing to relocate to their country which politely explain that Holland is a liberal place, where gay men sometimes kiss on the streets and women sometimes flaunt their sexuality and no-one really minds because the Dutch are a tolerant lot and proud of it; and if anyone thinking of applying for residency objects to these behaviours they might want to think again.

    All of which COULD have been construed, in the wrong circles, as another instance of ‘Mohammed cartoon’ provocation – except that the Dutch (being a tolerant lot) quite rightly edited the rude bits from any videos that were likely to be viewed in countries that disapproved of these things.

    Doncha just love that kind of clarity of thinking?

  23. According to the BBC’s website Boris is on Question Time this evening – thought they usually put a post on to forewarn his many fans

  24. According to the BBC’s website Boris is on Question Time this evening – thought they usually put a post on to forewarn his many fans

  25. According to the BBC’s website Boris is on Question Time this evening – thought they usually put a post on to forewarn his many fans

  26. According to the BBC’s website Boris is on Question Time this evening – thought they usually put a post on to forewarn his many fans

  27. Thanks for the heads up.

    Boris’ hair seems even more thatch-like than usual, as if it were the principal casualty of his collision with a large Frenchman.

    What happened to him, by the way?

  28. Oh, and damned good plug for the march on Westiminster with regard to the closure of local hospitals.

    Well done, Boris.

    (I’d be there, but i’m poorer than a bankrupt church mouse right now, and can’t get there. Quite upset about it. If anyone wants to give me a lift from Henley, maybe Melissa can put us in touch?)


    (And the other 79 the government are trying to close!)

  29. Having read your column in the Daily Telegraph today and having seen your appearance on Q.T., I have to say: GOOD ON YOU, BORIS! My word, it’s about time that someone actually spoke a bit of blimmin’ sense! The Lords, once again, rescue common sense for the majority with their judgement on Ms. Begum and her ‘human rights’. I wish you and everyone else the best of luck for your march. Keep up the excellent work, my friend.

  30. Psimon, I stand corrected; thanks for that. And yes, if it’s a uniform-wearing school, and she doesn’t want to wear the uniform, there have been many a legal precedent that could have told her how that would turn out. What a bloody waste of time!

    Jack, Canada and the UK had similar traditions of inclusiveness until the election of Pierre Trudeau. He was both loved and hated; someone said, “in Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada has at last produced a leader worthy of assassination.” But Trudeau was a committed believer in multiculturalism, which is why Canada is a world leader in this new nationhood (and it really does go to the heart of a nation). Because we basically got a headstart on multiculturalism, we have managed to avoid the PC traps that many, like the US, have fallen into. We started before the Relativism Hegemony. So our policies are a lot more difficult, and take a lot more thought to figure out. They’re almost unpredictable, as well, since bashing Relativism is almost as popular as bashing Americans.

    Funny you should mention the Hutterites. They only go to their own schools, although they do (or did, back in my day) accept outside students. My parents were thinking of sending me to one of their schools, but decided not to because in winter we wouldn’t have been sure of getting me there in the Manitoba weather. And Canada’s multiculturalism was fired in the crucible of the BC Doukhobors protest. Here’s a bit about it from Pete Seeger’s Smithsonian webpage:

    Do as the Doukhobors Do The Doukhobors are Russian immigrants from the Sons of Freedom Sect who settled in western Canada in the 19th century. Angered by some of the teachings in the public schools, five Doukhobor women attended a speech by then Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in British Columbia. In a time-honored Doukhobor form of protest, the five women arrived at the event without clothing. Reading this … inspired Malvina Reynolds to write this humourous song. Both Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger argued that a little humor is good for a song, and the syncopation of Seeger’s music adds to the whimsy. Pete Seeger included it among the songs he recorded for his Broadside recordings, but it has not been commercially released until now.

  31. So glad to see you on Question Time last night Boris and I thought you dealt with the question regarding this issue brilliantly.

  32. Saxmachine is right. Rights are what you are entitled to by belonging to a group which guarantees you the exercise of those rights and to which you owe the duty of upholding those rights as far as others are concerned and other obligations. If you go against the agreed rules then possible sanctions include withdrawal of one or more of those rights.

    Having said that if the Aryan Brotherhood sets itself up in a territory guaranteeing the rights of blondes (no reference to our noble e-host) to be beastly to Hebrews then you don’t need to be I. Kant to see that something is wrong. As far as I can see the idea of a universal declaration of rights is that these should be enjoyed by all regardless of station, ancestry, creed or wealth. In the absence of a world government/state it seems that the widest range in which a set of rights can be supported is the nation state in which a more or less representative and large proportion of the population engages in the process of judging governments in elections from time to time.

    An obligation in this country is to ensure that your children get an education. Most of us send our descendents off to the local bog standard, some pay extra to send them private and some educate at home.

    Like most organisations schools have rules which, like the wider community organisation, are seen, rightly or wrongly, as importnat in the smooth running of the school. Schools do not usually have unreasonable rules – e.g. it would be unreasonable to expect children of all faiths to say the Lord’s prayer. However if we took the union of all the various requirements of religious faiths and wove the rules around that then we would find the situation unworkable. Something’s got to give. In this case since the motivation behind the young woman’s stand is pressed hard by an extreme Islamacist group I think we have reached the point of saying it’s time to cut the crap, that, despite all that Polly Toynbee et al say, Britain is possibly second only to Canada (according to my good e-friend raincoster) in tolerance as far as different ethnicities and religions are concerned, and if you don’t like it then either bear it or depart to a society where your perceived ‘rights’ are upheld. Although not a huge fan of gay culture I am very pleased to live in a society where gays feel free to have ghastly gay pride marches rather than one where they get their necks stretched on a crane. Anyone got any better ideas?

  33. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a nation which guarantees freedom of clothing. I’m not sure it’s an inalienable right at all.

    Like the new Dutch initiative, Saudi Arabia makes it very, very clear to people entering just exactly what kind of a country they’re headed to, as is their right and a very smart policy. You have to (or had to, as of the mid-eighties) sign a contract agreeing to abide by the laws, several of which were laid out, with the punishments for breaking them. Acceptable clothing was listed and the punishment for transgressions was explained; no excuse for breaking that.

    Making explicit agreements to abide by the laws of a country conditional on entry would make Customs lineups worse than they already are, but would indeed go a long way to preventing clash-of-culture incidents like this. The problem would be writing the contract; what a nightmare!

  34. Okay, I’ve come down off the high horse and would like to say that I’m not sure Canada actually is ahead of anyone in multiculturalism, just that we’ve been wrestling with it for longer and have had some successes. Well okay, we’re ahead of America and Saudi Arabia and Israel. And (and it pains me to say so) Cuba.

  35. I , for one, am sick and tired of listening to the Eveready chorus of the militant ” Rights” Rabble-rousers, when it comes to that single word ” Rights”. For every right, there is a responsibility: why is there no International Treaty on Human Responsibilities?
    Why is there no shifty eyed representative of Human Responsibilities on Question Time, as there is for Ditto Rights.

    Boris and the Lib Dem Chappie , along with the CBI Chairman, had he guts to tell the tale as it is , whilst that ancient , once ermined mastodon T.Benn would have us all in the burqa to show solidarity with that betitled pawn of Islamic extremism.

    She has experienced the even handedness of British Justice; she has felt what freedom is, by being able to go the Law Lords, presumably at our expense. She should now be able to embrace what real freedom,( of choice,for all), means.

    The last time I looked, this country, even if only nominally, was roughly Christian based, and pliant enough to accept other religions, providing there is no unrest fomented by their presence.

    If they wish to live in peace, good luck to them, if not; goodbye our freedoms.

    Look and listen, very carefully, to the gradual encroachment on; the erosion of, our rights to free speech, and worry.

  36. If the government takes a purely Behaviourist position, legislating for or against actions alone, and officially Do Not Give A Rat’s Ass about the motivation for various actions, it does avoid this whole kind of morass. It also lowers the work load substantially, and most importantly it eliminates the government’s right to criminalize or make compulsory the expression any particular mindset.

    The girl wore a particular outfit; in the current situation, if she wore it because Lagerfield told her to, it’s allowed, but because she wore it because she believes God told her to, it’s not allowed. A behaviourist government would have said: You have to wear THIS uniform at THAT school, or you can go to one of these other schools. NEXT!

    Which isn’t a bad way to do things. I haven’t seen any useful criticism of the Behaviourist position, and am coming around to thinking that’s the right way to run things. Still chewing over it, though.

  37. I recall that T Benn once wanted to invite Gerry Adams to speak to MPs at a meeting the Houses of Parliament. His (TB’s) angle was ‘Sinn Fein is different from the IRA and we should be able to listen to what they have to say’, followed by a reassuring clench of the jaw on the pipe and a glare to strike down any enemies of this freedom.

    I never heard of him inviting the BNP on the same lines.

    The man is a collosal fraud. look at the titles of his books. Free at Last – now out of parliament he can get on with politics – oh my! Dare to be a Daniel – heroic! He has a massive ego and found a constituency of PC right onanists to play to. He is not a national treasure. Subject all his comments to what Isaac Asimov called the Semantic Analyser. It’s all bloody rhetoric!

    Sorry! Quite forgot myself! Mac it’s too bad of you to mention his name before I’ve had my medication!

  38. One question, relating to what both Psimon and idlex have said:

    Does Boris rub Persian cats and balloons on his head just before the cameras roll, or does he always look like that?

  39. raincoster

    you have a point which I think is connected to the Enlightenment idea of ‘not making windows into mens’ souls’. My thoughts and desires are my own but I must recognise that there are some I have no right, in a civilised society, to articulate or satisfy, and more widely some it is courteous not to articulate or satisfy. In fact as previous people have observed having thought is more or less what we do, we have no more right to thought than to having mass. We just do. Thoughtcrime is what totalitarians hate. I try and commit a dozen thoughtcrimes before breakfast just to keep in mental shape. Sadly it doesn’t work…

  40. 100% Mac, although I’m not sure there’s a one to one mapping between rights and responsibilities, it’s more like Mr. McKay in Porridge:
    “We only have two rules here: 1) don’t write on the walls and 2) obey all the rules.”

    The same is true in any community; as Jack inferred, your rights are contingent on complying with the local laws/ethos. The predicament here is that one’s rights are affected by changes in the rules. For example I, notionally, have the right to freedom and free speech, but, if I were to announce my wholehearted support for Hamas I may shortly face 30 days in the nick without having been tried and judged by a jury of my peers (the aforesaid presupposes the full provisions of the recent amendments to the terrorism act come into effect). From this we may deduce that freedom (and freedom of expression) is not, necessarily, a right; it appears to take the form of a predominant preference.

    It’s also important to understand that rights (in the context discussed here) are bounded temporally and geographically. Eight hundred years ago, the discussion I had on another blog would have resulted in me being spit braaied. Similarly, shouting: “Ayatollah Khomeini is a ******” (insert expletive/complement as desired) in Iran could amount to a fairly terminal decision.

    It’s for these reasons that I don’t concur with the contemporary fallacy of universal human rights (with the possible exceptions of those I noted earlier).

    My view of the hierarchy of ‘rights’ (hierarchy in the sense that a ‘right’ of a lower order may never supersede a superior order) would read something like this:
    1) Inalienable rights (i.e. those ‘rights’ which are, more or less impossible, to take away from us)
    2) Law – which conveys certain rights upon us contingent on us obeying said laws
    3) Local strictures – such as a requirement (within a time and territory) to wear a particular uniform
    4) Ethos – Morals which we feel to be right and proper but not mandatory or precluded by aforementioned restrictions

    On the application of this hierarchy, the case Boris has highlighted would never come to court on the basis that it fails because of the precedence of 3 over 4.

    Or is this too radically simple and I’m missing the point?

  41. Joe

    I see the point as being that the state and laws are a necessary evil and liberals (small l) see it as their role to keep that necessity as small as possible.

    Karl Popper opined that an example of a necessary infringement was that which makes illegal the gratuitous cry of ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre.

    The mechanism by which we come up with necessary infringements is of course far fom perfect. IMHO the recent laws of incitement to religious hatred are wrong. There are perfectly good laws against incitemnt to violence and the new ones threaten to open up economy sized cans of worms.

    Isaiah Berlin noted more than once that many ‘goods’ were incompatable to some extent and at some times. The problem with the utopians is their saying X is good and Y is good and we can have as much of either as we want. When it doesn’t work out it’s usually someone else’s fault. I am very much in favour of freedom of expression though I don’t approve of all its manifestations (esp. T Benn, rap and the opera about Jerry Springer). But only in exceptional circumstances should it be curtailed – such as calling out Fire or preventing inflamatory material being broadcast at very sensitive times where peoples lives may be at stake for example. It’s sort of principle with piecemeal application.

  42. Sorry Jack,
    I see the central point as being that the young lady in question required that her personal preferences superseded the reasonable and lawful regulations imposed on her (and equally on others) to whit, the school dress code. The latter being the obligation incumbent or her for the good and valuable consideration of receiving an education.

    Are there other establishments (in Britain) which would welcome her doing physics dressed up as Batman? Yes.
    Did the the school go out of it’s way to accommodate her avoidance of (dotty) religious peccadilloes? Yes.
    Is the school entitled to dictate dress code to their students. Apparently so.
    Was she dragged kicking and screaming to the school to have these strictures enforced upon her person? No.

    A further, and to my mind more serious, question would be: Can Idlex and I go into the ‘Horse and Groom’ or ‘the Angel’ and light up a cheroot? No, nor anywhere else in Britain either.

    So whose rights have been more seriously prejudiced here?

  43. Before anyone takes me to task on it,

    “No, nor anywhere else in Britain either.”

    Should read:

    “No, nor in any other pub in Britain either.”

  44. The pivotal point of this debate , IMHO, is the fact that the Head teacher is of the Moslem faith, and would know what is correct for someone of the same faith; and yet there had to be a stubborn, and no doubt expensive, stance taken by the girl concerned: lookomg for another possible fingerhold in climbing the religious wall which she , or her fanatic backers built.

    We should emulate the Netherlands,(or Saudi Arabia), in describing to possible immigrants , precisely what the minimum requirements are, in order to qualify for permission to live and prosper here.

    Observance of the laws and mores of the land must be high on the list of priorities, as it has been for generations.

  45. The problem Mac is that there are so many flavours of these screwball religions that there isn’t a one size fits all.

    A Baptist headmaster may be somewhat justified in a good old guffaw if a Catholic schoolgirl protests that without her rosary beads she’ll have to do community service in a pit of boiling sulphur for all eternity. Similarly, if this Moslem girl feels that, unless she’s bandaged up like Lon Chaney, she won’t cop to the female equivalent of the 72 virgins, it may fall on stony ground if the headmaster is less steadfastly brainwashed.

    I say again, level the playing fields and ban religious observances in public (or outside the home preferably). The rationale is surely the same as for the ban on smoking.

  46. Like most organisations schools have rules which, like the wider community organisation, are seen, rightly or wrongly, as importnat in the smooth running of the school. Schools do not usually have unreasonable rules – e.g. it would be unreasonable to expect children of all faiths to say the Lord’s prayer.

  47. Idlex: you are obviously not au fait with the realities of living in areas which became , long before Iraq, predominantly Moslim. If your laissez faire attitude were reciprocated , I would agree with at least some of what you say.In re. this subject , I agree with nothing you say.

  48. I would like to see a Shawar Kaweez for myself, does anyone know if the are available in Millets or Blacks?

  49. I have to disagree about school children being allowed to wear what they like.

    Having worked in a secondary school, i was very aware of the enormous gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. A uniform levels the field, and helps stop the irrational jealousies that hormone-fueled teenagers react so badly too.

  50. Idlex: you are obviously not au fait with the realities of living in areas which became , long before Iraq, predominantly Moslim.

    For your information, Mac, I have lived in Eritrea, Libya, Gambia, Brazil, and Barbados. Some of those countries have been predominantly Muslim for centuries, but at the time I lived there, were somehow able to tolerate Christian churches. I have lived entirely surrounded by very large numbers of black and brown peoples with any number of religious beliefs, without being subject to the slightest prejudice, never mind living in fear of my life.

    I do not have a single shadow of doubt that if we have a ‘Muslim problem’, it is entirely one of our own creation. We British have spent the past century or more trampling all over the Middle East, and now we have topped this with the entirely unwarranted invasion of Iraq (a country which a serviceman on Quesion Time who had served there 6 months said that we has ‘destroyed’). We treat these people and their religion like dirt. And then we have the gall to complain when they fail to to adhere to our ‘values’.

    It is we who are at fault, not them.

  51. A further, and to my mind more serious, question would be: Can Idlex and I go into the ‘Horse and Groom’ or ‘the Angel’ and light up a cheroot? No, nor in any other pub in Britain either. (Joe M)

    I say again, level the playing fields and ban religious observances in public (or outside the home preferably). The rationale is surely the same as for the ban on smoking. (Joe M)

    I’m sorry, Joe, but which is it? Are you happy to ban religious observance in public along with smoking in public places? Or do you resent the fact that in a year or so you and I will not be able to enjoy a cheroot together in any pub in the land?

    Look and listen, very carefully, to the gradual encroachment on; the erosion of, our rights to free speech, and worry. (Mac)

    I do look and listen , and I do worry very greatly. In respect of the smoking ban, however, you appear almost entirely indifferent. We now have a medical establishment with the powers of a Papacy, but your eyes are fixed on the insubordination of a few browbeaten and demonized Muslims.

  52. Idlex : I don’t doubt; not for one moment; your worldliness as far as your having lived and presumably worked in the midst of Moslim people in their homelands. To infer ignorance on your part, was not my point at all: it was rather concerning those areas, predominantly in the North West , where what appears to be racial no-go areas ,are proliferating year on year.

    The presence of Foreigners; infidels if you will, whether or not uninvited, in Iraq at this time, cannot be blamed as the origin of the “us and them ” culture which has grown there.

    US/ UK presence there might now be blamed for the further exacerbation of the breakdown in racial / religious relations, but it most certainly was not originated by the illegal Bush/Poodle combo fiasco, it has long been in foment.

  53. Idlex : merely becaues I don’t share your taste fot the saffron weed (since 14 years now), does not detract from my gall against the Nanny State’s ban on pleasure . This Government are akin to that of Cromwell, in its quest to grub out the little havens of pleasure.Until at least today , thought is not subject to this killjoy shower.

  54. No idlex,
    I’m saying that the arguments used to justify the banning of smoking (i.e. smoking is harmful and it’s unpleasant to those who don’t partake to be exposed to it) seem to be equally applicable to overt manifestations of religious belief.

    It seems I must accept this apparent contradiction with equanimity.

  55. Are there actually racial no-go areas in Britain, or am I misinterpreting something?

    I begin to think, some days, that the exclusionary, hostile impulse will express itself no matter what. There are gated white communities in BC’s interior that are completely surrounded by nothing but miles of wilderness and, on the edges of that, small towns with other white people in them. White people are building walled settlements to keep out other white people. The problem is never difference; the problem is bigotry, and unfortunately it seems to be a basic human impulse.

  56. In autocratic terms, the basic human impulse if fear and the basic human motivation is greed.

    Just add ‘intelligent’ tool-making ape for instant gated community.

  57. idlex says Islam has become an issue only since the military action in Iraq. I seem to recall that the robust school of Islamic literary criticism was in action more than 10 years ago – ask Salman Rushdie. I also recall a lot of Islamic spokemen at the time ‘explaining’ how we had to allow this censorship. Even then you could see sections of our ‘liberal’ ‘intelligentsia’ working hard at squaring circles. The mainstream interpretation of the Koran by imans and Islamic scholars is that the Caliphate must be established over all humanity, those kafirs that resist should be killed to burn in eternal torment. Now I don’t say that most Muslims would endorse this but their priesthood isn’t into having cosy little chats with infidels in quite the same was as the Bishop of Oxford is with Richard Dawkins.

  58. Christians had their time for barbarism too, and nobody can say Israel is the most peaceful of nations. There are plenty of nations in Africa that are neither primarily Muslim nor primarily Christian who are indulging in brutality, and the point has been made repeatedly that the Soviet Union and China, officialy athiestic states, did not hesitate to slaughter people. So I don’t see much point in singling out any particular religion; it’s a human thing and nobody has a lock on it.

    That said, perhaps it’s time to come clean about why I’ve been so cranky lately.

    I really don’t want to go over the details again, so I’ll sum up very briefly and stick a link here if you want to know more. Basically, I just found out that someone in my circle was in a meeting with village elders in Afghanistan a couple of months ago, and was attacked. He’s not expected to regain consciousness, ever.
    This is the link, if you want more information. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a unique story.

  59. Marvellous quote from The Simpsons I heard today:

    “God has no place in schools as facts have no place in religion.”



  60. idlex says Islam has become an issue only since the military action in Iraq. (Jack R)

    Actually, I said we’ve been kicking them around for most of the past century, with the Iraq war merely being the latest example.

    In the words of the ex-serviceman on Question Time last night, we have ‘destroyed’ Iraq. From everything I’ve read, that pretty much sums it up exactly. And it’s a crime. A terrible crime.

    As far as I’m concerned, our claim to being some sort of advanced civilisation has been thoroughly undermined by what has been done in Iraq. We, the Coalition, have wrecked the country, destroyed whole cities, killed tens of thousands of its citizens, and abducted, indefinitely detained, and tortured hundreds more. And we dare to claim we are ‘bringing democracy’. We should be ashamed, utterly ashamed.

    I read Raincoaster’s sad story. As she herself said, it’s not unique. If I was an Aghani or an Iraqi, I’d probably want to sink an axe into the head of every single self-righteous meddling foreigner I met.

    As for the Caliphate, it’s history, and it’s not coming back. And anyway the Roman Catholic Church has pretty much the same aspirations, so what’s new?

    As for Rushdie, I couldn’t care. That man helped stoked the flames of a conflict we didn’t need. Much like the recent cartoons. How many more stupid and irresponsible things are we going to do? When are we going to stop pointing fingers at what they do, and start facing up to what we have done?

  61. Idlex – WHy do you say the Caliphate is not coming back.
    If you have your way and the Coalition withdraws from Iraq, who will stop Al Queda seizing central Iraq and creating a Caliphate base there (As it previously did in Afghanistan – OBL recognised the Afghan leader as the Caliph).

    From central Iraq, Al Queda can menace Jordan and from there Saudi Arabia also.

    Al QUeda in control of Mecca = a de facto revived Caliphate.

    If people like you had been in charge in June 1940, the Swastika woudl have been flying over Downing Street.

    You;ve swallowed whole the lies of the BBC. Not all of Iraq is in flames or in meltdown. Other societies have survived death rates of 10,000 a year. The Northern Ireland equivalent was around 6,000 per annum if you scale up from their population to the Iraq population. In all that time life went on pretty much unaffected.

    Please remember hardly any of those deaths you mention have been caused by the coalition. And please remember we HAVE broguht democracy to Iraq – they’ve had elections and elected representatives. That’s precisely what Al Queda hate.

  62. I find it a little difficult to accept that Al Queda is what they claim it is…or even if it actually exists outside of CIA propoganda.

    Do you think that Osama Bin Laden has a secret volcano lair and strokes a white cat?



  63. Idlex – WHy do you say the Caliphate is not coming back.

    Because it’s no more going to come back than the Roman Empire, or the Holy Roman Empire, or the Knights Templar, or Jesus Christ are going to come back. It’s an Islamic fantasy. But I think they are entitled to their fantasies.

    You;ve swallowed whole the lies of the BBC.

    Ha. Ha! Ha!! I almost never watch or listen to the BBC. I entirely distrust them.

    I read the Independent (increasingly wondering why), watch Channel 4 news, and ‘surf the web’. If you ever want to know what stories are about to break, or have not broken, you’ll find them all on the internet long before they grace our newspapers and TV sets. But you do have to search.

    And my view of Al Qaeda and OBL is almost exactly the same as Psimon’s. You may or may not recall, in the run-up to the Afghan war, Donald Rumsfeld in front of a cross-section through some mountain in Afghanistan, with
    Al Qaeda command posts and arsenals and interconnecting tunnels. They never found this subterranean OsamaBunker. It didn’t exist. There are a few caves in the Afghan mountains, but nothing like what Rumsfeld described. And anyway Bush isn’t interested in OBL. He said so a year or two back.

    And also, in case you didn’t notice, the Afghan war started out as an assault upon Al Qaeda’s (non-existent) underground mountain redoubts, but metamorphosed into an overthrow of an Afghan Taliban who had offered to deliver OBL before an Islamic court. What started out as a hunt for Osama ended up as regime change in Kabul. How strange, to change the entire purpose of a war, half way through it!

    And please remember we HAVE broguht democracy to Iraq

    No, we haven’t. And furthermore, if there is anything like a vague semblance of democracy in Iraq (and there is not even that), it’s not thanks to the Americans or the British, but to bleeding Ayatollah Sistani who started demanding elections after about a year of inaction after the invasion. And, last I heard, they still hadn’t managed to form a government in that ungovernable land.

    Sorry, but the whole thing has gone to hell. You’re quite right that there are places of Iraq in which there is relative calm – just like there are places in the world where there aren’t volcanoes erupting.

  64. P.S. It’s true that I did watch BBC Question Time last night. But only because Boris was on it. I never watch it otherwise.

  65. For what it’s worth, idlex, I agree with every word you say.

    You are probably aware that “field” describes himself here as “Islamophobic”. But worse, he seems to be of the ilk that accepts the words of GW F*ckw*t as coming direct from God. Especially when quoting “success in Iraq”. Any fool with an internet connection can see otherwise – irrespective of what the BBC or any other mainstream channel produces.

  66. field says: “hardly any of those deaths you mention have been caused by the coalition”

    field: As you well know, the Lancet study said exactly the opposite. The Lancet study so cleverly discredited (by questioning methodology) by those who didn’t want the figures overly publicised. But as you can read here:


    that same methodology was apparently fine in other scenarios.

    “As Medialens has pointed out, it was the same lead author, using the same techniques, who reported that 1.7 million people had died as a result of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). That finding has been cited by Tony Blair, Colin Powell and almost every major newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic, and none has challenged either the method or the result. Using the Congo study as justification, the UN security council called for all foreign armies to leave the DRC and doubled the country’s UN aid budget.”

  67. For what it’s worth, idlex, I agree with every word you say. (fiddlesticks)

    This is a record.

    Incidentally, my problem with the Beeb is that I never quite know who is running it, and determining its editorial policy, from one day to the next.

    Some days it seems to being run by a riotous bunch of leftie firebrands. Other days I get the feeling that it is simply repeating the guvmint’s view, under a three line whip.

  68. I’ve just scanned this whole thread. I know: get a life. But here’s a couple of observations:

    1/ A lot of us are talking about Shabina Begum as if she were a Muslim immigrant. I suspect she’s actually a British citizen, which makes the whole issue slightly more complicated. I still agree with Boris, but can anyone advise me on this?

    2/ I know exactly how Boris gets his hair like that. Just before he walks onto the set, he reaches up and gives himself a quick tousle.

    3/ It was a good Question Time. But with the exception of the Shabina Begum issue, Tony Benn and that bright girl from Liberty pretty much aced it. Boris: you need to get to the point quicker, old mate.

  69. This whole thread , interesting as it is in its diversity, could be suumed up in that ancient , hoary old joke about the Scotsman. he knocked on the pearly gates, St Peter answered the summons , and asked what the man wanted , The Scot said he wanted to come in to Heaven ; to which St Peter replied , ” Bugger off! We are not creating a precedence : we are not making porridge for one “.

  70. “how does it STAY that way?”

    It’s all in the cut.
    If you do it at home with a nail scissors, it’ll stick up and stand out in all directions without the help of static or even Trésommé.

  71. The way in which the hair was sticking up on Thursday last , it looked as though it was dressed with consommé, never mind Trésommé.

    Either way , a work of art.

  72. You’re sure it wasn’t porridge? The Scots swear by it for hardiness and regularity.

  73. In my day, any pupil coming to school with hair like that would probably have been expelled.

    Why would he have been expelled? I’ve no idea. School rules were almost entirely arbitrary, then as now. For if rules are not accompanied by some explanation for them, they are necessarily arbitrary.

  74. How can a wish for uniformity be arbitrary?
    Uniformity of dress , particularly in schools ,is a worthwhile goal, insofar as it provides a level playing field upon which the students from different backgrounds can play, without discrimination; and it should instil a sense of belonging to all.

  75. I was at the literary festival today and I can inform readers that Boris fluffs his hair. He applies both paws to his fringe runs these horizontally through it and repeats when greater volume might better emphasize a point. It’s actually fairly sexy.

    With regard to Shabina it’s difficult for me to even begin to think rationally about Muslim dress for women. I hate it instinctually, completely and entirely. Nothing says ‘I’m totally and completely different to you and –by the way I so would ditch this infidel hell hole if it wasn’t for the economic advantages’ like head to toe black crepe with a eye slit a la Ned Kelly.
    If dress is a method of communication and I really don’t like what the burqa is saying.

  76. Uniformity of dress , particularly in schools ,is a worthwhile goal, as it provides a level playing field

    By that logic, if it be logic at all, uniformity of dress across the entire population would be a worthwhile goal.

    Perhaps it will be in the next New Labour manifesto.

  77. It occurs to me that Boris has wonderfully non-conformist hair. From memory, everybody else on Question Time had sleek, well-combed locks. Not Boris.

    With a short back and sides, and brown hair dye, he would lose half his charm, and become indistinguishable from any other cloned MP.

    Perhaps this will be in the next New Labour manifesto as well.

  78. “By that logic, if it be logic at all, uniformity of dress across the entire population would be a worthwhile goal”

    True, and uniformity of house and car size, price and colour.

  79. idlex, I agree; Boris was the only one on that program who didn’t look slightly prefab. That Liberal Democrat: ew. Looks like Stephen Harper, which is just never good, the plastic Ken doll thing.

    Boris’s performance would have been improved to the point of hallucinatory goodness if he’d merely slammed about four espressos before going on air. If you go to Starbucks I can recommend a caramel quad macchiatto: caramel syrup on the bottom of the cup, four ounces of espresso, splash of foam, caramel on top. It got me through a Marathon, it’ll get you through Question Time.

    “People love you, but you talk too much.” Brilliant.

    Although I agreed with virtually nothing he said, Digby Jones was the best presenter, I thought. Shami Chakrabarti was also very good, but she had a little trouble cutting off the interruptions. I find backhanding people quite effective, but then I haven’t been on a panel in a long time; nobody will sit near me.

  80. I went to a hippie school, and I can say without the shadow of a doubt that anyone who came to school with his hair sticking up because he’d put porridge in it would not have been expelled, but would have been considered quite the trend-starter.

  81. Oh god, three in a row. I should go post on my own blog.


    I have to reply to this:
    By that logic, if it be logic at all, uniformity of dress across the entire population would be a worthwhile goal

    Uniformity of dress IS the goal of a particular group; radical Muslims. The logic is that covering the seductive female figure just lets people forget about sex and get on with life, which sounds just as reasonable as any other justification for visual conformity.

    Again I must make the point that the problem is never the fact that a person is different. The problem is bigotry, the resentment of another person for being different. We are all different; the extent to which we are different, unique, is the extent to which we are individuals, and to that extent we are human beings, rather than carbon storage units.

    Schools and workplaces are not places devoted to the development of the individual, and they impose uniforms to reinforce in all directions the sense of belonging or conformity, the temporary subjugation of the individual. Just try wearing a really different outfit to work at a bank and see what happens. Institutions like schools and corporations can’t possibly deal with thousands of individuals, so they try to de-individuate them just enough that they can be predicted and managed. Any middle-manager’s worst nightmare is a work group full of geniuses, because he’s got to produce a plan to build eighty widgets by October, and they’re off working on cyclotrons in their back yards.

    There’s no question that nobody could express their full potential as an individual all the time without having a breakdown (and causing a few in the people around him). So it’s almost restful when schools and workplaces impose these restrictions; one of the greatest complaints by working women is that they have too much choice about what to wear. I kid you not, it’s in studies.

    We couldn’t live in our large, complex societies if there weren’t both respect for individual choices and a degree of delegating decisions like to others; that’s what government is FOR. By dressing like an extreme Muslim, the girl is showing her difference. It’s up to you if her being different is by definition wrong. In the school, it is because it breaks the pre-existing rule, and she can go to another school that allows that. Out on the street, different question. She’s just as different from most people, and the dress does point that up. Is that wrong? Should we force someone to dress to the general standard? Then you’d better hope that Britain never falls under Muslim influence, or you’ll have no leg to stand on when you want to fight the burqa.

  82. idlex

    By that logic, if it be logic at all, uniformity of dress across the entire population would be a worthwhile goal

    Sorry mate, but I don’t see logically why if X is good applied to a subsystem Y of Z then X is good for all Z. Without going into the gory details I apply some sort of lotion to the hard skin on my soles for good reason but I don’t feel I should apply it all over my body. Is that illogical?

  83. I had to rewrite raincoaster’s last paragraph to make any sense of it.

    ======= raincoaster’s last paragraph ================
    Poster March 27, 2006 03:16 AM
    Given the enormity and complexity of contemporary society, our lives would be intolerable without both respect for individual choices and, to some degree, instruction in how we should conduct ourselves; the balance of these requirements is the fundamental purpose of government.

    In adopting the dress of a Moslem fundamentalist, Shabina Begum is accentuating her differences from other members of society. It is you, the reader, who must decide if Shabina’s decision in this regard is reasonable or not.

    Given the situation at her school and the findings of the Law Lords, we are obliged to conclude that her behaviour is inappropriate because it violates the existing (apparently lawful) regulations set down by the school. One must also consider that it is not unreasonable for her to attend another school where her preferred dress code would be welcomed.

    In general society, however, she is manifestly as different from other (non fundamentalist Moslem) members of the community as she is from other (non fundamentalist Moslem) pupils in her school and, it would seem, her desired mode of dress is calculated to emphasize this difference rather than reduce it. Is this wrong?

    To consolidate this debate, the fundamental question we must pose is whether it is reasonable to force someone to wear clothes which conform to society’s sensibilities, or not? If the answer to this question is yes, then Britain must use the same criteria in the event that Britain ever comes under the domination of a Moslem majority. If one does not, non-Moslem’s won’t have a leg to stand on to prevent the subsequent invasion of the burqa.

  84. I don’t quite understand the reference to modesty. Four months ago, I was in a Muslim country where the full length dress is by no means universal. I saw one woman wearing it, and it was transparent enough to display her knickers.

  85. I think idlex agrees with you Jack. He was extrapolating Mac’s comment about uniformity in schools being desirable.

    By the same token, I don’t think Mac was suggesting uniformity everywhere I think he was emphasizing the importance in the school system.

    ‘Particularly’ is a dangerous word because it implies ‘everywhere’ as well as ‘more of’.

  86. Evil Twin,
    I was just on the verge of launching into another acerbic attack on raincoaster’s liberalism but, ‘thanks’ to your little translation, another one of life’s little avenues of pleasure has been closed to me.

  87. Joe

    I stand corrected I think but the statement in isolation was what I was referring to.

    Having said that I recall that when I was in 6th form at grammar school many years ago the first signs of revolt were shaking the power structres and a 6th form council of chosen pupils was convened by the ruling class to discuss the vexed question of uniform. I can’t remember the quote or the poet but that stuff about pure heaven to be young and revolting springs to mind. We waited for our ‘representatives’ to return. They look pleased with themselves and then said “What do you think the new uniform should be?”. I said “what new uniform?”. They said “Oh come on you have to be reasonable..”. Maybe an early sell out stimulated the latent Trot. Anyway the Who’s cry of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss!” resonated with me. I suppose it still does.

    We have a new establishment of rock stars, journalists and celebrities who despise the ordinary punter as much as the old establishment ever did.

    The only refinement of my view in old age is to see the possibility and necessity of holding the elected bosses to account somehow, however imperfectly.

  88. Regarding your point on keeping the head honchos honest, I think one of the most consistently amusing aspects of the early 21st century (that I have a wry chuckle about occasionally) is that, given the price and availability of digital communications and associated terminals, Britain still doesn’t have a real democracy!

    I mean, I don’t know anyone (under 5) who doesn’t have a mobile phone OR internet access (or at least the capability to get access). So what precludes online electronic voting on certain (not necessarily all) major parliamentary issues/bills?

    A general referendum has, historically, been hideously expensive but surely that’s no longer the case? Even if it isn’t feasible now, I cannot believe that it couldn’t be in the next few years; especially if the government puts in some effort in that particular direction. It may be expensive initially but two or three general elevtions would probably see returns in costs AND voting flexibility.

    Mind you, all that being said, probably the LAST people you want running a country are the people that live there!

    I’ve always thought democracy, even the odd variant we enjoy, needs to be a bit schizophrenic.

  89. I don’t know if there is a philosophical doctrine regarding absolutes (and I don’t mean the old saw about absolute power being absolutely fantastic or whatever) but the apparent principle whereby if something is good up to a certain level, the absolute application of a principle is not automatically better. In my view, the: “If some is good, more is better” approach is invariably nonsense when pressed to the extreme. For example, if we take idlex’s, slightly sarcastic, proposal, whereby some fixed dress code were to be genuinely applied to the whole of British society, I am utterly certain that every person who has (ever) posted on this site would be on their way to set fire to Westminster Palace even as we speak.

    It’s unflinching levels of uniformity like this proposal which, like opera, some love and some hate; there seem to be very few fence sitters. Given this qualification, I don’t think the, apparently inordinate, offence taken to this young lady’s desire for freedom of expression (that is what this is about, surprisingly enough) is as a result of the desire to apply a uniform to her or her desire to trump these directives; it’s because our national survival instincts have been aroused. I don’t believe, for a minute, that the controversy revolves around the fact that Shamina doesn’t want to wear the school’s uniform, but simply becuase she wants to wear someone else’s uniform!

    Tireless xenophobes that the English are (I didn’t say British you will note), take considerable exception to this. With some justification I might add!

    We are an island people who have suffered a number of hostile takeovers during the last couple of millennia, and these have never been to the benefit of the incumbents. Our hostility to the ‘unlike’ is quite probably an inherited characteristic; the guys that welcomed invaders and aliens with open arms didn’t breed!

    The problem today with our multicultural society (and the ancillary legislation which goes to inhibit our baser instincts) is that the English HATE foreigners (and I include alien cultures in that set), it’s that simple. We pretend to be all tea and biscuits and rictus-like grins, but the one thing calculated to drive the average Englishmen to apoplexy is giving directions to someone who can’t speak English properly! Unless someone exterminates the population of England and starts from scratch, I don’t think this will ever change.

    I can hear the nostril snorts of affronted bloggers (or whatever the appropriate terminology for contributors turns out to be) from here! I have no doubt that irate condemnations are electronically winging their way toward me, transported by brimstone and indignation. They may be well deserved, I am simply expressing an opinion based on my (considerable) experience. Sure, you lot may be exceptions; the fact that we all contribute material here (whether anyone agrees with us or not) is a good indicator of emotional, if not intellectual, quotient and therefore, you are probably exempt from this denunciation. None-the-less, if you examine your fellow Britons more closely, I think you will find that discrimination against the different is the preference, if not the norm.

    Now, all this said, I have to make it clear that I agree with the Lord’s ruling because, AND FOR NO OTHER REASON, rules are rules! If I go into a Shule, I am obliged to wear a Yarmulke. If I go into a mosque, I need to remove my shoes. These are rules of courtesy and, if we are honest, perfectly reasonable ones. We must bear in mind that Shamina was only asked to be similarly polite and restrained in attending the school of her choice.

    The school, the Lords and the government, however, must take extreme care to deliver the message that this is a victory for justice, a victory for Britain and, consequently, outrageous although this sounds, a victory for British Muslims.

    (I know, I know! Shamina Begum’s British.

    She’s the exception that proves the rule.)

  90. Joe : you say, quite forcibly, it is the English who have an innate hate of foreigners , even whilst holding out the obligatory pinkie whilst drinking the cup that cheers without inebriating.

    Go back a bit old chap and consider the following.

    The Sassanach.
    The cat’s among the pigeons
    And the fox is at work in the coop.
    Pandora’s Box has been opened,
    And someone has p….d in the soup.
    The genie is out of the bottle,
    And the arguments fly to and fro,
    The Saxon stands proud in his furrow;
    But where shall the poor Saxon go?
    North is the way to the Highlands,
    Where he’s welcome as boils on your face.
    To the west is the home of Plaed Cymru,
    And what’s left of the old British race.
    If they discover you’re Saxon,
    Come night time, they’ll burn down your house,
    And revert to the old Celtic language;
    So you can’t understand why they grouse.
    Over the sea now to Ireland,
    The poor Saxon’s not popular there
    Just mention old Oliver Cromwell,
    And you might just escape with your hair.
    The Norsemen; the Jutes, and the Angles,
    Contributed so much to this land
    So why were the Saxons so hated?
    Did the Sassenach get out of hand?
    No-one says much about Normans:
    Were they here, or was that just a dream?
    1066 and King Harold:
    All mere bagatelles, it would seem…

  91. Absolutely Mac,
    I was merely taking the coward’s cop out and using the time honoured dispensation of being able to insult your own mob with impunity.

    Had I included other aspects of Britain in my categorisation I have no doubt I would be subjected to a great deal of rhetoric revolving around not knowing my a*** from my elbow and being a soft southern pansy etc. Similarly, I can’t speak for the Irish because they live on a different island.

    I didn’t really consider the Welsh, I suppose, on the basis that any potential invaders would also have to be able to breath underwater and, anyway, I was under the impression that they (the Welsh) had all moved to England as PE teachers back in the 70’s.

    All things considered in the poem, it seems to me that the Saxon in question deserved quite a lot of it.

    Particularly if Oliver Cromwell was one of them. (Puritanical t*at)

  92. Joe

    We English don’t hate foreigners, except Essex dwellers of course. We are xenophiles! We are constantly impressed by the fact that the Good Lord was so fond of foreigners that he created so many of them. Nearly 99% of the world’s population are foreign.

    We so like the Scots that we let them run the country. That fond of the Irish are we that we don’t celebrate St. George’s day for fear of putting their rather restrained celebration of St. Patrick’s day into the shade. And since they stopped nicking our cattle we’re getting on well with the Welsh. We like the Cornish so much that we send our Hooray Henries to Rock to give them a laugh.

    We don’t actually hate the French since they have given us the last 60 years off saving their bacon. Germans are jolly nice once they get out of their tanks……………………………………..

  93. All I can think say is: ‘Oderint dum metuant’

    But I’m not sure who’s doing the hating or the fearing any more.

  94. “For example, if we take idlex’s, slightly sarcastic, proposal, whereby some fixed dress code were to be genuinely applied to the whole of British society”

    I don’t think it was a ‘proposal’ at all. Any more than mine regarding cars and houses.

    “We are an island people who have suffered … hostile takeovers during the last couple of millennia, and these have never been to the benefit of the incumbents”

    You must have great understanding for Irish nationalists. Unlike Jack Ramsey, who blithely compares Sinn Féin to the BNP.

  95. Ah, I see others were posting while I was negotiating the wonders of internet pauses and hiccups …!

  96. Really fiddlesticks!?!??

    And to think I believed you were completely serious!

    What a chump I’ve been!

  97. “we don’t celebrate St. George’s day for fear of putting their rather restrained celebration of St. Patrick’s day into the shade”

    Grow up, Jack. It’s not the fault of the Irish if 4 million New Yorkers want a day’s fun and games. They’re only there because their ancestors left during a rather notorious famine.

  98. “And to think I believed you were completely serious!”

    No, dear boy, just “slightly sarcastic”.

  99. If you want to know who Joe Mental really is, so you can send him unmoderated, rude e-mails, a small to medium donation to a charitable institution of my choice will secure full unexpigated, exposure.

    He’s REALLY fat;
    He used to smoke a lot (but gave up because the doctor said he was going to explode)
    He’s the only person I’ve ever met who can drink 10 pints of Director’s at lunchtime and go back to work.

    And he ISN’T English (even though that’s what he says here)

    The game’s up ‘Joe’! (That’s his Dad’s name by the way, the Mental bit, he does on his own)

  100. They say the master criminal always makes one, fatal, mistake. “a Mental co-worker”‘s was to leave her handbag on my desk after this dispicable act of espionage.

    Fear not fellow anonimes, I will deal with this act of treason swiftly and decisively.

    I’m going to get her drunk so she forgets everything.

  101. Getting back to the point of the blog, I think Boris is right. This has nothing at all to do with uniforms, human rights, religious beliefs….it’s about the power of the extremist minority to influence in modern Britain. The real tragedy here is the amount of money this legal farce has caused.

  102. Joe,

    As I regard this blog as my playground (play can be a serious thing too!), I think I will have to invoke playground law on your colleague(?).

    No sneaking! Sneaks are even worse than the people they sneak on.

    One-way ticket to Coventry has been despatched!



  103. Joe :
    Obesity is not a crime,
    It’s snitching that deserves gaol time.
    A handbag now , if unattended ,
    Gives chances to the one offended ,
    To wreak revenge for this great wrong,
    And make stool pigeons sing swan song.
    I don’t know what you’ve done; why earned,
    The poisoned chalice , was she spurned?

  104. To consolidate this debate, the fundamental question we must pose is whether it is reasonable to force someone to wear clothes which conform to society’s sensibilities, or not? (Evil Twin)

    And the answer must be that it is unreasonable and irrational, because anyone’s sensibility is necessarily of an emotional rather than rational character. It cannot ever be reasonable to require people to wear something just because other people want, or desire, or prefer them to so do, or not do so. The same applies to anything else they may or may not do. That I don’t like something is no reason, and can never be a reason, to ban it.

    Sensibility aside, we might instead ask if it can ever be reasonable to require people to wear some garment or other. And the answer to this is that there are many circumstances where this so. It is reasonable to require surgeons wear masks and gloves and sterilised clothing (to minimise infection). It is reasonable to require miners and building workers to wear hard hats (to minimise injury). It is reasonable to require soldiers to wear recognisable uniforms (if only to distinguish them from their enemies, and prevent them mistakenly killing each other). There may be all sorts of perfectly good reasons why, in particular circumstances, it is reasonable to require people to wear something. If no good reason can be found for requiring people to wear something, then it is unreasonable to require them to do so.

    Is it, then, reasonable that schoolchildren should be made to wear uniforms? I cannot myself think of any good reason. The argument that uniforms iron out differences, minimise jealousies, is, I submit, merely irrational and emotional sensibility trying to pretend to rationality.

    And what applies to school uniforms also applies to muslim uniforms. If there is no good reason for them, nobody should be required to wear them.

  105. Well, that went better than expected. I don’t think we’ll be hearing any more from Mz. X with regard to my secret identity. However, having sunk the thick end of a bottle of scotch, I apologise, in advance, if my comments are less measured and civil than you have all come to expect. Firstly, thank you all for your support during this distressing time. I have chastised the young lady in question to within an inch of alcoholic poisoning and I will be surprised if she remembers her own name tomorrow morning let alone where this blog is. Before I receive utterly unwarranted accusations of irresponsible behaviour, I placed the young lady in a pre-paid cab with strict instructions to take her immediately home.

    Meanwhile, back on Earth…
    Yes idlex, I concur that many (if not all) of the issues discussed here with respect to uniforms, Muslims etc. derive from irrational, emotional responses. Unfortunately I would say that’s also the diagnosis for probably 90% of the socio-political problems in all terrestrial civilisations. Humans are emotional and irrational, period. I’m not sure I’d change such a thing even if I could although, that being said, the world would almost certainly be a more peaceful place. Unfortunately, it would also be called Vulcan.

    Your query with regard to whether it’s reasonable to require school children to conform to some dress code is a less abstract question in that I am confident that teachers who have seen both sides of this particular coin would be able to comment on the matter with the benefit of experience rather than (our) conjecture. Hypothetically, I can see some justification for not allowing children to turn up to school in expensive ‘designer’ (horrid term) clothes because those pupils less fortunate in the fashion stakes will (inevitably?) be stigmatised by their lack of such trappings of wealth and this may additionally lead to instances of vexation motivated by petty envy and consequently cause unnecessary disruption. Similarly, Shamina could turn the playground at her school into a sort of ‘devotional’ cold war. Her insistence on wearing clothing rigidly defined by her particular sect/denomination could be seen, by other pupils, as being a statement that she is more devoutly orthodox than they are and by inference, a more ‘worthy’ Muslim. Again, I can’t see this as being good for school morale or discipline.

    Again, you are correct in that these statements are based on an irrational, emotional paradigm but, let’s face it, we’re talking about adolescents here. The only thing which would stop them from being emotional and irrational is probably a pre-frontal lobotomy(?) or lithium. So my vote on this matter would be pretty much what I’ve already said. i.e. the current (uniform) system seems to work with the existing regulations on uniforms and reasonable compromises on religiously motivated attire. Shamina seems to be a lone individual with her sights set on either becoming a martyr for the cause or exploiting the contemporary and endemic lack of resolve in British schools when addressing such matters. I concede that this isn’t really a good reason, in your terminology, and would be insufficient to justify a change to such a uniform oriented rationale, but I do think it is a good reason to maintain the status quo.

    And Shug, Loosen up dude, it’s only a blog, not Hansard.

  106. fiddlesticks

    You’ve got the grumps old boy. Of course a comaprison between Sinn Fein and the BNP is at present slightly silly. The BNP do not run numbers of housing estates by terror yet nor can their members kill people in pubs with impunity knowing that none dare come forward to speak to the police.

    Unlike Irish fascism, which probably learnt a lot during the second world war when it supported the Nazis, British fascism is a pretty amateur affair. As P. G. Wodehouse noted our rather silly sense of humour means we tend to giggle at people who parade out in black shirts and jodpurs, unless they are playing polo of course.

    My unreserved apologies. The knuckle grazing grunts of the BNP have a long way to go before they can rise to the sophistication of Irish fascism. Many thanks for helping me keep things in perspective.

  107. I once drank 16 pints of a rather nice Liverpool brew at lunchtime and went back to work. It was the day I left (as planned previously).

  108. Schools and workplaces are not places devoted to the development of the individual, and they impose uniforms to reinforce in all directions the sense of belonging or conformity, the temporary subjugation of the individual. Just try wearing a really different outfit to work at a bank and see what happens. Institutions like schools and corporations can’t possibly deal with thousands of individuals, so they try to de-individuate them just enough that they can be predicted and managed. (raincoaster)

    I have always understood the role of education to be one assisting individuals to develop and broaden their minds.

    And in the workplace, I don’t see that individuals need to be ‘de-individuated’ in order to be managed. It strikes me as extremely bad management practice to set out to crush individuals into subservience. Indeed, it sounds more like the sort of thing that happens in army training. And, if nothing else, individuals generally remain individuals at all times.

  109. Well let it not be said I can’t take criticism: Evil Twin’s edit is indeed better than the original.

    One small point that needs to be cleared up is that I view government as a service delivery organization, and taxes are the fee paid. The service rendered is that government does the thinking about all kinds of things the public just really doesn’t want to deal with. This is essential in any society as complex as ours, as there are just too many decisions to be made. As well, it allows the people to scapegoat disposable people (ie vote them out and replace them with, often, virtually identical people) without making anyone shoulder the burden of making their own decisions in the meantime.

    It is annoying though: they usually have to pay me before they get to edit me. But then, sometimes I even do a second draft for them if they ask nicely.

  110. Bleah! What I meant to say was that government is the highest of the organizations to which we delegate decision-making power, not that goverment’s role was to intermediate between the individual and the institutions. It is not apart from those institutions; it is the meta-institution.

    Great, now I’m second-guessing ever post. Thanks ET, you truly are evil.

  111. For example, if we take idlex’s, slightly sarcastic, proposal, whereby some fixed dress code were to be genuinely applied to the whole of British society, I am utterly certain that every person who has (ever) posted on this site would be on their way to set fire to Westminster Palace even as we speak. (Joe M)

    I was indeed being slightly sarcastic, and I’d like to be as certain as you are, but I’m not.

    In the first place, it wouldn’t happen overnight: it would happen in stages. First undesirable forms of clothing would be subject to prolonged vilification. Then these forms of clothing would be declared to endanger health. Over-tight clothes would be shown to impede blood circulation. Studies would show that women who wore high heel shoes were admitted to hospital for concussion 2.3 times more frequently than others. Further studies would show that wearing green wellies had a strong correlation with angina. Trousers would be shown to constrict the naughty bits. TV documentaries would spring up about Clothing Safety, a bit like they do about cookery these days. The Department of Health would issue clothing safety guidelines, and devise a National Safety Costume – a khaki jacket and skirt, plus wooden clogs. Celebrities would be shown wearing it, and ministers would expound on its benefits. Then, in some national emergency – an unnecessary war or something – the NSC would become mandatory dress, with swingeing fines for anyone found not wearing it.

    You don’t lose your freedom all at once. You lose it little by little. And when it’s finally all gone, it’s too late to revolt.

  112. All the above, of course, is loosely based on the anti-smoking crusade. (Incidentally, not content with banning smoking in public places, they now want to ban smoking being shown on TV.)

    But there is another way in which a uniform dress code might be imposed. Everybody here, except me, thinks that schoolchildren should wear uniforms. All that needs to be done is to extend school age, and the dress code that accompanies it, indefinitely. And bob’s your uncle.

    I’d be around about a forty-fifth former by now, I reckon.

  113. The great thing about posting stuff at this time of night is that nobody interrupts you. They’re all fast asleep, the dear sweeties.

  114. I’m sure you look adorable in short pants, idlex!

    I never actually said that I favoured uniforms; in Indonesia, they’re a form of extortion. The government has a committment to provide free education, but jams up the price of the uniforms; kids with no uniforms don’t get to go to school. Nasssssssssssty.

    I think that people should just get TF over how other people look, but until the day that glorious and enlightened anarchy arrives on our doorstep, it’s just a pipe dream. I can see that where people get hung up on appearances, blindfolding them all might work. I’ve done it with horses, and it’s quite useful for getting them over sticky places.

  115. I just want to say a few things.

    If people want to hunt foxes, let them hunt foxes, if people want to wear headscarves, let them wear headscarves.

    I think policing in London has gone bananas when it comes to religion/religious hatred. Did you see the Met walking quietly down the street with those religious nutcases who were protesting about the Mohammed cartoons?

    Next thing you know they want to prosecute one of them for inciting murder. This will surely never be successful; you can’t give someone a life sentence for waiving a placard, can you? They’ll be hoping he pleads guilty on the inciting racial hatred so they can drop the charge (but I doubt it) expect it to be quietly forgotten about or get ready for another long and expensive legal battle about whether the use of the word ‘Europe’ means ‘European’ and whether ‘European’ is a race.

    Surely they should have just confiscated their placards under the Public Order Act 1986 (as amended) and told them to go home or get nicked for breach of the peace! Surely if someone is inciting murder or racial hatred it is in the public interest to arrest them immediately?

    Oh, and aren’t the Danish government spineless. They effectively apologised for having free speech! Shouldn’t they have just said that they though the newspaper were idiots for publishing it and that angry Muslims were free to send them bags / gigabytes of hate mail if they wanted to?

    One good thing about this is I have been broadening my knowledge and reading a translation of the Holy Koran for the first time.


    It doesn’t strike me as a very riveting read to be honest. From the way these fundamentalists go on you’d think it was all death and destruction. I couldn’t find anything that incites one man to kill another. I’ve no idea about how good a translation it is but I found this bit quite amusing:
    ‘The Believers
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
    [23.1] Successful indeed are the believers,
    [23.2] Who are humble in their prayers,
    [23.3] And who keep aloof from what is vain,
    [23.4] And who are givers of poor-rate,
    [23.5] And who guard their private parts,
    [23.6] Except before their mates or those whom their right hands possess, for they surely are not blameable,’

    Maybe this Begum girl, if she is such a devout Muslim, should devote her spare time to helping the poor, not help a few greedy human rights barristers to pay their mortgages?

  116. I’m sure you look adorable in short pants, idlex!

    Well, I’ve been wearing them for the last 50 years or so, so I’m pretty expert.

    But Joe Mental and the Ancient Submariner would totally knock spots off me in this division.

  117. I suspect, were I to use some sort of hydraulic press to get into my old squash kit, I’d bear a startling resemblence to Tweedledum.

  118. Thanks Steve L, I had a quick squiz at it. Has anyone written something like “The Good News Koran” though? I find all the stuff about “orphans” and “eating property” typically opaque.

    Look guys, all this stuff: the Torah, the Gospels, and the Koran, was just a load of junk a bunch of power grabbing nutters knocked up for the purposes of control and intimidation.

    I don’t know if any of you have read anything about Charles Taze Russell (Founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses)? This guy spent more time in the court (fighting libel actions against the Brooklyn Eagle – which he instituted I hasten to add) than he did in the pulpit. All this was in the early part of the 20th century (+/- 1920)

    Russell’s claim to fame was that he retranslated the bible (from Greek) and that (according to Charlie) there were some errors in the original translation and consequently Christians were “following the wrong path”. The Brooklyn Eagle, somewhat wryly, observed that it was odd that a man who only made fifth grade at school could translate from Greek which sparked off yet another libel action. In court, whilst being asked to identify some Greek letters on a bit of paper, Russell admitted he hadn’t got the faintest clue about Greek. Presumably it’s just another case of divine inspiration.

    All the aforementioned religious texts have in common and to distinguish them, is the veneer of credibility attributed to them as a result of extreme antiquity. In the absurd, from my perspective, event that a God (whose likeness we enjoy) exists and his/her/its motivations are those ascribed to him in these specious texts, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that this being is currently screwed up in a stomach hugging position in fits of laughter at human credibility!

    Gospel according to Joe Mental

  119. I have always understood the role of education to be one assisting individuals to develop and broaden their minds.

    I wish it were so.

    Long ago, I was on a task force examining whether or not secondary schools met the needs they were supposed to. We designed a questionnaire for the graduating students to fill out. It all went well enough until the final draft, when questions relating to individuality and self-determination were deleted en masse. This was an arbitrary decision by the school board, and the rationale they gave us was that the questions were “irrelevant.”

    Here, from The Memory Hole is an interesting explanation for the school district’s thinking: it was DESIGNED that way from the beginning. And I do have to agree, given my individual experience, both listed above and things I haven’t posted.

    Some snippets:

    Fingers are pointed at various aspects of the schooling system–overcrowded classrooms, lack of funding, teachers who can’t pass competency exams in their fields, etc. But … Even if they were cleared up, schools would still suck. Why? Because they were designed to.

    America’s public school system was designed the way it was (age-segregated, six to eight 50-minute classes in a row announced by Pavlovian bells, emphasis on rote memorization, lorded over by unquestionable authority figures, etc.)… Because the men who designed, funded, and implemented America’s formal educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s wrote about what they were doing.

    In 1888, the Senate Committee on Education was getting jittery about the localized, non-standardized, non-mandatory form of education that was actually teaching children to read at advanced levels, to comprehend history, and, egads, to think for themselves. The committee’s report stated, “We believe that education is one of the principal causes of discontent of late years manifesting itself among the laboring classes.”

    Elwood Cubberly wrote that schools should be factories “in which raw products, children, are to be shaped and formed into finished products…manufactured like nails, and the specifications for manufacturing will come from government and industry.”

    Harris also revealed:

    “The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places…. It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.”

    Several years later, President Woodrow Wilson would echo these sentiments in a speech to businessmen:

    “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”

    And so on, and so on. Plenty more to read on that site.

  120. Idlex:
    The kilt precludes pants of any dimension: I must however admit to my breath being in short pants.
    And Steve L:
    You found nothing in the Q’uran about the unbeliever and how one should deal with him? Read on MacDuff; read on!

  121. Why, this debate reminds of me of the intrigue surrounding Ayatollah Arkwright, the Rochdale Mullah who wanted to wear his flowing robes in the machine room at Cobble & Petard’s Mill on the Bacup road. Terrible controversy at the time.

  122. Jehovah’s Witnesses? I had a couple of them come around once when I was a student in Huddersfield. I found them strangely amusing, but felt a bit sorry for them at the same time.

    I was bored so I confessed that I had read the Bible before and proceeded to chat with him about it. It turned out he believed that his religion was the only religion still controlled by God. He believed that at the moment in time when (supposedly) the Serpent tricked Adam and Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that Satan took over the world. He went on to explain to me that not only could we only be saved by Jesus, but that his religion was the only religion that could do this for me, and that everything else in the world was still controlled by Satan.

    Yes, that’s right, every other religion, every other organisation, every government, even me (although I didn’t realise it of course). Poor man!

    Someone once told me that when they are working they donate a percentage of their salary to their church (a big skyscraper in downtown New York). So basically, if this is true, they are out doing door-to-door sales for whoever is behind it, commission free and actually paying for the privilege.

    The bit that gets me though is that (if they follow their teachings) they would sooner let their own children die than have a blood transfusion, and they go around, big smile, nice as pie, trying to persuade you to get your priorities in order and do the same!

    Having ‘googled’ them following Joe Mentals suggestion I found (amongst many thousands of pages of American drivel) some jokes:

    While travelling near Tampa, Florida I passed the “Jehovah’s Witness Assembly Hall” and was struck by the fact that that must be where they make them.

    I learned something the other day. I learned the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Halloween. I guess they don’t like strangers going up to their door and annoying them.

    Pages and pages (some good, some poor) of JW jokes at:


  123. There is a history of semi illiterate religious nuts doing impossible translations, for example , the young American Joseph Smith, unable to find what he sought in any of the non-conformist Church in his native land, suddenly being able to translate the hieroglyphs on some gold plates he claimed to have divined as a dowser, into the Book of Mormon.

    Why is America the birthplace of so many new , so-called religions?

  124. More to the point Macarnie, why can’t we do something to stop them exporting their ‘so called religions’ over here?

    Surely the commies at the EU Commission can do something useful for once?

  125. Steve’s religion:

    ’19th over: An effortless golf-style drive from Flintoff sends Sreesanth’s next ball soaring over long-off for the first six of the innings and brings up England’s 100. He then produces a deft chip to collect four more in the same region and bring up the fifty partnership. The last ball of the over is dispatched way over mid-wicket for another maximum and the Indians look beaten already.’

    (BBC, 28th March 2006)

  126. Have given up on the Koran for the time being, too long, boring and repetitive. Here’s a thought for the day from the Bible though:

    Exodus 20:14 (New International Version)
    ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

    Matthew 5:28 (New International Version)
    ‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’

    Matthew 18:9 (New International Version)
    ‘And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.’

    If they read it in this order (and they do seem to hop and skip around to suit them, rather than start at the beginning like common sense would dictate) there would be a lot of one eyed people over the pond!

  127. It is interesting to observe that there is not a single blog or thread that references the source that requires the dress code advocated by Shamina Begum. In Islam the absolute reference point is the Quran; all other books and sources are interpretations. Anyone can access the section of dress code written in the Quran; you need not be a muslim to access this information, but not a single thread has bothered to read the source. It would be a very interesting exercise for them to do so; they may be surprised by their reading; the Quran is authentically translated into Englash with many transliterations, to name just a few transalators with their nationalities in brackets there is Marmaduke Picthall ( English); Yusaf Ali (Indian); Muhammad Ali (Indian), Muhammad Asad (Iraqi converted from Judaism) ; all of whom did their translations in the early part of the 20th century their transliteration of the Quran about dress code for both men and women is almost identical and their interprtations are also very close to each other. I suspect the judges accessed this material before they made their ruling. Anyone with an open mind can get an idea of the dress code that is portrayed by Islam by reading the relevant passages from the Quran. Incidently there is no reference; where a woman is required to have her head totally covered, should anyone find a passage or reference which says otherwise please post it for viewing.

  128. The reason nobody’s cited Koranic law is that it is irrelevant to the discussion. The point is not what the Koran dictates; the point is what is allowable under British law. Whether or not her beliefs are in accordance with the teachings of the Koran is not ours to decide, thankfully. Nor the judges.

  129. Why is America the birthplace of so many new , so-called religions? (Mac)

    I suspect it may be because Protestantism – protesting against established beliefs – is inherently fissile. No sooner have they got one Protestant church going than another bunch of people protest, and split off to form yet another church. The process repeats itself indefinitely.

    But that’s just a guess.

  130. Raincoaster, re:

    Some (wise) comedian once said that religious wars were nothing more than two groups fighting about who had the better imaginary friend.

    We agree at last! (if you support the latter statement anyway) I never thought it would happen….. so it must be a miracle!?!?!?!

    Praise the Lord!

  131. Oh Mullah Raincoaster; you indeed have a great deal in common with the Mullahs who prefer to burn books rather than read them. Your ‘mother of all Judges’ pronouncement on the niceties of the British Judiciary would be better served if your read around the subject.

  132. raincoaster, you can do some research here:

    You’ve GOT to be kidding!!!

    It should be enough to put you off this particular exponent of the Abrahamic religions for life.

    I don’t know if it’s sponsored by the BNP or what, but if, as someone observed earlier in this blog, this bunch don’t have their ‘enlightenment’ (whatever the hell that is) soon it’s a poor lookout for the future in the Middle East.

    If one percent of this is true (and not out of context) it’s still enough to make my stomach turn.

    (You’ve got to see the video about “How Muslim women eat” though)

  133. Oh, and before I pick up a load of death threats from the God squad and demands to “shoot the messenger”, the guy who put the site up has specifically requested confrontation and refutation.

    You can read his (somewhat pugnacious and offensive) challenge at:

    Sew a button on that!

  134. Joe, it depends on WHICH imaginary friends we’re talking about. After all, mine is for real. 😛

    Bashir Ahmad, you are simply incorrect. Whether or not she was in obedience to Koranic doctrine is not the question that was being asked. Sometimes, Bashir, it just isn’t the question, and this was one of those times. Whether or not she’s obeying God’s true will is between her and God. As we say over here in North America: Like, so not my problem.

    I don’t think I need a refresher course in some of the more constraining interpretations of the Koran. my mother lived in Saudi Arabia and during that time the entire family gained an appreciation for the diversity of Islam, as well as some of its less attractive manifestations. It must be said that we also picked up a great deal of respect for it, and a certain degree of knowledge we hadn’t had before. It’s almost as diverse as Protestantism, although thankfully the Lutherans et al haven’t really gotten into Jihad. There were those Crusades, but of course that was Catholics. Nothing to do with us!

  135. However the current crusade (and Bush used that word one time) has everything to do with American Christian Fundamentalism, which definitely isn’t Catholic. I don’t think the Pope supports the Iraq war. But then I don’t think the Archbishop of Canterbury does either.

  136. And I really hope there is a Rapture, and that I get Left Behind.

    It would be just great if all these blithering Fundamentalist idiots suddenly vanished overnight.

  137. idlex, do you really think this has anything to do with Christianity? To me it seems obvious that the invasion of Iraq is simply oil-based. Until the Seventies, the US effectively owned all the oil in Saudi Arabia; ever since they lost control of that, they’ve been looking for a substitute. They invaded Afghanistan to use it as a staging platform. I really do not think the motivation was anything other than control of the world’s oil resources.

    Dubya is the shining example of the way a certain kind of jabbering superficial Christian thinks: the more you talk about Jesus, the less you have to listen to him.

  138. Raincoaster; you have strong preconceived views of what I should be saying instead of reading what I am actually saying. It would be a shock to both muslims, christians and others as to what is actually written on the dress code in the Koran. People love to hang on to preconceptions rather than read the actuals; this fear of the truth often leads to disputes and misunderstandings. Islam has as much to do with Saudi Arabia or the Middle East as Christianity has to do with Europe, which is none ! Jesus Christ is often portrayed as a tall blonde blue eyed scandinavian born coincidently on 25th December, the same as the ancient date of celebrating the ancient Pagan religon of Europe. The reality is that he was born sometime in June or July and certainly wasn’t a tall Scandivian, but so much commercialism and folklore has been developed that any reference to the original source is haw-hawed. The interpretation of Islam by the Saudi Government is not absolute but the petrodollar is used or abused to give favour to their interpretation; without the petrodollar, Saudi Arabia would have no voice; just as America would have no voice; we all know money talks. There are no other muslim countries that insist on women fully covering themselves; it is left to the women to decide on how she dresses. Since you are familiar with Saudi Arabia; you must also know that during Haj no men or women are permitted to cover their heads during pilgrimage. There is no injunction in the Koran that insists that a woman must have her head covered; however it may be too much to ask you read the source, as you prefer to read websites with their concocted versions. The power of misinformation is beneficial for both sides an argument who have their own agendas.

  139. Bashir, in this you are correct:

    People love to hang on to preconceptions rather than read the actuals

    Facts Bashir. It’s important to look at the facts. And the fact is, the dress code of the devout was never in question in this case.

  140. Ah, and perhaps you forget that two of the three holiest sites in Islam are in Saudi Arabia. It is from that, rather than from riches, that Saudi Arabia’s true influence on Islam comes. Do I have to remind you of everything?

  141. idlex, do you really think this has anything to do with Christianity? To me it seems obvious that the invasion of Iraq is simply oil-based. (raincoaster)

    I agree it’s essentially all about oil. But I think that as part of selling it to the US right, they’ve chosen to tap into apocalyptic Christian fundamentalist ‘End Time’ thinking (if ‘thinking’ be the right term for it) to shore up support for the war of Good against Evil Turrists. And it’s quite clear that it works.

    Incidentally, in this respect, Bush was recently asked if he thought we were living in these ‘End Times’, to which he replied that he hadn’t thought about it.

  142. Well the list of things Dubya hasn’t thought about is a long one indeed. Perhaps I’m prejudiced (moi?) but it seemed to me that on 9/11 he was struggling with reading My Pet Goat.

    And yes, it’s all just spin. Bush is a social Christian; he likes the connections church gives him, and he likes the Calvinist doctrine of course, since it implies he’s so virtuous. But a man who has a hard time with My Pet Goat is not going to succeed at reaching an enlightened interpretation of Revelations, for instance.

  143. Well i am at last impressed with some sensible commentry on this issue. I really dispair of modern “britain” that this case got as far as it did in the first place.

    well done boris for saying what needs to be said on this.

  144. Raincoaster; Is it really that difficult to believe that there are many muslims, in fact most muslims; who do not fall into the defination of a muslim as given by “Fox TV”. Presumably; during your time in Saudi Arabia you must have learned a great deal about Islam in the isolated expatriate ghettto colonies where reinforcing prejudices and preconceptions over several martinis and beers has been a popular pastime; not dissimiliar to the ghettos in Europe or America where migrant workers seek refuge in a alien environment. The only difference being one of magnitude in monetary gain; otherwise the level of ignorance about each others cultures remains the same. “A great deal ” is gained by many parties by encouraging distrust and divisions. The Saudi version of Islam is understandably followed in Saudi Arabia but not elsewhere unless there is some coersion with some petrodollars. Hollywood’s popular self-mocking portrayal of infidels has a great deal to answer in this game of misinformation.

  145. Raincoaster; none of your comments annoy me; entertain perhaps but not annoy. There is a great deal of common ground. Have a nice day.

  146. I’m glad my posts entertain you. I hope that they may perhaps educate as well. For the record:

    I have never been to Saudi Arabia

    I have been to Indonesia, the US, Mindanao in the Phillippines, France, and Canada, so I don’t have quite the constrained view of Islam of which you accuse me. One of my dear friends spent quite some time as a political prisoner in Pakistan over this and other, related issues.

    I know we all look alike, but do try to treat us like individuals.

  147. ‘It is interesting to observe that there is not a single blog or thread that references the source that requires the dress code advocated by Shamina Begum.’
    (Bashir Ahmed)

    Ahem! I put a link up for the Koran last week!

    I apologise for not reading it from cover to cover and finding all the correct references for everyone, but you guys all seem to have too much time on your hands anyway judging at the amount of time you all spend on here.

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