Well, That Didn’t Take Long, Did It?

Yesterday, I said that we should none of us feel safe if France goes ahead and bans muslim women from wearing veils. And now?

Should the UK ban the Muslim face veil?” asks the BBC.

I suppose I should feel grateful that they’ve presented ‘both sides’ of the ‘debate’. Objectively.

Actually, fuck that. You’ve never got an obligation to present ‘both sides’, especially when one of those ‘sides’ includes UKIP.

Filed Under “Things That Make Me Feel Unsafe”

Via the BBC website (which has only just caught up with the news that radio 4 gave me a few days ago):

“A French parliamentary committee has recommended a partial ban on women wearing Islamic face veils…. The BBC’s Hugh Schofield, in Paris, says the reasoning behind the report is to make it as impractical as possible for women in face veils to go about their daily business.”

This is nonsensical. Worse. It’s dangerous.

Not because of OMG TERRORISTS either. It’s dangerous because this is a law specifically designed to target women from the “wrong” religion. It’s as though France – which feels predominantly christian, whatever bollocks they spout about being secular; there’s a reason they do bugger all on a Sunday – has, in a fit of masculine posturing, metaphorically shaken its fist at Islam, saying “well, muslim men, we don’t like you, so we’re going to persecute your women!”

I could analyse this to death, but I’m going to stop here, pausing only to say this:

When a country as rabidly invested in the democratic model as France is can create laws like this, that affect women, and only women, when the rulers of that kind of a nation recall that yes, they are still, after all, a patriarchy, and they can still legislate the ways they think women should dress and behave, then we are none of us safe.

I’m Not Alone… But I Kind Of Wish I Was

So, Kirsten put up a link on Teaspoon of Sugar to research done by children. Which was really, really cool.

And one 11-year-old girl had done some research (link loads as a powerpoint presentation) into “boy, girl relationships, in other words, a girl and a boy going out with each other”.

The research was really interesting (and a bit sad) in and of itself, as she – a muslim – focussed on attitudes of different religions and found, unsurprisingly, that the majority of children of every religion she sampled, including her own, were disapproving.

But the bit that really made my heart ache was the conclusion:

“I’ve learnt a lot in this research and If I could do another research, I would research about racist bullying. Most schools in England have more white people than any other colour. Some people like to gang up on people and bully them because of their race.”

Yeah. I remember that.

Spot The Difference:

Back in February, Carol Thatcher, a white woman, referred to a black man as a “golliwog”, backstage at the BBC’s The One Show, in a private conversation between her and a white man. She was subsequently sacked from the show, though she was still able to appear on the Andrew Marr Show afterwards and further display her racism.

Fast forward to this month, October, and Anton Du Beke calls his dancing partner on Strictly Come Dancing – a mixed-race woman, Laila Rouass, a “paki”, also backstage, also in a private conversation, but this time between him and Ms. Rouass. This time, the BBC is “standing by” their foul-mouthed liability.

The BBC justifies this on the grounds that Du Beke has apologised. To be fair to the man, he has indeed apologised. It’s a shame he had to spoil it by clarifying it by insisting that “I am not a racist and … I do not use racist language“. It makes one wonder what it is he’s apologising for. The rest of it boils down to him saying that he didn’t intend to be offensive; that he accepts it’s an offensive term; that he didn’t think about how others would react; and that he’s sorry if he’s offended anybody. So it’s a fairly standard industry non-apology, really – bar the part where he accepts that it’s offensive, which most non-apologies don’t do.

Frankly, in some ways I prefer to deal with people like Carol Thatcher, who at least own their racism. She didn’t give the BBC a choice – it would have been very difficult for them not to sack her. Somebody like Du Beke, though – well, as I see it, the BBC are acting like that parent in the playground, who, when they see their precious spawn kick the crap out of you, tells said spawn in a sing-song voice to “say sorry and play nicely“, and then takes the muttered “sorry… that you weren’t strong enough” as a sign that everybody is the best of bestest friends again.

And, being the nasty suspicious person I am, I have to wonder whether it’s really the apology that’s made the difference.

You know, since Carol Thatcher’s a woman in her fifties – practically retirement age for women at the BBC – who insulted a man, and Anton Du Beke is only 43, and, more importantly, a man who insulted a woman.

Thought Of The Day

As I have mentioned over at the Sheffield Fems site, I remain infuriated by Carol Thatcher. First for being racist, then for not apologising, then for taking the opportunity to really rub our noses in her racism. However, I suspect I have not conveyed this as well as I could have done. Therefore, anybody wishing to read a more coherent take on why Carol Thatcher is obnoxious should go to visit Mar at The Mongoose Chronicles. Fly, my pretties!

Oscar Grant

I’ve said what I have to say about the murder of Oscar Grant elsewhere, but here is the story, and here and here is what it reminds me of, and here
is what Americans can do, and if you’re not American, please publicise the story.

Goodbye, Winston

My maternal grandfather died on Wednesday 17th December 2008. He was just shy of both Christmas and his 85th birthday, so his timing wasn’t fantastic.

When somebody dies, there’s generally a lot of talk about what so-and-so would have wanted. Of course, unless they are like my father (“when I die, write a round robin telling everyone that I didn’t face my death with bravery at all, I was a total coward and a pain in the arse”) you don’t tend to know for sure that X or Y is what they’d have wanted to happen.

I suspect that he wouldn’t have minded this though. Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s appeared in this blog, and in any case, he can’t do much about it now! That painting was one that I did, of him and for him, for his birthday. It seemed a bit mean to turn up to a birthday party without a present, but I was faced with the dilemma of what on earth you get for an eighty-year-old man. In the end, although I was sixteen and should really have stopped drawing pictures as presents about five years beforehand, I decided that one thing he definitely wouldn’t already have was a portrait of himself!


What’s important here is that I really loved the old man. In any family, there are going to be relatives that you go to see out of politeness. Winston was not one of those people. He was great.

When I was younger, he taught me to club-swing. To this day, I can’t remember why. What I can remember is him saying, very solemnly, “of course, that was back when I was in short trousers”. Clearly, to him, this was a reasonable explanation!

Despite his sister being a piano teacher, and despite the fact that he was clearly very musically-minded, he always insisted that he had had no formal lessons. Then he’d sit down at his keyboard and accompany himself to “Danny Boy”, a song that he was inexplicably attatched to.

I spent years of my life trying to work out, in vain, which of his eyes was the false one. He lost the real one after an ember from a coal in the steam train he was driving flew into it. Yet, though it was glass, it matched his real eye perfectly, and I never could tell. Nor, unfortunately, could the nurse in the hospital he spent his last day in; she tried to get a response out of him by shining a light into the false eye. I think he probably would’ve been amused by that, if only he’d known. Even more bizarrely, it turns out that he had, in total, five false eyes. Aparently, they’ve been appearing all around the house, hidden away in various little boxes. However, it’s never a good idea to say, in company, “so, have you found any more of Winston’s eyes lately?”. As my mother found out, you do tend to get a few funny looks.

It’s difficult, of course, to avoid wearing rose-tinted spectacles. Winston wasn’t perfect. He was a wind-up merchant, for one thing. But he could hardly have been part of our family without it. Sarcasm just seems to be a family trait, along with imperfect vision and a penchant for bad puns. I suppose all you can say about someone, in then end, is that you’re glad to have known them, even if they did annoy you. And that’s definitely true of him – on both counts!