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Posts Tagged ‘ban’

Veils, headscarves and religious intolerance

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, women's rights on April 23, 2010 at 12:40 am

“The level of hypocrisy in this debate beggars belief – while we criticize countries who force women to put clothes on, we can force them to take them off for the sake of ‘liberation.’ ” — Intissar Kherigi

Belgium is looking to be the first European country to ban the niqab — a traditional head scarf-veil combo worn by Muslim women that covers the entire face except for the eyes. Lawmakers say the niqab hides the identity of women and creates a barrier between them and society.

Parliamentary member Daniel Bacquelaine introduced the bill. He says such a garment isn’t acceptable in a “tolerant society.”

“We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen,” Bacquelaine said. “It is necessary that the law forbids the wearing of clothes that totally mask and enclose an individual.”

The move toward banning traditional Muslim veils and headscarves is a trend spreading across Europe. In 2004, France cited the principle of “secularism” as reason to outlaw headscarves in its schools.

The argument that such laws are necessary is a weak one. The argument that such laws promote “secularism” and “tolerance” is downright ridiculous. How can a law promote tolerance by being intolerant of individuals’ beliefs and choices?

Forcing Muslim women to remove the niqab is like forcing orthodox Jewish men to shave their beards. Both are worn because of deep, religious convictions.

To be sure, some Muslim women have no choice and are forced to cover themselves. As a feminist woman, I could not be more opposed to the wearing of garments such as the hijab, niqab and burka. To me, they are symbols of religious and patriarchal oppression. But my convictions do not give me the right to force Muslim women, or men, to forsake theirs.

As researcher for Human Rights Watch Judith Sunderland points out, the debate about whether or not to ban the niqab is really one about individual liberty:

“It’s really fundamentally about the proper role of the state in matters relating to religion and personal autonomy.”

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Midwest lawmakers vs. ‘the munchies’

In health, local, marijuana on February 25, 2010 at 11:59 am

Just in case residents were having too much legal fun, legislators in the states of Missouri and Kansas are pushing to ban the synthetic marijuana substitute, K2.

Produced in Korea and China, the K2 is created from a blend of spices and herbs and sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC — thus creating a “high” similar to the effects of marijuana. While it has been banned in much of Europe, it can legally be purchased in the United States, including at many of the smoke shops in Joplin.

While I haven’t experienced the synthetic high myself, I’ve witnessed its effects on friends, coworkers and customers smoking the drug. Basically, the high generated by K2 is almost the same as the high generated by smoking marijuana; only shorter. 

However, users should be wary of the synthetic weed. The chemicals used to create the THC-like effect were created by organic chemistry professor at Clemson University, Dr. John Huffman. Huffman created the chemical while researching the effects of cannabinoids on the brain.

Lawmakers in Missouri and Kansas are claiming to be concerned about the possible health risks of K2. But rather than calling for further research or regulation, legislators are swiftly moving to ban the substance.

It’s an example of the all-too common knee jerk reaction politicians have to substances they don’t understand or can‘t control. While morphine, Ritalin and a plethora of prescription drugs pose a much greater threat to individuals, it’s the marijuana-mimicking, munchies inducing chemical-herb blend that is becoming the target of states.