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Assorted observations today October 14, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in America, assorted, contemplation, rant.

Today was another sad day – I saw what appeared to be a 6/7/8 year old girl in a neck-to-toe burkha. Yeah, in California. I got into lyrical mood and went (to myself ofcourse)- “We need no indoctrination, we don’t need no clothe control…..hey ! parents leave the kids alone ! “


Public libraries in America – they are crowded. There is always someone, there are kids in the kids section, teenagers in the teen section. There are older people on the internet or the magazine section. There are moms helping kids with their storybooks and dads picking DVDs. The library employees anywhere are some of the most courteous, helpful and polite types among humankind. There are people trying to rush in just before the door closes for the day.

Makes one wonder what then is supposedly wrong with America’s education (just a sentiment, not an assessment ๐Ÿ™‚ ) ? And what was it like before the internet ? Before Amazon and Alibris ?


Joy wants to know what our Friday nights are like. Well, I guess almost all myo nights have for years now been like her Joy’s nights. ๐Ÿ™‚


Nobel Economics announcement today !!




1. Deepak Krishnan - October 15, 2007

bullshit sharath!! i don’t see how you are being any different from the class of intolerant people if you feel ‘sad’ on seeing someone in a burkha. why do you always associate freedom with a bikini and repression with a burkha?

you also mention that the kid was beween 6-8 in which case whether the family is bohemian/conservative/pious/whatever, parents do tend to set rules for kids.

yes, if the ‘kid’ was actually someone in their late teens/is an adult and is still being forced, then you do have a right to feel sad/angry…

2. Ganesh - October 15, 2007

Kashmiri women are fighting for freedom not to wear burkha. At the same time women in England and France are fighting for right to wear Burkha. Kind of agree with Deepak, freedom or repression should be decided by the individual.

3. Sadiq - October 15, 2007

My opinion may be a biased one or at least blamed to be a biased one. Nonetheless, I would also want to pitch in! The hijab honors a woman so that they are not treated as sexual objects. Its not about the good people on this earth, but about the sick people who would just judge a woman by her physical beauty and not anything else. These wolves just prey on innocent people. Its a hard decision for women to wear a hijab. And when they actually do it we need to appreciate it and respect their choice. Do you think one would have respect for a woman who believes that her skin sells better than her personality?

4. Sharath Rao - October 15, 2007

@DK – one can always call upon cultural relativism/subjectivity and justify anything, (really, read *anything*). There would never be an idea of what kind of freedom is ‘reasonable’.

So where then do you draw the line when it comes to parents setting rules ? I would like to know your threshold (if any) ๐Ÿ˜€ . Do you not have a single disagreement with some of the restrictions your parent laid down ? (even accounting for the fact that they intentions must have always been kind). What are the various things you think parents should not do to their children ? And how did you come up with that list ? Then is not all law arbitrary or acceptable because its acceptable to the majority ?

I can understand ( as Sadiq says ) that the hijab served a *very practical* purpose in some parts of the world several years ago – those were days when there was no such thing as the rule of law. Very much so with women accompanying some male relative while going out. In fact, even today in some parts of the world, one is better off avoiding some parts of the city or seeking an escort (no just women, there are places where even men must seek escorts before they venture, or go out in groups). That does not mean that the effort to bring in a lawful society should come to a stand still. But someone is telling me that a one 6 year old girl somewhere needs to wear a hijab to ward off evil eyes in one of the safest counties in the state is hard to accept.

@Sadiq :

“Its not about the good people on this earth, but about the sick people who would just judge a woman by her physical beauty and not anything else.”

There is no evidence to suggest that men are also not leered at although there is evidence that they are far far less likely to be subject to violent assault due to their looks. But lets imagine that in one of the counties with substantial gay population, men are now under threat from other men, what steps would you recommend ? Why is it a bad idea to honor men with hijabs ? What about the majority of 6 year olds in America (and the world) who do not wear hijabs ?

I know I am talking about extreme situations and not typical situations. Yet, I am interested in knowing what do you really think about this. Refusing to answer questions because they are hypothetical is mostly an evidence of significant gaps in one’s reasoning that break down in new, unseen situations.


@Ganesh : “Kind of agree with Deepak, freedom or repression should be decided by the individual.”

I would have the same questions for you that I put to Deepak ?But are you sure you wanted to write exactly what I quoted above ? Which individual is deciding in this particular case ? Okay, I understand that a 6 year old is unable to take complex decisions. Therefore, do you mandate the most extreme measure available to you ? (Well, you may still argue that hijaab is not really the most extreme measure )

I know this argument and other such arguments are in the category where both sides have the advantage (and disadvantage) of not having the ground truth. Even if one argues that one should allow people to individually make their decisions and prescribe the most typical solution to people <13 years old, people will still argue about whether such a thing as free will exists at all.

So much of what we see around us is over-learning – its much like someone who does not understand cricket would note that Steve Waugh was the only player with a red hanky in his pocket and conclude that immitating that would mean 29 odd test centuries. This is a lot about being unable/unwilling/too-shit-scared to reason that much of what we hear/read about people did several hundred years ago had specific reasons – infact, those people were likely smarter than we think they are, its we who dont fit the bill.

An infinitely better example in my next post. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Abstractions and contexts « Epistles - October 15, 2007

[…] As a follow-up to my comment here. […]

6. Deepak Krishnan - October 15, 2007

what i don’t understand is the reason behind yor thinking that a hijab is worn only when you want to ward off lustful evil looks. there could be a couple of other possibilities:

1. The family might have just moved in from some Islamic country
2. The girl might like wearing the hijab

Secondly, coming to parental rule. I have had my share of disagreements. Let’s take the following possibilities supposing that I was that girl

Case 1: I would like to wear the hijab and my parents are also kind of orthodox, which would be a win-win as far as the kid-parents are concerned, but as per ‘western’ outlook this is concerned, this would classify as a lose category

Case 2: I like to wear the hijab, but my parents dont force it upon me, this being the true win-win-OK as far as kid-parents-society axis goes

Case 3: I don’t like to wear, and still my parents are OK with it, this would be a win-win-win case as far as ‘western’ society goes

Case 4: I don’t like to wear, but my parents are pissed off, then its a lose-lose-lose…….

All said and done, one cannot define an age per se when parental control has to wane or going one step further, even end!! But 6/7/8 is definitely an age when parental influence is strong.

It’s quite abstract, but unless the girl speaks out we cannot be judges

7. Sharath Rao - October 15, 2007

@DK – Increasingly evident that how ‘western’ now has become a pejorative word. ๐Ÿ™‚ …

Knowing kids (though not any more than an average person would), you have a point there when you say – “The girl might like wearing the hijab”.

Yet, am curious to understand what your approximate guiding principle is – why you believe in things you believe in, what the rights of the individual are (if any), those of kids are (if any) and who protects them.

8. Sharath Rao - October 16, 2007

“Knowing kids (though not any more than an average person would), you have a point there when you say – โ€œThe girl might like wearing the hijabโ€.”

mind you, that was NOT meant to be sarcastic, seriously !!!

9. Deepak Krishnan - October 16, 2007

1. “Why do I believe things that I believe in?”

a) Some of those things have been drilled down during childhood, and after becoming an adult, I have judged and found them to be acceptable to me WITHOUT HARMING OTHERS

b) Some that which have been drilled but not acceptable have been reformulated or substituted by new beliefs

c) Certain things I have discovered on my own and found them acceptable to me WITHOUT HARMING OTHERS

10. Sadiq - October 16, 2007

Since men under threat of other men is a new, unseen situation I only thought of it when you asked me. And since its so hypothetical even the solution will begin to seem very hypothetical, something one can never imagine of – like men wearing the hijab. This could be just another subject of mockery for the public who have mostly been critical of gays. So a particular threatened gay needs to weigh the risks and benefits before doing such a thing. And unfortunately the society as a whole haven’t yet been too supportive of them, so these things might take its own time.

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