Shuggy couldn't find anything to agree with in what I had to say about the case of Sarika Watkins-Singh and her bangle. I'm willing to meet him half way on that: I can't find very much to agree with in what he has to say about what I had to say. Well, disagreement is a more or less normal state of affairs. But I also can't find anything in the way of a compelling reason for Shuggy's disagreement. I pointed to the fact that the school allows watches and ear studs as exceptions to its 'no jewellery' policy, and asked how it was that the considerations licensing those exceptions could be more important than the girl's desire to wear something expressive of her Sikh identity. Shuggy responds (cross-posted here):
In other words, on watches he offers nothing explicit of substance, just a kind of belittling exasperation that it should even be mentioned in the comparison; and on ear studs he offers the claim that to prohibit them in school would amount to dictating fashion out of school because the holes in the kids' ears would close over. He's sure about that, is he? Me, I don't think so; and, taking advice on the matter, I find that others, who know better than I do, don't think so either. The holes close over in due course, not after the length of a normal schoolday. The earring studs, in fact, could be worn out of school as a way of keeping the holes open, so that... the earrings could be worn out of school, etc. I go back, therefore, to my point: the exceptions made for watches and ear studs are perfectly reasonable ones, but it's hard to see why the considerations that justify them outweigh the consideration that would allow the wearing of 'an object important to a person on account of her identity'. The only thing Shuggy has that might pass for a reason against this is as feeble as it is old:
Watches? Goddammit all! If consistency is the problem here, let us insist that every pupil wears one. This would stop the little toads turning up late after lunch claiming they 'didn't know what time it was'. And earring studs are not just a matter of fashion. If you have pierced ears but don't wear [the studs] then the holes will close over. So for a school to insist on no earrings at all would amount to them proscribing pupils' fashion sense when they are out of school - and that really would be intolerable.
[B]etter a school run by anally-retentive assholes than one where no-one's running it, where the fucking kids are setting the agenda...
It's the threat of anarchy. Shuggy doesn't explain why, if two exceptions can be permitted without such a worrying descent, three exceptions can't be. Why does an orderly school uniform regime - and that's assuming uniforms are vital, which is itself open to question - break down not at watches or ear studs or both, but just at the point of a bangle or bangle-equivalent? His disagreement is long on mock indignation and irony and short on argument. It doesn't, in any case, disconfirm my claim that 'you will struggle to get an answer to [the] question' which I asked at the end of that post.
(See also the two letters here.)