Outlawing The Burqa, Ctd


While defending France's burqa ban, Hitchens wrote that "my right to see your face is the beginning of it, as is your right to see mine." Geras deftly counters:

[D]o we have a moral right to see the face of those others with whom we come into close contact - with whom we have personal dealings or 'do business', with whom we interact, whom we sit opposite on the bus or beside on a bench or in a theatre, etc? One does not have to like the idea of not being able to see the faces of others in such situations in order to deny that one has a moral right to see them. You don't have a right to be spared everything you don't like. But what is the case for there being a right here? Are you gravely harmed by not being able to see a veiled woman's face, or cheated of the opportunity to flourish or to be happy? Is it a serious injustice to you, or indeed any kind of injustice? I think it's implausible to answer any of these questions in the affirmative; particularly since you have the freedom to minimize the veiled company you want to keep, as also to make it plain as often as you want what your own personal preferences are in this respect.

(Image: A Muslim woman wearing the niqab (veil which covers the body and leaves only a small strip for the eyes) participates in a meeting with Imam Ali El Moujahed on May 18, 2010 in Montreuil, outside Paris. The French parliament unanimously adopted on May 11, 2010 a resolution condemning the full-face Islamic veil as an affront to the nation's values. By Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Image)