Sacre Blunder


If you're wondering why we haven't been saying much about Jaques Chirac's inane effort to ban headscarves in French schools and other public buildings, it's because Jacob Levy at the Volokh Conspiracy has already given it such a nice smackdown that it'd be redundant.

NEXT: Out of the House, Into the Open

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  1. I agree with Mr. Levy’s assessment, and I think the French law is ridiculous. But I do have one “Devil’s Advocate” type of question: is it necessarily so bad for a country to say, “We like our culture as it is, and while you are welcome to live here, you must obey our cultural mores?” If you live in my house, you can be as religious as you want in your own bedroom, but I don’t want to listen to you say grace while I am trying to eat, and if you insist on spewing religion everywhere, I’d rather you just leave.

    Again, I think the French are wrong, but this does pose an interesting question: how can you prevent a wave of immigrants from turning your country into one that you yourself find foreign? Does anyone have any ideas on this?

  2. Yes, it is wrong to impose culture by the force of law on a person. Cultural elitism is racism, government mandated cultural elitism is institutionalized racism.

  3. Shady–

    I agree, but there is one other question I forgot to put in my first posting–if people do not want to become French, why move to France? It’s one thing if this happened in America–our country was founded by immigrants, and what we call American “culture” is actually an ever-changing mishmash of things contributed by the various waves of immigrants who came before us. Therefore, any attempts to preserve American culture would be asinine by definition, because American culture is constantly changing. The French, however, have always been big on assimilation–you are welcome to live here, but only if you become French.

    But I do wonder–what can the French do to prevent their secular country from becoming too religious? Here’s a true story from my life: as a high-school teacher, I once got a firm “talking-to” by the principal. My crime? Telling an intelligent seventeen-year-old girl that she could still go to college, even though her religious parents opposed the idea. Was I doing my job, or being culturally insensitive?

  4. The analogy of a country to one’s home seems dangerous; you can set all sorts of rules for what goes on in your own home that nobody would want to see governments establish for the citizenry as a whole.

  5. I guess I am calling the French need for assimilation institutionalized racism. I think that situations like the one at hand prove that compelled assimilation and personal liberty are mutually exclusive. Fraternity and liberty so to speak.

    As for your personal situation, after a little pondering I suppose that if you were acting as an agent of the state and imposing a state agenda then that would be wrong. If you were acting as an individual who is making a specific suggestion to an individual you know well then this is a reasonable role for a highschool teacher. We all hope that our child?s teachers will be their mentors, if this family was so religious as to be angered by your suggestions they would have probably been better off finding a parochial school. At the same time I have never been a teacher and I don?t know the dos and don?ts involved.

  6. It’s funny how only western countries are held to such a standard.

    Korea nationals need to have four generations born in Japan before they are consdered citizens and allowed to vote.

    Most middle eastern countries will not let anyone born elsewhere become a citizen, worship as they please, or own property. I know this is true in Saudi Arabia and Iran, i beleive it is true in other ME nations as well.

    I’m getting a little sick of the double standard, personally.

  7. it seems to me that arguing against cultural change is frighteningly similar to arguing for cultural purity — and may share many of that goal’s attendant problems. i personally view the french government’s attempts to regulate culture as thinly-veiled pandering to french xenophobia; and i think that’s well substantiated by the allure of the le pen family in french politics.

    french culture today is massively different than it was in 1789 — or 1920, for that matter — and the french are foolish to pretend they are defending some immutable, static legacy. if they could accept that immigration can be positive for them, and that their culture past is not their culture present — nor will either be their culture future — they might save themselves a great deal of needless angst and their minorities a great deal of persecution.

    of course, the french are only an example of a problem that exists in every western nation, the united states included.

  8. I hope by native NYer you mean Native American NYer, otherwise the analogy might stand on thin ice.

  9. Ok…. How in the world is instituting laws in the attempt to maintain your “culture” racist? That’s absolute hogwash.

    As for the french, to “preserve” their culture would require them to control every single detail of every single persons life in their society. To do that would ironically create a new “culture”. It’s an intangible smoke and mirrors kind of word that people recognize and throw around, but can never give a good definition for without writing 5000 pages of hideously dry text. As always, those in power are morons and will simply cause new problems by trying to “control”.

  10. “Ok…. How in the world is instituting laws in the attempt to maintain your “culture” racist? That’s absolute hogwash.”

    When you value your culture above others that is racism. When you allow some sorts of cultural clothing (hats, scarfs) and not others (turbans) that is racist, a policy that affects one race and not another.

  11. Remind me what a “race” is. Maybe it’s the actually genetic makeup. I recall that racists generally judge on color and physical composition, not attire and drinking merlot with dinner.

    From traveling over in france I can say that I saw a lot of different Races of Men that were clearly french in culture, language, dress, etc.

    Here in America you can definitely be a racist dick to a SubContinent Indian and still recognize that he/she speaks exactly the same as you do and enjoys going to the movies, shares similar interests in food, looks at the world in a very similar manner as other americans, and is truly as american as apple pie.

  12. It isn’t racist to value your culture above others, if your culture is indeed superior. Am I racist to think that America, which outlaws clitirodectomies for girls, is superior to nations that make a habit of chopping off clitorises (clitorii?) to ensure that females never experience the sin of sexual pleasure? Is it racist to think that Western democracies are better than Saudi Arabia? Speaking as a female atheist, I would rather be dead than living under sharia law.

    A couple of days ago Hit and Run had a post about how the EU sponsored a study to figure out why anti-semitism is on the rise in Europe; they suppressed the study rather than admit that Muslim immigrants were responsible for most of the nouveau hatred. I don’t mean to be a xenophobe, but the fact remains that the large Muslim population in Europe is causing severe social problems. Which brings me back to my original question: does a society have the right to say, “We like things fine the way they are, and if you want to come here you must not try to force your ways on us?”

  13. Wow, talk about getting lost in semantics. Sure, racism is from the root, race, which as you said refers to a genetic makeup. But the thing that really shocks people is the cultures associated with those races, foreign cultures inspire racist reactions. This is human nature, and I don’t advocate making people change that nature as individuals. When a nation is racist, however, there is a loss of personal freedom for the minority group. That is unacceptible.

  14. “If you live in my house, you can be as religious as you want in your own bedroom, but I don’t want to listen to you say grace while I am trying to eat, and if you insist on spewing religion everywhere, I’d rather you just leave.”

    A people don’t own the public spaces of their country the way an individual or family owns their dining room.

    Native NYer, what double standard? Are there people standing on street corners in New York talking about the wonderful Japanese immigration policy? The only thing I ever hear anyone say about Saudi Arabia is that it’s a miserable, corrupt tyranny. What’s the problem here?

  15. When the “nation” is racist> THat’s quite a blanket statement. And again supporting your culture doesn’t mean that you are a racist. To support Jennifer A. I like American culture. I also find some other cultures to be barbaric. Does that mean I am racist towards blacks, specifically those blacks from that “nation” or “society” that lop off clitorii (?). No, not at all.

    Arguably, when a nation state is attempting to maintain its culture by enacting new laws, everyone is less free. Extreme example: living under Sharia.

  16. “We like things fine the way they are, and if you want to come here you must not try to force your ways on us?”

    I’m sorry, are the yamulkes and headscarves mandatory? What, precisely, are the individuals who are being punished by the state (traditionally-garbed Muslim girls, for example) doing to “force” anything on anybody?

  17. It is okay to ethically judge cultural norms. There is difficulty finding an objective point to judge it from, but it would not be okay to do so purely from the basis of another culture. There are many cultural norms that have been changed for the better in this country.

    Why would you rather be dead then live under Sharia law? Is it because they limit your personal freedom? Ironically the countries that you cite argue they have a right to limit freedoms as a way to protect their religion and culture.

  18. Jennifer A.,

    Okay, okay, you’re not racist. Culture is not the same as race and so anyone calling you racist is extrapolating beyond what you actually said.

    But how about Julian’s response? That was my first impression to what you said, that comparing your country to your house is simply fallacious. You can kick someone out of your house for any damn reason you choose. Would you want the same power for our government? I’m sure someone somewhere has written a long philosphical treatise explaining why borders and property lines are different, but for now I think it suffices to say that they are.

    Native NYer,

    You’ve told us that you don’t like the “double standard,” but you haven’t which side you (presumably consistently) fall on yourself.

  19. is it necessarily so bad for a country to say, “We like our culture as it is, and while you are welcome to live here, you must obey our cultural mores?”

    How about these policies?

    1. You can’t kill or assault anyone else, even if your intended victim belongs to a religion you hate.

    2. If you think a woman in your family has “dishonored” you, remember rule #1.

    3. You can’t mutilate her genitals either.

    4. If you don’t support yourself by providing goods or services to other people, there are limits on how much we’re going to give you, particularly if you make a habit of breaking rules 1-3.

  20. I may be totally wrong about this but aren’t a few “cultural” items in france leftovers from when the Russians took Paris? Like “Bistro”?

  21. The answer to this riddle is easy if you’re an anarchist.
    The evil comes from governments and their sovereign borders.
    There are pro and cons to cultural purity as there are pros and cons to cultural “impurity”.
    Without governments and borders, pockets of both would pulse and quiver over the globe until a fairly stable order would eventually emerge spontaneously.

  22. Sad to say, the French regulation would be fine here. After all, it bans all forms of prominent religious imagery – not just headscarves, but also crosses and kippahs (yarmulkes). This meets muster under the 1st Amendment. Ask Barry Lynn – in fact, I believe the Right Rev. Mr. Lynn would find it entirely salutary that such public displays of religion were banned.

    And since when did you lot get so pro-religion? It shows the increase of knee-jerk leftism (I’m talking to you, shady) around here that Judge Roy Moore’s attempt to establish religion was so roundly slammed, whilst the burgeoning Islamicist community’s similar attempts are so breathlessly defended.

    I would also point you to the example of left-libertarian Pym Fortuyn, who was assassinated last year. He was brave enough to ask the question, does a tolerant people have to tolerate an unfriendly takeover of their country, by an intolerant people? You will note in the French example, of course, that Catholic schoolgirls so affected didn’t take to the street and threaten violence here, nor did Jewish schoolboys likewise affected…

  23. By the way, the error in Jacob Levy’s analysis is that he premises his objections on the fact that the wearing of headscarves by women is required by most Muslim sects.

    So what.

    A number of Muslim sects require the killing of infidels. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily behavior worth legal protections.

    And yes, I think it’s an oppressive gesture. But if you don’t have the intellectual ability to defend your own way of life, I guess banning your opponents’ way of life is the next best thing.

  24. It might (might) fly under the establishment clause, but if you keep reading that amendment you get to the freedom of speech part, and there you would have trouble. Knee-jerk liberalism? Is that what you call freedom of speech these days?

  25. I think one reason I don’t necessarily oppose the ban is because I never bought into the idea that parents have an absolute right to raise their children as they wish. I will admit this is due to some unpleasantries I suffered at the hands of my own parents; parents do not have the “right” to, say, force their kids to get tattoos, or marry their fifteen-year-old daughters off to some eighty-year-old sheik.

    The whole point of the headscarf, and of hijab in general, is that women are inferior beings who do not have the right to mingle freely in society, or expose their hair to non-related men. (According to the book Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, the rationale is that ‘women’s hair emanates rays that sexually excite men.’ Ah, if only that were true; my waist-length hair would assure me of a damned good time every night.) If some evolutionary throwback wants to establish such rules in his home then I guess that’s his right, but why should public schools be forced to accomodate him?

    Should a society based on secularism and equality be forced to accomodate such ideas, which work directly against them? Should young girls be forced to behave as though they are inferior, lest they offend Daddy’s religion?

  26. Not that the 1st Amendment is directly relevant to French policy, but I wonder at the assertion above. Is the basis for this claim Goldman v. Weinberger? Because as I recall, that pertained to all headgear neutrally, and didn’t single out attire with religious significance. It’s also worth noting that that concerned the Air Force, and the Court’s traditionally been more deferential to the military’s prerogatives than to regulators of civillian life.

  27. Stephen doesn’t know the difference between the phrase “establishment of religion” and “the free exercise thereof.” Yes, such a ban would meet the first standard, since it would not discriminate, but would not meet the second, because it restricts the free exercise.

    Stephen also doesn’t know the difference between an individual or group egaging in religious activity (which Mr. Lynn has gone to court to defend) and the government engaging in religious activity, which he has gone to court to overturn. Yes, “you lot” had a problem with the government putting a shrine in a public building, and has no problem with individuals dressing however they damn well please. You really don’t see a difference?

  28. Jennifer, I can appreciate that parents should not have an absolute hand in their children’s affairs, but are you advocating the idea that the government should?

  29. Shady–
    Concerning your question about government interference with children; yes, I support it when necessary. For example: if you, an adult, are a Christian Scientist who refuses to take life-saving antibiotics or submit to life-saving surgery, that is your right. But you should NOT have the right to refuse life-saving medicine for your kids. If your child loses a leg in an accident, you should NOT have the right to withhold prosthetic legs.

    Here’s my basic rule-of-thumb: you cannot submit your child to stuff whose repercussions will be felt when that child becomes an adult. So if you want to make your seventeen-year-old go to bed at six p.m. each night, or never watch TV, well, that sucks for the kid but does not preclude a happy adult life, so go ahead; passing laws to outlaw it would cause more problems then they solve.

    But you should not be allowed to force your pregnant teenage daughter to carry the baby to term; giving birth at 15 will cause health problems that will last forever.

    I also disagree with the ruling that the Amish can force their kids to drop out in eighth grade, because by doing so they are making it practically impossible for their adult children to choose to leave Amish society. If you believe that your daughter should not learn to read and write, then I think the kid should be taught anyway.

  30. In all these “abstract” arguments about the ban, one never heards about the level of violence – including rape – associated with these headscarves. The banning is no more odious than that concerning the various items of identification of gang ware in the U.S. in public schools. IMHO, we are accomdating in this issue more than we have to; an outright ban on the headscarves would be justified enough without a ban on other things.

    As to the issue of women doctors only for women, well that is stupid. Once you make such a policy, there is no way to ever draw a line again.

  31. Shady – remind me again how culture is a proxy for race.

  32. BTW, last year alone, there were ~2,500 incidents of reported violence against women for not wearing the hijab. Hundreds of these were rapes. Those most prone to support its use are Islamicist radicals for who would rather create an Islamic state within a state (a new Taleban like region) in France than be Frenchmen. I wholly support the ban; and will continue to support it.

  33. Stephen Fetchet,

    Nice argument. 🙂

  34. Stephen–

    You’re way off. That law would not be constitutional here by any strech of jurisprudence. *Teachers* might not be allowed to display their religion in public schools, but students are. It’s a basic Free Excersize question. I don’t know of any U.S. court that’s ever decided otherwise.

  35. Jean,

    The analogy with gang attire doesn’t really work. First of all, displaying your gang membership is nothing like displaying your religion. I know France doesn’t have a 1st Amendment, but there’s got to be some guaranteed freedom of religion, right? You don’t have a right to freedom of gang affiliation.

    Plus, schools that ban “gang colors” are trying to punish gang members. Banning headscarves on girls to prevent rape is punishing the potential victim. That’s wrong.

  36. You don’t have a right to freedom of gang affiliation.

    Since when? I’m pretty sure I have the right to belong to whatever groups I wish. In fact, I’m certain of it.

    BTW, last year alone, there were ~2,500 incidents of reported violence against women for not wearing the hijab.

    Well, a law making sure that they can’t wear it is sure to put a dent in that behavior.

  37. “The analogy with gang attire doesn’t really work. First of all, displaying your gang membership is nothing like displaying your religion. I know France doesn’t have a 1st Amendment, but there’s got to be some guaranteed freedom of religion, right? You don’t have a right to freedom of gang affiliation.”

    And what if gang members claimed it was part of their religion?

    The Rights of Man (from 1789) remain the cornerstone of French freedoms. Here is the best English translation I have found on the web:

    Article 1 of the Preamble of the 1958 Constitution adds to this language in the following way:

    “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralised basis.”

    All citizens are being treated equal before the law here; indeed, if France were to provide these medical services as is desired, France would be granting favoritism to certain religious groups that could only be met with favortism to all, which would so overstress the French medical system as to make it impossible to run. We either bow to every religious whim or not.


    “Plus, schools that ban “gang colors” are trying to punish gang members. Banning headscarves on girls to prevent rape is punishing the potential victim. That’s wrong.”

    Actually, the potential victims are women who do not wear the hijab; there is no punishment, but there is protection. And outside of school, women may wear them as they please.

  38. Phil,

    Yes, it will put a dent into it.

  39. BTW, I always love it when Hit n’ Run post says things like such and such already had a “smackdown,” etc. Its fun to watch an author attempt to tilt a debate before it even starts.

  40. “BTW, last year alone, there were ~2,500 incidents of reported violence against women for not wearing the hijab. Hundreds of these were rapes.”

    France has a Muslim population of around six million.

    If you’re going to ban minority self-expression because of the bad actions of 0.1% or less of that population, why stop there? Maybe you should arrest people for speaking Arabic, or having dark skin.

  41. Steve: “Plus, schools that ban “gang colors” are trying to punish gang members. Banning headscarves on girls to prevent rape is punishing the potential victim. That’s wrong.”

    Jean Bart: “Actually, the potential victims are women who do not wear the hijab; there is no punishment, but there is protection. And outside of school, women may wear them as they please.”

    If there is no protection to women outside of school, then what is the point? Are those “hundreds of rapes” occuring inside the school grounds? If so, aren’t there more obvious, and effective, counter-measures that French authorities could take than to ban articles of clothing?

  42. So there are Muslim extremists who rape women because they do not wear the hijab — but who will refrain from doing so when all women do not wear the hijab?

    “Westernized bitch! You do not wear the hijab! I violate you in the name of Allah!”

    “But I’m not allowed to wear the hijab. If I did, my school principal will give me a good talking-to!”

    “Oh, well never mind then.”

    Such obtuseness!

  43. Jean, you’re off the deep end on this one. These rules do NOT treat everyone equally, because Christians are not forbidden from excersizing their religion. Sure, “large” crosses are banned, but no Christian denomination that I know of mandates the wearing of large crosses. Orthodox Jews are required by their religion to wear the yarmukle (sp?) and Sikhs have to wear turbans. I mean, they won’t die if they don’t, but they won’t be able to practice their religions properly.

    And what’s so great about a law that oppresses everyone equally?

    Also, Julian is not here to moderate our debate. It’s his blog (well, partially his); it would be pretty stupid if he didn’t express his opinions in it.

    I’m as atheist as they come, but I can’t for the life of me rationalize this law. How could it possibly “respect all beliefs” by treating all believers like shit?

  44. Seems to me that JB is being unusually defensive about this issue. Too close to home perhaps? Or maybe just annoyed that the idiot in charge this time is French, rather than American.

  45. “I’m not being unusually defensive; the rest of you are being unusually obtuse.”

    Of course we are, Jean Bart, and you win on all points:

    – It’s important to support Chirac because that way liberty lies;

    – Banning religious paraphernalia affects Sikhs and Jews just as much as the smartass kid who wants to wear a Campus Crusade for Cthulhu button;

    – If unacceptable numbers of women are being raped, and that number is underreported, and there are large swaths of gang-infested slums where police fear to tread, the most efficient use of police power and money is to target teenage girls who wear shawls;

    – Wearing a scarf (or skull cap or crucifix — all religions are equal, remember!) is exactly equivalent to having your clitoris hacked off.

    Thank you for being so patient in explaining this to us!

  46. Hey Jeanbart, gotta question for you. My friend had a large cross tatooed on his forearm. Would he not be allowed to wear short-sleeves in school? Or maybe they’ll outlaw tatoos in France, too?

    I’m not trying to use slippery slope, I’m genuinely wondering what the solution for him would be.

  47. I dunno about any of this… I live in a big city and my girlfriend is traveling extensively this week and next during our “high” alert. It’s enough to make me scrutinize every plane that passes by the John Hancock building on its way to O’Hare.

    If a culture is defunct enough to the point where it simply hasn’t done anything right in 700 or 800 years is it so bad to maybe put the breaks on it? Of course this French initiative isn’t just against Islam – it sounds like it’s a pretty broad brush aimed at nipping in the bud anti-secularism in the state.

    If secularism is the foundation of social stability and religious thinking (superstition, home spun wisdom) is it’s undoing then the French can be no more guilty of anything other than trying to maintain a healthy government.

    Unfortunately their methods are decidedly non-politically correct. Further of interest is how this issue divides American evangelicals between those who are opposed to other faith’s and those who believe there is a “war against Christianity” in this country ? imagining themselves in the crosshairs at some point down the road.

  48. Thank you, Jean Bart, for demonstrating just how degraded France has become. Your government is able to reach in and a destroy its citizens’ basic religious and political (see last item) freedoms. And instead of being enraged or embarrassed, you actually defend it.

    Allons enfants de la patrie! Le jour de gloire est arrive; contre nous de la tyrannie l’etendard sanglant est leve. And tyranny has won!

  49. Uhm, wouldn’t France be best off by kicking out all those noxious beurs and the other imperial flotsam, muslim or not muslim?

    After all, they are just a nuisance and a drain on public funds, aren’t they? So get rid of them.

  50. Shady,

    I am a law head and I promise you the Consitution does apply to minors. It doesn’t always apply in exactly the same way, but the Supreme Court has famously said that students don’t shed their rights at the schoolroom door.

  51. Law Geek,

    I hate to break it to you, but I believe a public school in the U.S. could ban all religious displays quite easily, and quite consistently under the First Amendment. It would entail the banning of other forms of free speech as well – such as Young Democrats, the free association right protected groups like SADD, the Boy Scouts and so forth – but you could do it. The key principle is neutrality. If the school bans all expressive speech other than the spoken and written word in the classroom, the ban would be content neutral, and permissible under the First Amendment.

    This is how some schools have been able to exclude the Boy Scouts, in retaliation for their ban on gays.

    You could possibly narrow the restriction a bit, from “all expressive conduct” to “religious garments”.

    Under Tinker v. Des Moines, a school district could ban “pure speech” (such as slogan T-shirts, VietNam War protest armbands, etc) if fights broke out each time such things appeared, on the basis that it would cause a material and substantial interference in school discipline. It seems to me that you could ban kippahs, headscarves and crosses, if you believed the open wearing of these religious symbols was leading directly to violence. (In France, there is some evidence of increasing anti-semitic violence, committed by Muslims against Jews).

    You shouldn’t conflate your rights as a citizen, with the rights of school children. In Bethel School Dist. v. Fraser, the Supreme Court noted that the free speech rights of children in school are not co-extensive with the free speech rights of adults.

    I’d also pose this hypothetical: if the Hijab is permissible based on the fact that it is a tenet of Muslim religion, then why can’t a fatwa demanding the slaughter of all Jews and Christians, to begin in study hall, be worn on a T-shirt? My point being that once you start recognizing religion and linedrawing, you are on a slippery slope. If you were to apply neutral principles (as the U.S. does), then you must treat all religions similarly. While the Supreme Court kind of encourages accommodation, the policy in the last 15 years has developed into “if you want to accommodate religion in the public square you must do so equally; but if you want to categorically ban religion from the public square that is fine as well.” I’d submit that it’s only a public outcry that keeps our elected officials putting up the Menorah and the creche, and only the Supreme Court that keeps a lot of jurisdictions from just putting up the creche.

  52. Stepping back from the specific issue, it is curious that France has such a problem, when on another level the political leadership has made such a noisy show of championing Arab causes. I couldn’t give you numbers, but it is difficult to believe that the Muslim component of England (at least in cities like London) is radically lower than in France.

    And we all know England was a robust senior partner in the Coalition– unlike the clown who runs France, England’s PM isn’t a demogogue/MC for Arab tyranny.

    And yet this sort of ethnic strife appears to be much more subdued in England, and recently most Muslim organisations have withdrawn (de facto) from the Peace movement.

    The lesson? If you don’t want to suffer from Islamic extremism, don’t pander to it!

  53. Jennifer, aren’t you making a big jump from withholding medicine to religious garb? Do you really want a government that dictates which customs one can practice? And please don’t go into a condemnation of Sati, the rare Hindu practice of immolating the widow with the husband’s corpse, lets keep it to clothing. Do we want the government what clothing we can wear?

    Jean Bart, What is the definition of a race then? Then collection of amino acids that make up their DNA strands? offers this:


    A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.

    A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.

    It seems to supply both the nature and nurture definitions. If you looks at the second definition it includes the words “common history”…what does that have to do with genetics? What is the Jewish race exactly if it has to be pinned down to genetics? You cannot seriously seperate culture from race. If this was the case what would equal protection afford? You cannot discriminate against this person as long as he dresses, speaks, and acts like you?

  54. All the law heads out there should know that the constitution does not apply to minors anyway.

  55. I’m a bit suprised by this blog. Has anyone considered how this arguement would be rendered moot by simply stating that this is the typical product of state supported schools? Whether or not the individual has “rights of attire” in a state run school is rather like arguing what sort of art a government should support. There is no rational answer. When one fails to contest the fundamental premise of an argument, one supports it.

  56. I’m not being unusually defensive; the rest of you are being unusually obtuse.

    jb, if this isn’t the very definition of defensive, i’m not sure what could be. LMAO!! i know you are a (sometimes too) proud man, but that is unbelievably funny!

    now, perhaps you can educate me: is the french state under some sort of armed insurgency from a muslim fifth column? this is not (wholly) intended as sarcasm — recent french politics, from opposing wetern aggression in the middle east to le pen’s surprising popular support to headscarf banning can be in some ways better understood, it seems to me, if one sees those events through the lens of a cultural and political elite that believes itself under siege.

    to read your words, it would seem that you think of muslim men in the same way as some conservative americans consider african-american men — inherently dangerous and a rightful target of state and police suppression. if this is so, why not advocate the position of said same conservatives and forcibly send those ingrates back to their nation of origin?

    perhaps you and strom thurmond have more in common than i would have first suspected….

  57. I’m not being unusually defensive; the rest of you are being unusually obtuse. I support Chirac on this policy and will continue to do so; the hijab and all that stands for – religious oppression, oppression of women, etc. – has no place in the French public school system. No more than say clitoral removal belongs in the U.S. to be legal.

    Floyd McWilliams,

    The actual number of Muslims France is unknown; estimates range from ~3 million to ~6 million. And yes, I would say that is a high number; notice I also stated that those were the reported numbers. It is known that the majority of incidents go unreported.

    Steve in CA,

    I would say that they treat everyone as equally as possible; France will not allow radical Islamicists to undermine her secular values. And if this requires the banning of the hajib in public schools, so be it.

  58. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/21/2004 07:37:30
    A solved puzzle is just a picture.

  59. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 12:00:33
    [In] mourning, it is better to err on the side of grief than on the side of formality.

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