French judge annuls Muslim marriage over virginity lie

A French judge has annulled a marriage after it was found that the wife had falsely claimed to have been a virgin prior to marriage. The Times report the circumstances of the divorce are reported as follows:

Mr X went to court the following morning and was granted a annulment on the grounds that his bride had deceived him on “one of the essential elements” of the marriage. In disgrace with both families, she acknowledged that she had led her groom to believe that she was a virgin when she had already had sexual intercourse. She did not oppose the annulment.

Leaving aside the substance of the dispute, if marriage is viewed (correctly) as simply a contract between individuals then what is so outrageous or disagreeable about such a contract being dissolved when one party has misrepresented themselves?

The decision been met, naturally, with some controversy. However, as write on the subject:

Of course many French people are outraged, as they so often are when private property and contract rights trump “secular” (that is, socialist) values.

Debating Mark Steyn

Over the fold, a recently screened television debate between Mark Steyn and three of the Canadian Muslims who have brought action against Macleans magazine.

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Canadian Muslims versus Mark Steyn

The Canadian Islamic Congress has decided to use Canada’s hate speech legislation to go after the Canadian magazine Macleans for publishing an extract from columnist Mark Steyn’s book America Alone.

Here’s a video of Steyn himself talking about the issue on Canadian television:

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Patri Friedman (son of David and grandson of Milton) has just launched an interesting initiative; backed by Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, the Seasteading Institute has been founded to establish “permanent, autonomous open communities” based on private man-made structures or islands built in the ocean. The view being that such communities would allow political, legal and social competition as different groups, free from the strictures of government and nation, could experiment and innovate.

They explain:

Currently, it is very difficult to experiment with alternative social, political, and legal systems on a small scale. Countries are so enormous that no individual can make much difference in how they work, and the existing entrenched power structures have tremendous inertia. Seasteaders believe that government shouldn’t be like the cellphone or operating system industry, with a tiny number of providers who offer few choices and make it hard to switch. Instead, they envision something more like web 2.0, where many small governments serve different niche markets, a dynamic system where small groups experiment, and everyone copies what works, discards what doesn’t, and remixes the remainder.

Patri expands further on this idea of competitive government in this essay and in Seasteading: A Practical Guide to Homesteading the High Seas.

Make Talkfest 2020 Submissions Online

As Dave Bath points out, if you want to make a submission to the government’s Talkfest 2020, you have until 5pm tomorrow to do so.  Submissions can be made online at this site.  A few bloggers have made submissions and put them online.

Club Troppo’s Jacque Chester has some interesting suggestions around open government.   I would add that it would be great if government started making more data available and started publishing content such as Hansard in XML.  This would then make it easier for people to analyse and present that data in interesting and insightful ways.  The great They Work For You and Public Whip sites in the UK are examples of what can be done.

Catallaxy have also published a long list of reader suggestions: some of which are great, and some of which are no so great.  I like the idea of all government actions having to pass a cost benefits test, and the idea of sunset clauses on all legislation is brilliant.

So, what are your big ideas?


So Geert Wilder’s video Fitna has finally been released onto the internet. And what a reaction there has been.

Network Solutions pulled the site that was supposed to be hosting the film. Techcrunch is worried that Google might experience a “Muslim backlash”. Live Leak, who originally hosted the film, have now pulled it down because of “credible threats”. The Singaporean government has condemned it. The UAE government has condemned it. The Council of Europe has spoken out against it. Afghanistan has expressed concern. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir has said Malay Muslims are annoyed by it and is calling for a worldwide boycott of Dutch products. Indonesia has condemned it. The OIC naturally condemns it too.

That’s a lot of government and official condemnation for a 17 minute film on Youtube. However, rather than the riots and rivers of blood that the pre-release marketing led us to believe would be the natural consequence of Wilders’ little film, the response from actual Muslims has been, well, not much of a response at all.

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Women Only Gyms: What’s all the fuss about?

There’s nothing like the thought of a gym or swimming pool running women-only sessions (at the request of Muslim women) to get some men all worked up. Take the recent ‘controversy’ surrounding one of Harvard University’s gymnasiums. Andrew Sullivan rushes to denounce it as “shariah at Harvard’; Jihadwatch says they have submitted to Islam; and on and on it goes.

It’s hard to see what all the fuss is about.

Firstly, isn’t Harvard University a private university? The gymnasium is therefore its property. If one really believes in private property (and many people don’t) then one must also believe in the right of an owner to exercise absolute control over that property based on whatever criteria he or she may decide. If Harvard University, or the owner of any other gym or swimming pool, decides to ‘discriminate’ against men by disallowing them access during certain times of the day, then they should have every right to do so; and, likewise, if they wanted to ‘discriminate’ against people whose first names start the letter ‘P’, they should have every right to do that too. All property owners — whether home owners or the owners of businesses — should have absolute sovereignty over their property and how it is used. This is on the proviso, of course, that they must accept the social and economic consequences of their decision (and in the case of some of the examples that might be extreme embarrassment, public humiliation and/or boycotting).

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UAE: Govenment fixes price of food

Having already imposed price controls on the rental market, the UAE government is reportedly now setting maximum prices for food products, such as eggs, rice, chicken and even bottled water.

This may appear to some to be a reasonably good idea to ease the pressure on residents. However, as history has shown, when governments force people to sell products for a price that is at or below their natural market level, it creates a shortage: it will increase demand whilst simultaneously reduce the current and future supply of the product.

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Liberty and Society Seminar

Andrew Norton and Irfan Yusuf both have posts up advertising the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) Liberty and Society weekend seminar to be held next month. As the website explains:

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Government advisor: Faith-based schools threaten society

The Age reports today:

THE rapid growth of faith-based schools under the previous federal government has threatened the social cohesion of the nation, according to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s most senior education adviser.

The frank comments of Professor Barry McGaw, appointed this month to be the new head of the National Curriculum Board, contrast with the Howard government’s celebration of the proliferation of small independent schools, encouraged by generous public funding.

“These people often form a narrowly focused school that is aimed at cementing the faith it’s based on … If we continue as we are, I think we’ll just become more and more isolated sub-groups in our community,” Professor McGaw told The Age.

Professor McGaw’s comments are, of course, absurd. Our community is diverse and that diversity extends quite naturally to how people believe their children should be educated. The very fact that so many parents are opting out of the government-controlled education system in favour of private schools — secular or religious — demonstrates this diversity.

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