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Controversial That Non-Weapon Sure is Pointy!

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    That non-weapon sure is pointy

    Maclean's - Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine

    by Colby Cosh on Friday, January 21, 2011

    I am unpleasantly surprised to find Colleague Geddes sowing nonsense in the Quebec National Assembly kirpan debate—a conversation that has quite enough of it already. In his introduction to a Q&A with Liberal Sikh MP Navdeep Bains, Geddes links to the 2006 Supreme Court decision in Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, stating that the court "found that the kirpan is a religious symbol, not a weapon." Begging his pardon, the court found no such thing. The court’s members are carefully trained in logic: it would never occur to them that an item had to be either a religious symbol or a weapon, and could not possibly be both. That would be a pretty silly conclusion! Justice Charron actually wrote:


    <DIR>There is no denying that this religious object could be used wrongly to wound or even kill someone, but the question at this stage of the analysis cannot be answered definitively by considering only the physical characteristics of the kirpan. …In order to demonstrate an infringement of his freedom of religion, Gurbaj Singh does not have to establish that the kirpan is not a weapon. He need only show that his personal and subjective belief in the religious significance of the kirpan is sincere.

    </DIR>The court didn’t find for the appellants on the grounds that "the kirpan is not a weapon". Indeed, all parties to the suit accepted the premise "that the kirpan, considered objectively and without the protective measures imposed by the Superior Court, is an object that fits the definition of a weapon." The court found for the appellant because the school board’s zero-tolerance policy towards weapons, based largely on fears that the presence of a knife would somehow allow spooky negative vibes to propagate throughout the school, did not constitute a minimal infringement upon the rights of a religion that happens to insist upon the carrying of a weapon. (Anyone who has studied the remarkable history of the Sikhs can only be surprised that they don’t carry about five of them.)

    I hate to break it to Nav Bains and to admirers of leading comparative-religion scholar Michael Ignatieff, but reciting "It’s not a weapon" won’t give us a magic wormhole we can all leap through to avoid debates over religious accommodation in public services. As I understand matters, and I am perfectly prepared to receive instruction on this point, the whole point of the kirpan is that it’s an avowedly defensive weapon. The reference books, including those written by Sikhs, tell us that it is worn precisely to signify and reinforce the Sikh’s wholly admirable preparedness to protect his faith, his community, and innocent human life. I suppose I could have added the words "just as a handgun might be", but that would send altogether too many of my readers scrambling for the Preparation H.

    Respectable efforts to establish a modus vivendi on the kirpan in secured public spaces can’t begin with evasion if they hope to be successful (and certainly it sets a terrible precedent for evasion to be designated courage). I’ll add that the problems are not really all that thorny for those of us who have never consented to fanaticism about security theatre or to cretinizing "zero tolerance" of blades in schools.

    source: http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/01/21/that-non-weapon-sure-is-pointy/
     
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  3. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    a cross could be used to blind a person by poking him/her in the eyes..?? and a TIE could eb used to strangle....a finger in the eye can blind..or KILL if used as in KungFU...
     
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  4. a.mother

    a.mother Canada
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    A single SHOE can do something also,you know what I mean. It is good enough to rip apart any one's reputaion.
     
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  5. Caspian

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    Yes, almost anything can become a weapon if used in such a way. But "actual" weapons are easier to use as weapons. (I would hate to bring a shoe to a kirpan fight—for lack of a better analogy :p).

    The point of the article (unless i totally missed the boat) is for us to start calling the horse a horse. The kirpan "is" a weapon. From their, you can make progress by adding other defining clauses like what the author of the article did.

    "The kirpan is a weapon BUT its purposely dull so as not to cause seriouse injury/ its largely symbolic and its use is restricted purely to cases of self defence."

    If you guys continue to argue "the kirpan is not a weapon" everyone is going to look at you and go "well it sure is one pointy non-weapon" (in reference to the title)

    And if your counter-arguments consist of "well anything could be a weapon" your simply side stepping the issue.

    Full Disclosure
    I dont think the kirpan, the niqab or any other religious symbol should be banned. I dont think goverment should interfere in that manner. HOWEVER, i anticipate that a day will come when this will no longer be an issue because the overt display of religious symbols will become unanimously out-dated by all cultures across the board. I would argue that it is essentially out-dated and only a negligble minority of muslim women wear the niqab—and those numbers will dwindle further in the years to come. I dont know how many people that self identify as sikhs keep the 5 K's (if you have statistics on that, I would love to hear them) but the number of visible sikhs will continue to dwindle too.
     
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  6. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Caspian ji I generally agree with your comments and observations. I want to add some notes/comments to the excerpted portion below,

    The point of the article (unless i totally missed the boat) is for us to start calling the horse a horse. The kirpan "is" a weapon. From their, you can make progress by adding other defining clauses like what the author of the article did.
    "The kirpan is a weapon BUT its purposely dull so as not to cause seriouse injury/ its largely symbolic and its use is restricted purely to cases of self defence."

    If you guys continue to argue "the kirpan is not a weapon" everyone is going to look at you and go "well it sure is one pointy non-weapon" (in reference to the title)

    And if your counter-arguments consist of "well anything could be a weapon" your simply side stepping the issue.

    It is a shame that people emphasize or mention it is dull. It should not be dull and should cut paper like a German knife. In my mind, Guru Gobind Singh ji did not send the tiar-bar-tiar Singh's after baptization with dull Kirpans. Otherwise why make it out of steel, let the panth leaders through Akal Takhat Sahib allow it to be made of wood.

    • I remember the same debate taking place when we were little kids in India. People were suggesting that tiny Kirpan ornament in the Kangah should suffice for rehat. Without being flippant, my father used to say "Oh if there is a need for Kirpan as intended the people are going to through the Kangah on an attacker."

    I believe the Kirpan has the following essence for a Baptized practicising Singh,

    • Integral part of religious conformance/practice and oath of Baptization
    • It is a weapon of self defense for self and other under unjust attack
      • As I said before, it should be sharp as anything so it is effective.
    Speaking the truth with necessary explanations is better than denial. You are more likely to get respect.

    I do believe in positive steps,

    • for travel purposes and security with computerization all across the world with linked databases the baptizied sikhs should voluntarily declare the wearing of Kirpan so there are less or no embarrassing moments.
    Just some free thoughts not to attack anyone's sensitivities.

    Sat Sri Akal.

    PS: May be someone was pulling my leg but he said that "Master Ninja and Black Belt Karate people are required to declare their such status for travel purposes."
     
  7. Caspian

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    I did not know that the kirpan is "suppose to be" sharp. I thought that the compromise of a dull kirpan would have been acceptable to both sikhs and non-sikhs. I think the argument that "it is largely a symbol" looses some ground if u maintain that it has to be sharp (someone could easily say, why should it be that sharp? if its just a symbol, a dull kirpan can and should suffice). Most kirpans I have come in contact with, especially those for kids are purposely dull and ive never heard anyone object to that until today. I find that interesting. I would hope that most sikhs are willing to compromise on the sharpness of the kirpan. Thanks for your input though.
     
  8. Caspian

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    As a side note, what constitutes a kirpan? Does it have to be made in india for example? Does it even have to "look" indian. Can a sikh wear a rambo knife around his torso and adequatly call that a kirpan? The reason why i mention this is the fact that alot of sikhs (when i was younger) made it a point to explain to non-sikhs that the kirpan is not a dagger (just like how sikhs have tried to maintain that the kirpan is not a weapon). Lets keep calling the horse a horse—it is a dagger as well as a weapon. And if its just a dagger, can a practicing sikh wear a dagger from midevil europe and call it a kirpan? If not, what exactly makes a kirpan a kirpan?
     
  9. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Caspian ji I may have overstepped the understanding and beliefs a little bit. I will stand corrected and don't want to add or subtract from the following excerpt from Sikh Rehat Maryada,
    [SIZE=-1]II. The Kirpan {sheathed sword} (The length of the sword to be worn is not prescribed.,
    http://www.sgpc.net/rehat_maryada/section_six.html

    [/SIZE]
    I don't want to belittle with variations of knifes stated in your post above, though you may follow with the discussion or comments. I particularly don't like your statement as,
    Lets keep calling the horse a horse—it is a dagger as well as a weapon.

    The above is not deserving of your caliber of inputs which I generally respect. This way I will make a knife into a dagger with little imagination and our kitchen will be full of daggers, rambo knives and swords.

    Having dinner on a dining table would remind me of the pre-gun wars in history. Pretty pathetic to say the least.

    There is no harm in dialog or thinking to whole spectrum of ridiculous to sublime as it will exhaust variation of thought.

    Now baseball bat in the trunk of a car under the bed is definitely a weapon:angryyoungsingh:lol

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  10. Caspian

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    I dont mean to offend but that is exactly my point. In the same way you suggest one can call any knife a dagger and before you know it ur kitchen is full of swords. One can pretty much call any knife a kirpan (atleast as it stands right now). The reason why i brought up the issue is because I want to know if there are any technical requirements for the kirpan to actually "be a kirpan." Much in the same way that switch blades, pocket knives and butterfly knives all have to adhere to specific technical information to be regarded as such (and indeed, it is partly due to the technical aspects of a butterfly knife/switch blade that sees it banned in canadian society; conversly, it is also because of the technical aspects of a pocket knife that allows one to legally carry a pocket knife around without weapons charges). According to the information on the site you have linked me, there is no definitive length requirements on the kirpan. If we as a society allow sikhs to carry a kirpan—should we at least put in place a legal requirement as to the acceptable length of a kirpan?

    In other words. If there is no explicit religious definition of what a kirpan is or is not. Can the canadian society/government put in place legal requirements that a sikh wearing a kirpan must adhere to? Furthermore, if length is not actually prescribed, what is rong with wearing a kirpan that is the size of the average christian cross that people wear around their necks? (Indeed, i have seen many sikhs, particularly women, compromising in this fashion—by wearing a small/symbolic kirpan around their neck.) Is there anything rong with that? Would there be anything wrong with that if Canada made that the legal standard of what a kirpan is?

    Just a Sidenote
    It seems to me atleast, that a kirpan holds as much similarity to a midevil european dagger as a traditional kashara holds to boxers (or even kashara's that have an elastic waistband instead of the cords (what my uncle likes to call "a modern kashara" because there "cordless"). lol, lame joke, I know :p


     
  11. spnadmin

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    All joking aside Caspian, what is your definition of a weapon? Does it extend to any object that can be used to inflict harm?

    Until I understand you use of the word weapon it would be difficult for me to evaluate any of the inferences or conclusions you have stated above. Thanks
     
  12. Caspian

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    Essentially yes. That's my definition of "weapon." So my definition of weapon can (and should) include the human body itself.

    But classifying something as a weapon isn't enough to ban it. A variety of other factors (mostly associated with risk/probability of misuse) come into play, these factors can include aspects like concealment, leathality, size of the blade, etc. In these respects, i rank the kirpan lower in its risk of misuse. But the question is, is it low enough to be considered in the same vein as a pocket knife? And i guess the former question still stands, hopefully my explanation of what i consider a weapon will aid anyone in trying to answer it. I will reiterate the question though for clarities sake:

    If their is no clear cut (or if there is only a vague) religious consensus on the technical aspects of what makes a kirpan a kirpan—Can the canadian government impose legal limitations on the kirpan that do not specifically infringe on the religious rights of sikh individuals? For ex. If there is no length pre-req for kirpans, can the canadian government come in and say "A kirpan's blade can be no longer then 4 inches." If there is no explicit written requirement for the blade to be sharp enough to cut paper, can the Canadian government limit kirpans to only dull blades? If there are religious requirements for defining a kirpan, what are they? Im sure a compromise can be reached which allows religious freedom and the reduces the risk of misuse to the absolute minimum.
     
  13. spnadmin

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    Well that is an interesting answer. So I am wondering if the Canadian government might then prescribe or control how high my stiletto heels can be on my high heel shoes. Keeping risk factors in mind of course - such as whether I wear them in public or only on private occasions. Or, are 3 inch heels more of a risk than 4 1/2 inch heels, and does their pointy-ness need to be considered in the equation.

    I always thought that the definition of a weapon could not be so loose -- i.e., any object that might or can be used to inflict harm. I was of the impression that an object was a weapon if there was an intention to use it to inflict harm. As in the Oxford online dictionary: a thing designed or used for inflicting bodily harm or physical damage.

    The SRM constraints on how to define a kirpan would be as irrelevant in that case as the height and pointy-ness of my high heel shoes. Writing an editorial suggesting that a government to ban kirpan seems kind of pointless.
     
  14. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Definition of kirpan/sword if it helps,

    S: (n) sword, blade, brand, steel (a cutting or thrusting weapon that has a long metal blade and a hilt with a hand guard)
    http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/per...WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o7=&o5=&o1=1&o6=&o4=&o3=&h=0

    Proves my original point that it is a reasonably precise object and when I have dinner I have no Kirpans on the table or in the kitchen.

    Caspian ji the next question is for law enforcement, courts and politics to decide given review of threats or experiences of misuse in Canada versus how one person (non-sikh) handles it versus a spiritual baptized person (who is as part of the baptization process well informed about its use any misuse).

    There is huge difference in how gundas (like the 1984 crowds) will use versus baptized sikhs.

    There must be a worldwide stat somewhere.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  15. Caspian

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    Well, like i said. There are a variety of factors that fit into the "risk of misuse" aspect of defining a weapon. I would say that "intention" to use it to inflict harm is indeed part of the "risk of misuse" aspect. And another reason why the kirpan would rank lower then a machete/shank/or rambo knife. None the less, intention can't be the only aspect taken into account.

    Sidenote:
    (As i was writing this response. Alexander Ovechkin was participating in the NHL Hardest Slapshot competition. His stick shattered sending half of it flying randomly and dangerously forward. The announcers mentioned that they should move the cameramen so as to reduce the "potential for injury" even though there was no intention to injur if such an injury occured. It is useful to add limiting conditions (such as moving the camermen further away) so as to reduce the potential for injury. Hockeysticks shouldnt be banned obviously, but there is no problem with reducing risk where it can be reduced)

    Also, I do believe there is restrictions on how high a high heel can be for sale to the public. And if there isnt (ill look it up lol) there reallly should be :p not for its weaponizbility, but for the safety of the wearer lol :p
     
  16. Ambarsaria

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  17. spnadmin

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    Ambarsarsia ji

    If anyoone were to "get it" it would be you. kudihug

    The reason I even broached the example was to "point" to the absurdity of quantifying the risk of objects without also taking in hand the matter of intention. Kirpan regardless of its length or its pointy-ness is not designed for, intended for, or used as a weapon. If a kirpan has ever been used as a weapon, it was the intent of the person who used it that way that turned it into a weapon. The same can be said for dozens of pointy objects. In the only instance of which I am aware - a riot outside of the Sikh Lehr Centre in Canada last year over religious dogma (I am being kind) - it was the lack of judgment, not the object, that ended up with the very same advocate who fought for the right to carry kirpan in Canada to be slashed and hospitalized by mad-dogs.

    Along with measures of risk one has to consider whether there is any real and present danger that a kirpan or high-heel shoes will be used with the intent to do harm. I don't have statistics either, but I suspect that stiletto shoes have been used more often than kirpan as weapons.

    The author of the starter article obviously does not take his own arguments seriously. The whole point of the article was to make extremists feel validated by his "humor" -- at the expense of religious minorities.
     
  18. Caspian

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    When I was younger (about 15ish years ago), there was a case in Surrey where a dispute over tables and chairs inside the Scott Road gurdwara turned violent with alledged kirpan attacks. I remember seeing an interview on tv of one of the hospitalized disputers and the cuts he suffered. Trying to find the story online but since then, the same gurdwara has been the scene of a shooting during a wedding. And that seems to be gettin more google results right now :p.
     
  19. spnadmin

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    There have been cases where kirpans were used as weapons. But not very many - and not often enough imho to rise to the level of a credible and present danger in the legal sense. That is why Canada has permitted parliament members to wear kirpan, and kirpan were also permitted at the Vancouver Olympics. Accommodations have not been so controversial as they have now. I raise the question, Why? Some of the answers can be found in the threads on the current controversy occurring in Quebec - we have reported on this ad terminem. They put the first article in this thread into context. The author was neither genuine nor humorous when you think of it that way, and discussing it gives it the feeling of credibility. But that of course is what forums are for...discussions.
     

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