08 November 2009

"On accommodation, let the quiet revolution begin"


... All of this reasonable accommodation nonsense makes me heartily glad I don't live in Quebec. Especially since any society with the faintest pretension to being free and democratic never presumes to dictate to its citizens what they can and can't wear.

As I type this, I am wearing a chain with a little pendant on which is inscribed in Hebrew the Shema, the prayer that is central to Judaism. I'll wear what I please in this free country, regardless of whether I work in the private or public sector. It is none of the government's business that I'm wearing this chain, just as it is none of the government's business if someone, including a civil servant, wears a crucifix, a head scarf, a turban or any other symbol that expresses their identity and beliefs in some way.

The burka, however, does not fall into that category because it's about hiding, not about expression. However, as Bouchard said, "(A woman) has her right to choose to wear a burka in the street." Here again, no democratic government should be singling out an article of clothing for banning. Legislators telling women what they can't wear is just as chauvinistic and paternalistic as the men these women know in their own culture who are telling them what they must wear ...

Does it never occur to these commentators (mostly women) that some women in these social groups also uphold conservative dress values?

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