The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Friday, June 23, 2006

8 Simple Rules

There's a great discussion in the comments over at God is for Suckers (see link at right) regarding religious tolerance and how far society should go to make sure everyone is comfortable in public settings. Instead of posting over there I thought I'd throw something up here and get my point across.

They have some examples of Muslims wanting concessions from gyms and schools to accomodate their beliefs. A wall, for example, between a co-ed workout area and a women-only area because the men could see them. Also a different article said that a Muslim school wanted its women's basketball team to be able to play road games against public schools but only if men and boys were not admitted. Finally, a pool in Washington set up a swim time when all men, including male lifeguards, were banned.

To me, this is not a case of religious tolerance, it is caving to religious pressure. Most of these cases would be shown to be frivolous if the decision makers would only ask one simple question: why?

Case One

Religious Person (RP): "We'd like a wall between the co-ed area and the women's only area."
Decision Maker (DM): "Why?"
RP: "Because men can see us exercising."
DM: "Why is that bad?"
RP: "Because it will get the men excited and it makes us uncomfortable."
DM: "People look at you all day long, get over it."

To be fair, in this case it seems that the women signed up to the Fitness USA club with the understanding that there would be women's only days. The club took the money and then changed what was understood to be the policy. I wonder, however, if there were "mens' only" days as well, or just co-ed and women's?

Case Two

RP: "We'd love to play road games against other teams, but only if no men or boys are allowed in the gym to watch."
DM: "Why?"
RP: "Because men will get excited and become unable to control themselves.
DM: "Where do you live?
RP: "Right here.
DM: "So when men see the other women in society who aren't Muslim, who are dressed for summer, why don't they just lose control and start groping and raping? Your argument makes no sense."

Sayyid "Maulana" Abul A'La Maududi, a Muslim theologian, made the point that with respect to men, "If a thing appeals to him, he is urged from within to acquire it." I absolutely hate this line of thought because it labels every single man helpless to his inner urges and says that in order to keep myself under control, I need a very precise set of conditions - women being covered under loose, head-to-toe robes being primary. It's fucking retarded and speaks of animalistic times when if you wanted a woman, you clubbed her over the head. No society should cave to this sort of pressure.

Finally, Case Three

RP: "We'd like a private swim time for women."
DM: "Sounds fairly reasonable. Why?"
RP: "We want to swim by ourselves. Oh, and no men can be admitted, including lifeguards."
DM: "No lifeguards? That's a little excessive. What if the women's swim happens when a male lifeguard is scheduled to be working?"
RP: Tough. No men.
DM: Tough for you. Your swim time will be ok, but if there happens to be a male lifeguard on duty, you have to deal with that."

This point is dealt with nicely over in the GifS comments. If your silly rules are making someone lose out on salary simply because you don't want to be seen by a member of the opposite sex, fuck you. I remember talking to a female (non-Muslim) supervisor when I worked at a group home in past years and she said that she would be uncomfortable with a male nurse at a hospital. I was so pissed because she could not get past the "man thing" to see the professional nurse working. I understand that with respect to personal cleaning and such there would possibly be a level of uneasiness, but it's their job. It's not like it's pleasant for the nurse.

There is a certain amount of, "When he sees me he won't be able to control himself" in these comments. All I have to say to that is, get the fuck over yourselves. Most of you women, like me, aren't that attractive. Any woman, seeing me in a Speedo, would definitly lose control, but it would be with laughter. Flip the situation around and the majority of men seeing most women in a string bikini, would certainly keep control of their sex drives.

Finally, I remember a case in Canada where a Sikh man wanted to wear his turban while being a member of the RCMP. Many people said, "why not? It's his religion, let him do it." Personally, I feel that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has its uniform and traditions and if you want to be a part of that, you follow their rules. I'm not going to go into a synagogue and say, "Hey, I'm going to be a Jew now but I'm going to wear a Rasta hat instead of the little beanie thing, k? It's part of who I am." If your religion dictates that you wear some item of clothing that conflicts with your job uniform, then you have a choice to make - job or religion. It's as simple as that.

We must ask the most basic of questions when confronted with religious backwardness. A simple "why?" will usually shine a light on how archaic and unnecessary most rules and guidelines are. If you choose to follow them in your religion, great, but don't expect the rest of us to have to deal with them.

4 Barbaric Yawps:

At 25/6/06 10:57 am, Anonymous modusoperandi said...

It's those odd rules that make each religion its own religion. Cut/no cut, pork/no pork, funny-shaped hat/different funny-shaped hat seem silly to the rest of us, but to them their dogma is what separates the chosen from everyone else. Each religion only finds the dogma of other religions to be stupid: it's own dogma is not to be questioned (hence dogma).

Of course, if they asked "Why?" everytime a confict between their faith and society they'd probably be athiests by now.

Half of religion seems to be asking the "big" question, and the other half is avoiding asking any other questions.

At 26/6/06 6:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many probably see the considerations made on the Muslims' behalf to be very tolerant but what if we started making concessions to the Hindu caste system with the Untouchables? Would we be required to not to allow certain people into certain public places or to give them clean water or allow them medical attention all just to be considerate to those higher in the caste system? I'd think not...

At 26/6/06 9:17 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Exactly. Excellent point.

At 24/7/06 9:29 am, Anonymous Sean Kehoe said...

I wonder if gay men were welcome at the pool on the all-male day?

I agree, in so many of these cases it's not tolerance. Tolerance is a two-way street and works through concessions and compromise. The problem is that I am incapable of compromise. My religion is the one true faith, you are decadent and so you should help me observe the rules of my god. How can you expect me to compromise? I'm obeying the laws of the chap who invented the whole bloody universe.


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