No wonder their readers are ignorant tossers

Immigration tribunal lawyers are now allowed to wear the veil in courts. The Express is apopleptic. They have 'Fury as top judges gives in to Muslim hardliners on veils'. Who's furious? The Express, mainly. And racists generally, presumably.

There isn't really much in the way of logical arguments here, which is interesting. Just outrage. I'll get to the one argument that maybe approaches reason in a bit. I want to go through this pisspoor article in order.

His decision was widely condemned by critics, who claimed he had caved in to Islamic hardliners.
Caved in to Islamic hardliners? What Islamic hardliners? The woman who had worn a veil without any problems for years until one day, a judge decided to try to force her to have to remove it? Why does she warrant being referred to in plural? Are these critics mainly Daily Express hacks? Probably - and ooh look, there are some angry Tory MPs as well. So unlike the tories to be intolerant about other cultures. Anyway:

David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth, said the decision caved in to Islamic pressure.

He added: “British courts are there to determine whether the truth is being told. How can they do that if they cannot hear? Allowing people to hide their faces in a court where all should be laid bare in the search for truth and justice is not good enough.
David Davies is a twat. Didn't he notice the bit about making sure the lawyer can be heard? Clearly not. When I said in my last post that there's nothing to hang outrage on, I forgot that it's possible to just ignore what Hodge actually said and pretend there's another problem.

The second bit is the only argument that approaches a logical one. Of course, I say approaches - but I really mean 'doesn't approach'. The thing about using glittering generalities is that people normally only do that when they haven't got a proper argument.

If it's vital that judges see lawyers' faces, does that mean blind people are prohibited from becoming judges?

He follows this up with the classic tu quoque fallacy, which I think must be said at least once whenever anyone says the word 'Muslim' by law:
“If we were in a Muslim court we would be expected to abide by their rules on dress. So why is it that this lady can work in a British court and wear whatever she likes?”
Yeah, and if we were in a Martian court, we might be expected to balance a sandwich on our face or something. We're not in a bloody Muslim court. We're in a British court - and you know what - the British court rules on dress say that you're allowed to wear a veil if you like. She is following the British rules on dress in courts.

Phillip Davies MP repeats the 'how can you be open if a lawyer will not show her face?' line. How can she be open? I'll tell you - by saying words with her mouth that you can listen to. See above.

The paper then does a classic out of context quote to make it look like there's some balance from a Labour MP. And a Muslim one at that:
But Labour MP Shahid Malik, one of Westminster’s four Muslim MPs, said: “Where a veil inhibits you from carrying out your job or your role in life, then your right to wear it is compromised.”
But as Hodge already states - if someone's role is inhibited, other arrangements will be made. Remember - if a ruling says something you don't like, you can always ignore it if you're the Express.

What this shows is that all the supposedly logical arguments applied to similar cases are so much window dressing for some people. Much concern was expressed for the poor children in the Aisha Azmi case. There are no children here, and there is no major need for a judge to see a lawyer's face like children learning English. If there were, there'd be a bar on blind judges. The argument that judges might not be able to hear is repeated even though it's taken care of in the ruling, because there really isn't another practical reason anyone can think of. And if there really were a practical reason for stopping lawyers in these cases from wearing a veil - it would have been raised ages ago. This particular woman has worn a veil to immigration tribunals for at least two years. How many other women have done the same, and how far in the past?

In fact, the whole idea that this is all about being able to see someone's face is a bit of a stretch. The Shabina Begum case shows that there will be objections to Islamic dress even when the face is visible. Why isn't the Express more honest and just admit that they object any visible indicators that a person is a Muslim?

*UPDATE* I removed an argument about Lady Justice atop the Old Bailey being blind - because she isn't, apparently.


Not Saussure said...

While I wholeheartedly agree with your views on the Express and veils, I fear you're mistaken about Justice at the Old Bailey (some way down the page).

I was going to make a similar point about her in my blog, but thought I'd better check first!

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Ah, bugger it. I'll remove the lame argument straight away!