Thursday, December 18, 2008

Temper With Reason & Compassion

I believe that life requires some rules. Without rules and law, there would be chaos in society. But sometimes it seems that rules are made or enforced without much true purpose behind them. That seems to be what has happened in this case.

In a Douglasville, Georgia courtroom, a judge has ordered a Muslim woman arrested because she would not remove her head scarf (or hajib). The woman was accompanying her nephew to a traffic citation hearing, when a security guard stopped her and told her she must remove the scarf to enter the courtroom. She tried to explain that wearing it was a part of her religion, but the guard was having none of it.

She turned to leave and uttered an expletive. The guard must have been having a bad day, because he handcuffed her even though she was no longer trying to enter the courtroom. He then took her before the judge, and the judge had her jailed for violating the rule about no hats in the courtroom.

Now this whole situation seems ridiculous to me. I can think of two reasons for the "no hats" rule. It is considered respectful to remove your hat in a courtroom (or anywhere indoors), and it could be for security reasons (which I doubt). A guard (preferrably female) could have felt the scarf quickly to determine no weapons were hidden there. As for the respect issue, is it not even more disrespectful to force someone to violate their religious beliefs?

I am not a religious person, but religious beliefs are very important to most Americans and I believe they should be respected whenever possible. Personally, I have to wonder if this woman's beliefs were not honored because she was muslim. If it had been a christian belief, would the rule have been enforced (or would it even exist)?

Laws and rules are important, but they do not constitute justice unless they are tempered with reason and compassion. Rules should never be enforced just because they exist.


  1. Love him? Hate him? How do YOU feel about our soon to be former President? Take part in a chance to immortalize your views in book form by visiting and letting your opinion be read!

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    A Movement for Participatory Democracy Sends Honest Goodbye to George W. Bush

    Time and again the U.S. Constitution has been trampled since 9/11 under the jackboots of the George W. Bush Administration and an all too complacent U.S. Congress. In the wake of the landslide election results nearly routing the Republican Party from Washington, the time has come to take back our rights. One place to start is at with the momentum being built by

    A veritable national movement is being facilitated by Kate Wheeler and her daughter Ashley who came up with the idea for this site as a way to speak out and release the frustration so much of America has felt after 8 years living under Son-of-Bush. The Goodbye to George W. Movement, as Wheeler calls it seems to be picking up speed rapidly.

    “We just started the site and dozens of people have already written their letters. We think that the American People and the world need this. It’s a chance to tell Bush what they really think, a catharsis after so many years of a White House that promoted hatred and fear,” Wheeler said.

    Wheeler pointed to the concept of homeland security as the ideological militarization of U.S. mentality. With the U.S.A. Patriot Act and subsequent legislation, Constitutional limits were taken off of federal law enforcement.

    For example, the FBI has been requesting reading lists from libraries and bookstores; librarians and booksellers are prohibited from even speaking with a lawyer regarding the unconstitutional FBI requests.

    According to the American Civil Liberties Union, by early 2008 more than one hundred anti-war protests had been attacked by authorities in recent years.

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    The Goodbye George Movement that Wheeler and her daughter initiated with sets a challenge, in a real sense, to put participation back into U.S. politics. In the United States people may turn out to vote but beyond that are infrequently given forums for the ongoing voicing of their opinion to policy makers.

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    The letters written at are not only a historic undertaking as a step toward making American politics more democratic, they will also be preserved as part of history in the form of a book that Wheeler plans to publish. Copies will be awarded to the first 100 letter writers.

  2. I'm reminded of the English word "Ruth" ; a medieval term fallen into disuse. It is taken from the Apocryphal Book of the Bible by the same name because the story exemplifies that quality. Today we most commonly know the concept by its converse : ruth-less.
    A similar sentiment about justice led to "the quality of mercy is not strained..."

  3. This is about racism, domination and control. And of course this happened in the Georgia not California or NY


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