Le journal Aujourd’hui en France du jeudi 29 septembre 2022 titre « Qui peut être derrière le ‘sabotage’ des gazoducs en mer Baltique ? » avec le sous-titre « (…) tous les regards se tournent vers la Russie, qui nie. L’UE promet ‘la réponse la plus ferme’. » Dans le corps de l’article, ceci : « Les États-Unis ont aussi nié toute implication, alors que Joe Biden avait laissé entendre en février que Washington ‘mettrait fin’ à Nord Stream 2 si Moscou intervenait en Ukraine. Mais l’insinuer est ‘ridicule’, a commenté ce mercredi la Maison-Blanche. Et la porte-parole du Conseil de sécurité nationale de prévenir : ‘Nous savons que la Russie fait de la désinformation, et elle le fait de nouveau ici.’ » Nous avons donc d’un côté la Russie, pour qui un gazoduc détruit représente une perte stratégique, et de l’autre les États-Unis qui avaient menacé de détruire le Nord Stream. Mais le sous-titre est « tous les regards se tournent vers la Russie ». C’est le problème : dans le contexte belliciste européen, l’évidence n’a plus aucune espèce de valeur. Dans toute enquête, celui qui a menacé d’un crime est le premier suspect quand le crime en question se produit : donc « tous les regards » sont forcément tournés vers les États-Unis. Cependant, comme nous sommes en opération spéciale contre la Russie, non, les regards ne se tournent pas vers les États-Unis mais vers la Russie. À la page suivante du même journal, interviewé le « consultant défense » Pierre S. explique l’intérêt pour la Russie de détruire le Nord Stream : envoyer « deux messages subliminaux ». On en est là.
Introduction to the Essence of Mutawa
oder Rechtsphilosophische Grundlagen der Religionspolizei
“Firemen confronted religious police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves required.”
This made the case against Saudi mutawa police and for their defanging. However, it is obvious that the mutawa officer’s decision in said case of emergency was incorrect and he must bear the blame, not the institution that he represents. Blaming a whole institution for one officer’s decision is unwarranted in every conceivable situation, so in fact the incident served to attack a policy rather than its enforcement: a devious line of argumentation.
It was an emergency but as a religion with martyrs Islam knows that not all emergencies allow for exemptions, so let us specify. The norm is covering one’s head in the public space. The girls escaping from the fire would be met and assisted by the fire patrol, which would cordon off the area; the area thus cordoned off, although outside the building and included in the public space, is for the sake of emergency under control of the fire patrol and withdrawn from the free public space momentarily. The presence of uncovered persons in this area during the fire patrol operations does not therefore violate a norm regarding the public space. And girls escaping from a fire cannot be deemed, when having their heads uncovered in such situation, to act out of disregard for the law. The mutawa officer’s appreciation of the situation in this case was blatantly incorrect, a statement of fact that has no bearing, however, on the institution and/or policy’s legitimacy.
“Girls escaping from a fire cannot be deemed, when having their heads uncovered in such situation, to act out of disregard for the law.” I wrote this in order not to let one think that the issue is all about defining the public space, but it was begging the question as I was supposed to answer to “not all emergencies allow for exemptions.” The answer tended to show it was not a true exemption, in the case of girls escaping from a fire, as the area they reached was not, momentarily, public space. As to the other aspect of the discussion, assuming it was a true exemption, was it a justified one? In other words, was the mutawa officer right in demanding compliance with the law with a high probability of “martyrdom” involved? Indeed, the girls would have been shahidah for the sake of complying with modesty commands. One of the issues, there, is how probable martyrdom was: I do not have all the elements of the case to answer this question. God’s command sometimes requires that one must be willing to sacrifice one’s own life for upholding His command, for instance when martyrs were asked to sacrifice, even mere flies, to idols, they refused and knowingly paid their refusal with their lives. In other words, was the mutawa officer justified in demanding that the girls be subjected to a risk of martyrdom for upholding the command of the veil? If yes, was he justified in this only in the case of a small or miniscule risk or even in the case of perfect certainty or somewhere in between and then where? Or was he not justified because the exemption was a justified one? Exemptions must by necessity be strictly defined, both out of reverence for God and out of respect for His martyrs who sacrificed their lives instead of benefiting from exemptions. This is the crux of the issue and must be decided according to Islamic jurisprudence. My legal expertise ends here.
On the Accommodation of Minorities and Fairness
Discussing the depiction of American university departments of philosophy as “a sad and boring place, tragically deprived of the creativity, playfulness, and kinship of crip culture.”
Although I see what worth creativity is, I have doubts about the two other “qualities” here endorsed. Playfulness should be left at the door. At some point one has enough of playing, and as it is assumed one is playing during their leisure time, then when it comes to business it is also assumed one has had his share of playing already, for a while, and we now expect him to be stern. Otherwise, we might think she is playful in the amphitheater because she was stern in private and is in the habit of depriving her most intimate company of her delightful playfulness. If money comes from private companies, it is up to them to say whether they want playful academics on their paychecks, that is, they can ask for playfulness as academic duty for their money, if that is how they see the world (like a TV commercial, people dancing on the flimsiest occasion), but as far as public funds are concerned, how advisable is it to want that taxpayer’s money allow a few professors to daily revel in the playfulness of life? I guess the taxpayer would not allow this for too long (due to their alienation, most certainly). As to kinship, I have no idea where this leads to, only that it smacks of the same exclusiveness here decried, of nepotism and preferential treatment for one’s kind, lightyears away from traditional–and sound–academic ethics. Signed: A nonacademic philosopher.
The kinship quality of crip culture seems to be an allusion to affirmative action but as a self-serving argument it then fails to convey per se the idea that non-members of this culture or institutions such as philosophy departments will, contrary to creativity and, disregarding my previous remarks, playfulness, benefit from greater inclusion of said members, except in the broad sense that all historically discriminated cultures would make society a better place for everyone through greater inclusion. Therefore, my remark that this kinship quality smacks of the same exclusiveness decried in the essay is of course discardable on the same grounds as opposition to affirmative action in general, namely, that countermajoritarian exclusiveness is not a problem as it is in fact the cure to majoritarian exclusiveness, a cure to be preferred upon formal neutrality because of structural “isms” that neutralize all attempts at neutrality. Still, in a list of specifically crip culture qualities, this is a misplaced qualification as it describes the culture based not on cripness but on discriminatedness.
As to playfulness, I realize it may be on the list as a correction to received ideas. The squares may have the notion that crips are not playful, therefore it is important to stress playfulness. It would mean, in other words, that crips are as playful as anybody, except professors of analytic philosophy, and the crux of the argument would be a call to replace anachronistically stern professors with professors more attuned to prevailing cultural codes characterized by playfulness. Not so much an improvement, then, the whole of society being considered, as the playful normalization of a stronghold of sternness.
NB. Qualities deriving from discriminatedness alone, or intrinsically, can be no argument for inclusion from the majoritarian point of view, because they are the qualities that may or even must vanish through inclusion. (Use of the word “squares” alludes to carefully nurtured marginal cultures whose aim is precisely to avoid inclusion and normalization for fear of losing certain distinct qualities.)
Kinship, I am told, means in the context that crips “simply prefer each other’s company.” How it is a quality in the sense of a universal maxim is not to understand from the standpoint of ones accustomed to hearing about minorities’ demands for inclusiveness. When nondisabled people, when the majority does little to include crips, their exclusiveness is described as a problem according to mass media and the political debate, so kinship is no universal value according to the very crip culture and militancy as defined by mass media and politics. It is “my” kinship, my minority’s kinship, that is good; “your” kinship is oppressive.
Why, in a world where kinship is of any value, should the majority have a duty to accommodate “others” rather than nurture their own kinship? It is an either-or matter. Either kinship is a value and the majority has the right to ignore minorities’ demands because it is its kinship versus theirs, and all kinships are of the same value as kinship is a value per se, or kinship is no value and then when crips defend their sense of kinship they should be left to revel in it inside their margin; the majority will not–should not–heed their demands for inclusion. We no longer accept privileges. When preferential treatments are institutionalized, the truth of this institutionalization is that the special treatment corrects (to any possible extent) an unfortunate situation. If there is no misfortune to correct, a preferential treatment, for instance quotas, is a privilege that, according to liberal worldviews, must be destroyed. The “philosophical” viewpoint that disability is a “tragedy” is not primarily philosophical but sociopolitical: Special measures for inclusion are for those who need them, that is, are in a sorry condition of want without them. It sounds like unabashed cheekiness when the ones accommodated through special treatment are telling those who accommodate them that they are the ones to pity. Maybe crips do not care about inclusion at all and it is a misunderstanding when one talks of a crip militancy for inclusion; this militancy would then be the result of political machines’ activity aimed at votes through creating an inclusion lobby out of nothing where there is only the will to be left alone among one’s kind, reveling in one’s kinship. Yet seemingly, even if the lobby were a machine’s ex nihilo scheme, many, perhaps most members of said kinship culture are conditioned by the plan: They want to be left alone and yet fully endorse the machine’s machinations and combinazioni. A form of hypocrisy.
“Normate culture,” as described, smacks a lot of middle class and suburbia. Yet nondisabled persons are not bound by such prescriptions, they can withdraw, they can ask to be left alone (even if there is a price to pay, it does not seem unreasonable to say it is a price everyone can afford). On the other hand, are crips free to withdraw from their own culture? If not, would it not be obvious that being a nondisabled person, from whom the normate culture is at most a relative prescription, is an ontologically better condition than being a crip, whose crip culture is a true Fatum of iron ineluctability? This the paper leaves unanswered, except that by extoling the crip culture it gives to think that withdrawal is no option. Yet it is the option that makes the difference.
Such fixation on the so-called normate culture betrays absorption. The scholars quoted at length for its description are evidently permeated by it, they find it in their lives, in their surroundings, in themselves; it is first and foremost a self-description. How many nondisabled persons will read this description of “their” life with a mere shrug of the shoulders? As a ballpark estimate I would say one fourth, because, as marriage and child-rearing are given as a central feature of this culture, and about one sixth to one fifth of people in any given population do not beget children–this figure is said by some to have been a constant over time–a rough guess is one fourth, considering the figure to be close to one fifth and subtracting crips and queer people. One nondisabled, straight person out of four simply does not fit in the nondisabled, straight culture as defined, and we only took one of the given criteria, so “exceptions” to the other criteria must also be considered, which is likely, all combined, to reduce the figures of “normalcy” to thin air and to make a joke of the definition. This scholarly work does not address a reality but a mere ghost, and the difference does not seem to occur to the scholars.
Same remark for what is said about queer people. The author fails to address one major part of the queer militancy as presented by mass media and politics and evidenced by surrogacy demands: Queer people want to raise families, to marry and live happily ever after.
It is the obvious consequence of the kinship quality of a culture, that it is normative. A kinship culture of cripness or queerness is as “normate” and ritualistic as any majoritarian one, as a first approach. On a second approach, it is even more normate if withdrawal is less an option, if there is less room for the possibility of withdrawal than in the case of a majoritarian normate culture.
Finally, I would like to stress a legal issue that does not exist in as severe a form in the United States because of First Amendment case law but is a sickening problem in Europe. European countries did not stop at decriminalizing homosexuality, they criminalize critic (“disparagement”) of homosexuality. From the point of view of freedom, the move, therefore, is of a quite dubious worth. Were drugs decriminalized, it would occur to no one to criminalize critic of drugs’ use. Representative associations of this and other minorities protected by group disparagement laws are invited, like true bounty hunters (which character, however and at the same time, European countries purport to have ruled out), to partake in the criminal process and may ask, as “moral persons,” financial damages. This, playful as they may be, really spoils the fun, I find.
This is not to say that a “mere ghost,” as I called it, does not have some kind of existence. For instance, when, in office life, the life of organization women and men, one invites her colleagues to an afterwork office party to celebrate her last kid’s birth (and her return from parental leave), she is asking people to stay with her after work hours while her colleagues might just be tired after the long day and long to be home, especially if one has no plan to have children and is, after reading Peter Wessel Zapffe–nonqueer, nondisabled, anti-natalist Norwegian philosopher–anti-natalist, in which case he would question the celebration’s rationale itself. This person may find excuses on this and that occasion, but most certainly a systematic eschewing of afterwork events would bring him to his hierarchy’s attention, who would look askance at the attitude and perhaps translate it in managerial measures, with more or less obvious sanctions.
As to parental leave, the uncompensated increase of workload for the colleagues of the woman on leave is often measurable (yet often unmeasured). Her colleagues pay for a public natality policy and women’s inclusion policy. Admittedly, it is not too high a price in the U.S., nothing in comparison with Europe, which must be a feminist Eldorado for American gender scholars, I presume. To avoid making it look like too blunt and shocking a privilege for women in the workplace, European legislators have extended the parental leave to fathers (not on a par with women’s leave though, because of some obscure biopolitical reasons, this said tongue in cheek). Childless workers of both sexes pay the full price for women’s inclusion and natality policies, and that includes uncompensated increase of workload besides, of course, tax money.
For French women, the legislation is, for children 1-2, 16 weeks leave for each, for children 3+, 26 weeks, paid 405 euros per month, namely 89.03 euros per day to which applies a tax rate of 21 per cent. (I thought it was a percentage of the working income, by the way, and to be honest, this subsidy is a little comical, since the poverty line in the country is at 1,100 euros per month for a single person: an obvious slap in the face of single mothers, in case they do not pocket alimony too). For the father, the leave is of 25 working days, the amount of subsidy not a flat fee, unlike the mother’s, but a percentage of the three last paychecks, namely X divided by 91.25 for each day, so for 6,000 euros (income of 2,000 euros per month), 65.75 euros per day for 25 days, 1,643 euros in all.
In comparison, “There is no obligation for US employers to give paid maternity or parental leave to their workers. Instead, maternity leave is a matter left to each employer to decide upon. … However, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that US employers (with 50 or more employees) to allow mothers and fathers to take unpaid time off (up to 12 weeks) for the purpose of pregnancy or child-rearing. They must hold the worker’s job and health insurance in place. There is no requirement to provide pay.” (Foothold America)
The comical nature of these “achievements” will hardly escape the reader. The maternity leave means living in abject poverty if the woman is not supported by a partner or someone else’s income or by alimony: either relinquishing income (“no requirement for the employer to provide pay”), in the US, or being paid thrice less than the poverty threshold, in France.
I wanted to stress that there was another aspect to the question, namely that fertile women who pocket maternity leaves during their career–and we saw that for a French woman who gave birth to, say, four kids, that means 84 weeks leave, 1.6 year,–demand nonetheless the same progression pattern in the organization’s hierarchy as those who worked those 84 weeks for the organization, in the name of–what?–women’s rights and the bubbling natality of the nation. I wanted to stress that but, seeing the true nature of the achievement that maternity leave is, namely a mere Mrs Jones’s achievement (who lives on Mr Jones’s income too), that would be a little futile.
One will say 16 weeks (for child 1 and child 2) is only 4 months, so it is only a question of saving money for these four little months (up to 3 months in US), like one saving before a sabbatical year, and then life goes on, with a new soul in this world. No doubt a single mother with law firm partner income can afford to singly raise on leave as many children as she wants. As has just been said, it is only a question of saving money. For subprime profile Charnesia LeBlanc, almost drowned already in consumer credit repayments, one may call her maternity leave the rope around her neck. She will not take it.
I said money for leaves is nothing in US in comparison to Europe (taking France as example) but this deserves further discussion. US legislation says, “There is no requirement to provide pay.” A simple war-of-the-classes reasoning leads to “Don’t count on it.” However, it must be assumed, as always, that it is only at one end of the spectrum that one doesn’t count on it, while at the other end some women probably get maternity leave packages that no French woman can dream of.
The federal state has provided “paid parental leave” (which has got its acronym: PPL) for its civil servants since 2020 (Federal Employee Paid Leave Act FEPLA of Dec 2019). Before that, “[s]ome individual US states and possessions, however, do provide for paid maternity benefits, including Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Jersey, California, New York and Puerto Rico.” (International Labor Organization, 1998)
Try as I might, and I tried hard enough, on official websites with memos and FAQs, I could not find a single clue on how much money the PPL is for its beneficiaries, to compare with French figures. Talk of transparency!
“This new benefit will likely improve the desirability of Federal employment … the Office of Personnel Management said” (Washington Post). It will do more than that, it will make of the US a bureaucratic state. In a country where, according to the same WashPo paper, only 21 percent of private sector employees are eligible to paid parental leaves, because for them the rule is that there is no requirement to provide pay, for bureaucrats paid leave is now an entitlement. Of course, this will achieve civil servants’ whole desolidarization from private sector employees. So much for feminist solidarity: Die, Charnesia, die on the altar of Mrs Jones’s PPL!
Not only is maternity leave creating a differential treatment between men and women or rather childless workers and fertile (or adopting) women in the workplace, but a pregnant woman’s workload is also adjusted before her leave. For instance, if there is night work, the pregnant woman will be dispensed from it; that means more night work for her colleagues. The rationale is that the pregnant woman is some kind of disabled person.
Disability in the workplace may be the nondisabled workers’ misfortune, I am sorry to put it so bluntly. When one organization has defined what some call a “theoretical workforce,” for instance in an administration, and that theoretic workforce has been defined for one department as, say, 20 people, they are not going to count a disabled worker one half or whatever fraction of a person in this workforce. The disabled worker is 1 out of 20, but his work is adjusted according to his or her disability, so for the same workload, with the same figure of 20, you must count yourself as lucky if no disabled person works in the same theoretic force in which you belong. This, obviously, does not consider those who are always happy with their workload, however bloated it becomes, and I am told this kind of people exist. – A simple solution would be to not count a disabled worker as a whole unit in the workforce, to adjust not only their work but also their weight accordingly in the theoretic workforce…
Back to pregnant women, those other disabled workers. One line of legitimation for such differential treatment is that everyone benefits from the system, the woman’s partner, the next woman to become pregnant, etc. Everyone who reproduces, that is. A blunt disregard for the others.