David Thompson
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April 13, 2008

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unclean

Love how some HP lefties are trying to excuse whats going on. Isn't it their politics that makes this crap happen? It is Hackney for god's sake.

David

I did marvel at the attempts to blame capitalism and private finance, which aren’t exactly the most obvious targets. It is, once again, the pinhead dance. “TheIrie” in particular is a real piece of work. It’s remarkable just how many commenters seem to believe that idiots and bigots should be compensated for the natural consequences of their own irrational hang-ups and general stupidity.

Ophelia Benson

Well I'm a lefty, and that's not my politics!

Really - the left is very sharply split on this kind of bullshit, and it's not accurate to pin it on the left as a whole - though it is fair to say it's a left thing as opposed to a right thing. ([Almost] all 'culturally thenthitive' nonsense is left, but not all left is 'culturally thenthitive' nonsense.)

David

“[Almost] all ‘culturally thenthitive’ nonsense is left, but not all left is ‘culturally thenthitive’ nonsense.”

Heh. “Thenthitive.” I may have to borrow that. :)

I’m sure I don’t need to point out the irony of such “thenthitivity” and I’m sure some moderate Muslims would find the pool segregation unnecessary, peculiar, even embarrassing. (Indeed, being annoyed by Hackney Council’s actions might be a reasonable indicator of being a moderate Muslim.) But the inequity of the policy – and the insult to non-Muslims - is hard to miss or excuse. It’s hardly sensitive. Believers who expect such indulgence are expecting someone else to pay the price of their own religious choices. If people wish to be uptight and neurotic about with whom they’re “allowed” to swim, they should at least have the decency to pick up the tab and pay for a private facility where they can be as precious as they wish free from godless eyes.

Ophelia Benson

Well, and it goes way beyond believers expecting other people to pay for their religious choices - the whole idea is completely disgusting on its own. As plenty of people pointed out at Harry's Place, the anti-racist left would (obviously) scream the place down if the sign said White Male Swimming or Christian Male Swimming, and rightly so.

David

“…the anti-racist left would (obviously) scream the place down if the sign said White Male Swimming or Christian Male Swimming, and rightly so.”

And yet how compromised and opportunist so many of the HP comments are. Evidently pigmentation and designated victim group status matters quite a lot in some people’s calculus of entitlement. This is the moral dyslexia inherent to leftist identity politics – it’s erratic, sly and piecemeal; there’s no real principle involved. By which I mean, there’s no *reciprocal* principle that operates irrespective of who the subject is or what colour they happen to be. It’s not based on the Golden Rule and consequently it leads to contradiction and inequity. Apartheid in the name of diversity being just one of its charming outcomes. How proud its proponents must be. Their Jerusalem is here.

JuliaM

"But the inequity of the policy – and the insult to non-Muslims - is hard to miss or excuse. It’s hardly sensitive."

But the overriding aspect of 'multiculturalism' in the UK is sensitivity to 'the other'. If you start from that viewpoint, then you can understand why they are baffled that anyone else could object; 'But we are the privileged majority, and so must be deferential to the underprivileged minority', you can almost hear them thinking..

David

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it thinking.

Dirty bather

Don't some Jews have 'purity/modesty' issues about swimming too?

David

I’m not very familiar with the minutiae of Judaism in its various forms, but some orthodox groups fret over all manner of odd things. If so, being told that one is unclean, metaphorically or otherwise, and excluded from a public pool because one isn’t Jewish is no less objectionable. Actually, I don’t particularly care what metaphysical hang-ups a person has, provided they’re kept off my lawn, as it were. If people wish to be bonkers and neurotic, fine. But expecting others to indulge those neuroses and then cheerily pick up the tab is, well, pushing it a little.

TDK

A couple of points.

DavidT's post links back to an earlier swimming incident where the woman only session catered mainly to Hassidic Jews.

Second, there has been a long history of secular woman only policies in such institutions long predating multiculturalism. Further examples are the women only compartments and waiting rooms on railways. The problem is that given that one identity group (ie women) has historically won an indulgence, it's very difficult to avoiding granting any other identity group the same indulgence.

David

TDK,

If the above had taken place as a commercial booking in a private venue, I wouldn’t have the same objections. Indeed, most likely we wouldn’t know much about it. Ditto private women-only pool sessions or men-only saunas, etc. The problem is that the above appears to be a supposedly “inclusive” borough-wide policy of Hackney Council, and is thus affirmed, albeit furtively, by the government and subsidised by taxpayers. It’s the public subsidy of idiocy that’s the main issue, I think.

There are plenty of religious hang-ups that are obnoxious, inhibiting or needlessly inconvenient. Some even real pose threats to a person’s well-being and the well-being of their children. Self-flagellation by some Shi’ite Muslims springs to mind, or the avoidance of blood transfusions by Jehovah’s Witnesses. If these mental ticks lead to exclusion, misfortune or the atrophy of skills, as they often do, perhaps this is God’s way of telling them they should perish for being such bloody fools.

Brandon

I'd be tempted to go swimming just before the "Muslim men Only" playtime.....after I rubbed some ham and bacon all over myself. Maybe sell some BBQ pork sandwiches outside the pool for an after swim lunch.

David

Update, from the HP thread:

“I have now spoken (again, and at length) to the Duty Manager of Clissold Leisure Centre. He tells me that:

(1.) The session was originally a private hire by a mosque. However, the mosque stopped paying. Therefore, Clissold Leisure Centre took over the event, instituted a Muslim Only Swimming session.

(2.) The session was indeed Muslim only. It wouldn’t be sufficient for me and my son to wear a particular sort of swimming costume. We actually had to be Muslim.

He told me that there was a swimming session for Jewish women on Wednesday evenings: which was a private hire. He suggested at one point that the group might have a grant which allowed it to hire the pool for that time.”

http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/cgi-bin/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=8092

The Pool Master

"The session was originally a private hire by a mosque. However, the mosque stopped paying. Therefore, Clissold Leisure Centre took over the event, instituted a Muslim Only Swimming session."

*Therefore?*

Political Umpire

It's quite simple really. In a free society, that is, one with freedom of religion, everyone has the right to respect for his or her religious beliefs; that, however, does not entail respect for those beliefs themselves.

No-one is entitled to require special privileges, such as exclusive use of a ratepayer-funded service, on the ground of religion.

It would be totally impractical, as this example shows. There is no limit to the number of religions that might try and gain such privileges. Would a member of the Dutch Reform Church from South Africa be entitled to ask for whites only swimming times? Would my newly constituted pervert-religion be entitled to require buxom girls plus me swimming times? How would a state distinguish between 'genuine' and 'bogus' religions for the purposes of such privileges?

Answer: it shouldn't even try. Religion is for the private sphere. The state has no business recognising it, still less bestowing privileges on some or all religions.

Simple really.

JuliaM

"The session was originally a private hire by a mosque. However, the mosque stopped paying. Therefore, Clissold Leisure Centre took over the event, instituted a Muslim Only Swimming session."

Well, I'm quite sure that's what the taxpayers of Hackney paid their council tax for.

"It wouldn’t be sufficient for me and my son to wear a particular sort of swimming costume. We actually had to be Muslim."

And....that was verifiable how, exactly....?

Saul Wall

Does chlorine not eliminate Kaffir cooties?

Steve in San Diego

Ironically, I have a nagging, irrational sense that the pool would actually become dirtier than usual during the religious apartheid time slot. I can't account for this perverse thought. Perhaps the notion tends to orignate in the subconscious when regarding any group so ostentatiously on guard against uncleanliness in themselves and others.

I would also not be surprised to read about some superstar evangelical Christian preacher discovered in a motel room with whiskey, hookers, and a bag of cocaine; this perhaps for the same obscure reason.

billm99uk

Is it just me, or does anyone else get a strange urge to take a trip down to Hackney Leisure Centre and try to gain access to the session by saying "Yes, actually I AM a muslim" just to see if the attendant dares to say "You can't be Muslim, you're WHITE".

Then again, maybe there's a compulsory circumcision check or something ;)

Franklin

"Then again, maybe there's a compulsory circumcision check or something ;)"

I volunteer! As an utterly lapsed Jew, I'd pass. And boy, but would that be a fun announcement to make after a canonball off the high dive. Allah akbar!

One thing that occurred to me regarding the religion-based OCD-level concern about the human nether regions is that male circumcision, which is probably the upper extreme of such concerns aside from female circumcision, turned out to have modern health implications: male circumcision correlated to lower rates of HIV infection in studies of African populations. Verifying this on Google turned up a bunch of sites I'd rather not think about too hard, so you're on your own for the source. One might wonder how many of these rituals came out of reasonably well-observed health phenomena, and things just went haywire under the pressures of fundamentalism. Or it could be a case of the stopped clock that is nevertheless right twice a day.

Mighty Thor

"If these mental ticks lead to exclusion, misfortune or the atrophy of skills, as they often do, perhaps this is God's way of telling them they should perish for being such bloody fools."

Isn't that a *bit* harsh, David?

David

Well, perhaps, but only by a whisker. It’s worth bearing in mind that the aversion to sharing a public pool with unbelievers - whether for reasons of sanctimonious prudery or a fear of catching metaphysical cooties – is a choice. It’s something the person in question has *chosen* to do. It’s not unreasonable, I think, that such people should accept the natural consequences of those self-imposed restrictions. Specifically, the consequence that they can no longer use a public pool. That’s the price of their piety. Surely anything else is an imposition or a cheat?

If some people imagine a hypothetical deity wants them to avoid the eyes of unbelievers (and their terrible ether germs), it seems a bit rich to expect those hang-ups to be accommodated and paid for by the same filthy heathens that are being treated with disdain.

AntiCitizenOne

> it seems a bit rich to expect those hang-ups to be accommodated and paid for by the same filthy heathens that are being treated with disdain.

The islamic term for making "filthy heathens" pay for the disdain of muslims is called Jizya.

David

AC1,

Yes, the above does appear to comply with the parasitic notion of jizya. Certainly, it could be construed as an expression of arrogance and unearned entitlement. And that’s really what irks. Neuroses like those above are, I’ve been told, about denying yourself things (certain foodstuffs, exposure to heathens, etc) because you believe God wants you to do so, and not doing those things will please Him for some strange reason. It’s a mad formulation, I know, and somewhat megalomaniacal, but that’s supposed to be the rationale. By the same logic, not being able to swim in a public pool is the price of that piety. A test of faith, if you will. Attempting to circumvent that self-imposed restriction seems somewhat dubious, even on its own terms. Expecting the less spiritually elevated, whom one is proudly disdaining, to then happily accommodate and subsidise this cheating seems both arrogant and insulting.

It’s curious how the revolting elements of Islamic belief often fit so well with multicultural pretension and leftist identity politics. I wonder if the infinitely accommodating employees of Hackney Council are aware of concepts like jizya and the dhimma? Would such knowledge alter their sensitivities? Would it make them feel less righteous?

J. S.

I live in Israel, where Muslims and Jews of both sexes often swim in the sea together, the former sporting if necessary full traditional garb. Though blissfully ignorant of the intricacies of Muslim law, I have some knowledge of how ultra-Orthodox Jews work, and that basically means that the more influence they are allowed to have on the public sphere in my country, the more they will crave and demand in the name of their mounting sensitivity. For example, in my neighborhood, which happens to be one of the hippest in Tel Aviv, there exists a small ultra-Orthodox minority that shows no outward objections to having women parading about in minimal dress, gays walking hand-in-hand in the street, and cars driving on the Sabbath. A few dozen kilometers to the east, in the Holy City of Jerusalem, exhibiting any such behavior in certain precincts will entail a used diaper -- or worse -- being slung in your general direction. There are no differences in belief, custom, or sect between the two ultra-Orthodox communities mentioned; the only difference is how much they know they can get away with. The same rule, I suppose, will apply to Islamists in your country. Indulge them and they'll ask for complete segregation; put them in their place and suddenly they will behave like every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

David

J.S.,

“I have some knowledge of how ultra-Orthodox Jews work, and that basically means that the more influence they are allowed to have on the public sphere in my country, the more they will crave and demand in the name of their mounting sensitivity.”

Indeed. And it’s this opportunistic influence that makes the whole “sensitivity” mantra so misleading and perverse. The more such things are indulged, the more strident and reactionary they’re likely to become. It isn’t about believers’ fragility (except perhaps of their egos); it’s about power and territory, and is almost always non-reciprocal. The example in Hackney has obvious overtones of both those things as its tenor and dynamic conform to normative Islamic law, which is also non-reciprocal in so many key respects.

And used diaper-slinging? Wow. That’s classy.

Rick

I agree - The true irony is that these separations are out of hate; pure distain and you are in the same breath asked to assist! - and you do.
True irony in its saddest most destructive form.
We all know this now, so what is anyone willing to do? Boycott? Protest? - Blogging is very limiting. :)

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