Just when I’d finalised my plans for a European wide roll-out of my Burqa King franchise idea, the jolly old French go and throw a spanner in the works by banning the burqa in public. And they call us perfidious?
Anyway, I’m quite enjoying the resulting furore, because the left-liberal types are in confusion about how to react. Watching them trying to figure out whether the burqa is sexist and the ban is therefore a Very Good Thing or actually whether the ban is islamophobic and therefore a Very Bad Thing is just jolly japes if you’re a misanthropic observer like me. That it’s going on in France – held up as the world epicentre of heroism for refusing to go along with Bush – only makes the whole thing more salty and delicious, like a tube of Morality Pringles.
It’s like watching a goat trying to boil a pan of soup, or a robot from Star Trek confronted with the concept of ‘love’. In fact, Captain Kirk once talked a computer to death over just such a conundrum. Maybe now would be an excellent time to phone Shatner and see if he’s prepared to come over to sit in front of Harriet Harman and repeatedly ask her questions about it until her face plate falls off and we can see her terrified eyes twitching among the fizzing diodes and sparking cogs within.
Of course, no-one really knows what to do because so much depends on the circumstances for individuals. As a Libertard it’s perhaps a little easier for me. While I find that bumping into people in Dewsbury market who look for all the world like the ghosts off Pac Man disconcerting and alien, I never feel I’ve got any right to tear the things off to see what’s underneath. Really, who gives a shit?
Maybe it’s because her face looks like the bastard offspring of a Dairylea cheese triangle and a horse and Nivea foundation cream just doesn’t cut the mustard for her.
Alternatively, for all you, I and Sarkozy know, she and her husband spent 6 years discussing the decision carefully, endlessly Googling “should I dress in a sack for my religion?” and asking religious leaders detailed questions. They happily hold forth on matters like hair dye, whether video phones are ‘permissable’ and how frequently one should shave one’s pwabs - which is a welcome change from our own dear church, which can only answer “coffee or tea?”. In fact, I often dimly wonder if you could spark an Islamic Reformation just by doggedly asking increasingly abstruse questions – is plasticine permissible? Is it allowed for a woman to handle spiders on her period? Can I ride a donkey if I’m wearing shorts? A few thousand questions like that and eventually even the sternest imam is going to throw his hands up and start playing wistful ballads in his mosque like his CofE counterparts, telling his flock to sort their own fucking lives out and, you know, just try to be decent people.
The point being, people often do offensive stuff because of their personal convictions. It could be the burqa, a swastika neck tattoo or a Frankie Says Relax! t-shirt, depending on how racist/liberal/Mike Read you are. As only one of those things is being talked about in terms of a ban, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that it is actually a bit of good old-fashioned cultural uncomfortableness around Islam in particular and, getting real for a second, it’s because some people don’t like the darkies.
Being an optimist, I think that eventually they’ll come to their own senses and realise that you can’t find answers to every little issue in either a religious leader or a book that was written hundreds of years before internet porn, tinned spaghetti, video phones and other subjects that even the most knowing of prophets couldn’t have foreseen. One day, they’ll flick back through the family album and laugh at pictures of mum in her hijab and roll their eyes and say “god – what were you thinking with that outfit?”
So no: don’t ban it. History will.