New York Police Department Says Religious Headwear Is Not Suitable For Its Officers; Protests Ensue August 19, 2014

New York Police Department Says Religious Headwear Is Not Suitable For Its Officers; Protests Ensue

Via the New York Daily News, with minor alterations on my part:

A group representing the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is accusing the NYPD of religious discrimination. Pastafarians, speaking from their Manhattan headquarters, alleged yesterday that the NYPD barred FSM worshipers from the department because they don’t allow them to wear colanders in place of police-issued hats.

NYPD policy allows Pastafarians to wear colanders that fit beneath giant department-issued hats, a police spokeswoman said in a statement. Wearing colanders is a tenet of the FSM creed.

The accusations follow attacks against Pastafarians in Queens in July and another on Roosevelt Island this month.

“The NYPD cannot protect us from bias if it’s perpetuating bias,” Harlington Brownsville of the coalition said.

In truth, the complaint comes not from Pastafarians (yet), but from Sikhs who love their turbans.

That’s the same group whose members believe passionately that they must be exempt from helmet laws in Australia, and that they have the God-given right to carry ceremonial swords or daggers into Canadian courtrooms.

The NYPD has a dress code. Big deal. The code mandates proper uniforms (including an officer’s cap) and the absence of excessive facial hair. Sikhs run afoul of both requirements. Personally, I don’t think the hair ought to be a problem, and I have no problem with turbans (or colanders) either. But if you make exceptions for one group, why not for many others? Should we let Jewish cops wear yarmulkes on duty? Shall we give two thumbs up to burkas for female conservative-Muslim officers?

I really don’t see why any of that ought to be met with accommodating smiles. As I wrote last year,

I have absolutely nothing against Sikhs and don’t fear them in the slightest, though it should be fair to point out that just like other groups of believers, they’ve not always been, let’s say, unfailingly kind.

Just so we’re even clearer, I’m hardly a xenophobe. In fact, I’m one of the xenoi:

• a first-generation immigrant to the U.S.
• a member of a distrusted, much-maligned minority
• the father of two adopted children from Asia
• not a native speaker of English

Yet I am also one hundred percent OK with the age-old principle that in Rome, we do as the Romans do. I expect no special accommodations for my culture of origin, nor for my race or heritage, nor for my daughters’ race and their heritage, nor for our beliefs (that goes for my wife’s beliefs — Christian — and for mine — secular).

Were lawmakers to carve out special dispensations for my tribe, allowing us to do things that are forbidden to others, I would reject the gesture as unwanted pandering; and I would wonder what had happened to my adopted country’s professed dedication to equal treatment under the law.

That covers daggers, headwear, clothing, and anything else I can think of.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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