Home from smoky-drinky, soberish, because I have to work tomorrow. Fortunately I can set the start and end times for my working day, fortunate because I'm not tired yet. Midweek smoky-drinkies are always quiet affairs but are a good break anyway. Education was on the derision table for discussion this time. Apparently Channel 4 are doing one of their documentaries on it, and asking why so many children leave school barely able to add up. Dick Puddlecote could tell them.
There aren't many religious types at smoky-drinkies because, well, it's not a religious thing and we 'don't cares' tend to associate together. We don't indulge in religion bashing either. The religious aren't the ones banning us from the pubs. We know who the enemy is.
So when a Muslim woman wants to wear a headscarf, we aren't bothered. On the veil, the concensus was that it should not be worn in places like banks and post offices, shops should be allowed to refuse entry, it cannot be accepted on a passport or driving licence photo but in the street, it's up to the woman concerned. Personally I'd find it extremely difficult to talk to anyone in a veil but masks are not banned in the street and I don't want them to be. Masks are banned in places where they could be - and usually are - used in a robbery and that's fine with me. Veils should be too. They are masks.
If the veil is ever banned in the street, it will instantly be expanded to all face coverings. Old Holborn won't be able to wear his disguise and nobody will be allowed to have their scarf over their mouth when it's minus 20 and gale force ten. So that CCTV can see who you are. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, remember?
Try to think of one ban that actually stopped with the initial premise of the ban. There isn't one. They always expand beyond the original target, and most of those bans are still expanding. The veil is not the issue. It's just a way to get a new ban started. The veil is not the enemy. It's a distraction.
Knives were banned. It doesn't cover penknives, or didn't until the law started talking about 'carrying a bladed implement'. Now it can cover screwdrivers and nail clippers if the dusty old judge deems it so. Sikhs are going for an exemption on the grounds of religion. Well, why not? Everyone else is trying it, and everyone but the Christians are allowed to get away with it. Christians had better stay away from safari parks and zoos. They have lions and I bet someone in government has thought about it...
Even the Green God worshippers of the Church of Climatology have demanded their beliefs be respected as a religion. Which it is. One of the least convincing ones, but they have the 'obey or die' thing going so they've got the format right.
I have no objection at all to Sikhs being allowed to carry a knife. Not a single objection to raise on the matter. I object most strongly to being told I can't carry one and it's not because the Sikhs can, but for the exact same reason they give for being allowed to. Their reasoning is that they have never stabbed anyone so can be trusted with a knife. I have never stabbed, or even threatened anyone with a knife. Millions of people in this country have never done so either. So why can't we be trusted with them?
Why not just ban anyone convicted of a violent offence from carrying a weapon? It doesn't have to be an offence involving a weapon. If someone is demonstrably of a violent character, ban them from having any kind of dangerous weapon and review it, say, every five years. Ah, but that would involve actual thinking on the part of the government and the judiciary and they can't be bothered with all that. Far easier to lump the trustworthy in with the few who really are nutters and then fine people for having something they've never troubled any one else with.
So I say let the Sikhs have their knives. Instead of shouting about 'them' being allowed to have them, shout about 'us' not being allowed. Don't get distracted.
Hindus are rarely in the news. Some time back, in Aberystwyth, a Hindu group tried to prevent their sacred bull from being killed because it was infected with tuberculosis. Well, they lost, and rightly so, because Aberystwyth is a farming area and tuberculosis is very infectious. There was a high risk of transmission via simple interaction between the Hindus and other people (not that the people of Aberystwyth are big on interaction) as well as by rats and sparrows and the evil badgers who deliberately kiss cows while they sleep to make them ill. Oh, they think we don't know what they're up to with their stripy faces and innocent looks.
Anyway the Hindus lost that one. They are now in the news again and this time they've won one. They have won the right to be cremated outdoors instead of in a concrete furnace. How can this be?
But today the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, who headed a panel of three appeal judges, said " ... it seems to us that Mr Ghai's religious and personal beliefs as to how his remains should be cremated once he dies can be accommodated within current cremation legislation.''
The Telegraph considers this to mean -
A Hindu spiritual healer today won the right to be cremated on a traditional funeral pyre, opening the way for thousands of the cremations to take place in the British countryside.
An image of roasting corpses littering the countryside, hikers and dog walkers dodging the sparks while watching the skeletons dance, bodies burning like a human version of a foot-and-mouth outbreak. People living in twee villages and uniform suburbs waking to find a dead Hindu incinerated on their lawns while farmers wish for the days when all they had to contend with were crop circle loonies.
Turns out it's not quite like that.
Lord Neuberger asked Rambert de Mello, representing Mr Ghai, what his client wanted and was told that the funeral pyre would have to be of wood and be open to the sky but the site could be surrounded by walls and the pyre covered with a roof which had an opening.
What the Hindus are asking for is a Hindu crematorium. A specific place. You won't be able to toast your marshmallows on it while out for a stroll and you won't see the corpse burn. It will have a hole in the roof instead of a chimney. It will be sited and operated in accordance with existing crematoria regulations.
When I die - and it will happen because I'm a smoker, and ASH have someone in a white coat who will declare that only smokers die - I don't care if my body is burned, buried, dumped in a ditch, stuffed and mounted, broken up for spares (if there's anything left by then), shipped to the glue factory or turned into Soylent Green. I won't be in it. I'll be dead. To some, the manner of disposal of their body matters a lot. As long as that manner of disposal meets the approval of the law (ie not shrink-wrapped and sold in a supermarket as 'long pig') then why worry about it?
It's a distraction. All this 'oh, look, they can have this and we can't' type of reporting is a distraction. People are incensed and the natural response is 'We can't have it so they shouldn't have it'.
It's the wrong response. Instead, ask 'Well if they can have it, why can't we?'
Because it's banned. For 'you' but not for 'them'. Bans are a great way to divide and rule.
You can't carry that knife unless you're a Sikh. You can't wear a veil in the bank unless you're a Muslim. You can't have your earthly remains disposed of in a manner that is legal but unusual unless you're a Hindu. Hindus cannot wear a veil or carry a knife. Muslims cannot carry a knife or be burned on a pile of wood. Sikhs can't be burned on a bonfire or wear a veil.
We hetero male honkies are not the only ones being divided. It's happening to everyone.
You all know who's doing this, don't you?