A Conversation for Ask h2g2

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 1


Some back bencher of the Tory/coalition has suggested that the Muslim veil should be made illegal by law:-


He's trying to bring in a private member's bill banning the wearing of the veil in public.

And then there was the recent point from a Tory/coalition member in PMQ that the facebook page about Raoul Mote should be taken down

Chris Heaton-Harris wants the PM to get Facebook to take the page down.


My view is that it is a tradition in the UK that we confront these things with argument. Yes, we may need to bring in laws that limit freedom concerning things like terrorism..but for goodness sakes, bringing in strong arm tactics and Law, about bits of clothing across the face and a web page peopled by many weirdo and nutters?

I don't like the tone of the back benchers in the new coalition. I hope Cameron and Clegg have the balls to stand up to them.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 2


I think these are two very different issues, but I take the point about dictating how we live our lives. Hopefully any debate & vote in parliament will be a free one and not party driven.

Personally I have some sympathy with the first proposal - or at least circumstances where clothing rules may be applied. Whilst I respect the right of people to dress how they choose, I feel that a certain code of decency & openness should also be observed according to the situation. In the hospital where I work, I sometimes have veiled ladies in my consulting room. Some stay covered up, some partly unveil (as I am female - I guess they would not do this with a male practitioner). I do feel there is something lost in communicating when you cannot see the other person's face.
I wonder if the pubs & shops that ban hats or helmets, or the shopping centres that ban hoodies would also ask veiled ladies to reveal themselves?

As for the facebook page - fine for MPs to express their opinion, as the facebook posters are. But if not illegal (not obscene etc) let it stand. Better ignored & not advertised.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 3


>Personally I have some sympathy with the first proposal<

What actually bringing in *legislation* about it? like the French recently did, and I believe Belgium. As much as I also dislike the veil, it's the idea that some government MPs think we should actually make it illegal, that I think is totally ridiculous.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 4



Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 5

Taff Agent of kaos

i'm a smiley - biker and a lot of establishments i frequent will not serve me unless i remove my helmet, yet will gladly serve anyone! in a veil/burka/niqab

this is discrimination

in the intrests of equality, we should have a level playing field

smiley - bat

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 6


From the Moat article, a quote from Cameron

"I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man. There should be sympathy for his victims and the havoc he wreaked in that community. There should be no sympathy for him."

Should there not, really? None at all? You heard it here first. Sociopaths are officially off the register of human concern, no better than rocks, and particularly boring ones (I happen to like some rocks - I'm an amateur mineralogist). Bad news for people who work with people like him so tirelessly in Broadmoor and the like, trying better to understand what makes someone so at odds with the world.

He MAY be correct from a moral standpoint - MAY. but in his capacity as Prime Minister he has no authority to determine where individuals should or should not direct their sympathies within the rule of law. He might entreat them, but he cannot command them; that's sort of the point of his beloved democracy. What concerned me about how it was put is that he seeks to exercise such authority and I wonder how he might steer legislation on the strength of it. We have proscribed organisations, could we have proscribed sentiments? If it's okay to ban a far-right movement, is it okay to ban a far-right ideal, or the expression of it on some nasty internet backwater. And how would you police it? Call the Web Sheriff?

It might simply be an unfortunate choice of language, what he was expected to say. He said should, not must. But he has no mandate to determine the human worth of anyone, least of all someone without a capacity to reply. He is an elected representative, not Anne Robinson.

Freedom and Fairness doesn't allow for the ringfencing of hearts and minds; it's thoughtcrime by the back door. If I want to sympathise with Moat (I don't, naturally), Jordan, Team Edward or Peter Mandelson for that matter, that's my business and no-one else's.

The veil issue is only an issue in public establishments at risk of robbery. Outside of that do what you like.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 7


You've never heard of showing leadership then Chris? Or the elected leader leading by example? Note that he only said there *should* be no sympathy for the murdering, vicious, wife-beating, child-abusing Moat; not that such sympathy would not be allowed.

"his beloved democracy" - you have something against democracy?

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 8

The Twiggster

All in favour of idiots being able to demonstrate they're idiots by showing "support" for Mr. Moat. Let the Facebook page stand, because quite apart from anything else Cameron would be made to look a fool if he tried to get it taken down and it was shown that he can't.

On the other hand, in the culture of this and most other European nations, there are a very very few, very limited situations (Halloween and other party-type occasions, while riding a motorcycle, etc.) in which wearing a mask in public is culturally acceptable. There are NONE in which doing so routinely is acceptable.

In western European culture, there is one class of person only who go routinely masked - criminals. Furthermore, many modern legitimate crime-prevention technologies (e.g. speed cameras taking hi-res photos of drivers, CCTV cameras) depend for their efficacy on facial recognition. Making it a criminal offence to routinely conceal one's face in public seems to me a perfectly reasonable and sensible idea, the more so because it brings us in line with other civilised European nations in doing so.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 9


> Furthermore, many modern legitimate crime-prevention technologies ... depend for their efficacy on facial recognition. Making it a criminal offence to routinely conceal one's face in public seems to me a perfectly reasonable and sensible idea

Glasses, beards and heavy make-up are also known to defeat facial recognition algorithms. I guess those should be banned too. Seems perfectly reasonable and civilised.

> In western European culture, there is one class of person only who go routinely masked - criminals.

Ooh, don't forget ice hockey players and welders! Your analogy between muslims and criminals works well with them too. I mean, ice hockey players are known for their violence, and welders... well they work with dual-use weapons technology. Clearly suspicious. Those muslims are in with some pretty bad crowds!

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 10

Taff Agent of kaos

<<> In western European culture, there is one class of person only who go routinely masked - criminals.

Ooh, don't forget ice hockey players and welders!>>

and when do you see ice hockey players and welders in public trying to go about their daily lives with their work masks on???

they wear them for work and generally do not interact with the public on a one to one basis,

that was a stupid example

don't forget surgeons in operating theatres, soldiers in chemical enviroments, firemen in breathing apparatus, sword fencers, racing drivers!!!!!

i'm sure if they went into a bank in their full face coverings they would be asked by the counter staff to un cover their faces

smiley - bat

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 11

Taff Agent of kaos


in the intersts of fairness this bit about the muslim veil should read, all face coverings and atempts to hide identity in public(apart from those required for a valid lawfull practice or required for health and safety)

lets not single out any one groupsmiley - winkeye

smiley - bat

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 12



>>You've never heard of showing leadership then Chris? Or the elected leader leading by example? Note that he only said there *should* be no sympathy for the murdering, vicious, wife-beating, child-abusing Moat; not that such sympathy would not be allowed.

If it wasn't obvious I was TUI when writing all that, but I think it stands up even if I couldn't. Yes he said should, I noted that. Yes Moat was all those things. But however you put it the inference is that David Cameron knows better than we do what is a legitimate sympathy and what isn't; he doesn't, and shouldn't. He can show moral leadership but outside a scenario like a war, who is he to show spiritual leadership? If I go on a shooting spree this afternoon do I immediately forfeit the anguish of my past and present? No. The balance of my mind was clearly disturbed, and I don't cease to be a human being simply because he says I no longer deserve to be thought of as one.

Luckily for me Charlton Brooker said it better.

>>"his beloved democracy" - you have something against democracy?

No! Democracy is great. It gives us the freedom to choose who we want to represent us politically and, like it or not, vocally in terms of our symathy for others. If that means an Etonian, tough. If that means a witless chav, tough.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 13

The Twiggster

"there is one class of person only who go routinely masked - criminals.

Ooh, don't forget ice hockey players and welders!"

You're right! I never thought of that! Welders and ice hockey players ROUTINELY wear their masks - not just while they're welding or playing ice hockey!

How could I have forgotten all those welding masks and ice hockey masks I see people wearing in the supermarket every time I go there? How could I have forgotten about all those ice hockey masks and welding masks people are wearing on the high street?

Did you ignore the word "routinely" on purpose, or by accident, or did you simply not see or understand it?

OBVIOUSLY all sorts of people wear masks legitimately for protection for a short time when carrying out certain hazardous tasks. Ice hockey players are an excellent example.

They're a perfect example, in fact, because in our culture, "ice hockey mask worn other than on an ice rink" brings to mind only one image - that of a fictional multiple murderer.

Most civilised people understand perfectly well universal cultural more of the west that the only people who deliberately conceal their faces in public are criminals. Why don't you?

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 14

The Twiggster

"Glasses, beards and heavy make-up are also known to defeat facial recognition algorithms. I guess those should be banned too. Seems perfectly reasonable and civilised."

It's hard to respond to this without coming across as insulting...

What you've made there is an argument for better facial recognition algorithms. This would, I think, be obvious to anyone thinking clearly.

If, on the other hand, you address the point with prejudice, having already made up your mind, then it might seem like a valid objection.

However - in general, glasses, beards and makeup are NOT specifically designed and worn with the express intention to conceal facial features. Certainly it's possible to do so - but it's far from the norm. Also, and it pains me to have to state this, as facial recognition technology improves - and it DEFINITELY will - all the above techniques will become less effective. We're already not far from the point where a computer can recognise a bearded or bespectacled face BETTER than a human, by analysis of bone structure etc.

However, without some sort of cloth-penetrating scanner, which no doubt EVERYONE would have legitimate objections to, people wearing masks in public are *in principle* impossible to identify, and are such by dint of their deliberate clothing choice. And that, I'm afraid, is suspicious behaviour.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 15


A few reasons why I don't like the idea of using Law to stop Muslim wearing the veil; (and I hadn't thought about the face recognition aspect of CCTV, which is a fair point, but sometimes compromises have to be made about certain things if other factors are more important. I'm not sure how much this is likely to be a problem in reality, so I'll put that aside for now, but accept that maybe a valid reason for making wearing the veil illegal).

I have a strong liking for British traditions of tolerance about certain things like cultural difference, that are best dealt with by the population in general having certain attitudes towards them, and exerting social pressure and argument on things like TV, if its felt that certain behaviours are exploiting that tradition unreasonably. That's difficult though because we all have different things that we feel are so much of a problem to society in general, that actual legislation should be passed. Things like that can only happen over some time to determine whether there comes to be an acceptance or not of certain behaviour, or indeed if such behaviour gradually diminishes.

Aside from that rather vague idea of liking British traditions, I can think of reasons concerning practicalities.

I think it would give a good opportunity for *certain* Muslim groups to exploit in terms of the martyrdom card. I remember at the time of the Iraq war seeing a large group composed only of Muslim women demonstrating about it in central London. I can easily imagine demos being organised where all the women would be wearing the veil. So presumably there would then be mass arrests. Pictures of this would be shown in the media no doubt. Because the veil is a cultural tradition, rather than something used deliberately to hide the face for criminal reasons, it could be exploited to the full by certain groups to increase tensions and division.

In France I believe certain Muslim groups are promising to pay the fines of any woman arrested, so getting a fine will hardly be an incentive to desist.

About a mile from me you will regularly see women wearing the veil. Are the local police to be engaged in arresting these women and doing all the paperwork any arrest entails? An inner city area like this has plenty to keep the police occupied at the best of times. Simple example being the dangerous speeding I regularly see on local streets, which don't have speed cameras. I'm far more concerned about things like that than police spending time arresting Muslim women wearing veils. Kids and older people can be knocked down or killed, and it often makes crossing the road a really unpleasant experience, in case some speed freak suddenly comes around the corner.

And if people see a veil wearing woman in the street, and no police are close by, I can imagine some people shouting and creating a disturbance about it because its actually illegal. I wouldn't be too keen to be in a crowded area with things like that happening.

But I think women wearing the veil should be prevented from doing certain jobs such as teaching in state schools or working in direct contact with the public in the NHS. I think the veil is a big problem in jobs like those.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 16


A public ban is silly. What next - ban the Stig? The CCTV argument is specious too. The State has no right to see my face if I am just walking down the street. If I am trying to access services where my identity is important or if I am entering an area where criminals regularly hide their faces - banks, garages etc, then fair enough.

Individuals and non-State groups such as shops and the like are perfectly entitled to ask for veils to be removed.

But I would be against any blanket ban.

Instead we should look at who is wearing this bizarre garment and why. We know that Islamist activists wear them as a badge - a sort of "I'm more holy than you" garment. Indeed, I was in Leicester the other week and I noticed that the hardliners now wear the full kit with Arabic script from the Koran printed upon it. I would treat these people with the same disdain and derision normally reserved for the people with loudhailers and sandwich boards exorting us all to embrace sweet cheeses in the High St. Religious nutters.

We know that some women are forced into them by men. Banning the ninja kit would mean these women would simply be locked indoors and would be a travesty for women's rights.

We also know that some women claim to enjoy the anonymity of the costume - that they are freed from the lascivious gazes of men. Ahh - precious. They don't seem to mind the stares, giggles and pointed fingers though.

In short - we have three main drivers for wearing this get-up. Religious nutters, oppressed women and women with severe confidence and identity issues.

Isn't the answer obvious? These people need a Social Worker. They should immediately be placed on "At Risk" registers and given access to the full panoply of Social Services.

We shouldn't be bringing down the weight of law on them - we should be helping them.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 17

The Twiggster

A little thought experiment...

The UK has two strong cultural taboos regarding covering ourselves:
1. we don't cover our faces in public, and we regard people who do with suspicion
2. we DO cover our genitals in public, even when swimming or in a public sauna, and regard people who don't as perverts.

I wonder: if there were a minority in this country who, culturally, didn't have the genital nudity taboo, and whose members started walking around with their genitals exposed - how tolerant would we be? How tolerant would those liberals posting here EXPECT us to be?

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 18


Are we Brits really that tolerant of cultural differences? Perhaps compared with some other societies, we are. But it's not that long since there was open discrimination against all sorts of ethnic groups. I feel we are happy to embrace the eccentric individual, but I'm not so sure about the feeling for groups which come to this country but seem not to try to fully integrate.

Having said that, although the proposed ban on concealing the face is obviously centred on veils, it must encompass helmets, hoods etc. I think I would prefer that any such prohibition applies to specific buildings or circumstances rather than the street, or is an option that may be exercised by the managers of the premises.

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 19


Well, to be honest, I think the laws about nudity and exposure are a hangover from a puritanical Britain of the past, and that they should be scrapped as surely as any law that says people *must* cover their faces.

So, nudists? They wouldn't faze me. smiley - shrug

Basic freedoms (ukish centric)

Post 20

The Twiggster

"Are we Brits really that tolerant of cultural differences?"

I was responding to post 15's talk of:

"British traditions of tolerance"

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