Adventures in secular laws and faith: BBC takes shallow dip into Cannes burkini debates

Adventures in secular laws and faith: BBC takes shallow dip into Cannes burkini debates

If you were covering a radical Islamist government's decision to ban Western swimwear on the beaches in its territory (a) who would you interview and (b) would you include any information about the religious/legal beliefs that shaped the decision?

Of course you would focus on the religion angle in the story, probing to see precisely what kind of Islamic vision was at work in this decision. It's not enough to say that Sharia law was at work and leave it at that, because there are many different approaches to Islamic law and its enforcement in the Muslim world.

So what if you turned this equation around, as in the BBC report that ran under this headline: "Cannes bans burkinis over suspected link to radical Islamism." Here is the overture of this online report from the tense land of France:

The mayor of Cannes in southern France has banned full-body swimsuits known as "burkinis" from the beach, citing public order concerns.
David Lisnard said they are a "symbol of Islamic extremism" and might spark scuffles, as France is the target of Islamist attacks. ...
Anyone caught flouting the new rule could face a fine of €38 (£33). They will first be asked to change into another swimming costume or leave the beach.
Nobody has been apprehended for wearing a burkini in Cannes since the edict came into force at the end of July.

Ah, some readers might say, this action was not based on religion. It was the response of a secular government to religious symbols that it has decided are, in effect, threatening. As the BBC story quickly notes, in 2011 French officials banned both full-face Islamic burkas as well as hijabs that cover part of the face.

So the burkini wars are not a matter of religion, but of an anti-religion?

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What. It. All. Means. Simone Manuel keeps trying to tell the world her whole story

What. It. All. Means. Simone Manuel keeps trying to tell the world her whole story

I don't know about you, but I am still fired up about that stunning and historic gold-medal win by Simone Manuel in the 100-meter freestyle.

So, yes, here is a follow-up post (click here for my quick earlier take in this week's "Crossroads" podcast piece) on the news coverage of this young woman and her amazing Olympics story. In other words, the scribes in the mainstream press are still hard at work striving to tell the world (all together now) What. This. All. Means.

Let's start with some crucial video work.

For millions and millions of folks, Rio 2016 is experienced through the "how many ads can we make you watch" entertainment package offered by NBC Sports. The stories run by major news organizations are important, but the images that flash across that big, glowing wall in the home entertainment cave is what really matters.

So please click here and watch this piece of video from an NBC interview with Manuel minutes after her win. What are the first words that she speaks, when offered the chance to say What. This. All. Means?

That would be, "All glory to God."

This is not surprising, of course, for anyone who has glanced Manuel's Twitter feed. Here she is again with the other glowing Simone of this Olympics, as in gold-everything gymnastics icon Simone Biles (one of several high-profile Catholics on the U.S. team).

Now, watch the official NBC version of that same pool-side moment (at the top of this post) that has been posted at YouTube. Spot a key difference, after the editors have had time to work on it?

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