Funny, smart commentary about burqa bans

Observer columnist David Mitchell (half of the comedy team Mitchell and Webb is in fine form today with this column on the absurdity of burqa banning. It was one of those bits of the Sunday paper that had me stopping to read a passage aloud to my wife every ten seconds or so until she snatched it out of my hands and read it herself.

Governments and legislatures shouldn't tell people what they can and can't wear. By doing so, they would, in every sense, be taking a massive liberty. As long as people aren't wearing crotchless jeans outside primary schools or deely boppers with attached sparklers on petrol station forecourts, we've all got the right to wear exactly what the hell we like and I can barely believe that we're having this debate.

But we are. Stupid people are thinking about an issue that doesn't need to be thought about and a YouGov survey says 67% of us want full-face veils outlawed. Just when I thought my estimation of humanity couldn't fall any further, I discover that two-thirds of my fellow countrymen are, or at least were for the duration of taking a survey, morons. I'm so glad the Conservatives are committed to local referenda…

There's altogether too much harping on respect and banning these days. If you can't respect something, you should ban it. If it's not banned, you should respect it. Bullshit. There is a huge gulf of toleration between respect and banning. In a free society, people should be allowed to do what they want wherever possible. The loss of liberty incurred by any alternative principle is too high a price to pay to stop people making dicks of themselves. But, if people are using their freedoms to make dicks of themselves, other people should be able to say so.

If Britain decides to ban the burqa I might just start wearing one

(Image: IMG_1763, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kansai's photostream)