I thought ‘The Mask’ was a great film. Loads of laughs. Of course, if face coverings had been banned back then, the film would probably never have been made.
Big burly buffoon Boris Johnson is in trouble over a mask. The ‘niqab’ that some Muslim women in the West, and many (in some countries, all) in the Arab world use to cover their faces. He likened it, quite fairly I thought, to dressing up as a letterbox. It does look a bit silly but we in the West, especially in the UK, have a tolerance for those who like to dress up silly. We’ve never tried to ban Pearly Kings and Queens nor have we ever tried to ban the astonishingly silly dress of the Morris dancer. It has never occurred to anyone to ban those things.
Now we have a call to ban an article of clothing. This is something new and I, for one, am not comfortable with it.
Let’s be clear. It’s the niqab, not the hijab, that is the issue. The hijab is the headscarf thing. My grandmother, a staunch and sometimes slightly violent Christian of iron and coal mining extraction, never left the house without a hairnet and headscarf on her blue hair. Never. She spent money on hairdressing and blue rinses that nobody outside the house ever saw. I doubt she had ever even heard of Islam even though the last Caliphate ended in 1924, when she would have been around 30. The headscarf is no issue at all for me.
The niqab is the mask that covers all the face except the eyes. Some even have mesh over the eyes so you can’t see those either. Personally, I don’t like talking to someone so masked because I have no visual cues to judge the veracity of their words. Also, if they stab me, I can’t give the police a description.
But then, are they the only masked ones? Antifa are masked violent thugs. Nobody has demanded their masks are banned. The ‘Anonymous’ movement hides behind the Guy Fawkes mask from ‘V for Vendetta’. Any campaign to ban those?
How about bridal veils? You could be marrying anyone! What if you lift that veil and find a bearded Darren with three teeth and halitosis at the end of your vows? Should we ban wedding veils?
Old Holborn made the point very well on Twitter today. I can’t be arsed seeking out the actual tweet, that place scrolls too fast, but the essence was ‘Banning the veil and enforcing the veil are the same thing’.
He is right. Either of those things is enforcing what women can and cannot wear by law. Both are wrong. A better law is ‘forcing someone to wear a niqab is illegal’. That law punishes the enforcer, not the one being forced to comply.
And it’s the enforcer who is the real criminal here.
See, prosecuting a woman for wearing the veil is a bit like prosecuting someone for getting beaten up. You’re taking someone oppressed and oppressing them more.
The law ‘forcing someone to wear a niqab is illegal’ also means that if a woman wants to wear a veil, that’s fine. As long as nobody is forcing them to wear it.
The rule about no face coverings in banks and some other places still stands. If you go into a bank wearing any kind of mask you cannot be surprised if security take you down fast. Banks and masked people have a bit of a history there.
If you want to wear a mask in the street, fine. I will avoid any contact with you because you’re weird but I would not support any ban on you being weird. It should be your choice.
When France suggested banning the veil, I was uneasy. Denmark has banned it now and it looks like a lot of other EU countries including the UK are considering it too. The thing is, they don’t ban ‘the niqab’. The ban ‘face coverings’. All face coverings.
China uses CCTV with facial recognition. I was most impressed that they can tell the diference between Chinese people (channeling Prince Philip here) but if you have CCTV with facial recognition, it won’t work if your face is covered. The niqab is a really good excuse to ban all face coverings – even a scarf over your nose and mouth in winter.
Boris should not be forced to apologise over his remarks. I really hope he won’t. The British take the piss out of everything – or used to – including and especially ourselves. Nothing was immune. If a religion – any religion – is so insecure that any comment aimed at them sends them into apoplexy, then they are following a very sad and weak god indeed. If your god cannot withstand a few snarky comments, then you really do need a better god.
As we need a better Prime Monster. Tessie ‘Jackboots’ Maybe is pushing Boris to apologise. In doing so she has set a challenge. If he does, then the rest of the Tory party are a bunch of tiddly lapdogs to political correctness and nobody will vote for them. If he says ‘Stick it up your censored hole’ then the last shreds of Tessie’s authority are gone faster than third hand smoke in a dry cleaner’s. Either way, she is toast. The first option takes the entire Tory party down. Let’s wait and see what the rest of their members think.
Banning face coverings is, as Old Holborn said, the same as enforcing it. It’s using law to force people to dress as directed. Nobody, anywhere, has suggested a law to punish those who force women to wear masks against their will. The Muslim patriarchy is sacrosanct, it seems.
I have recently wondered if Jacob Rees-Mogg would be our Chancellor Sutler.
Now I wonder if it’s going to be Boris.
If you haven’t seen, or better, read, ‘V for Vendetta’, it’s worth your time.
Just keep in mind that in real life, there is no hero coming to change it.
You’ll have to do that yourself.