Don’t Ban Burqas—Or Censor “South Park”

Question: Is the headscarf ban partly a reaction to perceived \r\nMuslim threats to free speech?
\r\n

\r\nJoan Wallach Scott: The groups who protest the Danish cartoons… \r\nwho protested the Danish cartoons, the threats…  I think those are sort \r\nof terrible things, but I don’t think the vast majority of the \r\npopulations we’re talking about and those who are affected by things \r\nlike headscarf laws are involved in that.  If they are they’re pulled in\r\n by the sense of discrimination and objection they feel in the host \r\ncountries in which they live, but more than that I don’t see how banning\r\n headscarves makes any difference in the reaction of politicized Islamic\r\n groups to something like the Danish cartoons.  It seems to me that the \r\ncure being offered doesn’t fit the problem that is being defined and the\r\n cure is a kind of general Islam phobia that attaches to all Muslims and\r\n that affects the practices of all Muslims, so I think girls and \r\nheadscarves are benign.  I really don’t think that that is the flag of \r\nIslamic terrorism or the cover for deeply felt terrorist inclinations.  I\r\n do think for…  There are issues of religious belief.  There are issues \r\nof identification with a world movement that removes you from the kind \r\nof more objected ethnic racial inferiority you feel in the country that \r\nyou are, so that you can identify with something that is bigger than you\r\n and that feels more comfortable or gives you a kind of recognition that\r\n you otherwise feel you’re not getting, so you know there are lots of \r\nissues involved in the choice to wear a headscarf, but I don’t think \r\nwearing a headscarf or having people not wear headscarves or not wear \r\nburqas has anything to do with addressing the problem of political \r\naction, political censorship of things like the Danish cartoons.
\r\n
\r\nQuestion: Should our guiding principle in such clashes be \r\n“free expression above all”?
\r\n

\r\nJoan Wallach Scott: I mean I guess I’m you know I’m certainly for\r\n free expression.  I think that… and I was the head of the Committee on \r\nAcademic Freedom in tenor at the American Association of University \r\nProfessors, so that was the hat I wore for a long time and I certainly \r\nthink free expression is what there should be.  There are always tricky \r\ncontexts and the one in which the Danish cartoon somehow seemed to be a \r\nblow, a horrible blow at religious belief and religious…  You know if \r\nthe Danish cartoons had been swastikas, what would the response have \r\nbeen on the part of Jewish community?  I mean maybe people wouldn’t have\r\n threatened the lives of the cartoonists, but I think there would have \r\nbeen an outpouring of objection on the part of members of the Jewish \r\ncommunity about this travesty that was allowed to be expressed even as \r\nfreedom of speech is something that is recognized and, you know, the \r\nNazi march in Skokie, Illinois in the 1970s or 80s, I mean civil \r\nlibertarians here said that march had to be allowed to take place, but \r\nso I think one can under…  There was a certain kind of insensitivity \r\nthat was involved in the publication of the cartoons in a context in \r\nwhich this was a really volatile and explosive issue, but I think they \r\nshould have been allowed to be published.  I do think though that the…  \r\nAs I say I don’t think if they had been…  I don’t think the editors of \r\nthe paper would have allowed the publication of similar cartoons in \r\nwhich anti-Semitism could be the accusation rather than attacks on \r\nMuslims.
\r\n
\r\n Question:
Should the satirical “South Park” episode \r\nabout Islam have been censored?
\r\n

\r\nJoan Wallach Scott:  No, I think that that…  I think that was \r\nfine.  I mean I think that…  And I think people are looking to sort of… \r\n There was certainly threats and all of the rest of it, but I you know \r\nno, I don’t…  I think that can be allowed.  Again, I guess my test \r\nalways is if we’re as tolerant of what could be taken to be…  \r\npost-Holocaust, what are taken to be anti-Semitic gestures as \r\nanti-Muslim ones then you know I think yeah, why not allow these \r\ncharacters to sort of play around and be satirical.

Recorded April 26th, 2010

\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen

Western attempts to ban Islamic religious garb, and Muslim attempts to censor Western religious satire may be separate issues. But neither is a good idea.

COVID-19 amplified America’s devastating health gap. Can we bridge it?

The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.

Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
  • Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
  • To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
Keep reading Show less

Skyborne whales: The rise (and fall) of the airship

Can passenger airships make a triumphantly 'green' comeback?

R. Humphrey/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

Large airships were too sensitive to wind gusts and too sluggish to win against aeroplanes. But today, they have a chance to make a spectacular return.

Keep reading Show less

Vegans are more likely to suffer broken bones, study finds

Vegans and vegetarians often have nutrient deficiencies and lower BMI, which can increase the risk of fractures.

Credit: Jukov studi via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • The study found that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer fractures than meat eaters.
  • Similar results were observed for vegetarians and fish eaters, though to a lesser extent.
  • It's possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, though it takes some strategic planning to compensate for the nutrients that a plant-based diet can't easily provide.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Medieval arrows were as damaging as gunshots

A study by UK archaeologists finds that longbows caused horrific injuries similar to modern gunshot wounds.

Credit: Oliver Creighton/University of Exeter
Surprising Science
  • UK archaeologists discover medieval longbows caused injuries similar to modern gunshot wounds.
  • The damage was caused by the arrows spinning clockwise.
  • No longbows from medieval times survived until our times.
Keep reading Show less

How long does turkey take to thaw? There’s a calculator for that

Never made a turkey before? Don't worry, science can help.

Credit: RODNAE Productions from Pexels
Surprising Science
  • This year, many people will be making a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. It's often harder than it looks.
  • Luckily, an online calculator website has one just for thawing turkey, and can explain why you need to wait so long.
  • The website has other calculators as well, for needs you didn't know you had.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast