Miscellany 2

More of the miscellany. I want to look at a sentence or two from a comment on the hijab issue – a comment prompted by this article. I’m not bothering to link to the comment, because it’s quite typical and not all that interesting, in my view. It’s the typicality that makes the sentence worth looking at. It’s the kind of Everyone Says It sort of thing that – well, that everyone says, without really thinking about it much, or perhaps at all. So people go on saying it, and they hear it, and no one ever (or hardly anyone hardly ever) stops to take a closer look at it, and it infects public rhetoric more and more. A meme, in short. Which of course is not to say that I never do that – only to say that I like to point out the ones I notice. Including my own when I notice them.

The action that causes problems, in short, isn’t scarf-wearing at all; it’s intimidation, backed up by credible threats of violence. So why is the solution scarf-banning, rather than making schools safe places to express one’s preferred interpretation of religious faith?

Er – is that what schools are supposed to be? Safe places to express one’s preferred interpretation of religious faith? If so, why? And what other kinds of things is school supposed to be a safe place to express one’s preferred interpretation of? Suppose one has a preferred interpretation of race relations, for example, or sexual orientation, or equality between the sexes? Is school supposed to be a ‘safe place’ to ‘express’ those? In what sense? In what sense of ‘express’ or ‘safe place’? What, in fact, do those fuzzy mushy woolly feel-good words even mean? Does anyone know? Or care? Or do we just like to say them without bothering to think much. And as for that clinching, argument-closing word ‘faith’ – what I just said goes double for that.

Next item. From Scott McLemee’s site a comment on Invisible Adjunct’s departure, including a comment on the vices of anonymity and the admirability of IA’s avoidance of same.

It was last December that IA provided a link to my incredibly vile, destructive, mean-spirited, sarcastic, bitter, and altogether unconscionable effort to destroy the Modern Languages Association, by placing tongue-in-cheek. (Or maybe tongue-in-chic.)

Yes I remember that. As a matter of fact Scott and I were emailing about the IA thread at the very time the yells of rage were at their loudest. I also remember well that the ones that were by far the rudest came from an anonymous blogger – which is one of Scott’s points about IA: that she didn’t use her anonymity to hurl insults.

Anonymity does not seem to bring out the best in people. Someone using a fake name can be just as much of a blithering, ranting, resentment-crazed, semi-autistic creep as he wants to be. No accountability! Woo-hoo! It’s a virtual paradise for any chump with a chip on his shoulder.

Eeeeyup. We’ve seen quite a lot of that kind of thing here. All the more unfortunate that an anonymous who did not go that route is leaving, taking her good example with her.

2 Responses to “Miscellany 2”