Rastafarianism: I and I am the law

I didn’t really know where to post this, but here will do.

A Rastafarian man was called to appear in court as a witness last week. However, he ended up in contempt of court and was put in a cell for a day after he failed to remove his hat for ‘religious reasons.’ He said that he could not compromise his beliefs because of an unsympathetic judge’s demands. Was the judge wrong to do as he did, or was this guy just being prickly? How do you decide in legal terms what criteria must be fulfilled for a belief system to be classed as a ‘valid’ religion? Would leniency in this area start a slide down a slippery slope until eventually we find ourselves endorsing the ‘rights’ of wacko suicide cults?

A couple of years ago police were advised to apply cannabis laws with more ‘leniency’ when the offenders were Rastafarians, since it is a central part of their religion. Should national law override religion? Should we warn potential immigrants to go elsewhere if they intend to continue practising their religion in Britain?

often, when people want to practise their religion in its purest form, it tends to transcend the neatly cut boundaries of liberalism, law and order. however, if such people are to migrate to a foreign land, with a culture whose ways of working are incompatible with that of their religion, then their right to practise their religion ‘elementally’ are watered down. this is the point of boundaries (as absurd as they may often seem).
even when such people see their religion as bearing the divine and universal laws of all lands, they must respect themselves by granting other people the rights that they expect. all mainstream religions preach this. their motives are non-religious if they do not follow their own doctrine.
it is simply a matter of double standards, which even religious fundamentalists do not have the right to practise. nobody is above the harm principle.

the man in question seems like a fool extraordinaire. the judge made a statement expressing his sincere regret if his demands were misinterpreted, yet the man has said he will return the court every day until he recieves an apology. it seems to have something to do with power, and perfection. or maybe his children’s future were under that hat.

There isn’t really a yes or no answer in these scenarios because any answers will be biased.
In the first scenario however, there is a case (I don’t remember the name of the case) but it was some Sikh person who didn’t want to take his turnban off for ‘religious reasons’. Why should he be an exeption and because of a particular judges lack of knowledge about a particular belief, should he be punished?
I am a Jamaican, and although I do not agree with some of the teachings of Rastafarianism, I do accept it as a valid religion, and it is also widely accepted in the Caribbean region.
“How do you decide in legal terms what criteria must be fulfilled for a belief system to be classed as a ‘valid’ religion?”… This depends on a judges leniency and understanding of that belief. From what I know of rastafarianism, that rasta was just being difficult because the hat is a mere accessory. I think judges should be lenient to different people’s beliefs system because although it may seem awkward to us, everyone is not the same. We should accept people from different cultures.

As regards to the law, the law enforces moral beliefs such and what we should remember is that moral beliefs vary.

Now regarding the marijuana case, it is genuinely a part of their religion. Though illegal here also, the police are not as rigid when they catch offenders that are rastafarians. Wait, hold up… most of the time, they ignore it. Persons who are punished are mostly drug dealers and teenagers. (Oh just food for thought, we follow English Law here ).

“when such people see their religion as bearing the divine and universal laws of all lands, they must respect themselves by granting other people the rights that they expect.” You know what we seem to forget at times?.. that the law is man-made.To say that the law is greater than someone’s true belief in my opinion is just…sad. Unless this belief causes some harm/ detriment to society at large and not to some precedent in law. Pangloss, by saying that they must respect themselves by granting other people the rights that they expect, what they expect is that people are going to accept their belief, not necessarily as that of their own, so they shall do the same if a foreigner was to enter their own country. It’s basically the “do unto others” principle as I like to call it.


emphasising the fact that the laws of a fundamentalist is man-made is exactly my point. people, and the law here in the uk are generally respectful of peoples’ beliefs, as long (as you say) they do not overlap with the order which is essential for the uk to run an effective and fair justice system.
there are unfortuante cases (all over the world) where there is such overlap and conflict, where a person sees their belief as divine and always applicable (as it is not made by man, but by god). this is exactly the conviction that caused the september 11th. attacks. i cannot see how this sort of imposing fundamentalism (whether ‘representing’ islam, rastafarianism or the environment) is ever acceptable. after world war 2, the emphasis was not on democracy, but liberal democracy. where a minority cannot be subjected to the ‘tyranny of the majority’. natslicious (anything to do with blackalicious?), i think we share the same view, along with gandi and jesus. ‘do unto others…’

We had this very problem in our studen’t union. We had some sikhs complaining that there wern’t allowed to carry around their ceremonial dagger on campus. The were appealing to be alowed to do so on union property and at our parties (the university property being a whole other matter).

Now firstly the spokesman turned up to appeal for this wearing the dagger (it came accross to me as “I know I’m not supposed to but I’m going to show how much contempt I have for this process immediatly”).

Then she preceeded to accuse us all of being intolerant and rascist, even though none of us had even said anything yet (she was opening the “debate”).

So we pointed out our worries, that although these knives don’t have to be sharp, some of them are because some seikhs consider it necessary to have them sharp, pointed out there was no way that a seikh could reasonably stop other people taking the knife off them and using it (yet again, some seikhs believe it is not necessary to wear them visibly, but some see it as necessary). We also said that it wasn’t fair if we started making specific rules for speciic religions, that we have a policy of encouraging personal beliefs where reasonable.

So the response we got was her storming out the room as if we’d insulted her, even though none of us were insulting and the very nature of debate is to present a side for and a side against.

When it comes to religion and whether we should tolerate beliefs, reason seems to fly out the window with some people.

what’s blackalicious?..

The name Natsilicious is a mixture of Natalie and umm… err… bootylicious. :unamused:

Blackalicious are a hip hop duo from the musically fertile Bay Area in California. Their album Nia is excellent and well worth a listen. Thankfully it steers well clear of hip ‘pop’s’ infuriating frame of reference, replacing it with genuinely engaging material. For one example, there is a Nikki Giovanni spoken word poem that radiates with a luxuriance (both lyrical and musical) that few artists can match. Their new album contains pieces with poet Saul Williams and spoken word artist Gill Scot Heron (of “The Revolution Will not be Televised” fame). Of course we in the UK still have 2 weeks to wait…

Slightly more relevant to this topic - on Nia there is a sample which I assume comes from a film: “For black people, community is not a question of geography. It is a question of colour.” The speaker goes on to refute the notion of “black Americans” as a false construct.

Is this true? This speaker would have us believe that race overrides nationality as a contributory factor to who we are. In fact he does not believe in the concept of nationality at all, though he thinks race binds people. Do we feel that there is some truth in this?

Well, there’s definately not universality in that statement… but, I think it’s true… to an extent. I can bet that speaker was some black fundamentalist personamajig.
but anyway, that used to be the case in America, as we all know…probably still is. There are ‘white’ communities, then there are minority communites.

I forgot the statement :unamused: … but what I think I was going to say is that not all blk ppl see it as such.

I’ll correct myself later if I see it . :wink: