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Islamic dress… the question that needs to be asked is rather different

The Guardian has been talking about Islamic dress for woman and I keep waiting to see someone frame this as more than just either “the state needs to ban it” or “it is a matter of freedom of choice for individuals”.

These are both useful points but they actually miss the real issue, which is allowing civil society to actually function.

Yes, I agree the state has no business telling people what they can or cannot wear other than in the most limited utilitarian circumstances (for example you should have to show your face when giving evidence in court and similar situations where identity and personal reactions to question need to be judged by a jury). So if someone wants to wear a burqua or pink rabbit slippers and a tutu or a Nazi arm band, that should be entirely up to them in almost every circumstance.

But that leads us to the real question: I support the right of people to wear whatever they wish. But I also support the right of people to react to that decision as they wish, as long as it does not involve violence or threats thereof.

The reason I mentioned a Nazi arm band in the above examples is that it is an item of clothing that is likely to produce a very negative reaction from many observers. People refusing to do business with, or offering a job to, or actively criticising someone, for wearing a Nazi arm band would strike many as acting perfectly reasonably and within their rights. Hopefully things are not yet so bad that an employer refusing to hire someone who turns up to a job interview wearing a Nazi arm band would find themselves in trouble with the law (but hey, anything is possible these days).

A ‘reasonable man’ on most juries would accept that as a Nazi arm band strongly implies that person supports Nazi values and ideology, it is perfectly reasonable to discriminate against such a person if you find those valued abhorrent, and not want such a person to represent you in the marketplace. After all, that Nazi arm band represents an ideology steeped in collectivist violence, irrational prejudice, misogyny, the complete replacement of civil society with ideologically directed interactions… in short, the totalitarian imposition of certain ways of life on everyone.

Now what else does that remind you of?

In other words, a Nazi arm band is very much like a burqua in the eyes of a great many people.

So yes, I demand that people be able to wear whatever they want without being threatened by the state. And I demand that other people be allowed to infer certain things from what others wear, and treat them accordingly, without the law preventing them from doing so.

That is right, I am in favour of people’s right to discriminate on the basis of another person’s views.

48 comments to Islamic dress… the question that needs to be asked is rather different

  • Showing up in court or anywhere else wearing Nazi regalia sends a strong message about ones ideological leanings. Likewise Islamic gear. However the use of the Keffiah and the burqua add another note to the mix; anonymity.

    Going about masked is generally looked upon unfavorably as excepting during a few holidays. Banks, for example have signs on the door suggesting that hoodies and dark sunglasses are not necessary inside the establishment. Traditionally people cover their faces when they’re about to do something socially unacceptable as happens all too often among Muslims.

    If you live in the desert and need to cover your face against sand and dust, fine, but once you have left the Sahara (or the Mojave), such precautions are no longer necessary and are looked upon with suspicion.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Some of ‘em want to ban the burqa.
    Some of ‘em want to ban discrimination against those who wear the burqa.
    The only question is who gets hold of the whip.
    What neither side wants is that individuals should be free to do what they want (wear the burqa / refuse service to those wearing the burqa) and other individuals should be free to express their disapproval.

  • Sam Duncan

    And let’s not forget that the niqab and burqa aren’t things that we’re now having to deal with because of increased immigration. Islam is not a culture that we haven’t encountered before. Britain’s oldest mosque dates from the 19th Century.

    These garments are undergoing a resurgence, directly linked to the rise of political Islamism. Women whose mothers went bare-headed, or at least bare-faced, are choosing (or being forced) to cover themselves because of a more fundamentalist reading of their religion which has, as we know, a deeply totalitarian and oppressive streak. They are political statements, just as much as the swastika armband. It’s an excellent comparison.

    Hopefully things are not yet so bad that an employer refusing to hire someone who turns up to a job interview wearing a Nazi arm band would find themselves in trouble with the law (but hey, anything is possible these days).

    Indeed. You never know.

  • Steve D

    But what if they want to wear a burqua, pink rabbit slippers, a tutu AND a Nazi arm band?

  • revver

    Very timely article Perry. I don’t know if your’re aware of this or not, but currently in Canada there is somewhat of a furor going on about recent policies the Quebec government are thinking of enacting. The provincial government wants all religious symbols displayed by public sector workers banned from the workplace; everything from crucifixes, to turbans, to…you guessed it…islamic headresses. You can read more about this if you’d like:

    This may lead to a precedent followed by other provinces. Perhaps even legitimate businesses mandating employees not wear religious symbols (interested to see how that’d play out in court).

  • Ellen

    But what if they want to wear a burqua, pink rabbit slippers, a tutu AND a Nazi arm band?

    That is a case for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. But I want a photo first, to see how a tutu and a burqua fit together.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Perry,

    And I demand that other people be allowed to infer certain things from what others wear, and treat them accordingly, without the law preventing them from doing so.

    Quite so. And I’ll go another step farther. I demand the right to treat those who ‘infer certain things from what others wear’ accordingly.

    Drudge had a link to this story today. Essentially, a group of window-lickers set upon a Sikh msn because they thought his turban and beard meant he was a Muslim.

  • I demand the right to treat those who ‘infer certain things from what others wear’ accordingly.

    Well I infer that if a person dresses like a fundamentalist muslim, they are at best an apologist for theocracy and at worst a supporter of it, and I neither wish to employ them or respect them, though I am willing to tolerate them, if they will return the favour, and if not, then I will not tolerate them either, with all that implies.

    And as I wrote:

    But I also support the right of people to react to that decision as they wish, as long as it does not involve violence or threats thereof.

    So if you want to treat me accordingly for inferring that, that is great. And if that treatment involves violence, expect to end up in hospital ;-)

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Perry

    Again, quite so.

    As a believer in free markets in both trade and ideas, I could not bring myself to use violence to enforce my concept of jackassery. But at the same time, I retain my right to call you a jackass for drawing conclusions with which I disagree, and you retain your right to call me a jackass for having called you a jackass, and so on ad infinitum. :-)

    More generally, however, here’s a semi-related thought experiment:

    If we are to draw conclusions about those who dress like fundamentalist Muslims, what conclusions shall we draw about those who dress like thugs?

    You know those lads you see walking down the street with their jeans hanging half-way down their arses? That was a fashion that originally developed in Los Angeles. Crims were arrested and, as is the way of such things, their belts were taken away from them so as to prevent them hanging themselves in their cells. In the same way that ASBOs became a badge of honour in the UK, saggy jeans took on a status in the US. That fashion was transmitted to the UK.

    So, when we see a lad with his trousers hanging nearly off his arse in the UK, should we therefore assume he is a criminal? What conclusions should we draw?

    The burka is, so far as I understand, no more a religious requirement than those saggy-arse trousers are. They are both cultural signifiers. Do we treat them differently? And if so, why?

  • Tedd

    Hopefully things are not yet so bad that an employer refusing to hire someone who turns up to a job interview wearing a Nazi arm band would find themselves in trouble with the law (but hey, anything is possible these days).

    I’ll bet you’d run into problems in a lot of countries today by refusing to hire someone who showed up to a job interview sporting a hammer and sickle symbol.

  • therealguyfaux

    (Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls was unavailable for comment.)

  • Mr Ed

    Look at Political belief discrimination in Northern Ireland.

    And in Great Britain, it is unlawful as of 25th June 2013 to dismiss any employee on grounds of the employee’s political opinion or affiliation.

    And glancing at the sections of the 2013 Act that changed the law might not inspire confidence.

  • Lee Moore

    While I agree with Perry about the principle of being allowed to wear what you like, and being allowed to infer what you like from what somebody else is wearing, that isn’t to my mind the genuinely difficult point about burqa wearing. Sam Duncan has touched on it – what if a woman wants to wear jeans and a T shirt; or a respectable dress with sensible shoes, but reasonably believes that she’ll have the crap beaten out of her, by either her family or her neighbours if she doesn’t wear a burqa instead ? What is the appropriate attitude of the state if private citizens are willing to enforce dress codes with violence ? Although some women – one sees them on the telly occasionally – are happy to proclaim their love of the burqa sufficiently loudly and convincingly as to leave no real doubt that they are wearing what they want, that is not the case for most burqa wearers in this country. We just don’t know. But given the many examples of the use of violence against Muslim women for dating the wrong guy, I for one am very doubtful that all burqa wearers are volunteers.

  • What is the appropriate attitude of the state if private citizens are willing to enforce dress codes with violence ?

    Is this a trick question? :-D

    It should respond via The Boys in Blue with truncheons of course.

    But it is not reasonable to presuppose that just because a woman wears a burqa, she does so out of fear of being beaten up. It may well be the case, but it is incumbent upon her to make the hard decision to say so (and it is then incumbent upon the state to treat that as the accusation of criminal wrongdoing that it is). But for all we know, she may have “drunk-the-Koolaid” and willingly be the half-a-person Islam says she is… and in which case, what business is it of the state what she wears?

  • Regional

    As Dirty Harry said ‘Go ahead and jump’

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Wearing headwear is a sign of modesty, not a particular religion. Nuns used to dress up so much they were called penguins. What if a Canadian woman wants to dress modestly, for whatever reason (she might be a supermodel, or have similar looks, and wants to be anonymous?)?

  • Indeed Nick. It is just a terrible idea to have laws about clothes.

    But the real issue here is not allowing or prohibiting people’s choice of ‘clothes’ but rather totalitarian political values and how people are allowed by the state to react to the symbols associated with those totalitarian values.

  • thor42

    The burqa is used by Muslims in exactly the same way as a gang uses a “gang patch”.
    It is used to *intimidate*.

    The same goes for the prayers in the streets that Muslims stage in Western cities.
    It’s all part of the process of Islamisation.

  • Lee Moore

    No it’s not reasonable to presuppose that just because a woman is wears a burqa, she does so out of fear of being beaten up. But is it reasonable to presuppose that some women wear burqas out of fear of being beaten up ? Are Muslim women aware of cases in which Muslim women have been beaten up (or killed) for immodesty ? Would it be unreasonable for a Muslim woman to be intimidated ?

    As far as leaving it to each and every Muslim woman to report acts of intimidation against her, that requires her to risk serious injury and/or disfigurement (acid throwing anyone ?) in exchange for the pleasure of wearing jeans. You should read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s account (Infidel) of her escape from Islam. This was after she had moved to the Netherlands, but long before she made any rude remarks about Islam and became a general target. She took all sorts of precautions to prevent herself from being traced. She knew perfectly well that she couldn’t opt out of a couple of inconvenient customs, she had to do a complete runner. And she certainly doesn’t come across as a nervous ninny. You’re asking an awful lot of a Muslim woman to trust her safety to the Boys in Blue. She has good reason to be intimidated without anyone making a specific threat. Even if someone did make an explicit threat, and even if it could be proved in court, the threatener wouldn’t get a custodial sentence. Even if someone went ahead and threw acid in her face, he’d get a couple of years inside, absolute tops. Hands up who thinks any attractive young lady eager to strut her stuff in jeans and a fetching blouse, in preference to a burqa, wants to take the odds on a face full of acid v a tiny chance of the perp being caught and sentenced to two years jail (but out again inside a year) ? (I recall a miserable case a while back of a young Muslim woman murdered by a couple of men on the instructions of her father and uncle – she’d previously told the police exactly who was going to kill her. Not much change from the Boys in Blue there.)

    That’s why I said it’s a difficult question. Banning burqas is plainly illiberal. But if you leave it to Muslim women to come forward to the Boys in Blue to complain of intimidation, you’re going to be left with an awfully large pile of unreported intimidation. Which is also illiberal.

  • PapayaSF

    Yes, banning a type of clothing is illiberal, but what if the clothing represents a rising, illiberal ideology with explicit aims to impose that illiberal ideology on you and your country? A Nazi armband in 2013 is an interesting example, but doesn’t quite fit. Let’s say it was hundreds or even thousands of Nazi armbands, and in 1937.

    Feels a bit different, no?

    It’s a very tricky issue, which I think may point to a flaw in libertarianism and even traditional Enlightenment values of religious tolerance. If an armed group of North African Muslims sailed to London, took over a neighborhood, and imposed Sharia, everyone would agree it was an act of war and legitimate to fight against. But what if the same Muslims simply immigrate and then did everything they could to reach the same goal? If there is any force involved, it’s hidden (i.e. coercing some women in private), and because immigration is largely peaceful, it’s hard for libertarians to oppose. But is it truly consistent with libertarian values to allow foreign, anti-libertarian values and practices to take root in your country?

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Yes, it would be consistent with libertarian principles and values to let them in, provided that they swear an oath of allegiance to their new country, and agree to abide by its standards. If they don’t, we have the right to expel them, and let them find a country that will take them.

  • Lee Moore

    There’s swearin’. And there’s doin’.

    I’m confident that at pretty much any stage between 1946 and 1986 or so, a couple of million Russian tourists would have been happy to have been admitted to the UK on the promise of good behaviour. They’d have brought their guns, tanks and ammunition with them, naturally, as libertarian theory would allow. And until they were all ashore and neatly deployed near suitable ports, airfields, road junctions and power stations, no doubt they would have kept their promise to behave lawfully. Not all potential threats to liberty can be dealt with after they have been turned into fact.

    At some point, one needs to make a connection – however tenuous – between political theory and reality.

  • Lee, the issue you raised is that of domestic violence, with a dash of Stockholm Syndrome thrown in (which I think is usually the case anyway). It is an important and difficult issue, but has nothing to do with public dress codes and their possible enforcement by the state.

    The same applies to the other issue picked up here, that of immigration. But since it has been raised, I just ran into this yesterday, and thought it may be of interest.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree that it’s related to domestic violence – a substantial element of the intimidation coming from within the family. But not all of it. A Muslim woman living in some areas of some modern European cities (never mind in Pakistan), even with a liberal minded family, can still be subject to intimidation by people outside the family if she doesn’t submit to what is expected of her. So the problem is not coextensive with domestic violence – public dress codes may be enforced by private vigilantes outside the home. The question is what the state should do about it, if anything. Perry’s answer is impeccably correct in theory. In reality it’s not much use.

  • Westerlyman

    But how would you react to someone whose face is covered? I would refuse to deal with anyone whose face I cannot see whether this is a motorcycle helmet or a burqua. Fortunately I have not had to deal with this problem but I know that I would be so offended by their rudeness that I would tell them to uncover their face if they wish to converse with me or forget it. And I realise that some pc creeps would accuse me of being a racist but the fact is I could not care less what race someone is and how can I tell what race they are if their entire body is covered up. No as far as I am concerned it is a matter of courtesy and I would feel that a person who covers their face when engaging with me is treating me as either a threat or someone who is not important enough to be treated politely.

  • Lee Moore

    You’re obviously welcome to treat face-coverers as you wish. Scratch that – subject to what the increasingly authoritarian discrimination laws may say, you’re welcome to treat face coverers as you wish.

    But I’m sure you appreciate that in some cultures (some of which are represented by immigrants) it isn’t at all rude to cover your face. So when you take offence, you may well be inferring an insult where none is intended. Moreover some face coverers will genuinely regard it as a religious imperative to keep their face covered. Other folk may want to keep their face covered for other reasons – perhaps they have horrible burns that they are embarrassed about. I don’t think you have to be particularly PC to doubt that everyone who covers their face when speaking to you is intending to treat you disrespectfully.

  • Perry’s answer is impeccably correct in theory. In reality it’s not much use.

    Why not? If the woman is willing to complain, testify etc., then it becomes a straight-forward law-enforcement issue (which is presumably why we have a state in the first place.) If however the woman is sufficiently intimidated by her family (whether widely extended or not) to refrain from complaining, testifying etc, then we are back to the domestic-violence issue, where the issue of dress codes becomes rather trivial in comparison with other issues involved – such as, er, violence.

  • Lee Moore: They’d have brought their guns, tanks and ammunition with them, naturally, as libertarian theory would allow

    Hmmm, I think you might be a tad confused on what libertarian theory allows :-D

    Lee Moore: But is it reasonable to presuppose that some women wear burqas out of fear of being beaten up ?

    Clearly it is reasonable to presuppose that some women do so out of fear. When I see a woman in a burqa, my first thought is “marked victim of misogyny” (burqa = yellow star) rather than “islamo-fascist storm-trooper” (burqa = swastika), but without some evidence, once cannot know for sure… but either way, they pass the ‘Nazi-like symbols test’ and set the alarm bells ringing. Yet the state apparatus prevents the climate of overt cultural antipathy towards displaying fundamentalist totalitarian symbols, which makes the domestic intimidation of Muslim women much easier to do as a practical matter.

    Lee Moore: The question is what the state should do about it, if anything. Perry’s answer is impeccably correct in theory. In reality it’s not much use.

    No, that is not the question, that is a given. If the state is not there to prevent violent barbarian thugs enforcing their notions on the streets, then what the hell is the point of having a state at all? If muslim shop-owners want to refuse to serve women not wearing a burqa, I am fine with that as long as I can also point out who they are and encourage others not to shop in those places. But if the dress code is enforced with threats of violence, the state needs to break out the truncheons. This strikes me as a “no-brainer”

    Papaya SF: It’s a very tricky issue, which I think may point to a flaw in libertarianism and even traditional Enlightenment values of religious tolerance.

    Not really. The problem is that there is no social (and as a consequence economic) pressure to integrate as the state makes it very hard for civil society to discriminate against someone wearing in-your-face symbols of a politically expansionary evangelistic totalitarianism set of beliefs and you can do jack shit about it or *you* will have the law to deal with. In a libertarian or classically liberal society, the state would not be getting in the way unless people start throwing bricks.

    Tolerance is only rational if the person being tolerated reciprocates. If not, tolerance must not be reciprocated as the technical word for that state of affairs is “surrender”… or perhaps even… “submission”.

  • Paul Marks

    What matters is not what someone wears on their face – what matters is what the beliefs in their mind are.

    What alarms me is not part of the face one can not see (because it is covered by a piece of black cloth), but the part of the face one can see.

    The hatred in their eyes.

    Beliefs matter.

    And I happen to believe that Mohammed (his life – his deeds) is a better guide to what Islam is about than Mr Blair and Mr Bush – with their mantra that the “Islamists” “misinterpret” Islam.

    Did Mohammed also “misinterpret” the religion he invented?

    It should also be noted that Mohammed’s terrible deeds (his treachery, his murders, his rapes, his enslavements and plundering) came AFTER he invented his new religion. Before he had invented his new religion Mohammed seems to have led a blameless life.

    And one can not replace something with nothing.

    One can simply hope that people stop believing in Islam – and replace their beliefs with getting drunk and random sexual intercourse.

    A belief system can only be replaced by a belief system.

    It does not have to a religious belief system (for example Randian Objectivism is a non religious belief system – it involves no belief in God or life after death), but Islam can only be replaced by a belief system – human beings need beliefs.

    Muslims in Europe need to be CONVERTED – but converted to what?

    After all most Europeans do not believe in Christianity any more, the basic belief systems of Europe have collapsed (thanks to the Frankfurt School and so on).

    Nature abhors a void – something rushes in to fill it.

    The Frankfurt School (and so on) hoped the “something” would be Marxism (after they had discredited the old cultural beliefs – apart from in a few places) – instead something very different may be filling the void.

    And banning face masks is not going to change this.

  • ragingnick

    actually society has always “told people what they can and cannot wear”, – public nudity being one example where social mores and decency override any libertine desire to walk around au naturale.

    A functional and cohesive civil society depends upon certain shared codes of conduct – including those of dress, and consequently society has the right to oppose any forms of dress, such as the hijab and burka, which signify deference to an alien, totalitarian ideology and a deliberate threat to liberal values and Western society.

  • It’s one of those situations where you have to laugh, because if you don’t laugh you will cry.

    The Establishment has, belatedly, nerved itself to say (after obligatory frantic protestations of non-racism) that burqas are, y’know, a bit, um, er, socially undesirable.

    This after decades of putting in place measures to make sure that any social disapproval of burqas was punishable in law.

    Many of you no doubt remember the discussion in the run-up to what became the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. Bad as it is, this law would have been even more repressive if not for two amendments made in the Lords. The Labour government failed by one vote to overturn these amendments. During the debate in the House of Commons, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins himself offered up as an example of speech that would be punishable under the Act the suggestion that burqas might be used to hide that someone was a suicide bomber. I repeat, that was not scaremongering by opponents but the Minister’s own example of speech he thought ought to be forbidden.

    Here’s the quote from Hansard: Link:

    Dr. Tony Wright (Cannock Chase) (Lab): A number of hon. Members have provided the Minister with example statements and asked him whether the Bill would catch them. In each case, he has said that the Bill would not catch that statement, but it would be helpful if he provided an example of a statement that the Bill would catch.

    Paul Goggins: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point and shall provide him with an example that I used earlier today and on other occasions. The example involves a poster that depicts women, some of whom are white British and some of whom are not, wearing the burqa and that includes quotes from the Koran. The poster states that such women cannot be trusted, because they are recruited in various parts of the world as suicide bombers, and asks what they are hiding under their ugly clothes. That could be the kind of material that would be relevant under the Bill.

    That is but one example (not forgetting that although the worst few words in the Act were softened, in the main it was passed as originally intended) of the numerous laws and other types of state-backed pressure that have been used to stop individuals attempting to peacefully dissuade others not to wear the mask.

    In other words the Establishment laboured long and hard to stop in its tracks the sort of “pressure” that does not violate anyone’s rights and which actually works – as it did work to diminish almost to nothing the barbaric custom of putting women in black bags over the nineteenth century and the first two thirds of the twentieth century.

    And now, when burqa-clad women – and men pretending to be women – are known to have used the burqa to hide weapons of murder many times, to say nothing of the less drastic but more pervasive evils of the custom, the clowns of the Establishment STILL cannot move themselves to allow their fellow citizens to oh-the-horror discriminate. Like an alcoholic whose only solution to his drunkeness is another binge to stop him thinking about it, the only strategy the Establishment can think of is more force in the opposite direction, this time banning the burqa.

    Despair is a sin. Best to laugh.

  • Mr Ed

    It would be unlikely in the light of the current situation, to be reasonable to presume that anyone wearing such an outfit (or even a panto horse outfit) might be a suicide bomber and make a pre-emptive strike to incapacitate any presumed wrong-doer just to be sure.

    Yet I do recall seeing a few years ago a demonstrator in London at a large demonstration mocked up to look like a media portrayal of a suicide bomber, and the police did nothing, even though he was a drug dealer released from prison on licence.

    Yet another police officer managed to taser a registered blind man carrying a white stick having mistaken it for a Samurai sword.

    As a rule of thumb, if it is vile and aggressive, the State may be on its side, or neutral. If it is decent and blameless, the State will be a threat to it.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Perry de Havilland (London) @ September 24, 2013 at 9:52 am:

    But if the dress code is enforced with threats of violence, the state needs to break out the truncheons. This strikes me as a “no-brainer”.

    Individual prosecutions for individual acts of intimidating violence is a very weak tool for defeated dispersed, unorganized intimidation.

    Barring a large, costly effort by law enforcement to identify perpetrators and gather evidence, a criminal won’t be caught. (Or an eyewitness who knows the criminal.) That’s why the vast majority of burglaries, robberies, thefts, and auto thefts are never solved or punished. Even rape and murder are not routinely solved.

    Islamist vigilantes know this. They can commit petty (and not so petty) assaults with near-complete impunity. Their targets are intimidated. The punishments the vigilantes might get are usually trivial. The risks to any complainants or supporting witnesses are substantial.

    ISTM that to cope with such a pattern of crime, the law must recognize the pattern, and treat elements of such patterns much more seriously than isolated incidents of the same behavior. That includes the objects of the pattern – in this case enforcing a dress code.

    And that means applying law to areas which in a normal society should be entirely free.

  • Yeah, the collective hammer based on what you wear… what could possibly go wrong with that, Rich? ;-)

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – I had forgotten just how fanatical the hatred of free speech of “New Labour” was.

    I just wish my own “tribe” could really be relied upon to defend free speech.

    But…….

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Perry, my brand of minarchism favours property ownership principles, so I believe that local councils should be designated as the owners of all ‘public’ properties, such as roads; therefore they could decide what is acceptable dress on such properties. By those standards, shires should be able to ban burqas in public. I would hope they would not do so, but the right to do so should be within their powers.

  • Paul Marks

    Nick – why not just sell these things? After all they used to be owned by private Turnpike Trusts and so on.

    And most shopping is in malls and so on anyway – and they are private property (which we both favour).

  • Mr Ed

    Nick, who is the ‘they’ in ‘I hope they would no do so’?

    It is not likely to be >50% of the people affected.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m not sure that I go for Nick’s theory. If the local council can tell me what to wear while I’m using its road, why shouldn’t it tell me what else to do while I’m on the road ? Chant slogans in favour of the police, stop every five minutes an pray to Buddha, find a parked car and assume the position ? Nick’s principle works OK for bits of publicly owned property which you can take or leave if you please, but not for “monopoly” property like roads.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Lee, I hope you do obey local laws, such as speed limits. Or would you do what you like, regardless of consequences? And the reason that I talk about local counties and shires is that, being small, they would be easy to leave/escape from.
    As for selling roads to the public, I don’t go along with that, because I advocate time-share government. If an adult wanted to be a citizen, then the cost would be that for eleven months of the year, they would need to engage in part-time community service (volunteer firefighters/militia/street patrols/rescue, etc.), and then, for one month of the year 1/12th of the citizens would be the local government. This would get rid of parties and vote-rigging, and give people a real sense of being part of their community.

  • Lee Moore

    Yes, I usually obey the law, though I can’t promise that I’m religious about speed limits. There are however a large number of laws that I obey for prudential reasons – ie not because I feel any moral obligation to obey them, but simply because I don’t want to risk the punishments.

    The point though is that on private property there’s no excuse for restricting the liberty of the owner at all (except in respect of acts that should be criminal wherever committed, like murder.) If the owner says – the terms for entering on my property are X,Y and Z, if you don’t like the look of Z, then don’t come onto my property – that’s fine. That doesn’t curtail anyone else’s liberty. Indeed putting restrictions on the owner would curtail his liberty.

    But when it’s the state, owning a bit of monopoly property (ie somewhere where you can’t avoid going) there needs to be a strict limitation on the types of restriction that the state can impose. If you use any road you have to give the state all your property – well that pretty much does for private property. If you use any road you have to let the chairman of the local council feel you up – well that pretty much does for liberty of person.

    Whatever scheme you come up with, which you hope will encourage the current masters of the state to be restrained in the orders they hand out, there still need to be strict limits on the types of order they may hand out, whoever happens to be in charge at the moment.

  • Perry, my brand of minarchism favours property ownership principles, so I believe that local councils should be designated as the owners of all ‘public’ properties, such as roads; therefore they could decide what is acceptable dress on such properties. By those standards, shires should be able to ban burqas in public. I would hope they would not do so, but the right to do so should be within their powers.

    So in a shire with a large number of muslims, presumably you are OK with said shire requiring women wear burqas on ‘their’ streets, then?

    That is the point at which I burn down the Town Hall, if that is any indication what I think of their ‘right’ to do so.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Perry, if anyone didn’t like it, leaving a shire is a lot easier than leaving a country. If enough women left, the shire would start to collapse, or would collapse, leaving the saner neighbours to impose their own conditions on a bail-out.

  • “Everything not forbidden is compulsory.”—Totalitarian slogan

  • Lee Moore

    Nick : “if anyone didn’t like it, leaving a shire is a lot easier than leaving a country”

    How do they leave without using the road ?

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Drive a car out of the canton/county/shire, and do it quick enough that the cops don’t see you in time to stop you. Or drive a car wearing a veil until you reach a more libertarian locality.

  • No Nick, if my home is in said shire, I prefer the “burn down the Town Hall” approach.