Friday, October 16, 2009

What's wrong with people?

Or to be more specific, what is wrong with the way people think? I'm quite often confounded by the way something seems obvious to me, yet others - many others - perceive the same thing in a different way, and are then upset and/or even angered by this incorrect view. I wonder if there is any way in which this can be remedied ... eg, via the education system. Should we as a society be educating our children in logic and deduction?

For instance, there was the infamous hijab debate. Any Norwegians reading this, I'm sure you remember that kerfuffle ... and any foreigners who don't remember it, Google is as always your friend. ;-) (If you follow the label 'rant' under this blog post you will probably find some of my previous thoughts on the subject, too. ;-) People were all up in arms about it, and the debate raged for weeks. But it was mostly based on a false assumption. All these women who were talking about how they were being discriminated against and how it was so terribly unfair that the hijab was banned for police officers ... they were so totally missing the point that it was really confusing. Because to me it was so obvious.

The hijab isn't banned on the police force. Far from it. No headgear is banned. The point is that there is a certain uniform that is mandatory in that profession, and the wearing of this mandatory uniform means that there are a number of other things that the wearer cannot also wear at the same time. Eg, the uniform includes a cap, and therefore one cannot wear a hijab, a turban, a baseball cap, etc while in uniform. The uniform includes trousers, and therefore one cannot wear bermuda shorts while in uniform. That is a completely different principle from what we actually discussed in the hijab debate.

Now there's another similar issue. There's a new law in the works in this country which will make it more difficult for Norwegian citizens to bring spouses with foreign citizenship to this country. Or, rather, not foreigners, but people from outside the Schengen area. We already have a system where you have to prove that you can support the person you want to import ... now they want to establish a new rule which will mean that you will have to have been either working or studying for at least four years before you can import someone. You start 'working up credit' in this system when you start in our high school equivalent.

Of course the critics - more or less the usual suspects - have popped out of the woodwork. They don't like this because it's an unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of the individual and bla bla bla. But again, there's this ... mental malfunction. They look at the issue from this totally weird angle which is so obviously wrong. The argument goes, Why does the government want to deny us the right to marry whoever we want? And that's just ... I mean, what?

No one's denying anyone the right to marry whoever they want. That would be something of an intrusion, if it were true. But it absolutely isn't. Everyone has, and should have, the right to marry the partner of their choice. However, not everyone automatically has the right to come live in Norway just because they want to. And why should they? If a Norwegian citizen marries a foreigner, why is it that they must live here? If some Norwegian-Pakistani girl is so desperate to marry her second cousin from the boondocks, then what on earth is stopping her from going to Pakistan to be with him? If it's true love, then why can't they wait until they meet the requirements? And in any case, the requirements are so mild. Regular high school + one year either at college or university or working, and you're done. With normal progression, by the time you're 19, you'll be set. Still too young for most people to marry, IMO, but they'll be able to. And let's face it, any Norwegian citizen who marries before they're 18 is a Near or Middle Eastern immigrant who is being either forced to marry or has had it 'arranged' for them (often just a more subtle form of force). And for them, this can only be good news.

Why is it a problem that people are getting the wrong end of the stick like this? Because it skews the entire debate. How are we going to get anywhere if we start off from the wrong - in fact, from non-existent - premises?


AudiX78 said...

I don't agree with you this time :-) I think that when you're old enough to vote at 18 this should be the age you can marry, no exceptions and no reservations. Or raise the age to 21. I don't think every part of our society should be detail ruled in such a way as this. If they don't want family reunions they can regulate that part. (maybe they should require that anyone comming here should have a job already waiting for them, and having completed a Norwegian language course in their own country before they come here- that at least would show commitment to their new country.. only suggesting)
But no matter if most Norwegians don't get married early anyway, such a proposal is damaging the rights of me as a Norwegian.
i really don't like the detail rules...

Suleman said...

How is this not weird, Leisha. Nobody is denying the right to marry, that part is true, but why enforce a certain age limit on it or make it a requirement for it. Why twist their arm to marry only from this region. why make it so difficult for them to live together where they think they can make and have a better life. Why legislate and institutionalize such a thing.

The democratic societies, allow for and encourage the difference of opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and perspectives. Can education cure or remedy this? I think, the very foundation of educated and liberal societies is free thinking. It is when you're allowed to think freely, you're truly educated, which in fact breeds the difference of opinions or perspectives. Do we really think, how we think is the only and the best way of thinking.

The freedom would be reduced to the freedom of speech (that I doubt as well), and all else would be taken away, ... gradually and slowly. The freedom to have families as and when desired, the freedom to have or practice religion, or the freedoms and rights to abode.

Sometimes I am shocked at the insecurities people feel here.

Anonymous said...

I don't know all the details of this, but from what you've said, Leisha, it sounds pretty reasonable to me. I disagree with the bit about "why can't they go live somewhere else", because you could say that about genuinely unfair rules as well, for example "We don't want Norwegians in American, why can't they go live in Norway?" which would of course be very discriminatory. However, saying that you have to complete high school and a year of college before you can bring in a foreign citizen to be your spouse sounds pretty reasonable to me. If you can't support your spouse, that means everyone else is supporting your spouse, and that is unfair to everyone else. Obviously there will be people who technically qualify but in reality cannot support the person, but it sounds like this rule is intended to severely limit the number of those people, which the government has every right to do.