My faith's better than your faith

Coming to grips with the influence of religion in secular affairs is not a uniquely American issue. As this story in The Economist points out, the rise of Islam in Europe is upending long-standing privileges enjoyed by Christians.

What has upset the old equilibrium, say law pundits in several countries, is the emergence all over the world of Muslim minorities who, regardless of what they actually want, are suspected by the rest of society of preparing to establish a “state within a state” in which the writ of secular legislation hardly runs at all. The very word sharia—which at its broadest can imply a sort of divine ideal about how society should be organised, but can also refer to specific forms of corporal and capital punishment—is now political dynamite.

That has rendered controversial some things that were once well accepted, like the existence of arbitration services which lighten the burden of the state by providing an alternative arena in which disputes can be settled. As Maurits Berger, a Dutch specialist on Islam and the law, points out, most English-speaking countries have a tradition of dealing with family law through arbitration—voluntary procedures to whose outcome the parties are bound. (Things are different in continental Europe, where the nearest equivalent is non-binding mediation services.)

Coming soon to a culture war near you?

Actually, it's already here. In the RDU airport last week, I overheard a man spreading the familiar lies about Barack Obama being sworn into the Senate using the Koran. Let the crucifixing (the religious version of swiftboating) begin.


A great response - IMHO

My nephew wrote this in response in December 2007 to one of my right-wing relatives diatribe about "protecting America against Islamofascists". He has allowed me to share this with others -

"The troubles that plague the kind of Islam that is used for terrorist attacks is the same troubles that have plagued all of the Monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) in the stages of their historical development. It is also the same trouble that plagues Nationalism. It is the notion that this story is the only one worthy of life. For religion this takes the form of saying: God can only be worshipped when God wears this particular mask. "God can only be worshipped as Christ," "God can only be worshipped as YHWH," "God can only be worshipped as Allah." Christians would be much better off if they focused themselves on following Christ and not interfering with the ways that others dance with the divine. Jews, Muslims, too, would be best off devoting themselves to God than getting fussy over how others do their devotions.

American Nationalism draws the same troublesome lines that unhealthy religions do. They assign primacy to the United States of America over and above others. When this piece asks, "What will you do for America?" it does exactly this. It asks for a pledge of allegiance to America and for prayers to bless America (it is doubtful that the author was thinking that this included South and Central America...). Personally, I do not pledge allegiance to "America" because it is too limiting. Why should I do things only for the people who inhabit the place that is presently called the "United States of America?" And why should I pray for God to bless the wealthiest, most prosperous nation in the world. If anything, my prayer is "God, please bless someone else for a change."

This dangerous way of thinking spans not only religious and national boundaries but also boundaries of species. Humans tend to put themselves at the top of the "evolutionary ladder" (hint: evolution is not a ladder, it is a strange music, no note is less a part of the composition that the other), looking down upon others of the life-world as being merely for the use of humans. This is the kind of thinking that creates the problems with numerous human-caused ecological crises.

None of this is meant to denigrate any story you might be living -- be it "Christian," "American," "Human," or otherwise. Every one can be lovely, but each lives in a kind of poverty of loneliness if it is lived in isolation and arrogance."

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle...
John Stuart Mill 1866


Thanks you. Your nephew has wisdom we can only wish upon the leaders in our world.

That's very well thought out, well written.

I particularly like this turn of phrase:

Christians would be much better off if they focused themselves on following Christ and not interfering with the ways that others dance with the divine.

Substitute the name of any religion/deity into that phrase, and you'd have the answer to a lot of the problems in the world.

For the record, I think "nationalism" becomes a religion as well. Just because a country isn't thought of as a god doesn't mean that the followers aren't behaving in a religious manner. Nationalism in the extreme, like any religion in the extreme, scares the hell out of me.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

is nationalism a form of religion?

--nationalistic movements offer their own liturgy, iconography, and ecclesiastical heirarchy.

--they do demand worship.

--they frequently attempt to deify either a leader or a symbol.

on balance, it looks like a yes...but let's go one step further, and apply the same analysis to corporatism.

if we do, it seems to lead to the conclusion that worship of the corporation might also be a form of religion (think coke/disney/nike here), suggesting that corporate worship might be the religious movement of the future.

"...i feel that if a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to shut up." --tom lehrer, january 1965

Tis why seperation of church and state is a good thing

The worst thing this article could find concerning the United States was the Amish? OK. I can live with that.

Separation of church and state is important. Recognizing that people have the right to worship, or not worship how they desire is important. You cannot tell anyone how to worship nor can a law recognize a form of religion is the way you must pray.

How will sharia work in this country? It would seem that sharia would attempt to parallel our judicial (secular) form of law which is the recognized form of law. So long as sharia does not impose laws that contradict our judicial laws a community that desires to function within a sharia framework should work similar to the Amish. Once sharia oversteps its bounds and would be considered going against the judicial portion of our government, then the separation of church and state is in jeopardy. The constitutionality of that portion of sharia should be reviewed.

Seems simple. If Islam is a religion that wishes to work within the frame work of others, I do not see a problem. Once sharia starts to impose, then there would be a problem.

Much of the fundamental Islamic ideas are exactly what our founding fathers wanted to get away from. Some group dictating to others how to worship. Freely worshiping under sharia is acceptable. Forced worship or requiring extensive modifications to accommodate worship is another.

In the early 80s, I had a shop mate who was Muslim. He prayed every day, 5 times a day. Some of the shop did not understand him, some teased him, some questioned his faith as well as his strict following of prayer with regard to facing Mecca. We are on a ship, he was inside the ship, we move around and change course, Mecca is always moving for him. I saw what he was doing and how he lived within his faith. He was following his faith. More power to him. He never required me to do anything associated with his faith. I respected him, he respected me, we were friends. My shop did not have to modify anything other then provide him a watch relieve once in a while so he could pray. No big deal. He recognized the UCMJ and the Navy recognized his faith. It all worked out with no problems.

A large majority of Muslims will fall into this category. Let me pray the way my faith dictates and I will leave you alone. Similar to MY desires regarding worship, Let me pray the way I wish, let me communicate with my God the way I wish. Respectful on both sides.

The picture at the lead of this thread is what concerns a lot of people. If this guy is Islamic, does he believe the poster he is carrying? With VT and now NIU having mass shootings, would you feel safe if this guy was walking in Blacksboro, Illinois or as you walked out of your non-Islamic church? My understanding of the extreme interpretation of Islam (which this guys seems to be doing), if your not practicing, your basically insulting Islam.

Obama is protestant. He took the oath with a bible. He says the pledge of allegiance, he stands at attention and faces the flag when the national anthem is played. No where is it a requirement that you place your hand over your heart. Acceptable forms of respect are standing facing the music or flag, placing or not placing your hand over your heart, uncovering your head if male, salute if in uniform. He displays the respect toward this Country I would hope a Senator or President would. He has not done anything unAmerican.

I really feel the need to point out

that as tragic as they were, the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University had nothing to do with religion.

With VT and now NIU having mass shootings, would you feel safe if this guy was walking in Blacksboro, Illinois or as you walked out of your non-Islamic church?

Holding a sign is one thing, acting on it is a different thing. I don't have a right to be comfortable, I have a right to practice, or not practice, my religion. It's a pretty thin distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.

As for your muslim shipmate, I think this is the way we overcome the mass hysteria and fear generated by prejudice. Many of us have friends or acquaintances who follow other religions, or no religion. Yet they are law-abiding, non-violent people. A muslima of my acquaintance has said to me, "To you be your way, me mine." I know she doesn't understand many of my choices in life, but she respects my right to make those choices, as I respect hers.

The stuff with Obama is only going to get worse as we get closer to the General Election. If he winds up being the Democratic nominee, watch out, any of us who support him will be called terrorist lovers, because there are idiots everywhere, even in politics.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

not really religion, my wandered just a tad, sorry

how many campuses are starting to run scared? Starting to think of bad things happening to them?

If that guy as pictured was walking in your town, would you feel at ease? Is he properly practicing his freedom of religion? If he got on your plane with you with his sign, would you feel comfortable? Would you show signs of concern? Would he even get down the concourse to get to your plane? Safety.

The small number of people who practice that kind of mind terror are ruining the good of thousands. Both on campus and in the religious field. That is the tie in.

A discussion today as well as a comment on the news concerning feeling safe on campuses and universities. One person stated to me that going to collage is not something she would entertain.

Safety. Are we safe.

I just put my son on a plane this morning -

to go to the Harvard National Invitational Forensics Tournament (Yeah, bragging just a little). So he's traveling, and he's on a college campus for the first time (overnight, anyhow.) Of course I'm a little worried about shooters and terrorists and all kinds of things. I'm also worried about him getting caught up in the night life in Boston and not wanting to come home - but I'm a mom, and I worry about stuff.

Now I see your tie-in; I'm sorry, it's late, and as much as I'd like to, I can't sleep tonight.

I saw this article earlier today - it might make your friend or others like her feel more comfortable about attending college. 10 Myths About School Shootings. Also, if someone is truly afraid of being on campus, there are lots of accredited schools that give degrees online.

The guy with the sign - I think it's a really provocative sign, and I don't know if it crosses the line between free speech and a threat. To me, it seems a threat, which should be dealth with by law enforcement, but I'm not a lawyer or cop.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

You do have the right to be comfortable.....

we all have freedoms. So long as my freedom to act does not harm you.

If a normal person looking at the situation would say, that is acceptable, then it should be. If a normal person looks at a situation and says, dang, that scares the crap out of me, then it is not acceptable.

Some folks do not put that criteria into their decisions.

I want you to be comfortable. I want to be comfortable. and we both can be if we respect each other. Is that guy respecting us? I do not advocate tar and feathering the guy, but having someone of competent authority explaining to him that what he is doing is unacceptable is appropriate.

Face covered, advocating a gruesome death to someone hummmm, just not someone I would want to bring home to mom. Unless you really do not like mom!

I see your point - and this guy in the picture

is definitely crossing the line that makes me uncomfortable, but you know - there are republicans that make me uncomfortable. I make some republicans uncomfortable. Where do you draw that line?

You draw the line here - was any actual harm done? Seeing an idiot with a sign doesn't harm me. It makes me nervous. We have cops and soldiers to go to for that. Which is what I would do, if I were to encounter this idiot in the picture.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I gave up on faith about 20 years ago...

...and every day the news reminds me what a good choice that was. 15 years of catholic school cured me from religion.

And just a reminder for everyone who gets that e-mail stating that Obama was a Muslim, don't let it go unanswered. All you have to do is forward the mail to and the campaign will set the record straight for you.

I'm looking at the sign and imagining the person

carrying it...and then:

I think about the people of all faiths and colors who, thru KIVA, make micro-loans to people of all faiths and colors all over the world... so those people can better their lives. Look HERE

I think about children all over the world living in families whose annual earnings are less than some here pay for a nice dinner out...(children whom you can give a better life for only $22/mo by going HERE

and then I think the world would be better place if the person behind that sign fell in front of a speeding bus.

Stan Bozarth

Some musings on religion

from another blog where I write about writing.

Amen to some of the comments. (Just kidding, I'm an atheist.)

Anglico is right about the switfboating allusion and the problems of religion in general, but the comment about Europeans losing the "privileges" of Christianity in worrisome. What privileges - like, say, everyone living under one goddamn law? What a privilege.

Yes, European countries allow mediation. Like we do. A few also allow separate "legal" systems for Hasids and the like. (But not, to my knowledge, for any special sects of Christians.) It's my understanding, however, that none of these groups forcibly circumcise women, or force them to stay locked up in a tiny flat whilst being beaten daily, or beat someone suspected of homosexuality. And if they did, I'm sure the state would step in.

I recommend two recent great Slate articles about this. "To Hell With the Archibishop of canterbury" (he recently proposed a separate Sharia system in England) by Christopher Hitchens (yes, he can be way too strident, but that doesn't mean he's not sometimes right), and "One Nation Under Multiple Gods" by Anne Applebaum (subtitled, "The British tabloids are right to bash the archbishop of Canterbury."

Good liberals want so badly to please other cultures and don our own hairshirts that we turn a blind eye to just plain bad stuff done by other cultures and religions. (And this is irrelevant to what you think about, say, Israel and the Middle East. Maybe Israel is a monster. That doesn't mean Islam-as-often-practiced is at all OK.) The simple fact is that liberalism is tolerant of everything but intolerance, and there's no contradiction in that. As scholar Stanley Fish puts it, liberalism wants everyone at the table except the person who wants to exclude someone. (Relatedly, he thinks "real" Christians, or non-weak kneed people of any religion, should by definition want to exclude and therefore cannot be liberal. But that's another story.) Put another way, I won't lose one moment of sleep calling myself a liberal while lambasting and fighting against radical Islamists who just aren't liberal (or Christians!). The West shed lots of blood over thousands of years to earn the right to the Enlightenment and liberalism, and I'm not going to abandon it now.

There was a great article by a liberal arts prof a couple years ago that summed up this point, but I can't find it now. But the funny gist was that liberals' tepid reactions to horrible injustices by radical Islam was like the late Soviet response to Doctor Lysenko's crazy idea about the heritability of acquired characteristics, which everyone knew was wrong. At some point someone needs to step in and say, "OK, this is crazy. Enough. We've all stayed on this train long enough."

(Finally, who's to say the guy in the picture isn't practicing the "real" Islam? You? Even some "official" imams? This is the problem with religion. I'm equally scared by all religions in the abstract, it's just that Christianity has been tempered by years and by blood to be, in essence, a philosophy of liberalism consistent with the rule of law. Islam hasn't so developed. You can argue about which religion is prescriptively more peaceful, and I might argue Christianity, but not by much. I'm getting a little Richard Dawkins-esque here, but you get the point. I guess I should say I'm happy that progressive Christians are on my side policy-wise, and I don't fear them, and I'm happy to politically ally with them, but I wish they'd just give up the ghost (hehe) and take the intellectually courageous step of becoming, at least, agnostics. I was raised with good liberal arguments to the contrary, and none carries the day.)

(Sorry. One more thing. None of this means that I'm a neocon or would want to deal with religion, religious people, or religious countries in a certain way. That's policy and strategy and is horribly complex.)

Good stuff.

I wasn't actually sharing a point of view on this when I originally posted, but if I had been, it would have sounded a lot like yours.


I thought that might be the case. When it comes to this topic, I'll find any reason to get into it! Sorry!

Pretty good stuff

But I've got to open your eyes about a few things.

Yes, European countries allow mediation. Like we do. A few also allow separate "legal" systems for Hasids and the like. (But not, to my knowledge, for any special sects of Christians.) It's my understanding, however, that none of these groups forcibly circumcise women, or force them to stay locked up in a tiny flat whilst being beaten daily, or beat someone suspected of homosexuality. And if they did, I'm sure the state would step in.

You're sure the state would step in, are you? How sure are you that the state would know about it? It's kept secret for a reason, and the young girls who endure this are often afraid to tell because they will be punished or turned away from their families.

European countries, the US, Canada, all of the supposedly "enlightened countries" do not take violence against women seriously. As recently as 30 years ago, this very state forcibly sterilized people they thought were incapable of being good parents or incapable of producing "decent" offspring. Female circumcision happens in the US.

Why does FGC occur in the United States?lcloud's note:FGC is Female Genital Cutting.

Because significant numbers of females continue to emigrate from countries where FGC is practiced, the population of females in the United States who have undergone FGC or who are at risk for FGC is increasing. Immigrants and refugees often establish social support systems and networks in the West that reflect the social and cultural diversity of their country or origin or ethnic group. Cultural activities and family obligations such as FGC may be unaltered by the geographic location of an individual. Furthermore, the problem of FGC in the United States is compounded by complex barriers that immigrants and refugees may face difficulties with cultural adaptation, immigration status, economic issues, isolation 1 and access to education and healthcare services for populations who have undergone FGC or who are at risk for FGC. Under federal law, FGC is illegal in the United States for girls under the age of 18. But if FGC is still performed, it is unlikely that the girl would be brought to a health care facility for the treatment of complications because the fear of legal repercussions would be too strong.

Yes, there are laws against it, in 16 states. NC is not one of them.

Since 1998, 16 states have instituted criminal sanctions against the practice of FGC: California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. A federal law criminalizing the practice was passed in 1996 and became effective in April 1997. The law provides that the practice of FGC on a person(s) under the age of 18 is a federal crime, unless the procedure is necessary to protect the health of a young person or for medical purposes connected with labor or birth. The penalty for violating this law is a fine or imprisonment for up to five years, or both. This law specifically exempts cultural beliefs or practices as a defense for conducting FGC.

It was Harry Reid who introduced the bill that finally exempted FGC from cultural beliefs or practices as a defence for conducting FGC, BTW. Go, Harry.

As for women of any faith or no faith being locked in a tiny flat and being beaten every day, damn. I could tell you my personal story - and there are several regular posters who could tell you theirs. The state didn't step in. Sometimes even when they were asked to. Sometimes, after the state steps in, it's worse. Sometimes you have to break the law to save your life. It's just not that simple.

Judging the guy carrying the sign - is it true Islam? Only Allah knows. (I think out of respect I'm supposed to say "blessed be his name", but I'm not sure.) I wouldn't care to judge the faith of any one who claims any religion. I judge the words and the actions. I don't like that guy's actions.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Agreed, kind of.

I don't doubt for a moment that women are abused (generally) in this country, or that ethnically European women are abused in Europe. Of course not. Or that our prescriptive remedies don't always work, for reasons of secrecy or otherwise. But no one can seriously contend that we are anywhere *near* Islamic countries when it comes to the treatment of women. Any such statement is complete sophistry, to be used as a cudgel to win and not to actually argue.

As for our country taking violence against women seriously, that's a mixed bag. We've clearly made progress. Rape shield laws, some societal change in attitudes, etc. But a lot of the problem is about rape itself - a crime for which the perpetrator goes to jail if he's guilty - and difficulties of proof. No one wants to admit it, but perhaps the biggest problem is that burden of proof and the fact that it's often he said/she said, and it's hard to get to "beyond a reasonable doubt" with that. And I wouldn't want that standard to change just for rape. See, e.g., Duke lacrosse. As for non-rape violence, that's also tough. It's hard to convict (or hold liable) a suspect (or defendant) if the women doesn't want to cooperate, as well it should. And there are many, complex reasons why women don't communicate. We can certainly work to change those, but there's no easy solution. As for your story about the state not stepping in, or it stepping in and making it worse, I know what you mean. I've seen that. Of course that happens, and it is atrocious. But you just can't compare that state of affairs to that in Iran.

Also, note that most forced sterilizations in this country have been against men, not women. See Buck v. Bell (Supreme Court case, Justice Holmes upholding such a law. Generally regarded as his worst decision, and although not overturned, like Korematsu (Japanese internment), it's "de facto overturned" and is regarded as an embarassment. "One generation of imbeciles is enough" is his favorite quote from that opinion. Ugh. And I love Holmes.)

As for the federal FGC law, I'm happy about that. I wrote an entire law review article about that when it was passed, actually. It's my understanding, though, that it's never actually been used. Or maybe it was just once a year or so ago, I forget. In any event, I suppose NC should pass such a law, although there's a lot of needless redundancy in federal and state law. But I'd strongly support it if only to send a message.

Anyhoo, you point about increasing FGC in the US buttresses mine - we're seeing more of it because people from other cultures are coming here and practicing it. Should we turn away and say, "well, that's just what they do!" Of course not. Our commitment to liberalism forbids that. We do a much better job than Europe allowing other people to practice their religions and cultures (no stupid headscarf bans here, unlike in France, home of "liberte, egalite, fraternite"), but at some point we draw a line in the sand. Figuring out where to draw that is often very, very hard. But wherever the line is, I know where FGC, beatings of women, etc. fall. And I don't want other cultures to have their own courts.

Finally, to your point about judging based only on actions. In the end, you're entirely correct. That's all I care about. If the Flying Spaghetti Monster makes you a good person, all the better. In practice, though, people who profess faith in a certain religion tend to act similarly, of course. They self-refernce to a sect is tied closely to their acts. I'm not judging the person's "religion" when he holds up a sign saying "kill those who insult Islam," I'm judging his actions (or probable actions, or substantive goals), but those aren't so separate.

(But, to be totally honest, yes, I do judge all religion equally. Equally poorly. Except for the "religion" of reason, of course. As I said before, I think it wonderful serendipity when a progressive Christian agrees with my policy preferences. But it's only serendipity. The irrational motivation might well go the other way, and there's no reason it didn't with that person except for luck, so I don't give them props. In other words, I don't judge the religion of the anti-choice far-right bigot any more harshly than that of the super-progressive Methodist. I dislike both religious impulses. I like the latter's policy much more, though.)

I find your views entirely reasonable

and I bet they would be your downfall if running for federal office in 90% of the US Congressional districts.

We could have a might fine argument.

I wasn't trying for sophistry; I was disproving the fact that "state" would take care of it should a woman be beaten or a girl have her clitoris cut off in the US. What I posted was true, and you tried to put it in the abstract.

Your off-handed treatment of rape and domestic violence indicate to me a lack of empathy I find abhorrent. James may find your views reasonable in the abstract; I dare say neither he nor you have had to face such situations and feel that there really was no recourse. It makes it worse that this is the United States and we're supposed to have rights here. Until you have a policeman laugh at the bruises on your arm and leave your home to have a beer with the man who put them there, you will never get it. (Before anyone says: Oh sweetie, I'm so sorry, just fucking don't. That's not the point.)

I'm editing this, because I find that I do have more to say, after all.

I never thought that this was a comparison of "Islamic" countries v. Western countries. From the very first, I thought the discussion was more about the issues we face because the entire world - especially western countries - are becoming more heterogeneous. (I sure hope I've used that big word appropriately.) I thought your argument that "we're better than they are" was a total non-sequitor, and a really didn't make much sense at all given the context of the discussion.

But - here's the thing. Just because you believe that in general we're better means nothing to the 10 year old who is held down had has her clitoris cut off with a piece of glass by her grandmother. It does nothing to help the 13 year old who is given in marriage to a man 3 times her age. It does nothing - nothing to help women who want to leave the abuse but can't because there is no money; there is no place to go. For them, it's not better. They might as well be in your Islamic country that is so much worse.

In my opinion - and this is why I will never be able to run for office (among many other reasons) - religion caused this. Religion. Judaism. Christianity. Islam. The big three. Women were considered property, and that has colored the laws of every nation on earth. I do not judge an individual's religion; everyone does what they have to do to get through. (We agree on that, you're right. FSM will save us all.) But Institutionalized Religion that taught women to be subject to their fathers and then their husbands - that is has caused this. In my opinion.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

You're right

I am operating in the abstract . . . and from too quick a read of the original comment.

Yeah - I shot from the hip, too.

I re-read both Sigmon's response, and my response to it. I edited mine a bit. I'm still talking. Still pissed, but still talking.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I don't think

we're having an argument at all. I don't think we disagree about much of anything, actually!

I didn't mean to "abstract" anything - I was responding to the beginning of the thread, what seemed to be an implicit assertion that the West should allow two systems of justice within its borders. The impetus behind which is the increasing heterogeneity of the West, particularly Europe, as you point out. I do think the "we are better than they are" theme (well, not worded in that way) is completely and directly relevant to that, however, because the simple issue is one of moral absolutes or the absolutism of absolute cultural relativism. Or, more concretely, when do we allow cultural practices that differ from abstract American culture and when do we not? We don't allow female mutiliation or female beatings (at least not prescriptively), and that is true regardless of what other cultures say about it. And we do that because, well, our moral view is better than theirs, because that practice is inconsistent with modern liberalism. (Not that we're better; but that certain of our moral precepts are. That conclusion is inescapable.) But our laws do allow Muslims to wear headscarves to school, unlike the French. And our laws allow them to do all sorts of things. That's the hard line-drawing.

You point out that the fact that we've improved doesn't help the current victims. Of course. If you're a victim, it doesn't matter what country you're in. And we always need to get better. My only point was that, as a matter of sheer fact, your chance of being put into a forced marriage, beaten, abused by your husband, etc. is higher in an Islamic country. My only point was that if you had to send your one-year old daughter to any country and never see her again, you wouldn't choose Pakistan.

Also, I never meant to treat rape and domestic violence "off-handedly." 100% the opposite. That's why I get pissed about people who want to accomodate wife-beaters just because they come from a culture where that is accepted. You and I have a common enemy - those (admittedly few) people who would accomodate such people in the name of pure relativism, po-mo theory, whatever. I think we're on the same side. It's my hatred for the way women are treated in these countries (and gays, and all sorts of other people) that gets me riled, and why I get REALLY RILED when certain of those people want to be able to continue those practices even when they're in our jurisdiction. We're also clearly on the same side re: religion. (I did comment on the difficulties of proof in rape and domestic violence cases. I didn't meant to be flippant about that - and I don't think I was. It's just true that difficulties of proof exist in those cases that don't exist in the average murder case, or bar-fight case, or tax evasion, or whatever. The nature of the case makes it hard to prove. That's it. Fortunately DNA has helped stranger-rape cases a lot, but that's a small % of the cases.)

In short, the impetus behind my original post was being pissed off that people can beat, rape, and force women into child marriage with impunity. It's hard to figure out how to fight that when it happens in Saudi Arabia; it's easier when it happens here. Step one, make it illegal and punish the perpetrators.


I've still never read a persuasive account about why religiosity in America and Europe diverged so greatly. I do have hope, however, that despite a small, recent uptick in religiosity during the last 8 years, that our general trend is toward secularism. We're like Europeans, just 200 years late! If so, then I'll run for office in 2050...

Maybe by then I'll vote for you!

For now, I reserve judgment.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

From a discussion elsewhere,

also pertaining to the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement about the inevitable inclusion of Sharia in Britain, I posted this:

I have no problem if a Muslim married couple both choose to have their marriage dissolved using a Muslim cleric as an arbiter, or other non-criminal legal issues (that don't impact a person who prefers secular mediation) being settled this way. But even criminal cases are now being handled out of the secular courts, and I have a big problem with that:

Islamic sharia law is gaining an increasing foothold in parts of Britain, a report claims.

Sharia, derived from several sources including the Koran, is applied to varying degrees in predominantly Muslim countries but it has no binding status in Britain.

However, the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action produced evidence yesterday that it was being used by some Muslims as an alternative to English criminal law. Aydarus Yusuf, 29, a youth worker from Somalia, recalled a stabbing case that was decided by an unofficial Somali "court" sitting in Woolwich, south-east London.

Mr Yusuf said a group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim's family told the police it would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.

A hearing was convened and elders ordered the assailants to compensate their victim. "All their uncles and their fathers were there," said Mr Yusuf. "So they all put something towards that and apologised for the wrongdoing."

Although Scotland Yard had no information about that case yesterday, a spokesman said it was common for the police not to proceed with assault cases if the victims decided not to press charges.

If you'll notice, this article is almost two years old.

Okay, so here's my problem—these kids stabbed another kid, who happened to be another Muslim. While the punishment meted out may have been an "effective" deterrant for future crimes, based on the social dynamic of Muslim communities, there is no secular record of conviction, and no attempt by secular authorities to administer correction or observation (parole).

What happens if these kids attack a non-Muslim next time, maybe succeeding in killing him/her? Who is responsible for not taking the proper action to keep this from happening? The State, the Islamic court, or the original victim's family that refused to press secular charges? In my opinion, all of the above. But it's a good bet that none of those entities will be held responsible for said repeat offense.

Which is only one reason why we can't go down this road.

While this specific subject deals with the conflict between Islam and the secular state (in Britain), I believe there is a danger when any religion (including Christianity) is allowed to administer justice in conflict with or in place of secular laws.

What privileges - like, say, everyone living under one goddamn law? What a privilege.

It is a privilege, Sigmon. There are many examples inequality in this world, where your race or religion or caste dictate the level of freedoms and justice you can expect from those who govern you.

There is a lot of talk amongst Libertarians about the government exerting "power" over citizens through taxes and laws, and they speculate that things would be much better if that power were surrendered to local groups (communities & churches) who better understand their own "unique" situations. I don't agree.

Equality can only be achieved through standards, and standards cannot be maintained piecemeal.

I assume

you must not have read the rest of my post, because clearly I was being sarcastic (responding to what I thought might have been flippance from Anglico about the "privilege" of having one law, but which was, as he commented later, not.) I, of course, think that having one law is the greatest privilege (and accomplishment) of modern civilization.

I read it, but

apparently I didn't read it very well. :)

Sorry, I didn't mean to be snippy.

It's just that I agree with you so much, your mistaken castigation hurt!

But you were right.

I spend too much time on another forum that focuses on debate, which makes me (sometimes) too eager to seek out and pounce on bold comments.

It's not the first time I've been mistaken. I'd like to say it will be the last, but that's a pretty bold comment...

Don't let it happen again

It's my turn.


PS I find our new community member to be mostly a kindred spirit ... well-written, well-punctuated, and insightful. It's really fun getting to know new people, especially with Linda Cloud ready to keep us in line. On matters involving women, I always defer to ... well, women!

What a nice way to say I'm a bitch. :)

I've been pretty ill-tempered today, and I'm afraid Sigmon took the brunt of it this afternoon. Poor guy pushed just about every button I have. I had to re-read his post(s) again out loud (much to the delight of my dogs, who thought I was talking to them!)

For a woman who is not particularly religious, and certainly not Christian, I find myself called to defend the sisterhood. More and more and more.

But I'm still voting for Obama - because he's going to do more for women than Clinton will. And that's kind of sad, when you think about it.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Why not a woman?

I would absolutely love a woman in the White House, but unfortunately I can't give Barack Obama a sex change operation.
All kidding aside, I'd really love a female President, but voting for a candidate because she's a woman makes as much sense as voting for a candidate just because he's black.

Left on 49

Heh heh :)

It's my turn.

I'm going to have to keep an eye on you. Just saying that is enough to bring on a doozy. Not that I'm superstitious or anything (salt over shoulder).

Aww, shucks.

I'm a little embarassed.

And Lcloud, I'd still hate to think that you thought you had to defend the sisterhood from me. Had I communicated better, you'd have known that's what I was trying to do (well, defend it in general). I meant my post to be a most feminist one.

As for you Obama predisposition, I share it, and I think Maureen Dowd said it best in the NYT last week: if Hillary doesn't win, its her failure, and not society's failure or a failure of feminism or women or progressives.

Maureen nailed it.

When I said I feel I have to "defend the sisterhood", I mean that I often shoot first, ask questions later, and let the chips fail where they may. Your post took some clarification, and I appreciate that you took the time to do that.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi