Monday, February 19, 2007

In passing

I was busy today, but here's a few quick comments in passing:

  • Following the departure of Georgina Beyer, the Chief Electoral Officer has declared Lesley Soper elected off the list. She will presumably be sworn in tomorrow. For those wondering, if anyone else retires, the next on the list is Louisa Wall, and after that Manukau City Councillor Su'a William Sio.
  • The Saudi wahabis have a new human rights violation to add to their list: forced divorce. If you family changes its mind about your marriage, they can order it dissolved; if you continue to live together, they can have you imprisoned for cohabitation. "Monstrous" only begins to describe such interference in some of the most personal and precious choices a person can make. But this is what happens in a theocracy, where people think everyone should live according to the dictates of their imaginary friend.
  • And speaking of imaginary friends, Brian Tamaki thinks that stating the simple fact that New Zealand does not have state religion is "treason". Such pre-Enlightenment ideas which conflate belief in a particular god (pr particular ways of believing in that god) with loyalty to the state led to atrocities across Europe - and they're one of the primary reasons why we adopted the liberal consensus in the first place.
  • Finally, I'm not sure that "tolerance" is the right word to be using in a National Statement on Religious Diversity. It carries with it some nasty implications of contingency and patronage - that the majority tolerates the minority, but could change its mind. That people have different faiths is a fact, and one that is not going to go away, no matter how hard bigots like Tamaki wish it. Our challenge is to live with that fact without killing one another. The way we do this is to accept that on such issues, individuals are free to do as they please, and that their beliefs are between them and their consciences, rather than any business of the state. We don't "tolerate" this - we accept it, and then we get on with our lives.

I should add that the tour of Parliament is well worth taking if you haven't already done it.


Say 'No' To Forced Divorce - 'Yes' to Reforms


Press Release - Feb. 5, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins in Petitioning Saudi Arabia for Reversal of Forced Divorce
Press Release - Feb. 14, 2007
Muslimah Writers Alliance Petitions King Abdullah to Stop Forced Divorces
Where to Sign Petition
Chronological Log of Media Coverage
Result of September 2006 MWA Grand Mosque Equal Access for Women Petition
Human Rights position statements made in the Kingdom's Memorandum to The General Secretariat of the Arab League* outlining its position for ABSTAINING from signing 'The International Human Rights Declaration' and the 'International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights'

You will see from the highlighted and underscored excerpts of the Kingdom's Memorandum (see link below), that there are numerous statements that certainly appear to contradict what we see happening right now with the issue of forced divorce.

Posted by ~Aishah Schwartz : 2/19/2007 11:30:00 PM

The ironic thing is that Tamaki isn't an Anglican, he's a non-conformist.

In promoting Anglicanism as the sole state religion, England suppressed non-conformism in various ways, ranging from torture and execution in the 16th Century to a prohibition on holding public office which lasted until 1829.

Is that what he wants to go back to?

Posted by Rich : 2/20/2007 08:55:00 AM

I agree completely about "tolerance". It seems to be part of the jargon of interfaith organisations, but I've always found it unpleasant.

In my experience, nobody uses it to refer to themselves, but always to two other groups. A Christian will say they "respect" Jews and Muslims, but will feel they don't have the right to demand that Jews and Muslims "respect" each other, so will instead hope that they can "tolerate" each other. Meanwhile, the particular Jews and Muslims concerned already respect each other, but feel the Christians might only be willing to tolerate. Add Buddhists, Muslims, Baha'is and so forth, and "tolerance" ends up being the word that everybody uses but nobody can personally relate to.

I would very much like to see less pussyfooting around in interfaith work. We should be diplomatic, but we're wasting out time if we don't at some point make xenophobes uncomfortable.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/20/2007 09:56:00 AM

Definitely. Hello, what about the religious freedom provisions in the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and international treaty obligations?

Craig Y

Posted by Anonymous : 2/20/2007 11:00:00 AM

I went on a tour of parliament too when the new chamber had been freshly refurbished. Very interesting. Also the anti-earthquake works in the basement were impressive!

Posted by Hans Versluys : 2/20/2007 01:52:00 PM

I thought the earthquake precautions for parliament were to move back up to Auckland after the Big One hits?

Posted by Rich : 2/20/2007 03:02:00 PM