A Philosopher's Blog

Birkini Ban

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Religion by Michael LaBossiere on August 29, 2016

In response to terrorist attacks, some French politicians sprang into action and imposed ordinances aimed at banning the burkini. For those who are not theological fashionistas, a burkini is essentially a more fashionable wet suit intended primarily for Moslem women who want to swim in public while remaining modestly dressed. The burkini is in some ways reminiscent of women’s swimwear of the early 1900s, but far less likely to result in death by drowning. The burkini is also popular with women who want to swim but would prefer to lower their chances of getting skin cancer.

To be a bit more specific about the ban, the ordinances did not name the burkini, but rather forbid bathing attire that is not “appropriate,” that fails to be “respectful of good morals and of secularism,” and does not follow “hygiene and security rules.” There is a certain irony in the fact that being scantily clad on the beach was once considered in the West to be inappropriate and disrespectful of good morals. Now it is claimed that being well covered is not respectful of good morals.

While I am not a legal scholar, the specifications seem rather odd. I would think that appropriate attire that is “respectful of good morals” would be one that covers up the naughty bits—assuming that covering the bits is the right thing to do. While not an expert on hygiene and security, I do not see how a burkini would be any more a threat to hygiene or security than other common swimming attire such as bikinis, speedos, and wet suits. After all, the typically burkini is effectively a wet suit. There is also the fact that Christian nuns who dress conservatively for the beach are not targeted; presumably their attire is in accord with both hygiene and security.

As with France’s 2011 burqa ban, these ordinances seem aimed at creating the impression that a leader is doing something, to distract the masses from real problems and to appeal to religious intolerance and xenophobia. Since women going to swim in a burkini are unlikely to present a threat to public safety, there seems to be no legitimate basis for these ordinances in regards to preventing harm to the public. And this is the only rational moral justification for laws that forbid people from dressing or acting certain ways.

It could be countered that ordinances are actually intended to protect the women from oppression; that it aims to prevent women from being forced to cover up if they do not wish to do so.  While many Westerners probably assume that Moslem women are all forced to cover up, this is not the case. Some women apparently do this by choice and regard the right to do so as protected by the Western notion of freedom. While some might be skeptical about how free the choice is, it is reasonable to think that some women would, in fact, freely decide to cover up in this way. After all, if some women are willing to show lots of skin in public, then it hardly seems unusual that some women would rather show far less. There are certainly women who prefer modest attire and women who willingly embrace religious traditions. For example, some nuns who visit beaches dress very modestly; but they seem to do some from choice. Presumably the same can be true of Moslem women.

Some might argue that women who cover up too much and those that cover up too little are all victims of male oppression and are not really making free choices. While it is reasonable to believe that social and cultural factors impact dressing behavior, it seems unreasonably to claim that all these women are incapable of choice and are mere victims of the patriarchy. In any case, to force someone to dress or not dress a certain way because of some ideology about the patriarchy would also be oppressive.

It might also be argued that just as there are laws against being naked in public, there should also be laws against being improperly over-covered on the beach. After all, a woman would (probably) get in trouble for walking the streets of France with only her face, feet and hands covered, so why should a woman be allowed to go to the beach with only her face, hands and feet exposed? Both, it could be argued, create public distractions and violate the general sense of appropriate dress.

While this might have some appeal, such ordinances would need to applied in a consistent manner. As such, if a Christian woman were spotted walking the beach in jeans and a shirt, she would have to be removed from the beach or forced to strip. The obvious counter is that the ordinances are not used to target anyone but Moslem women in birkinis, although the secular part of the ordinances would allow targeting any attire with a non-secular connection. This would, obviously, ban nuns from the beach if they wore religiously linked attire, such as modest swimsuits.

This sort of ban would be a clear attack on religious freedom, which is problematic. While I am not particularly religious, I do recognize the importance of the freedom of faith and its expression. While there can be legitimate grounds for limiting such expressions (like banning human sacrifices), when a practice does not create harm, then there seems to be no real ground for banning it. As such, the ban in France seems to be completely unjustified and also an infringement of both the freedom of choice and the freedom of religion.

While some might point out that some Muslim countries do not allow such freedoms, my easy and obvious reply is that these countries are in the wrong and we should certainly not want to be like them. Two wrongs do not, obviously, make a right.

Lastly, it could be argued that the bikini is a very serious matter—the bikini is rejection of French culture and an explicit statement in support of Islam against France. The challenge is, of course, to provide evidence that this is the intention behind wearing the bikini. While attire can be used to make a statement, thinking that wearing a birkini must be an attack on France is on par with thinking that a person who eats a Big Mac or hummus in public in France is also attacking France. Even if a person is wearing the birkini as a statement, then it would seem to fall under freedom of expression. While it might offend some, offense is not grounds for imposing on this freedom.

While there is some appeal to the idea that people should assimilate into the culture, there is the obvious question of why one view of the culture should be granted hegemony over everything. That is, why the burkini cannot be as accepted as the bikini, why Islam cannot be as accepted as Methodism. Going back to the food analogy, it would be unreasonable to require French citizens to only eat food that is regarded as properly French and to see people who eat other food as a threat.

In closing, the birkini bans are unwarranted and morally unacceptable.

 

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 29, 2016 at 9:15 am

    “French burkini bans are seen as a rearguard action to keep France French. It’s racist, they cry.

    “But it’s also secularism run amok.

    “For English-speaking countries like the U.S., religion that expresses itself in what a person does and believes as an individual, and how they choose to express their devotion to God in their own behavior, is the most licit form of religion. Secularism for English-speaking countries, meanwhile, tends to be about institutions and how they are ruled. Public institutions are scrubbed of ideas that the public associates with religion. Religious motives are stigmatized in political discourse as illegitimate. And, increasingly, private businesses and even religious institutions, if they serve the public, are asked to disown their religious scruples as they provide medical care, education, or other services. Our secularism is about rules and administration…”

    Read more: What France’s burkini backlash says about our secular excesses: http://bit.ly/2bi2p92

    • ronster12012 said, on August 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

      AJ

      Thanks for that link. The last sentence says:

      “But everyone else in the world may be right that trying to ban the burkini with the law will only inspire more French Muslims to want to wear it, and divide French society even more.”

      It is good to divide French society even more as it will just make obvious the actual situation. France is divided and if the French want to keep France French they will eventually have to fight for it. They can start the fight by taking down the current crop of traitors in charge now.

    • ronster12012 said, on September 4, 2016 at 9:40 am

      AJ

      Just found this article on this topic and thought that it was interesting

      https://atlanticcenturion.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/banal-ethnic-conflict-and-the-burkini/

      “The ban controversy has spread overseas and generated concern among the chattering classes in the Anglo countries, where the press tends to support “a woman’s right to choose” and “religious freedom.” Muh rights (created with European populations in mind), therefore Glad bag-clad Maghrebi women belong on French beaches. In an aggressive display of context denial, they also congratulate themselves on being clever enough to observe that the French want to regulate what women can wear in the name of opposing religious regulations on what women can wear. Checkmate, French bigots.”

  2. ronster12012 said, on August 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Michael

    The guts of the matter is that if you want unwelcome guests to leave the first thing to do is just make life more uncomfortable for them.If that fails to dislodge them further action can be taken.

    Liberty, equality and fraternity is all well and good but only for for your own people, and is not to be stupidly applied to everyone regardless of culture, religion or race. It is insane to treat those that despise you as equals and allow them to use your own laws against you.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 30, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Many of these people are French citizens, so they are not guests. In the US, people tried to make the Irish and Italians uncomfortable so they would go back home. That was wrong then and what is being done in France is wrong now.

      • ronster12012 said, on September 4, 2016 at 10:02 am

        Michael

        The obvious counter to that is that even if I were to acquire French citizenship I would not actually be French unless I embraced French values, and loved France and the French people and culture. I would merely be an opportunist that found French citizenship advantageous.

        As for comparing the Irish and Italians immigrating to the US with moslems immigrating to Europe the difference is that the former are white christian Europeans and the latter are not, and that does make a difference when considering cultural compatibility. Or perhaps you don’t consider compatibility to be an issue? If you don’t think it an issue then how will disputes be resolved when one side doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the other? In this case, the newcomers recognising the legitimacy of the host’s values and institutions.

        diversity + proximity = conflict.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          The United States has shown that with time, legal protection and effort diverse religious views can be integrated into a civilization. The Romans were good at this as well; although they did tend to require everyone to at least acknowledge the official gods. We don’t have official gods-which is a good thing.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 7, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            I’m also playing the long game-the goal is to have a united humanity that has moved beyond pointless hatred. That way people can focus on what really matters, namely 5K race times and one’s stance on Bards.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 14, 2016 at 10:31 am

              Michael

              I do not entertain any hope for a united humanity, it is a fools errand. And even if it were united, you may not like it much. Who’s to say that it will be united around western principles?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 14, 2016 at 6:44 pm

              Back when humans ran around in tiny tribes, someone probably said “humans will never form really large groups.”

            • wtp said, on September 14, 2016 at 1:37 pm

              have a united humanity that has moved beyond pointless hatred.

              Heh…missed this…were you ever in a Miss America pageant? As ronster states below, be careful what you wish for. Why must humanity be united? United for what? How about everybody just leave everybody else alone? Totalitarians love the idea of “uniting” “their” people, as such sounds good but anyone with an ounce of sense, maturity, and wisdom understands that people are by nature, and deserve to be, unique creatures with unique hopes and dreams. That is what has made this country and most of western civilization great. The rights of the individuals to pursue their own happiness.

              What you fail to recognize (or perhaps cynically you privately do) is your leftist dreams are simply a drag back to the days of centralized authorities based on strong men. In your dreams these are “intellectual” strong men, but the world consistently fails to play out that way. Look at every totalitarian society that has sprung up. Failure for the masses of those society, but people like Mauro, Castro, Mao, etc. all get plenty to eat. In societies where the rights of the individual are compromised, the totalitarians seize control.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 15, 2016 at 4:53 am

              Michael

              “Back when humans ran around in tiny tribes, someone probably said “humans will never form really large groups.””

              Are large groups a good thing or not? I think that in many ways we are devolving and being a part of a large group may be a contributing factor.

              I also would like to see the UN disbanded.it is a totally corrupt and useless organization….

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 15, 2016 at 6:36 pm

              Larger groups give us many advantages of scale; for example we can build things like the internet and highways. It also allows us to specialize, so instead of having to spend all day getting food, people can develop medicine, technology and porn.

          • ronster12012 said, on September 14, 2016 at 10:26 am

            Michael

            I beg to differ on that point of integrating diversity. You have had blacks there for 150 years post civil war, and are they becoming more integrated or less integrated? Are Hispanics adopting anglo culture and values or do they identify with their own? And the real question is will moslems cease identifying as moslems and recognise the US constitution and legal system?

            The thing about the Roman gods was as unifying symbols…look what happened when Romans stopped recognising them as such. What symbols does the US have that appeal to non Europeans, and if the answer is not much(besides a better lifestyle) then how can non Europeans be integrated?

            • wtp said, on September 14, 2016 at 1:48 pm

              are they becoming more integrated or less integrated? Are Hispanics adopting anglo culture and values or do they identify with their own?

              Actually, for many the answer is yes. Especially in the Latino world where successful and fully integrated Latinos are overlooked and obscurred by the media. I remember growing up in south Florida decades ago, Hispanics (Cubans for the most part) were regarded no differently than Italians or Jews or Poles or such that had been here a generation or two adapting to US culture and adding to it in small ways. After the Mariel Boat Lift, when Castro opened his prisons and sent the criminal elements to the US (keeping most of the political prisoners in chains, of course) that changed. Without some control on immigration you have problems. This isn’t rocket science.

              As for your reference to black society, even with the legacy of slavery and such, much progress was being made in the post-war period, especially in the north, until the welfare state started to effect the family structure of the poor. And it wasn’t just blacks. There are places in the Appalachians where I live on occasion where you hardly ever see a black person and when you do they are usually somewhat wealthy and/or hard working. Yet there you will find large percentages of the white population who are ethically, morally, etc. no different from your Fergusons or south-side Chicago. The only difference I can see is the style of the manifestation. The welfare state was originally sold to the US electorate based on Appalachian poverty sold as an echo of the Great Depression.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 15, 2016 at 4:47 am

              WTP

              Thanks for that comment, clarifies matters somewhat. i am just an outsider looking in but do recognise that things are more nuanced than my slow typing fingers can express…

              And yes, welfare is very destructive in many ways.Same goes for aboriginals here….they call it ‘sit down money’.
              There is a huge (white) bureaucracy administering said ‘sit down money’ and untold programs. There are some aboriginal leaders that do recognise the danger this presents to aboriginal society but i don’t know how influential they actually are….who wants to lose free money?

          • TJB said, on September 14, 2016 at 10:37 am

            “I’m also playing the long game-the goal is to have a united humanity that has moved beyond pointless hatred.”

            In the meantime your party–the Democrats–gin up racial hatred every chance they get in order to win elections.

            It is really difficult to unite disparate groups. I think right now the United States is less unified and more tribal than at any time in its history. Even the idea of the melting pot has come into disrepute. I seriously doubt the U.S. would be able to rise to the challenge of a World War II, for example.

            • ronster12012 said, on September 14, 2016 at 10:55 am

              TJ

              This is perhaps the natural life cycle of societies. They start out unified racially/culturally/religiously, they work hard and are successful, This attracts others who keep coming from all over but do not share the original ideals of the founding culture. Then enough come to supplant, dilute or corrupt the original culture and it all turns to shit(that’s a technical term BTW).Next stop, identity politics based on simple demographics, then fragmentation, conflict then out of that maybe a new start. Ain’t multiculturalism great???

            • wtp said, on September 14, 2016 at 1:55 pm

              I seriously doubt the U.S. would be able to rise to the challenge of a World War II, for example.

              While I am inclined to agree, but let’s not forget that prior to WWII Hitler, Hirohito, etc. viewed the US as lazy mongrels who could never get their act together to interfere with the Axis’ plans. Then on December 7, 1941 SGR.

  3. TJB said, on August 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Mike, the burkini is symbolic of Islamism in the same way that hooded white robes symbolize the KKK.

    I suspect you would not have a problem if they banned hooded white robes.

  4. david halbstein said, on August 30, 2016 at 9:00 am

    My political cynicism outweighs any desire to give this issue more than a cursory thought. Certainly not to the extent of writing a long analysis of the issue. I think you are probably the only one – including the French legislators, who are giving this that much attention.

    I think you got a good swipe at the nail with this statement … “these ordinances seem aimed at creating the impression that a leader is doing something, to distract the masses from real problems and to appeal to religious intolerance and xenophobia’ – but I’d stop short at appealing to religious intolerance and xenophobia.

    The more I observe politics and politicians, the more I understand that it is mostly about image and theater, and very little about doing what is right for the right reasons.

  5. David Lewis said, on August 30, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    ** “…but far less likely to result in death by drowning.”

    I’ve never heard of this. Are there statistics somewhere on the dangers of mid-20th century female swimwear? I was able to find one fairly vague anecdote, but no real information. To be honest, this seems like an emotionally driven claim. ‘Americans did it first and did it worse, so it must be okay, and I must be right!’

    I’d be interested to know if there is actually statistical data to back up the claim.

    ** “The burkini is also popular with women who want to swim but would prefer to lower their chances of getting skin cancer.”

    Here again, this ‘sounds true enough’, but I haven’t seen anything that would suggest burkinis are popular outside of the Muslim community. I’m not trying to legitimize the law, but you make several claims that are not entirely related and meant just to sway an audience emotionally.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 30, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      The point about less chance of drowning is mostly humorous; but I would say that a wet suit burkini is probably just a bit safer then the old style “dress” bathing suits.

      It is anecdotal, but the inventor (I think) of the burkini said during an interview that it first sold to people in Australia who were concerned about skin cancer. Not sure if this is true.

  6. ronster12012 said, on August 30, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Michael

    One added point. In the background of the photo you used above, there is a sign that reads rather confusingly “Islamophobia is not freedom”. There are many ways to try interpret that,from Islamophobes exist in a state of psychological or spiritual unfreedom, the corollary of which must mean that Islam =freedom, which would require a radical reinterpretation of the word “Freedom”, or Islamophobia is an inappropriate use of freedom….to the meaning that I think they are getting at….no one should be allowed to criticize Islam.

    So here we have low IQ sand niggers(it’s true that 100 generations of inbreeding makes a race stupid, look it up)sponging off French welfare in order to outbreed the French(not that hard really, but anyhow…)whilst terrorizing them, raping their women and turning areas of many French cities into no go zones now telling the French that they don’t want their feelz hurt and that anyone who does should be punished. Does anyone think that these are ideal migrants or even tolerable migrants? That they will integrate into French culture or will they demand that the French integrate into theirs?

    Please tell us what is the appropriate moral response to an alien culture trying to impose its values on yours?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 30, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      I don’t like to ban people, but you surely can make your points without going full on racist. Or troll. Or racist troll. There is nothing valuable to be gained by this approach. If you have arguments for the ban, then present them. If all you have is racist slop; then it is better left unwritten.

      • WTP said, on August 30, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        Oh, please. You tolerated far worse from one “appollonio” or wtf his name was, and for quite longer time as he constantly slammed and spoke far more derogatively with far less justification in regard to Jews. I don’t agree with how this is stated, but there is validity to the degradation of French society from migrants who have done much of what ronster describes here.

        • ronster12012 said, on September 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

          WTP

          ……………………………………………..
          I don’t agree with how this is stated, but there is validity to the degradation of French society from migrants who have done much of what ronster describes here.
          ………………………………………………

          I just find it astounding that as the house burns down one needs to yell “fire” while everyone else is talking about chemical reactions of the combustion process, what colour flames we might expect and isn’t the heat nice on this chilly night…..

          Talk about mass brainwashing….Europeans are welcoming their own demise, their own literal genocide and somehow if you notice it you are an evil wayciss…

          As for the jews, I simply note the obvious. I am impervious to namecalling and shaming (that is a favourite tactic). Yes I remember Apollonion from ages ago, a bit repetitive with not much to back it up. But to underestimate the power of the jewish lobby on your country particularly is to blind oneself to reality.
          Do I hate jews? No. Do I recognise that they work towards their own ethnic interests(sometimes to the detriment of the rest of society) how can one miss it??? So all I am saying is that everyone has ethnic interests and affinities and it is celebrated unless the are white. Then you are racist and need to die….madness.

      • ronster12012 said, on September 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

        Michael

        I absolutely loathe the current PC nonsense and all its assumptions and euphemisms. Orwell, amongst others talked about the corruption of language and meaning as the first step to tyranny…..therefore I prefer to speak as plainly and as clearly as I can…..

        So yes, it can appear to be trolling, partly because I just say what I mean in fewer rather than more words (thanks WTP for introducing me to the term TL:DR, lol) and partly because most people beat around the bush.

        I remember asking you ages ago what basis is there for assuming the equality of the sexes is anything other than just a recent social construct(and virtue signaling). No reply. One doesn’t need to know much in order to confirm that equality of the sexes is just propaganda. Watch any sport on TV and they are nearly always segregated, if not then men would dominate. Why is the best in nearly any field a man if the sexes were equal ( and remember equal=same). This means that the sexes are equal, but we are merely being badgered and bullied into denying observable reality….or perhaps I am being too logical or literal or whatever. And so everything else that follows from a faulty assumption is suspect, no?

        Same goes for race. Race can be determined by DNA testing therefore there are differences though one is not supposed to notice that. There are racial characteristics of the various races, likelihood of various diseases, abilities(how many whites won gold at the Olympics for running and how many blacks won gold for swimming) and civilization building ? Same goes for objective IQ tests too, the issue that I stated above with a comment about inbreeding with cousins can lead to a lowered IQ over time OK, the term sand niggers was a bit provocative, but everyone deserves a triggering at least once a day..lol.

        Now for culture. You seem to assume that all cultures are equal( and compatible), yet you do not supply any evidence to support this assertion. I OTOH, being reality not propaganda based, can draw a distinction between various cultures. I do not equate cannibalism with cathedral building….Yet for all that, I appreciate human diversity on this planet but of course all that genuine diversity is lost when everyone moves to white western countries(as the open borders globalists want).

        You have also yet to demonstrate that

        So sorry to hear that you want to ban me for my opinions, but the internet is yuuuuuuge and I will survive the trauma if you do:))))))

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm

          Depends on the definition of equality. If you go with Aristotle’s A=A and buy into Spinoza’s argument that any two identical beings would actually be one being, then no two people could be equal. But, if you define equality in terms of being afforded equal protection under the law, etc. then everyone should be equal in this regard. This is a merit based approach: people would earn their rewards and punishments fairly. Obviously the ideal is never reached, but it seems like a good goal to not exclude anyone from their rights.

          I tend to buy into natural rights theory (like Locke); so I accept that everyone has those rights and they do not rest on the state. On this view, all people are equal in regards to rights. People can act in ways that warrant imposing on their rights to life, liberty and property.

          • ronster12012 said, on September 14, 2016 at 10:42 am

            Michael

            Regarding natural rights. I either assert my natural rights or get the state to do it for me as say part of a social contract. If all of us are unequal in our abilities to assert those rights then the only institution capable of enforcing those rights is that state. I can talk about my rights all I want, unless I can actually assert or enforce them I do not have them. Therefore, remove the state and we are back to a winner take all society.


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