Shock, horror: Bungle is right


By Stephen Pollard
July 1, 2010
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You know what they say about a stopped clock: that it's right twice a day.

Something similar is going on with Bungle.

I was reading his blog - oh, the things I do so you don't have to - when I came across his response to Philip Hollobone's proposed Private Members' Bill to ban the wearing of the burqa. Ignore most of the guff. His final point is what counts: 

if a woman wants to wear the niqab or hijab, it should be their choice
and no one elses. I think that is far more British than Hollobone’s
attempt at a  ban.

Thing is, he's right.

Whatever one might feel about the burqa - which I do find offensive and completely out of place in the UK - there is no right not to be offended. Indeed, that's critical to freedom of speech (and freedom of pretty much everything else). I'm sure many Muslims are offended by my Israeli flag, which I've been known to wave. They're certainly offended by many of my pieces, and tell me so. Should I then be prevented by the law from offending them?

The argument for a ban falls apart with the tiniest prodding.

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 13:09

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Calling him Bungle on CIF is a cause for banning ...


Blacklisted Dictator

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 14:23

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Stephen,

You write: "The argument for a ban falls apart with the tiniest prodding."

Unfortunately, you have failed to prod the argument. You have not even stroked it and, as a result, it is extremely premature to suggest that you have "won it". You have patted yourself on the shoulder far too quickly!

Of course, the arguments re banning the burqua are complex. It is a great pity that you have not attempted to discuss a serious question in much greater depth. Perhaps you are unable, or unwilling to do so?


Blacklisted Dictator

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 16:48

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Stephen,
Your 'Israeli flag" analogy is entirely inappropriate. (If you actually thought about the analogy for a couple of minutes, you would see your error.)


Blacklisted Dictator

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 17:07

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Stephen,

Your article is one of the most depressing that I have ever read. The reason is not because you do not believe that the burqua should be banned. It is because you have failed to think about the various arguments. And if someone editing The JC doesn't do so, then the question inevitably arises about who will have the gumption to discuss some of the most important issues facing western civilization at the beginning of the third millennium.

Your readers deserve better.


mattpryor

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 17:27

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I agree with BLD, there's no justifiable reason why a Muslim should take offence at an Israeli flag, and if they do it's for political reasons and is their problem not yours.

Wearing a full face veil is a highly visible political statement of unwillingness to accept or integrate with Western norms.

(I don't think it's the government's business to ban them by the way, but public figures should be saying loud and clear that they are not acceptable to mainstream British society).


Blacklisted Dictator

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 18:04

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mattpryor,

I cannot for the life of me comprehend why Stephen has equated waving the Israeli flag with wearing the burqua. It is an extremely bizarre analogy.

Should one conclude that the argument with an Islamic fundamentalist goes as follows..

Islamic fundamentalist: "Why shouldn't my wives wear the burqua when you sometimes wave the Israeli flag?"

JC editor: "Fair cop, guv. Yep, you've got me beat on that one!"

I actually fear that Stephen has lost the plot.


Blacklisted Dictator

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 18:38

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This perhaps is the conversation that makes a bit more sense...

Islamic fundamentalist: "Why shouldn't I wave the Palestinian flag when you wave the Israeli flag?"

JC editor: " Oh yes. That's a classic freedom of expression argument. Couldn't agree with you more."

Islamic fundamentalist: " And my wives wear the burqua in London, whether they like it or not. You see it is part of our religion. Why should she prance about in that outrageous Western clothing."

JC editor: "Oh yes. I fully understand. I hope that you don't mind... my wife actually wears a skirt from M&S that I once bought her. I am not sure whether she really likes it, but she hasn't taken it back, so I suppose that she does."


mattpryor

Thu, 07/01/2010 - 20:11

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Spot on. Except it's NOT part of their religion.


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 06:22

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Burqua wearing woman: "Mr Pollard, I am not entirely happy wearing this black sheet from head to toe."

JC editor: "How on earth can you talk such nonsense? All women who wear the burqua love it. If you carry on talking like that, I'll have you flogged at the JC's office."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 06:32

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JC editor: "You know, my wife buys most of her stuff at M&S and Zara. She would, of course, much prefer to shop at DKNY and Louis Vuitton.But unfortunately, we can't afford it. Now what gives you the right to wear whatever you like?"

Burqua wearing woman: "Wow. That's a fantastic argument! I never thought of it like that. You really do make the most pertinent analogies."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 06:43

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JC editor: Yes, If I say it myself, I can give any argument the tiniest prod and it just falls apart. It's a knack that I've got. I learnt how to do it at university."

Burqua wearing woman: "Yes, I heard about the intellectual prowess of some Jews.
But I never believed it until my husband recounted your Israeli flag analogy. That really is a winner! How did you think of it?

JC editor: " I dunnno. I think I might have been having a cup of coffee with my assistant editor. We often have extremely intellectual conversations."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 06:58

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Burqua wearing woman: " I notice that you don't post any replies on your blog."

JC editor: " No. I don't have time for damn-fool questions. I'm running The JC."

Burqua wearing woman: " Of course. And the above blog that you wrote is so intellectually coherent, that anyone who thinks otherwise would be a damn fool."

JC editor: "Yes. I allow any idiot to comment. I believe in freedom of expression."

Burqua wearing woman: " Oh yes. You allow your wife do wear whatever she likes. And you allow me to wear this awful burqua."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 07:22

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Islamic fundamentalist husband: "Do you think that, in time, your wife might also want to wear a burqua?"

JC editor: "I don't think so. Of course, I could always ask her."

Islamic fundamentalist husband: " Stephen, please ask her. I'm having a whole load made-up and I could certainly offer you a discount."

JC editor: " That's awfully kind of you. Thank you so much. Thank you. I'll speak to her this evening."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 08:35

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Islamic fundamentalist husband: "Stephen, when I become the Mayor of London, there might be a place for you in my administration. Could I put you in charge of Jewish Affairs?"

JC editor: " Do you really think that I am up to it? I mean, I'm just a journalist."

Islamic fundamentalist husband: " Stephen, I need Jews like you. Somebody who can come up with stuff like "the Israeli flag" analogy at the drop of a hat."

JC editor: " Oh thank you, Mohammed. That's jolly decent of you to say so. I suppose that I could head-up Jewsih Affairs. But will my wife be allowed to wear whatever she likes?"


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 11:11

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Islamic fundamentalist husband:"All her Islamophobic stuff about Londonistan... you don't actually beleive it?"

JC editor: "Of course not. How can I ? I wouldn't be the editor of The JC if I did."

Islamic fundamentalist husband: "And Geert Wilders?"

JC editor: "That peroxide Israel-lover from Amsterdam... the man is nuts. No wonder he's up on a hate speech charge. He will end up in prison."

Islamic fundamentalist husband: "Yes. So, let's agree.. no peroxide blonds when I become Mayor of London."

JC editor: "That's a deal. I certainly will never invite him to The JC."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 11:47

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Islamic fundamentalist husband: "But what did you mean when you wrote that "there is no right not to be offended."? You don't think it should apply to the streets of Tehran or Kabul do you? You don't actually think that your wife should be able to walk around there, with that skirt from M&S?"

JC editor: " No, of course not. And if you catch her, you can flog her. She must abide by your customs."

Islamic fundamentalist husband: " Of course she must. It would be Islamophobic if she didn't."

JC editor: "Quite so. Quite so."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 12:15

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Islamic fundamentalist husband; "You asked whether you should be prevented by law from writing "offensive" articles. Well, if you and the rest of the journalists at The JC, continue with the sort of blogs that are currently being spewed out, then I really don't think that we will ever need to impose censorship."

JC editor: "Yes, I agree 100%. It is much better to write an article, like the above, which really doesn't offend you."


Blacklisted Dictator

Fri, 07/02/2010 - 12:27

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"How I Survived 40 Lashes" (Marie Claire)
By Tala Raassi as told to Michele Shapiro

On the afternoon of the fifth day, the guards rounded up my friends and me, pushed us into a bus, and drove us to a nearby court. We weren't allowed to have lawyers or to defend ourselves. The sentence simply came down from the judge: 50 lashes for the boys, 40 lashes for the girls. We were guilty of breaking Islamic rules: wearing indecent clothing, having a party with both genders in attendance, listening to Western music. Some of the parents tried to negotiate on our behalf, even offering to trade their businesses for our sentences, but they were denied.

We were immediately driven to a small concrete jailhouse near the courtroom, where the guards lined us up in the hallway, boys on one side, girls on the other. Our parents were there, too, and they managed to slip some money to the guards to lessen the severity of our lashes. I don't think the guards upheld their end of the deal, though. I don't see how the beating could've been any worse.

I hated that my family had to hear my lashing; the police wanted our parents there to teach us all a lesson. The beating lasted for what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was over in 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes changed my future.

When I was released, I hugged my parents more tightly than I ever had before. I'll never forget that seemingly interminable car ride home. We all just sat in silence; my family simply didn't know what to say. When I got home, I headed straight for the shower and sat on the tile floor for six or seven hours, just letting the warm water run over me. I felt so dirty. I desperately wanted to feel clean.

But the fear was not over yet. Officials at my high school called that same day, demanding to know why I had attended the illegal party. I was terrified that they would kick me out and I wouldn't get to graduate with my friends. However, since I had only a few months left until graduation, the school decided to let me return.

In those first few weeks after my beating, I felt like I was in a state of shock, a sort of trance. I kept to myself, and I barely left the house except to go to school. The physical scars healed, but the emotional scars would not go away so easily; in order to cope, I just tried to block out what had happened. I simply wouldn't let myself think about it.

After graduation, my parents felt that it would be good for me to get out of Iran for a while, so I went to Dubai and stayed with friends. I had always planned to study law after high school, but in Dubai, a different idea began to take shape in my mind. I started thinking about doing something that would somehow celebrate women.

A few months later, I moved to Washington, D.C., to live with a relative. (I'd actually been born in the States — my family had lived in the U.S. for a brief time — so I had a passport and didn't need a visa.) At my new home in D.C., surrounded by American women who were free to wear what they want and think what they want, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I would become a fashion designer. Because to me, fashion equaled freedom.

I'd always loved sewing. As a girl, I watched my mother, an interior designer, sew beautiful pillows and curtains for our home. I tried to emulate her, stitching an array of cool outfits for my Barbie. (I couldn't actually buy any Barbie outfits in Iran since the dolls were illegal there.) I used the best materials — a swatch from my father's leather sofa, a snip from the bottom of my mother's mink coat, much to her dismay. Fashion had been a hobby for me while I was growing up, but in light of my lashing, I wanted it to become more. I felt that women should feel proud of their bodies, not ashamed of them.

Of course, I had everything going against me: I had no fashion training; I couldn't even speak English. So I started from scratch. I took language classes and studied determinedly each night. I bought a book at Barnes & Noble about how to write a business plan. Then I researched things like pattern making and manufacturing. I visited clothing factories, fabric distributors, and showrooms to learn everything I could about the industry. My family helped me out with money, and I also worked at a local boutique. Finally, I started designing my own line, with some fun, funky, off-the-shoulder tops.

Five years later, I was at a friend's party one night, when a guy complimented me on my top — a black cotton tee with a silver pocket and studs along the bottom. I said, "Thank you — I made it myself." He asked if I was a designer, and I said that I was trying to become one. His response: "Why are you just trying?" He became my first investor and helped me get my business off the ground. I named my line Dar Be Dar, which means "door to door" in Persian.

Today, I'm 27 years old, and my designs are in boutiques in Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Dubai. I also sell my clothes directly through my Website, darbedar.net. I make sexy bikinis, tops, and leggings, all by hand. This past year, I had a show at Miami Fashion Week. Now I'm planning to launch a T-shirt line inspired by the revolutionary movement in Iran. The line is called Lipstick Revolution, in honor of women around the world who are fighting for their freedom.

The punishment I suffered in Iran put my life on a different course. To this day, when I hear the adhan, I'm brought right back to the terror I felt in that Iranian jail. But now, with some distance, I can see that the experience made me who I am — and made me appreciate my freedom, instead of taking it for granted. One thing that hasn't changed is my faith. I'm still very proud to be Muslim and Persian. I'm excited to be pursuing my dream of becoming a fashion designer, and I hope that I can inspire, and maybe even help empower, other young women. For me, each day is now a dream filled with creativity, freedom, and safety. And yes, I still carry my Koran with me wherever I go.


Blacklisted Dictator

Sun, 07/04/2010 - 22:58

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Stephen,
If you now feel that your " Israeli flag" analogy is a mistake, it might be an idea if you rewrite your blog.

I think you owe it to Israel's supporters in The UK, as well as your wider readership, to admit your error, assuming of course, than you can now see it.

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