Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

I Agree, Sort Of

Philip Hollobone, formerly a local councillor before he came down in the world and was elected to Parliament, has stated that he would refuse to see a constituent at his surgery who was wearing a full face veil.

On this I agree with him, though not quite for the same reasons. I’m not convinced that being unsure that the constituent is who they say they are is a sufficiently strong reason for refusing an appointment, but as a remark on the spur of the moment we shouldn’t assume that it is his sole objection.

No, I think he would be right to refuse on the same grounds that Jack Straw was right. Most communication is non-verbal, as we know, and a great deal of that non-verbal communication comes from the face. It is perfectly proper for anyone to raise an objection if one party is voluntarily placing such an obstacle in the way of that communication.

But what about the right to pursue one’s chosen religion? The key word there is “chosen”: if one chooses a particular belief system then they are choosing to place artificial restrictions on themselves (fine) and sometimes others (not necessarily fine). As it is, there are plenty of Muslim women who find no need to wear a face veil. (Even so, I don’t support a blanket ban on burqas or full veils.)

In an age of so many forms of communication, Mr Hollobone is not denying his services to a constituent and thus not stopping her from pursuing her own interpretation of her own religion.

Yet of course we are seeing the outrage from “Muslim groups” and potentially the media circus that Paul Goodman warns of over on ConservativeHome. But bear in mind just who these groups represent, and who, if anyone, actually elected them. Then compare that to the 23,247 who supported Philip.

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