Monday, February 12, 2007

Mercy on us

Jerusalem being what it is, this is not, perhaps, a case of multiculturalism über alles but it is the same story in the end. The same, I mean, as the recent case we had here of anti-discrimination laws vs the Catholic Adoption agencies.

On the buses. What do you think this means?

Ragen said she was told [by the bus company, I gather] there was a voluntary arrangement allowing passengers to decide among themselves where they sat.
[my emphasis]
You're right. Anything but voluntary.
In practice, this meant that Haredi [untra-orthodox Jewish] men insist all women sit at the back, regardless of their religious belief, and even if there are free seats at the front.
This is not the only sphere where the 'orthodox' are flexing their muscles.
In recent weeks, "modesty police" have stepped up patrols of ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, chastising women whose clothing is deemed to be provocative, and even attacking clothes shops. At a demonstration last week, the "immodest" clothes were burnt publicly.

"We will get rid of the tight clothes, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, will place his mercy on us," one placard said.
Personally, I had some sympathy with the Catholic church in its stand over the adoption agencies' freedom to decide who they should house children with. Unfortunately, the logic that would permit them to do so would also permit (and has done) others to do a lot worse. It is impossible to run a society under the rule of law if ethnic and/or religious conviction is allowed as an exception. A free society requires a hierarchy of values; some must be seen to be 'superior' to others. Otherwise, that society will not be free for long as there are convictions, strongly and sincerely held convictions, that will, if allowed to invade the public space, crowd out all others.

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