Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sharia In The UK

A news report on the BBC leads me to suspect that the Archbishop of Canterbury is in the secret employ of those extremist right-wingers whose favorite hobby is to run around frothing about the DangerousIslamofascistMenace that will destroy Western civilization and the American Way of Life™ if we don’t nuke Mecca from orbit or something:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable."

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

In a unique interpretation of justice, Williams says it’s dangerous to think society should have only one set of laws which apply to all:

Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said "there's one law for everybody and that's all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts - I think that's a bit of a danger."

Fine. Speaking as one whose primary loyalty and allegiance are to logic and reason, I humbly submit that society will be placed in great danger if I'm expected to obey laws like “It’s illegal to punch people in the mouth when they say stupid things like ‘it’s dangerous to insist on one law for everybody.’”

19 Comments:

Blogger Windypundit said...

When it comes to finances, and other matters of contract law, I think the parties just have to have Sharia-compatible language in the contract and specify Sharia arbitration.

I believe they already do it in the UK, I think they banned it in Canada, and I have no idea what we allow here.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Of course, Windy, if you want to sign a contract with someone and specify "We're going to do X," that's fine so long as all parties consent. (Standard libertarian disclaimer, free will, blah blah.) My beef is with the cataclysmic stupidity of someone saying "It's a societal danger to expect the law to be the same for everybody."

6:25 PM  
Blogger Windypundit said...

Oh, I'm right there with you. I just wanted to point out that in addition to sucking, his idea also tries to solve a problem that may not even exist.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Anj said...

ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...you might offend somebody. And you know that others are the only ones allowed to offend and/or be offended. This being tolerant of those who refuse to be tolerant of others is getting really old. Quite a lovely cycle.

9:45 AM  
Blogger WJW said...

I just spent a little bit of time finding out more about this story, and it has completly chased away my sense of humor. I'm trying to come up with a witty zinger to put this lunacy down, but it's no use.

The foundational democratic principle of "Equal Justice Under the Law" is possible only insofar as there is *one law* by which to measure the equality of citizens' treatment! Pretty soon, some fool will put forth the idea of culturally exclusive inalienable rights... and then we'll have a real fight on our hands.

12:01 PM  
Blogger BakedPenguin said...

...in addition to sucking, his idea also tries to solve a problem that may not even exist.

Sounds like he should have gone into politics instead of the clergy...

11:25 AM  
Blogger Windypundit said...

Yeah, he'd be a natural.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

@wjw: The foundational democratic principle of "Equal Justice Under the Law" is possible only insofar as there is *one law* by which to measure the equality of citizens' treatment!

Well, yes and no. There is (or should be) one basic (set of) law, applicable to everybody, from which all else derives. This most certainly doesn't mean we have to allow men into the ladies' room, or allow minors to vote. Distinctions not only can be made, but must be made.

I think the Archbishop chose his words very poorly, but I'm guessing that the underlying sentiments weren't necessarily so far off-base. It could just be a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that truly faithful Episcopaleans do, in fact, obey a different set of laws than truly faithful Catholics (for example, about whether nor not to obey edicts of and from the Pope).

The basic foundations of "The Law" in Western Civilization draw from two great historical traditions: The Graeco-Roman influence, and the Laws of Moses and its derivatives through the Torah/Old-Testament/Koran. Most modern societies agree on far more than they disagree upon, in terms of what is Just and Unjust. They often differ in implementational details (the punishment for rape is...), but the majority of the non-political crimes are pretty universally agreed upon.

A problem most Western and Near-Eastern societies suffer from is the historical conflation of religious and state power. For example, one of the areas in which many societies disagree is what are the conditions, rights, and obligations of the state of marriage and its possible dissolution. Clearly, most people in both the Near East and the West view this relationship through a religious filter, and most countries grant special status, protections, and rights to married couples (or whatever unit of marriage is recognized).

Its definitely arguable that some method of encouraging and supporting stable families is probably in any society's best interest. It is also arguable that letting traditional religious precepts define the terms and condition of "marriage" is probably NOT in the best interest of all concerned, especially in the modern world - and most especially in a legal system posited on the separation of Church and State.

At its core, marriage is fundamentally a contractual relationship. Historically, it has often been treated exactly this way by many societies. If the State wishes to extend certain advantages to such a contracted cooperative to foster their development, OK. But don't let the terms of any particular religion's definition dictate the conditions, rights, obligations, etc., from a purely legal standpoint.

On the other hand, unless the religion's precepts specifically fly in the face of "reasonable law" that applies to everyone else, don't restrict individuals from adhering to their religious interpretations, either. If polygamy is banned in your society, it is banned regardless of religion. If divorce is allowed in your society, it is legally allowed, but this does not mean that the legal separation has to be recognized by members of a religion that doesn't allow divorce. In the latter case, some of the participants may well be driven out of their previously-chosen religion...c'est la vie.

Both Western and Near-Easter societies have too many laws that were basically drafted to cater to one interpretation or another of the precepts of some religion. I don't agree that THESE need necessarily apply equally to all, as I don't think that they should be "enshrined" in Law in the first place.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

BTW - Hi, all. I'm back :)

Thanks to those of you who checked in on me.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Anne O'Neimaus said...

Both Western and Near-Easter societies have too many laws

Oops...that should obviously have been:

"Both Western and Near-Eastern..."

7:40 PM  
Blogger Kdog said...

Trading a consistent rule of law for temporary social cohesion is a rather poor trade off.

2:10 PM  
Blogger dhex said...

is this much different than jewish courts in canada or the u.s.?

8:32 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

I suppose this is off-topic, but how come no one's wished you a Happy Valentine's Day? Hellava note, I'd say!

Moose? Nostar? Nothing from you guys? Geez, what a crummy way to treat a woman...tsk tsk. Thoughtless louts!


Anyway...happy Valentines, Jennifer.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous NoStar said...

Happy Valentines's Day. Bah Humbug! It should be called "Singles Awareness Day" or "Rub my nose in the fact that I'm unattached Day"

1:30 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I completely forgot about Valentine's Day until I saw our paper's holiday-themed issue and I actually feel bad in retrospect; I could've pitched a fun little story about something like "a salacious history of the holiday" or something. "How the traditional love-heart got its shape."

Oh, well, next year.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Tranny tammy said...

Ahhh, a little bit of reason and biting humor in the afternoon. Goes well with Merlot.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

"How the traditional love-heart got its shape."

I can be a real sucker for those traditional love-heart shaped things.....

Been busy, SOB, back down in FL at the moment for the next few days at least (went to grad school in UF about 18 years ago or so, but more down south now).

Um..Hi Tranny Tammy, don't think you've frequented these parts before.

So, I've been in communicado, or something like that with a spanish sounding name. Cool part is I might have a new contact in Haiti to go back and do some building there again, but that's a whole nother thing.

Anne, where ye been? (and when are you going to provide a pithy update to your blog site, a year and a half is way too long)

Anyway, anyone want to fill me in with what I missed, as I listen to some canned thing on the hotel TV of Holly Hunter saying something like "Grace sounds very raw.." or something akin.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Tammy's one of my few meatspace acquaintances to drop in on my blog here. Most figure that seeing me offline is quite enough, thank you.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous A Moose said...

Tammy's one of my few meatspace acquaintances to drop in on my blog here.

Which is why I said hello as I didn't recognize the name.

So I'm flying home tomorrow, from what is going to be mid 70's sunny to a 17 degree low and an inch of slushy snow probably freezing over. Greeeaaat.

3:13 PM  

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