Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

The Silence of the Clams

with 8 comments


I’ve been working on a  number of dedicated posts, but none has hit that point where it can be whipped into shape in an hour or two, so, a few random observations on the the world as it careens by. As always, stuff just keeps on happening.

Well, big fires in California. Not much else to say, it’s a price we pay for suppressing fires for a century. All that deadwood has to burn off sooner or later. I’m sorry for those who lost everything, but this was an entirely predictable event that both as a society and individuals we had the means to prevent. It’s not that hard to build a house that won’t catch fire. Nor that hard to build suburbs that have decent firebreaks.  Sometimes I think humans are little better than ants.  Moving right along, as we are on the topic of California, a girl kidnapped when she was eleven has turned up alive, held captive for nearly two decades by a religious nutbar. Sadly while this is a terrible case, it’s a lot less unusual than many would think. IE there are lots of women trapped in similar circumstances,  so this case says more about our culture and society and religions than many people would be comfortable with. In other words,  clearly fodder for a future Doug’s Darkworld blog.

In international news, the compassionate release of the convicted  Lockerbie bomber got some people upset. Two points. Compassion is a good thing, it’s what makes us the good guys. Secondly, this guy didn’t blow up the Pan Am flight out of the blue, this was part of a nasty confrontation involving the USA, Iran, Israel, and Libya. And the role played by the USA and Israel is not completely beyond reproach. Indeed, it involves the USA shooting down an Iranian airliner, and Israel broadcasting fake terror broadcasts from Libya to convince the USA that Libya was a sponsor of terrorism. Yeah, some ally they are. In any event the Lockerbie bombing is a smaller part of a bigger uglier picture. Again, that sounds like something I should blog about someday.

I was reading that France made wearing the burqa illegal, a burqa of course is the head to toe covering that women in some Islamic areas wear whenever they leave the home. I have mixed feelings about the ban, but I can’t say I object. While I am a staunch defender of people being allowed to wear what they want if it’s for religious reasons, the burqa has nothing to do with religion and is a purely cultural artifact. If one moves to a western country, I think it goes without saying, that you don’t automatically get to bring all of your culture with you. Otherwise people would be allowed to bring slaves with them just for starters. And since the burqa is largely (if not entirely) about keeping women in a subservient position in society, I don’t have  a problem with it being outlawed. And I should add that it’s the face covering part that is primarily being outlawed, though France outlawed wearing the Islamic head scarf in schools as well.

It gets worse. The latest controversy is a woman who was thrown out of a public pool in France for wearing a burquini. A burqini is a burqa designed for swimming in. The lady in question and her burqini are illustrated above. The claim is that this had nothing to do with religion, it’s just that French public pools have strict requirements about what one can wear, and for sanitary reasons it’s pretty minimal. Me are required to wear speedos for example, which apparently comes as a shock to American men visiting France. Oh well, I’m sure the French will sort it out, they survived Caesar and Hitler, a few Muslims arguing about appropriate women’s wear isn’t going to bring about the end of French civilization and culture. In fact the French have a pretty good track record at stopping Islamic invaders, for those who forget, the French were the ones who stopped the Islamic invasion of Europe in its tracks.

In American domestic politics, if one wants to find out what real leftists think, check out this site: Not My Tribe. I find it an interesting read, but my main point here is that so many think that the Democrats and Obama are leftists, when in fact they are only symbolically to the left of the Republicans. I mean, neither party is actually advocating leaving Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a choice between Democratic interventionism or Republican interventionism abroad and between deficit spending or more deficit spending at home. Yeah, some choices. In other web site news, I came across Sourcewatch. Basically, there’s a lot of fake grassroots organizations these days, and with this site I can at least see who is behind what article. Granted neither of these site  above can be described as  truly balanced, but that goes for any web site. Even Doug’s Darkworld, but at least unlike many, I am at least trying for a certain amount of objectivity, if one tries to be objective, one can be sure of offending almost everyone! It’s the secret to my amazing lack of popularity.

Coming soon: How to Survive the End of the World in 2012, What if there was no USA?, and I reveal my incredible plan to end all war while still keeping our military parades and obscene “defence” spending.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and frankly I couldn’t find any credit or copyright info on the very main stream site where I found it. Credit: TimesOnline I guess. The title of this post? That’s from an upcoming post about “Movie sequels that will never and should never be made.” Others would include “Batman Conceived” and “Batman, the Gestation.” Suggestions welcome.)


Written by unitedcats

September 2, 2009 at 8:17 am

8 Responses

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  1. First of all, what do you mean, burqas aren’t part of religion? Maybe you think they’re a cultural artifact, and some people (including me) may agree with you, but do you think the majority of French Muslims would say so? I have my doubts about that, and I feel people should be allowed to define their own personal religious practices.

    Secondly, what privileges religious traditions above cultural ones such that people should be allowed to preserve their religion and all manifestations thereof, but aren’t allowed to preserve their culture? Especially when the line between the two is so blurry. It’s not that I disagree that all manifestations of culture or religion are valid, I just think it’s silly to distinguish between them in that manner.

    Third, I fail to see how burqas are oppressive in a French cultural and legal context – that is, a context in which you will not be stoned to death for not wearing it.


    September 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

  2. “I feel people should be allowed to define their own personal religious practices”

    This has OBVIOUS limits, no?


    September 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  3. Well, perhaps I misspoke, or didn’t add enough codicils. The reason I don’t disapprove of the French outlawing burqas is very simple, it’s France. France is a sovereign nation, and if that’s how they want to define things, I’m not going to argue. In fact a point I have made repeatedly is that Americans have a nasty habit of imposing their own values on foreign nations, and it’s something I try to avoid for the most part. If the USA tried to outlaw the wearing of burqas I’d be dead set against it, because I am pretty sure the Bill of Rights sets a much higher bar for banning personal expression than whatever laws they have in France. It’s all certainly debatable though, I’m not disagreeing with you, just trying to clarify my viewpoint. —Doug


    September 2, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  4. The limits aren’t obvious to me. If someone says (sincerely) that something is part of their religious practice, it would be quite foolish to say it wasn’t. It’s like telling people their favorite color isn’t really purple when they say it is. And the wearing of burqas is widely considered to be a religious practice among Muslims. Whether this comes from a misreading of the Quran and Haditha is arguable, but it’s still a religious practice.

    Doug – I’m all for imposing my values on other people, so I suppose we’ll just have to agree to disagree about the ban. Heh.


    September 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm

  5. You’re all for imposing your values on other people … but are against France imposing its values on its own residents? Did I understand that right, because I’m having a hard time parsing it. :) — Doug


    September 2, 2009 at 7:51 pm

  6. :P

    It’s quite simple, really. I think the right to wear whatever the hell you like is universal, and therefore should be respected by all.

    Not that it makes any difference to the French what I think.


    September 3, 2009 at 6:26 am

  7. Oh, you’re an idealist. Can’t argue with that, in fact I agree. In a perfect world everyone could wear (or not wear) whatever they damned pleased, and if people were offended … they would avert their gaze. Sadly it’s not a perfect world, but in terms of wearing what one wants in public, Berkeley comes pretty close. It’s one of the reasons I live here.

    Interesting topic though. Coming soon, a dedicated post on assimilation, racism, and such. (“Gran Torino” is required viewing first.)


    September 3, 2009 at 7:09 am

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