Special Laws Harm Everyone

I have a lot of things I’ve been meaning to write about, but since this came out of the woodwork yesterday I can’t seem to keep my mind off of it. Once again we come to a place where one minority’s religious beliefs seem to be placed above all others. When this happens, we all suffer. Why? Well, let’s talk about it.

What prompted me to write this is the allegations that the Afghan government has signed a new law that allows Shi’ite Muslims the ability to rape their wives. Or rather, the wife is not allowed to refuse sex nor would she be allowed to leave the house without their husband’s permission. According to a female parliamentarian quoted in the Reuters article, it would also legalize marriage for girls as young as 9 years old, and also require a woman to wear make-up if her husband demanded it.

Now if the allegations aren’t true, though I suspect they are, then some of what I’m about to say is moot. However most of it is not and speaks to the issue of special laws for “special” people and the damage they have on society as a whole.

Speaking particularly to this latest issue, it’s a travesty if it’s true. Especially when you consider the countries, Canada included, that have committed thousands of troops and billions of dollars to help Afghanistan in so many ways – this new law is a slap in our collective faces. To put in place a law that provides a minority civic law that lines up with their religious law is ridiculous and screams of a theocracy that isn’t truly interested in becoming a democratic nation unlike when it was under Taliban rule.

If this law truly has been passed and is published in the official gazette, then Canada and the US should pull their troops out immediately. There is no possible reason for us to support a nation that dupes us into helping them only to revert to practices that required us to assist in the first place. Pass a law, and enforce it, that doesn’t allow a woman to refuse sex?! Sorry, no more help for you. It’s that simple.

And in reality, this speaks to a much larger issue that has been getting a lot more coverage from us secularists over the past few years. Special laws for “special” people. You are allowed to attack my personality, my politics, my views on how the world should work, my interests… but heaven forbid you should knock my faith! Oh no! Once you start expressing your opinion on how stupid [insert religion here] is, people think they have the right to become violent towards you! And worse yet, very few people say that that shouldn’t be the case!

Why shouldn’t that be allowed to happen? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to engage in public discourse over the merits of Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism et al? I’m allowed to put down your political views, your likes/dislikes, your choice of significant other; why are your religious views any different? We sacrifice the ability to engage in a critical, public discourse over the merits of something that the majority of the world has (that is, a religion/faith) meanwhile far more people have political views that are just as destructive. We allow religion to dictate the way we behave with others, to dictate how we behave at home, to dictate how we raise our children instead of thinking for ourselves how such things should be done.

And for what? The promise that I’ll get to spend eternity in some invisible paradise that you have no proof actually exists? Sorry, I’ll pass. The day I allow any book to teach me how to live, without thinking critically of the suggestions/recommendations/rules and the effect they will have on my life is the day I die. The ability to think critically for ourselves and to choose what we feel is right purely for us is part of what makes us human. So is the ablity to argue and disagree about something without resorting to violence. It’s not instinct, it’s critical and analytical thought.

There’s also a problem with the infighting in almost every religion out there. If you can’t get your beliefs straight with one another and what other people should be doing when following your religion, then stop bothering the rest of us with it! We shouldn’t have to deal with Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans, Christian Reform, Calvinists, Baptists, etc. You all need to get together, settle on one stream of belief and then you may feel more free to attempt to preach it. If you can’t, please don’t bother because the various messages are simply disillusioning.

Forgive me for going on a tangent, but I could talk about religion and it’s negative effects on society all day… probably for 2 or 3 days straight.

The point is, when you allow special protection for groups of people that do not have the greater good of society (let alone the people who are a part of the group) in mind, you degrade the rest of the society around it. Allowing Shi’ite Mulism men in Afghanistan to rape their wives, to force their wives to wear make-up and marry 9 year old girls is bad for all of Afghanistan and, indeed, all Shi’ite Muslims. The reputation of that entire division of Islam is affected negatively, plain and simple. If you think people have a bad impression of Afghanistan now, this will only make it worse.