The burqa:

Michael R. James writes: Re. “Corey Bernardi’s sinister plot to ban the burqa”  (Friday, item 17). Greg Barns says “all the usual right of centre arguments for banning the burqa” and “These are common arguments used by French.”

Well, no.  The French argument is the strongest and revolves around their constitutional guarantee of egality and human rights.  It could be, but I don’t believe it is, cynical.

The French do have a strong record on this, even if on other things racial they are not perfect.  For example they have a much more secularised public school system than us.  So the argument is more about the relatively small sub-group of Muslims in France which are still strongly paternalistic — a soft description of neo-feudal brutal male oppression of females. (To be fair to Greg Barns, he also states that fact.)  The banning of Islamic headwear in schools is a very justifiable move, in my opinion.  The contrary case is usually stated as: why shouldn’t a young woman wear it if she wishes?

Well, the point is that in those parts of Islam that still practice such vile habits (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Taliban, parts of Pakistan), those young girls are forced to wear it, even if they often will claim they are doing so by choice. Since it also goes with suppression of girls education it is even less valid to claim “by their own wishes”.  I say, let that “right” be restricted at least to when they attain majority (which is post-school age).

If I had my preference all children would be forbidden, in our secular society, to be inducted into any cult (Catholic, Methodist, Scientology, etc) until they attained the age of majority when they had true free choice. Why on earth should parents be given the right to brainwash their children this way? (Wouldn’t it be an act of kindness to rescue Steve Fielding’s children?  I rest my case.)

Last week ABC’s Emma Alberici reported on this from France and it was curious that the French burqa-wearing woman they interviewed was ethnically Caucasian (and French born) who had converted to Islam after being brutally raped as a child and being unable to cope with men’s intrusive staring (which is possibly even worse among Islamic North Africans in Europe, maybe just the same — it is pretty bad in the Latin world).

She was obviously quite disturbed and in no way representative of either young women in general and certainly not Islamic women. Nevertheless her French-Caucasian origins is probably why she was the only burqa-wearing woman permitted by her husband to appear on camera;  most husbands are the cause of the burqa wearing and forbid media contact.  As odd as it was, it still showed a convincing reason why the burqa is pretty evil.

The other interesting thing from the ABC program, and obvious to anyone who has lived in France or visited there much, the vast majority of the 14% of the population who are notionally Islamic (a lot of them drinking in bars around the 19th and 20th arrondissements!) do not embrace those extreme forms of Islam, and they don’t like the burqa either.

The security angle may in some cases be valid but it is a distraction–as is now happening on talk radio in Australia, as all the Neanderthals are embracing this as THE reason for banning it.

Justin Templer writes: Greg Barns argues that Senator Corey Bernadi could (and presumably, in his view, should) face prosecution under religious vilification laws for mentioning that wearing the burqa has been linked with criminal conduct.  In the course of his argument Senator Bernadi apparently also mentions female repression and other “usual right of centre arguments” for banning the burqa.

All enough reason, in Greg Barns’ view, for the thought police to “examine carefully” the senator’s viewpoint because it is “arguable that he is inciting serious contempt or revulsion of Muslim women”, which might be subject to prosecution under religious vilification laws.

In fact we might be more persuaded that, by peddling this unctuous tosh, Greg Barns is inciting serious contempt and revulsion for the continuously recycled troop of left-of-centre Crikey correspondents to which he belongs.

But more importantly, Barns is irresponsibly inciting contempt for and belittling freedom of speech.  This is a betrayal of his profession (if that is the word).

Joe Boswell writes: Greg Barns questioned whether Senator Bernardi’s comments breached Victorian law: “Senator Bernadi’s comments could certainly be said to amount to religious vilification and by arguing that a person wearing a burqa might be a criminal it is certainly arguable that he is inciting serious contempt or revulsion of Muslim women. It is one thing to argue for a ban on burqas on societal cohesion grounds, but quite another to do what Senator Bernadi did yesterday. This is why religious vilification laws are important.”

“Important” is presumably used here as an euphemism for bloody outrageous, oppressive and offensive to the principles of democratic society and free speech. As interpreted by Mr Barns, they can prevent anyone stating an obvious fact without risking prosecution. Or does Mr Barns assert that nobody wearing a burqa can possibly be a criminal?

Mining royalties:

Peter Wotton writes: Re. “The games people play: a credibility gap yawns again for miners” (5 May, item 20). Why do the mining companies include mining royalties in their calculations of their tax obligations? Surely royalties are simply what it costs the miners to buy the minerals from the citizens of Australia. Royalties should be considered as a cost of production and not a tax.

Fat finger fubar:

Keith Perkins writes: Re. “The fickle, fat finger of fate puts the Dow into down” (Friday, item 4). Last week’s calamitous cock-up at the NYSE, when a broker confused the number one million with one billion, caused me to wonder just how long Barnaby Joyce has been moonlighting as an agent at the world’s largest and most important bond and share market.

Peter Fray

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