Friday, 8 February 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a loon. (Updated)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, despite lacking a title with quite the same self-assured arrogant sense of authority, is the Anglican equivalent of the pope.

I seem to recall that he's been in the news a fair bit lately, but I can't recall why. So I can't really pass judgment on the basis of accumulated evidence. I am, however, quite prepared to pass judgment based upon this:

Sharia law 'unavoidable' in UK: Archbishop (ABC News Online)


What the hell is happening to the UK? I don't mean terrorist activities, I mean daily life. I have mentioned in these pages before the lunacy of allowing islamic medical students to not touch female bodies. Now the nation's top religious authority is saying that another religion should be allowed to introduce their own legal system?

I'm not convinced (to put it nicely) that allowing separated enclaves of aboriginal Australians to maintain tribal law is a good idea or even working, but this is lunacy. Which bits of sharia law, and who gets to decide? If imams argued that a Muslim man in Britain should be allowed to marry multiple 13 year old girls because the prophet did that, which legal system would you involve? Complaining about that would mean meddling in that culture's legal system, and you have allowed them to maintain aspects of their legal system because that's their culture!

I have been, over the years, steadily losing faith in the whole concept of multiculturalism, and no longer have any time for it. Australia has pockets of ethnicity where first- or second-generation Australians don't fit in with their anglo-saxon peers because their parents have maintained "tradition!" and wouldn't even fit in if they went back to "the motherland" because their little enclave of "culture" reactively froze itself, and the motherland did not. Recent Dutch moves requiring all prospective immigrants to view material that they might find offensive, in order to demonstrate that they can live in the culture to which they are moving, make more sense than ever.

There was an episode of the Indian-English sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me where a battered Indian wife went to a female refuge only to have the social worker exhort her to return to her cultural roots and accept her heritage, while the wife is standing there in disbelief saying "He's hitting me!" I laughed, sarcastically, at that sketch. Now I think I might just curl up behind the sofa.

There is "culture" which is specific to the nation and to individual units within that nation, including ethnic groups and religious groups, various combinations of both, and a bewildering array of classifications of mostly "youfs".

Then there is "law" which is decided by (if you're lucky) a representative parliament. There are already social responses open to people who believe that the law has failed them, and many of them are even legal. But there are many instances where the nation, if it is to not become a farce, has to make a moral, ethical and ultimately legal decision. Removing children from situations of sexual abuse is not racist. Enforcing local laws onto a cultural sub-group who emigrated to that locality is not racist or religiously intolerant. If customs fit within the law, so be it. If customs are allowed to become law because there are points of disagreement, why have the fucking law in the first place?

If the Archbishop of Canterbury comes out any time soon and declares that it should be illegal for Anglicans to divorce, don't say I didn't warn you.

Edit: The really, really sad part about this is that I find myself agreeing with that prat Brendan Nelson.

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