Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why does it ALWAYS have to be about 'religious freedoms?'

Check out the shorts on the left.

This American-made, 'Bermuda style' swim shorts are the standard swimming uniform for bathers across the United States. It's practically impossible to find any other style of swimwear in America - and believe me, I've tried.

But, funnily enough, these standard-issue swim shorts are actually illegal in France.

In public pools in France, strict health and safety laws ban any form of swimwear that could also be worn as 'streetwear.'

"Clothes used in public can contain molecules, viruses, et cetera, which will go in the water and could be transmitted to other bathers," explained regional swimming pool official Daniel Guillaume. "All pool-goers must don appropriate attire — swimsuits for women and tight, swim-specific briefs for men."

It's the law, believe it or not. If you attempted to wear those baggy, American-style shorts to a public swimming pool, you'd be turned away at the door. Don't believe me? I've seen it happen to literally dozens of American students visiting Aquaboulevard in Paris.

So the law's the law, right? And the reasons for implementing it, although arguable, seem clear.

Not according to 'Carole,' a 35-year-old Frenchwoman who recently converted to Islam. When she wanted to go swimming at her local pool in Emerainville, she refused to wear a traditional one-piece swimsuit as this exposed too much of her body. Therefore, she decided to wear a 'Burquini' instead - an absurd head-to-toe covering that looks like a tightly fitting tracksuit.

Bathing belles in their Burquinis

Unsurprisingly - since they get their knickers in a twist over even Bermuda shorts - the pool officials weren't happy about 'Carole' and her choice of swimwear. The forbid her from entering the pool, citing the health and hygiene laws I mentioned above.

Perhaps to a rational person, this might have been the end of the situation. Not so for 'Carole.' Enraged at the reaction, she proceeded to her local police station and tried to file a discrimination charge with the Police Nationale (it was dismissed as 'groundless.')

"For me, this is nothing but segregation," an angry 'Carole' told Le Parisien. She cited the recent laws banning the Burqha and other overtly religious outfits. As far as she was concerned, not allowing her to use her 'Burquini' was religious discrimination. She's vowed to take the matter to the courts with the help of various anti-discrimination groups.

I find this both laughable and offensive, all at once.

Personally, I'm SICK of people taking totally secular situations, in which they refuse to conform to a perfectly reasonable standard of behavior, and manipulating them to make it appear like they're the victims of 'religious discrimination.'

The swimming costume law in France is an old one - and it effects hundreds of unsuspecting American tourists every year, when they try to take a dip in their baggy swim shorts. The issue isn't about religion at all. It's about not wearing stupid baggy clothing to the public swimming pool.

'Carole' is totally abusing the concept of 'religious discrimination' by pursuing this baseless crusade of hers. She's just the latest in a long line of idiots who confuse 'expected standards of behavior' with 'religious freedom.'

Want another example? How about the Muslims in London hospitals, who refuse to use hand sanitizer because it contains alcohol, which is 'forbidden' according to the Quran. Exercising their 'religious freedom' exposes the hospital and it's patients to MRSA infections (which kill thousands yearly.)

There are dozens of other examples, like the Christian parents who refused to treat their son's cancer because it was against their holistic beliefs, or a Christian counselor who refused to treat unmarried, cohabiting couples even though she knew it would be part of her job before she applied for it.

The case can even be made that refusing to serve gay and same-sex couples, under the claim of exercising one's 'religious freedom,' is another example of religion trumping basic standards of human behavior.

It disgusts me.

I'm totally behind religious freedom - the right to follow and practice any religion you want. I'm even supportive of reasonable requests to accommodate different religions into secular life - like giving Jewish employees certain religious holidays (like Passover) off.

But when it comes to violating basic standards of behaviour, or refusing to abide to secular laws that the rest of the country must obey, I get a very bad taste in my mouth when I hear the words 'religious freedom' being used as an excuse.

To the 'Caroles' of the world, I say this: It's not all about religion, and it's not all about you.

If you want to be part of civilized society, there are certain standards of behavior you have to abide by. If your religious beliefs contradict those, I think it's your religious beliefs that you should be criticizing - not society itself

[This is especially valid in the case of Christianity, which covers this very topic in the first verse of Romans - Editorial Bear]


Chrystal K. said...

This is new.

Eve said...

Hmm. Well, I'm not going cry religious discrimination, but I do think the swimsuit law is a bit extreme and silly. I see no real problem (health or otherwise) with burqinis OR Bermuda shorts.

ck said...

So you are all for religious freedom until it disagrees with your opinion.

Thanks. Got it.

Roland Hulme said...

Not at all, CK! I'm all for religious freedom until it contradicts the rule of law or disrupts the freedom of other people.

Roland Hulme said...

And Eve - yes, the swimsuit law is daft! But is long standing, totally secular and I've been a 'victim' of it too.

paisley penguin said...

Interesting, I have never heard of this swimsuit law. I honestly don't care what a person wears to swim in but I do agree with you about people taking it too far.

A Burquini - In the imortal words of Phoebe Buffay channeling her 82 year old massage client Rose, "Now I've seen everything!"

ck said...

OK... so again, you agree with me.

Religious freedom is OK until it disagrees with your opinion.

Thanks. Got it.

There is a reason why this country has it in the constitution that the state cannot interfere with a persons religion, because laws are known to be anti-freedom of religion.

There's a reason we had that war with your ancestors... and religion was the starting point, taxes was the tipping point... sound familiar?