These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 8, 2009.
Friday, 8 May 2009
Queen's Trinity Cross Order of Trinidad deemed unlawful - the Cross of Christ insulting to Muslims.
From The Times
An honour established by the Queen has been declared unlawful after Muslims and Hindus complained that its Christian name and cross insignia were offensive.
The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity was established by the Queen 40 years ago to recognise distinguished service and gallantry in the former colony of Trinidad and Tobago. It has been received by 62 people including the cricketers Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara, the novelist V. S. Naipaul and many of the islands’ leading politicians and diplomats.
The Privy Council in London has ruled that the decoration is unconstitutional because it discriminates against non-Christians.
The implications of the ruling on British decorations are being studied by lawyers at the Cabinet Office, which oversees the honours system. A spokesman said: “We have noted the judgment and are monitoring the situation.”
A parliamentary review of British honours has already recommended streamlining the system with new titles that have no reference to Christian saints or symbols.
The title and choice of insignia followed six years of consultation and research of national awards in other countries. Questions were raised, though, about the overtly Christian nature of the words “Trinity” and “Cross” and the use of a cross insignia, which led to some of those nominated refusing to accept the decoration.
As the Island of Trinidad was named after the Trinity that would seem to me to be an eminently appropriate title for a decoration for that island. However the concept of the Trinity does deeply unsettle Muslims while the cross has much the same effect as it does on demons in a horror film.
In my experience Hindus acknowledge the divine in such diversity that they accept our belief in it as yet one more facet of the supreme being. If I have misunderstood this I am sure our readers will set me right.
The law lords refused to make the order retrospective, meaning that the recipients will not be stripped of their honours.
The legal case had been brought by groups representing Trinidad and Tobago’s Muslim and Hindu communities, which account for about 30 per cent of the Caribbean islands’ population of 1.3 million.
The CIA handbook gives the figures as 57.6% all Christian denominations, 22.5% Hindu and 5.8% Muslim. I am willing for someone with personal knowledge of Trinidad to explain otherwise but my gut reaction is that it is not the Hindu part of the South Asian population pushing for this. The many Hindu Gurkhas who have been awarded the VC seem to have no trouble with the cross design.
The High Court of Trinidad and Tobago ruled in 2004 that the decoration discriminated against non-Christians but said that it did not have the power to invalidate the royal order.
The island’s Cabinet has already agreed that the name of its highest national award should be renamed the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and that the Order of the Trinity would become the Distinguished Society of Trinidad and Tobago. They also said that the decoration would be redesigned, with the cross replaced by a medal.
A review of the British honours system by the Commons Public Administration Select Committee in 2004 recommended reducing the number of decorations from twelve to four, with the new proposed titles having no reference to the Cross or Christian saints.
Last year Christine Grahame, an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament, described the George Medal, one of the highest civilian awards for bravery, as “clearly very Anglocentric” and unsuitable for Scots. She suggested replacing it with a nationalist award such as a “St Andrews Medal”. Which sounds very Scots to me. But I have a soft spot for St Andrew and his biblical credentials are undisputable. Perhaps a British born saint, Columba or Cuthbert.
The Times comments
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council has shown the flexibility that has preserved its members since the Norman Conquest. It has ruled that the Trinity Cross is illegal; but it has not made its ruling retrospective. So the holders of the Trinity Cross do not have to return their honours to have the crosses taken out. In any case the three sailing ships on the coat of arms of the islands represent the Trinity. And Trinidad was named after the Trinity by Columbus. The honour has already been renamed the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. So honour is satisfied in honourable compromise.
The islands are entitled to take a view on their own honours. But this decision should not set a precedent that the United Kingdom feels it needs to follow.
Posted on 05/08/2009 12:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 8 May 2009
Only 17 More Days
Left to register for NER's Symposium in Nashville.
See you there!
Posted on 05/08/2009 6:56 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 8 May 2009
Bollocks to Vulgarity
Vulgarity is one of those many qualities that it is easier to discern than to define; suffice it to say that there is a lot of it about, perhaps more than ever. At any rate, I notice it more, and it seems to me ever more extreme: a sign, no doubt, of advancing age.
In his essay-length book Vulgarity in Literature, published in 1930, Aldous Huxley was much exercised by the definition of vulgarity. He assumes, wrongly in my view, that if no viable definition of the phenomenon is tendered, then nothing true or useful can be said of it, and only nonsense can result. He draws an analogy with the then recent Geneva Conference for the suppression of the traffic in obscene publications:
When the Greek delegate (too Socratic by half) suggested that it might be a good thing to establish a preliminary definition of the word “obscene,” Sir Archibald Bodkin [the English Director of Public Prosecutions who, having read pages 690 to 732, banned James Joyce’s Ulysses] sprang to his feet with a protest. “There is no definition of indecent or obscene in English statute law.” The law of other countries being, apparently, no more explicit, it was unanimously decided that no definition was possible. After which, having triumphantly decided that they did not know what they were talking about, the members of the Congress settled down to their discussion.
Is this right? The question no doubt raises some of the deepest problems of philosophy. Are there primary qualities so indisputable that all other qualities are ultimately reducible to combinations of them, so that we can know for certain, at least in theory, that we are all talking about precisely the same thing? Personally, I rather doubt it. In any case, in normal discourse we do not demand that everyone defines his terms; if we did, we should become rather like those antiquarian booksellers who know everything about books except their contents. In a world of continua, words cannot be entirely categorical.
The rest is here.
Posted on 05/08/2009 7:41 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 8 May 2009
Muslim father in custody faith fight
Following the many cases in Muslim countries where the law insists that the children of a Muslim must automatically be raised as Muslims and by Muslims is this case from Lancashire, where I am glad that the Judges made the right decision. For this one family their private sorrow is theirs alone. But it is a worldwide theme.
From The Lancashire Evening Post.
Muslim father asked the Court of Appeal to overturn an order which placed his young son in the care of his Christian grandparents.
The man, who is from Preston but cannot be identified for legal reasons, objected so strongly to the four-year-old being placed with Christians that he took his case to the central London court.
He attended the hearing yesterday, but had his case rejected as "unarguable" by a top judge.
Giving the court's judgment, Lord Justice Wilson said: "The judge (in the county court case) found that, in the light of his profound religious convictions, the father was totally opposed to the bringing up of his son in a Christian environment and, in particular, had been particularly opposed to his being allowed to attend a Christian wedding.
"It is not for me to say whether the teachings of the Prophet support that degree of rejection of exposure to other faiths." The father, who has another child he is not allowed to see, (I wonder why?) was of "great intelligence", but was also a deeply troubled man with complex psychological, spiritual and interpersonal issues, he added.
There had been unproven accusations that he had threatened the four-year-old's mother and her parents and that he had a gun at home.
The father appealed against the refusal to discharge the care order on a series of grounds, after submitting a great deal of densely-typed paperwork and citing more than 70 other cases.
Refusing permission to appeal, Lord Justice Wilson also criticised the father's submission of so many documents, which were more like a book than court paperwork, he said. And if my experience was anything to go by propbably contained a lot of capital letters and used a large quantity of green ink.
Posted on 05/08/2009 8:03 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 8 May 2009
Meet the Fockers
Reading Theodore Dalrymple's excellent piece on vulgarity, in which he refers to an Irishman's inventiveness in swearing, I was reminded of this old tale, supposedly from WWII:
One of the Norwegian fliers who escaped the Nazi invasion went to England, and joined the Air Force there. He was a very good pilot, and shot down so many Nazi planes that the British pulled him to the ground and had him give talks to boost morale.
The first talk that he gave was at the London Garden Society. This was a venerable collection of blue haired ladies who owned most of London and its surroundings, they having had the forethought to outlive their husbands.
The Norwegian pilot got up after the normal introductions, and started talking about the latest battle in the air against the enemy.
Talking with his hands, which is something most pilots do, he described how these "fockers" came out of the sun, and how he dove and gave chase to one, and shot the "focker" down.
At that point the President of the club got up, reacting to the open mouths of the ladies.
She explained, saying that the "Focker" was a German aircraft.
The Norwegian pilot said, "Yah - but deese fockers was flying Messerschmidts."
Posted on 05/08/2009 8:35 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 8 May 2009
Pfwoar!! Look at the morals on that!
From The Times:
Beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder but in a country where a woman’s eyes are the only feature on public display, judging a beauty pageant could prove awkward.
For that reason the future Miss Saudi Arabia will not win on the merits of her figure in a bikini or her perfect skin, but will instead secure the coveted crown by dint of her devotion to her parents and Islamic values.
As of tomorrow 200 veiled hopefuls will start a ten-week process to find the winner of “Miss Beautiful Morals”, including a workshop entitled “Mum, paradise is at your feet”, a reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s dictum that respect for one’s parents is a foundation of the faith. “The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants’ commitment to Islamic morals . . . It’s an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman’s body and looks,” Khadra al-Mubarak, the event’s founder, said.
Unlike other competitions abroad, there will be no men involved at any stage in Saudi Arabia’s only contest for young women and it will not be televised, allowing the competitors to take off the veils and black abayas that cover Saudi women from head to toe. “The winner won’t necessarily be pretty,” Ms al-Mubarak said. “We care about the beauty of the soul and the morals.”
The competition is now in its second year, with the number of women aged 15 to 25 hoping to bag the $2,600 (£1,720) prize almost tripling from last year.
Bag's the word.
Posted on 05/08/2009 8:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 8 May 2009
Further to Esmerelda's post about honours, The Times has this:
The ruling by the Privy Council highlights just one potential absurdity in a system that is built on anachronism. Most Excellent Order of the British Empire? Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath? It is hard not to laugh when faced with such archaic titles; to complain about the Trinity Cross, on the ground that the recipient might not believe in the Christian God, is a bit rich when it is rather harder to believe in the British Empire, which does not actually exist any more.
Five years ago a committee of MPs recommended a pretty radical overhaul of the system. Knighthoods and damehoods should go, they said, because they are associated with “rank and class”, and the Order of the British Empire — “redolent of an imperial history” — should be replaced so that a CBE would become a Companion of British Excellence.
How drab. It is only when one starts considering the alternatives to the current arrangement that it becomes apparent that, however flawed it may be, anything is preferable to a system of honours that has all the magic of a PR handout and whose only distinguishing characteristic is a desire not to offend.
How about CBTQ - Companion of British Total Quality; or BCD - British Customer Delight; or BBP - Best British Practices? But, as the article points out, even this levelling down doesn't go far enough:
And, anyway, what is wrong with a bit of history? If we rename our honours now, we will only have to rename them again in a century or so when some attention-seeker decides that the Order of British Excellence is elitist, or discriminatory, or just too British.
Posted on 05/08/2009 9:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 8 May 2009
Gambia: Senegambian Scholars Condemn FGM (but only up to a point)
That's a good headline isn't it? But when you read further, well there is always a but . . . From the Daily Observer
Islamic scholars in The Gambia and Senegal are the latest to join gender and human rights activists in condemning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a phenomenon that has generated protracted debate over the years.
The scholars noted that Muslims should stay healthy - physically and mentally – in order to perform the duty of worship that human beings are created for, arguing that any practice that may tamper with the security of the body or mind of man should be looked into.
These remarks were made by the scholars during presentations on the topic ‘Harmful traditional practices (Female Genital Mutilation)’, on Thursday, at the Sheraton Hotel in Brufut. According to Ebrahim Touray, second secretary general of the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, Allah warned believers in Suratul Ahsab, verse 36 in the Holy Qu’ran, that they should desist from contradicting His commandments as well as the orders of his prophet, Muhammad (SAW).
According to Touray, there are two Arabic words for the practice and each refers to a particular type: “Khifaadh” and “Khitan”. He said Khifaadh was totally condemned by the prophet when he came to Madinah, and it was termed by the scholars of Islam as the ‘pharaonic circumcision’. For this type, he said, there should not be any debate between Muslims and others. He noted that it is totally Haram because of its brutal nature and severe harm it causes to women.
He said Khitaan, which is the other practice is what they should discuss. Touray went further to make references to many Hadiths about female circumcision and recommended that a research team be established to study the matter empirically and that the team should comprise of scholars in Islamic jurisprudence, cultural figures, and medical doctors, among others.
So full infibulation is forbidden, but the lesser mutilation???? Have to think about that one.
Posted on 05/08/2009 1:41 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax