Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Second Score for Copé

Copé makes my bêtisier today for a second time:

The legislation will not be based on from France's law of laicité, or secularism, he said. It will draw on two arguments: the protection of women's equality and public safety. The burqa, as it is popularly called in France, has nothing to do with religion, said Copé. "It is about extremists who are testing the limits of the Republic," he said on Europe1 radio.

The point on public safety, Copé said, springs from the fact that society requires people to show their faces. Schools, for example, should not be expected to hand children over after classes to people whose faces they cannot see.


MYOS said...

Not to be contrary but he's right: you can't hand out kids to people whose face you can't see, no matter what it is that covers their face (say, a welder's mask or a Halloween SCREAM costume) :p

Unknown said...

That would justify a law against picking up your kid while wearing a burqa or a welder's mask, but how do you get from there to banning the burqa or the welder's mask on the Champs-Elysée? And if you ban the burqa, do you have to ban the welder's mask? Can a waiter be required to serve a customer wearing a ski mask but not one wearing a burqa? So many questions, so few answers, though I do appreciate the effort to turn a prejudice into a categorical imperative. This could tax the ingenuity of lawmakers for weeks to come.

satchmo said...

Copé is certainly making his case for inclusion in early editions of the Sottisier of the 21st Century. It's a bit alarming that there's already such stiff competition for this kind of dis-honor.

MYOS said...

Nah, it'd only be prejudice if there was an exception for ski masks. Because only upper middle class people go skiing and therefore it'd indicate a class bias. Nah?

... Actually, didn't they pass a law a while back that forbade people from wearing a balaclava on the street?
I'm serious now, but not certain. Who knows for sure?

kirkmc said...

I think that law only prevents people from wearing ski masks in demonstrations, but I'm not sure. FWIW, there's been a law like that in Germany as well.

Re the burqa issue - it's not a moot point. What about identifying yourself at a bank, or when paying for something by check in a store? What about driving? (Oh, I forgot, those women aren't allowed to drive...)

brent said...

The more I hear French people try to argue the enlightened case for restrictions on the Burqa, the more it sounds like a chapter from Freud's study of tendentious jokes. Yes, a person might well have to show her face to cash a check, retrieve a child, drive a car, apply for government assistance ... lots of situations where regulations on establishing identity visually might apply without argument. But to outlaw a mode of appearance, an ethnically distinct one, in every public space does not answer to any such pragmatic reasoning. It's discriminatory, plain and simple--a way to say 'We don't want your kind here.' To say 'It's a flagrant violation of laicité' invites the question: will the law apply to nuns, men wearing yarmulkas, anyone at all wearing a crucifix? To say "it degrades women" raises a different question: do string bikinis, strip clubs, and objectification in advertising all enhance the dignity of women, and if not, will these things too be criminalized? Sorry, but the famous French rationality gives way on this question to something more visceral--and from this pluralist culture, it isn't pretty.

kirkmc said...

The big problem with the burqa is that - aside from what it represents for the women who have _not_ chosen to wear it - the women wearing it will not take it off, citing religious reasons, if they need to be identified. Many of them will not take it off when in need of medical care, and in many hospitals in France, women in burqas or headscarves won't even accept medical treatment from men.

Oh, this is an interesting image:

David in Setouchi said...

Yeah, the showing the face argument can become ludicrous real quick, as well as the women's rights one.

Burqa should be banned because it's an invasion of religion in the public sphere. End of story and of the debate.
And yeah, Brent, I'm also in favor of making crucifixes and kippas and the rest illegal in public spaces.