Committee Sikhs steel dagger, GSOH, religious rationale a must

As reported in the Australian, the Education and Training Committee of the Victorian Parliament has recommended that:

schools should work with the Sikh community to allow male students to carry a kirpan
What exactly the Kirpan, a ‘small, curved ornamental steel dagger’ according to the Committee, is has been the subject, among other things, of fierce debate at Larvatus Prodeo.

Some argue it is little more than a trinket, others that is it a sharp dangerous knife.

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development seems to suggest (p.58) it is the later:

In a recent media interview, a spokesperson from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development suggested that the kirpan could be replaced with a small replica or pendant.
This was rejected by Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria:

To suggest the using of a replica or any form of material is to belittle the religion. A replica or pendant is not acceptable. The kirpan cannot be of any material other than steel.
Experience in Canada indicates the kirpan is dangerous. Justice Campbell in Ontario Human Rights Commission and Harbhajan Singh Pandori v. Peel Board of Education:

There have been, in the Metropolitan Toronto area, three reported incidents of violent kirpan use. One involved a plea of guilty to attempted murder after a stabbing with a kirpan. In one street fight, a man was stabbed in the back with a kirpan. In one case, a kirpan was drawn for defensive purposes.
While the evidence seems to indicate the kirpan is dangerous, it is useful to consider both scenarios: 1. the kirpan is a dangerous dagger or 2. the kirpan is a harmless ornament, similar to a Christian cross neckless.

1. The Kirpan is a dangerous weapon

Schools have ‘no weapons’ policies for a reason: to reduce the risk of students harming other students and teachers. There is no reason to increase the risk by allowing religiously significant weapons into schools.

2. The Kirpan is harmless

If the Kirpan a harmless ornament there is no reason to prevent children attending public school with one. We don’t prevent children from wearing Christian crosses or Jewish yarmulkes.

The second scenario seems unlikely. If the Kirpan is harmless then why is an exemption from public schools’ “no weapons” policy needed?

6 comments:

chicko said...

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Your 1-2 is kind of silly

Perhaps we prevent Sikh children from wearing their religious paraphernalia because we are sectarian.

I would expect you to fight tooth and nail against sectarianism.

Shouldn't that be your advocacy priority or will you make do with the lazy option of even handedly criticizing all religious people even though dominant sects thrive on sectarianism and "even handedness" tends to promote the status quo that is driven by sectarianism.

chicko rulz

Is that better

Australian Atheist said...

The only reason we are preventing Sikhs from wearing their religious daggers is because they are daggers, weapons. The schools already have ‘no weapons’ policies.

Some people may be bigoted and use this occasion to beat-up on ethnic minorities but this is not relevant. There are sound, logical reasons to oppose the exemption.

The best way to counter sectarianism is to deny give people religious exemptions. 2 reasons:

1. Religious exemptions are more likely to be gained by powerful (in numbers and financially) groups so I think abandoning ‘even handedness’ threatens small religious groups more. Small groups are best served if the law is completely secular and blind to religion.

2. Religious exemptions create resentment between groups. If some kids are allowed to carry knives the other kids will want to also. It may be difficult for children of non-Christian faiths to become accepted in schools. They animosity they face will increase if they are given special treatment.

I'll think you'll find I have posted more frequently about Australia's most popular religions.

Yobbo said...

Toy Guns are harmless trinkets, but kids get suspended and expelled from schools for bringing them all the time.

People are hysterical about anything that even resembles a weapon nowadays.

Australian Atheist said...

I would argue that the Kirpan doesn't just resemble a weapon. It is one.

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metal-fan-666 said...

I would argue that parents forcing a child to follow a set of religious beliefs is nothing short of child abuse. These ideas form the basis for how the child will act their whole life and trying to breaking away from these ideas can be very psychologically traumatic. These ideas can become so ingrained that even the most convincing evidence carries no weight for them, leaving them unable to even attempt to make truly 'considered' choices.

As for the question of daggers, consider the issue if religion is not involved. You are then left with "can children take steel daggers to school?".

To emphasize this point, what if the religious paraphernalia was a katana? AK-47? A nuclear warhead? Heroin?

Should we be content to allow others to carry weapons purely because they have been labeled as believing in a certain type of delusion.

If the sikh is allowed to carry a dagger, does that mean all others get this exemption aswell? Can i call myself a follower of some religion i made up and claim that people are 'denying me my right to freedom of religious expression' when they try to stop me 'performing my religious ceremony' of having forced non-consensual sex with whoever i want?

These are extreme examples, but they are necessary to demonstrate the true issue at hand - not the issue that arises when a recognized religion cries foul.