Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sexist Sect of the Month

The Haredi strain of Judaism doesn’t enter the consciousness of the rest of us very often, but there have been a couple of stories about them in the past couple of weeks. Both incidents have everything to do with the fact that the ultraorthodox sect would have to evolve its attitudes towards women to legitimately be referred to as “19th century.” (By the way, they apparently object to the term “ultraorthodox,” but Curmie thought it potentially less offensive than the more strictly accurate “troglodyte asshole.”)

The first of the recent stories concerned a group of Haredim who refused to take their seats on a flight from New York to Tel Aviv in December because they couldn’t be bothered to reserve seats next to each other, and got seated next to (gasp!) women. And the gutless airline, of course, capitulated. Look, if these guys want to live in a bubble, that’s their prerogative… until their insistence on bullshit theology (no, that term isn’t redundant, Bill Maher) starts imposing on the rights of other people, namely the other passengers on the plane. But that threshold was well and truly transgressed.

The Haredim are welcome to charter a flight, to take a trans-Atlantic steamer, or to stay where they are. If they want to partake of modern technology—like air travel, for example—however, they can emerge from their cocoons and enter at least the last century, if not the one the rest of us inhabit.

Count Curmie with those who say they should have been given a choice: sit down and shut up or be arrested. Of course, that would presume that an airline (El Al this time, Delta previously) would actually care about a legitimate disruption as opposed to, say, a passenger’s moving to an empty seat.

                                           What the photo op looked like.                                        
For all that, I suspect that this week’s bout of sexist idiocy may be worse. The Haredi newspaper HaMevaser, “The Announcer,” appropriately enough gave significant coverage to the Paris march for freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Trouble is, borrowing a technique from Josef Stalin, they doctored the photograph to remove all of those world leaders who didn’t measure up to their standards of, well, masculinity. That would mean, according to Mediaite and The Independent, removing German chancellor Angela Merkel (photoshopped out), Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo (also photoshopped out, although poorly, as her glove remains), EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (cropped out), Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga (blurred out), and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (cropped out)… among others. Interestingly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—hardly a friend to ultraorthodox Judaism—remains.

               What HaMevaser would have us believe the photo op looked like.              
Even compared to other issues—the absence of a significant American presence, the horrible free speech records of some of the nations so ostentatiously displaying their concern, the fact that the world leaders really showed up for a photo op rather than (as advertised) to lead the march—the hypocrisy of HaMevaser probably remains the transcendent hypocrisy of the story. After all, nothing supports a free press quite like intentionally manipulating reality to suggest that women weren’t really there.

And the newspaper’s rationale fornthis absurd mendacity? Would you believe, “think of the children,” that tired pseudo-liberal plaint to privilege cheap emotionality over rational thought? At least that’s how I read it. Here are the last few paragraphs from The Guardian’s coverage:
Binyamin Lipkin, editor of Hamevaser, said the newspaper is a family publication that must be suitable for all audiences, including young children.

“The eight-year-old can’t see what I don’t want him to see,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 television station. “True, a picture of Angela Merkel should not ruin the child, but if I draw a line, I have to put it there from the bottom all the way to the top.”

He also said he did not want to tarnish the memories of the people killed in the attacks.

“Including a picture of a woman into something so sacred, as far as we are concerned, it can desecrate the memory of the martyrs and not the other way around,” he said.
The sound you just heard was Curmie’s face slamming into his laptop. I mean, seriously, the reason to completely intentionally attempt to change lived reality is that you don’t want eight-year-olds to see photographs of women? We’re not talking pornography here, just a recognition that women… you know… exist. To see a photo of Angela Merkel would “desecrate the memory of the martyrs”?

Um. Wow. I got nothing.

        What Waterford Whispers muses the photo op should have looked like.         
What I can tell you is what was the best response: the satire site Waterford Whispers proved that two can play at that game, offering their own photoshopped image, this one devoid of men. Curmie approves.

[Curmie points you to netpal Jack Marshall’s take on these two stories here and here.]

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