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The Morality Police

By       Message Walter Brasch     Permalink
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From flickr.com/photos/7979599@N05/11901087793/: Pink, the best-selling pop singer, would probably be banned from most schools because of her hair.
Pink, the best-selling pop singer, would probably be banned from most schools because of her hair.
(Image by erintheredmc)
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By Walter Brasch

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In Saudi Arabia, the Mutaween are 3,500 public officials and thousands of volunteers who work for the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. They are responsible for enforcing strict religious laws. Among the many laws are those that require all women to wear head scarves and black gowns when in public.

The "Morality Police" also exist in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several fundamentalist Arab countries.

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It isn't only in Arab countries that morals are regimented and institutionalized.

In France, the minister of health, a physician, believes there should be laws to prohibit companies and advertisers from using anorexic fashion models. He believes overly thin models--the ones who can make six-figure incomes by being at least five-foot-eight, have high cheek bones and Size Zero bodies--gives the wrong impression to the youth who starve themselves into emaciation to be seen as beautiful.

He is right about that. But he is wrong to want laws to require the fashion industry to adhere to a set of minimum standards for appearance.

If there can be laws to regulate the portrayal of "healthy" models, what will prevent the system from prohibiting the depiction of plump or even fat models? Of course, in the fashion industry, a Plus-Size Model is anyone who is a Size 8, even though the average size in the United States is a Size 14.

Should government regulate what people look like, even if they appear to be unhealthy. Or different?

What about having black hair or dreadlocks? Should government determine that should also be banned?

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In the United States, the Morality Police regulate everything from the color of hair to what people do in their bedrooms.

A high school in Missouri recently suspended a student for having "unnatural" hair color. The student, a junior, is a natural redhead, but she decided to dye her hair auburn. Unfortunately, the commercial hair dye gave her what the school administrators thought was an unnatural color of red.

That high school isn't the only one with Puritanical rules. School administrators and their elected school boards throughout the country have somehow given themselves the right to create and enforce rules that prohibit students from wearing clothes that could impede the learning of other students. It might be logical to ban girls from wearing short-shorts and halter tops to class. Or, maybe guys who, on a hot day, decide to embarrass themselves and others by wearing nothing but Speedos to Biology class.

But does it really matter what color someone chooses to dye her hair? Is an honors student with streaks of green in her blonde hair more of a threat to society than a mousy-brown haired sophomore who carries a D-plus average?

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http://www.walterbrasch.com

Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)
 

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