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Saturday, 2 May 2009


Civil liberties types don’t always get it right, it seems.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants Muslim women to be allowed to hide their faces when giving evidence in court. That is their freedom, it says, seeming to ignore the freedom of others taking part in the proceedings to see just who is giving evidence, and to judge her veracity or mendacity by more than just her voice.

“Judges should not deny anyone access to justice because of his or her religion,” says Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU of Michigan.

Steinberg says unions and other groups have asked the Supreme Court to add a sentence to the rule, saying “that no person shall be precluded from testifying on the basis of clothing worn because of a sincerely held belief”.

Well, I believe – sincerely – that it’s OK to wear a motorcycle helmet with tinted visor, OK? On second thoughts, I’ll go for Batman’s cowl.

Steinberg has also said that his request was signed by religious organisations, including the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the American Jewish Congress and Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ.

But, then, religious organisations would sign it, wouldn’t they? If there’s one thing religions do have in common, it’s a desire to thwart anything that prevents them from having to act according to the same rules and laws as others.

What sort of precedent does this type of thing set? What other “sincerely held” beliefs will be wheeled out when another law or ruling prevents members of the Deluded Herd from taking their bat home because the game isn’t going their way?

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