A drug war: The highs and lows of medical cannabis

By Raiyan Faruque

The use of cannabis as a medical aid has been cultivated for over 6000 years dating back to 4000 B.C. Originating in Ancient China, cannabis was recommended for treating various health conditions such as malaria, constipation, rheumatic pains and female disorders. Over time, cannabis has expanded its medical purpose in several other countries such as India, the Middle East, South African and South America. Cannabis was originally renowned for its healing properties, which, in recent decades has shifted to be recognised as the intoxicating drug of hippies and stoners who laze around smoking ‘pot’ to the detriment of their cognitive development.

The legalisation of cannabis is not the area of debate you would expect to hear from parents with experimental, developing adolescents, but for some, this very debate is a cry out of desperation. Whereas others, argue the potential legalisation of cannabis legalisation will create a socio-economic malfunction.

The current media landscape, particularly in Australia, USA and the UK, the debate has branched into two conflicting arguments – the legalisation of cannabis can be utilised as a medical tool for sick patients, and on the flipside, the potential legalisation of medical cannabis will impose an immense capital investment, unaffordable for most patients in need.

Both a combination of hard news and views journalism articles, with reference to a variety of credible sources from politicians, researchers and patients, these authors have provided ranging perspectives on the issue of legalising cannabis for medical use – one that is of benefit for society whereas on the other hand, imposes an opportunity for a capitalist venture.

In favour of the legalisation of medical cannabis is Jane Fynes-Clinton’s views journalism article titled, ‘Opinion: It’s time to listen to the science on medical cannabis, not the ideology’ published on The Courier Mail on 22 April 2015. The Courier Mail is a News Corp Australia owned, daily tabloid newspaper published in Brisbane, Australia. The Courier Mail has often been criticised for its controversial publications however, its articles range from a variety of issues such as breaking news and current affairs to latest celebrity gossip. Through analysis and research, The Courier Mail has published a number of articles in relation to passing the legislation to permit the use of cannabis for medical aid.

On the other hand, Dana McCauley’s hard news article titled ‘Legalising medical cannabis sounds great, if you can afford it’ published on News.com.au on 4 March 2016, weighs the economic and financial aspects of the cannabis legalisation and the threats and restrictions it imposes on our socio-economic framework. The News.com.au is an Australian news and entertainment website which is also owned by News Corp Australia. News.com.au specialises in publications associating national and international affairs, as well as other areas including entertainment, sport, lifestyle and travel. News.com.au is recognised as Australia’s number one news site, reaching an audience of over 5.5 million Australians.

Under the Australian law, cannabis is classified as a Schedule nine drug which is of equivalent scale to drugs such as heroin and LSD. According to a research study conducted by Hamish R. Smith from James Cook University, cannabis is highly common across Australia with roughly 40% of Australians aged fourteen and above who have admitted to using cannabis, whereas over 300,000 Australians engage with the drug on a daily basis. Cannabis has developed a negative socio-recreational agenda which contributes to the criminalisation of the substance. Although a number of countries have acknowledged the medical properties of cannabis, decriminalising it for medical practice, the Australian government is still sitting on the fence. Public knowledge and support for the legalisation of medical cannabis has shown a survey result of 69% among Australians. Scientific research has proven that cannabis contains medicinal properties which can assist with several health conditions.

Fynes-Clinton, a journalist of almost 30 years specialises in political journalism and government relationships. Fynes-Clinton voices a strong opinion on the issue of legalising medical cannabis on her various published newspaper articles and Twitter posts.

Fynes-Clinton’s publication on medical cannabis, ‘Opinion: It’s time to listen to the science on medical cannabis, not the ideology’ presents a wide range of journalistic techniques which justifies the debate for legalising medical cannabis.

Journalist Fynes-Clinton has titled her article ‘Opinion: It’s time to listen to the science on medical cannabis, not the ideology’, which explicitly reveals to the reader that is it a views journalism piece. Fynes-Clinton’s principle claim argues that the debate associating the legalisation of medical cannabis first and foremost requires the understanding and clear distinction between the recreational use and medical practice of cannabis:

“We need to stop talking about marijuana [cannabis] that is smoked for fun and cannabis oil that is taken for comfort and survival in the same conversation.”

The principle claim is accompanied by the use of inclusive language ‘we’ which creates a unified community, convincing readers that the conflicting debate of medical cannabis requires the knowledge from society as a whole to eliminate the stigma of cannabis as a recreational substance, and understand its medicinal power.

She cleverly addresses her argument to target her audience from young adults to conservative middle-aged recipients through her use of language and choice of description.

Fynes-Clinton often uses colloquial terms and ‘street’ references such as ‘pot’ and ‘get high’ to engage with a broad audience, particularly young adults.

Furthermore, Fynes-Clinton uses a false analogy ‘stop the oscillating Jekyll/Hyde approach of giggling teen and judgmental parent’ to attract a more mature-aged audience.

“We need to grow up a bit and stop the oscillating Jekyll/Hyde approach of giggling teen and judgmental parent. The health-giving properties need to be discussed scientifically and maturely.”

The author strategically alludes to a historical reference to appeal to the popular opinion and emphasise the ludicrousness of the debate. The ‘Jekyll/Hyde approach’ is understood as a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to another. Hence, the author creates a narrative reflection of a serious debate of legalising medical cannabis, using visual descriptions ‘giggling teen’ and ‘judgmental parent’ to position the audience to evaluate their stance on the issue of medicinal cannabis.

The author explicitly states the primary claim of her argument is to steer away from from the idea that cannabis is only a recreational substance, but rather a drug that can be used for medical assistance to aid patients and for patients to have the right to use cannabis without the risk of being charged under criminal substance abuse.

“For the debate on this issue to be properly advanced, the recreational and medical uses of cannabis need to be separated, at least for now.”

 “Politicians need to stop making references to cannabis in this context as a gateway drug.”

 The author uses a strong voice in her statements and claims, and gives her argument an affirmative tone by questioning the political perception of cannabis.

Fynes-Clinton articulates her piece using highly emotive language to accentuate her frustration and strong opinion towards the use of cannabis, and the drastic measures patients experience to fight for their lives.

“The problem is they do so quietly because those who make and supply it, as well as those who use it, risk arrest. It is ludicrous.”

 The author has used an either-or argument to emphasise the severity and desperation of the medically ill patients, who have no choice but to either put their health at risk without cannabis or risk being prosecuted for obtaining and utilising cannabis illicitly. The author’s use of truncated sentences, further supported by the use of emotive-passive terminology claiming the struggle of the medically ill is ‘ludicrous’ further solidifies the author’s frustration and emotions towards the issue.

The article primarily appeals to ethical and social norms, as the author’s primary stance is focused on the legalisation of cannabis.

“It seems strange that yet again, we are not prepared to learn from the findings of other nations. Australia may be an island, but must we always take this so literally?”

“More than 20 nations have already legalised medical cannabis and gone through the motions of checking the science and laying out the safety zones.”

“By insisting on tilling ground that has already been prepared by others, we are delaying the process of approvals – something we have become champions at in Australia.”

The author uses rhetorical questions and the use of statistics to support her claim with a credible backbone. The use of a rhetorical question contests the reader’s ethical values, further supported by her use of a sarcastic tone incorporating slippery slope informal fallacy to solidify her argument. By frequently using the inclusive pronoun ‘we’, the author alludes to the idea that the fate and ethical stance of medical cannabis is a shared debate, one that everyone can empathise and be affected by equally. The author’s appeal to ethics and social morality is embedded throughout her article, as she raises the issue of ill children who suffer from medical conditions, unable to obtain medical cannabis as a treatment. By making references to a sensitive minority group, the author forces the reader to empathise with her argument and creates an atmosphere for the reader to engage with.

“Signing up to be part of NSW’s medical cannabis trial for suffering children and dying adults is a sign it is at least willing to listen to the people.”

 Overall, Fynes-Clinton’s views journalism piece has been presented with a strong emotive voice which speaks highly in favour of legalising medical cannabis. Fynes-Clinton employs a variety of language techniques to appeal to her audience. The author’s principle claim is that medical cannabis is a significant debate, which affects the whole Australian community, and a debate which should encourage Australians to enrich their knowledge and understand the distinction between medical cannabis and recreational ‘pot’.


While global nations are still recovering from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, state governments continue to explore financial strategies to boost their economic stability. To address the staggering financial deficits, medical cannabis has been a proposed agenda by many legislators to boost tax revenue. Cannabis is recognised as a billion-dollar industry yet while it sounds appealing to many investors, journalist McCauley argues legalising medical cannabis will erupt an ‘explosion of capitalist investment’, becoming unaffordable for many Australians who desperately require this medical aid.

McCauley argues in her article ‘Legalising medical cannabis sounds great, if you can afford it’ published on News.com.au, that investing in medical cannabis measures will generate more financial burden on Australians than boosting a nation-wide economic status.

The author’s principle claim can be identified in the lead sentence of her article:

 “Australia is about to see an explosion of capital investment in a product that, up until recently, has been the domain of the criminal underworld.”

The author introduces her argument by using strong emotive and highly visual language, ‘explosion of capital investment’ and ‘domain of the criminal underworld’. By incorporating these powerful terms in the lead sentence, McCauley immediately presents her argument to her viewers in a captivating mode.

The lead sentence employs an evaluative presumption, which alludes to the potential negative effects of legalising medical cannabis, a significant factor that is often ignored or unknown to the Australian public.

McCauley constructs her article by exploring and presenting and weighing a variety of credible sources. She contrasts the vision of Canadian investment company, Tilray, with the threats of a medical cannabis investment industry for a middle-class Australian mother who seeks medical cannabis for her epileptic child.

“In Australia, we think that medical cannabis has potential to be a billion-dollar industry, and can create thousands of skilled jobs and generate tens of millions of dollars in foreign investment,” the company’s global president Brendan Kennedy told news.com.au.

“Ms O’Connell does not pay for the product, but believes when it is available in the retail market it would sell for between $30 and $100, depending on the bottle size and strength. She has looked at the prices of medical cannabis products available in the United States and found they cost up to $2000 a month.”

 “She fears regulation will push up the price of the product that has allowed her family a normal life — or worse.”

By contrasting the two distinct sources, McCauley creates a well-crafted blueprint of the reality, threats and potentials of legalising medical cannabis.

McCauley appeals to emotion and ethics throughout her news article and through her use of effective descriptive language and journalistic techniques, forces readers to dig deeper to comprehend the reality of a medical cannabis industry. The effective use of Ms O’Connell as a primary case study, alludes to the audience’s emotional values as it encourages readers to empathise with Ms O’Connell in order to understand the hardships that could be enforced on many patients and families by legalising medical cannabis.

Furthermore, alongside its emotional and ethical appeal, McCauley draws upon authority as she frequently lists and refers to politicians who have spoken in regards to the economic aspects of a medical cannabis industry. By commonly referring to the views and opinions of Australian politicians, McCauley adds credibility and proximity to her argument.

“The Federal Health Department says in a statement on its website: “The Government wants to ensure that Australians get access to the most effective medical treatments that are available, but it is important to ensure we follow the principles of evidence-based medicine.”

Overall, McCauley’s hard news article has been constructed using a broad range of journalistic techniques and resources to appeal to a target audience who have not considered the social and economic strains that are more than likely to arise with a nation-wide acceptance of medical cannabis. The author’s principle claim is to inform the readers that the legalisation of cannabis, while effective and crucial, it requires a broader social understanding to ensure it is available and affordable to those in need.


In summation, while both authors have employed an extensive collection of augmentative techniques to present and solidify their views towards the issue of legalising medical cannabis, they have taken on distinct angles towards the issue. Both Fynes-Clinton and McCauley speak in favour of the medical cannabis legislation, however, McCauley has raised a significant threat that the legislation may impose on Australians and the economic function. Thus, although the fight for a medical cannabis society is beneficial to Australia’s health care system, it is important that the general public and government bodies acknowledge and appropriately action the financial and socio-economic aspect of the issue.

Burkini ban: Safety or Oppression?

 

The recent issue of the burkini ban, passed by the French law has undoubtedly erupted severe media attention from all over the world. The controversial debate has encouraged various authors to provide their unique opinion on the incident. I have selected two distinct articles, which engage with the same issue yet provide conflicting viewpoints. The analysis of the two differing articles proves the power of language techniques and how various perspectives can be expressed surrounding the same issue. My analysis involves a critical reflection of the journalistic writing techniques that have been thoroughly explored in the course, and evaluating the use of such techniques and the effect it has on strengthening an argument.

 

 

 

Link to article: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/uMK0H3aPBDZoWdqRefAgkN/Bikini-equals-freedom-burkini-equals-oppression.html

 

The first article that I have selected to discuss and critically analyse, is written by Ikhlas Hossain, titled, ‘Bikini equals freedom, burkini equals oppression’. The article was published on 1 September 2016 on a popular Indian news and media outlet, Live Mint. The author’s viewpoint is explicitly embedded within her article, as she speaks in opposition of the controversial burkini ban.

 

Persuasive strategies and the type of argumentation employed by your chosen item in order to influence the reader/listener/viewer

 

The article falls under the evaluative argumentation category. The author’s personal judgement, opinion and values are inherently embedded within her argument. The author raises valid and politically relevant arguments, but the use of explicit factual data is limited. The author’s primary evaluative claim is identifiable in the title of her article, and in summation of her argument.

 

France will continue to police women’s bodies as the country continues to be a place where a bikini equals freedom and a burkini equals oppression, and there is no room for anything in between.

 

The claim is supported by a number of justifications throughout the article, which encourage and inform the audience to engage with her claim:

 

But unfortunately, the French fail to see this. They simply see the burkini as yet another piece of Muslim clothing that restricts women and forces them to hide their bodies. They fail to see that many Muslim women choose to dress modestly. They are not forced by their fathers, brothers, or husbands to do so, but they firmly believe in dressing modestly. But by banning pieces of clothing like the burkini, the hijab, and the niqab, they are no different than the men who do force women to dress modestly. Either way, men continue to dictate what women wear. It’s still oppression, all in the name of Western freedom.

 

This sexism is clear when you look at the design and purpose of the burkini. For all intents and purposes, it’s no different than a wetsuit that many men wear for water sports. But wetsuits aren’t what are being targeted here, even though they cover the same body parts. Only the burkini is seen as a symbol of oppression and a foreign presence.

 

The author’s use of truncated sentences and emotive appeal through the powerful choice of words, ‘oppression’ and ‘dictate’ the author reinforces her claim and influences the reader to comprehend the intensity of the burkini ban.

 

Portrayal or interpretation the items provide of the person, issue or event under consideration

 

Hossain creates her article with explicit evaluative claims and justifications in order to persuade readers to engage with her primary argument that the burkini ban foreshadows political radicalisation and oppression. Hossain’s article is written in a negative tone, and often uses emotive language to reinforce the negativity of the burkini ban. Similar to the article to be discussed in the latter of this evaluation, Hossain critiques the French ideals of secularism.

 

The burkini ban came only six years after the ban on face coverings, such as niqab, and twelve years after the ban on wearing religious symbols, such as hijab, in public schools, in the country that promises liberté, egalité, and fraternité to all.

 

But unfortunately egalité or equality doesn’t apply to everyone, certainly not to Muslim women. The continuous change of laws in France demonstrates that Muslims continue to be targeted and discriminated against, despite the French government’s insistence that they’re not. Whether it’s the hijab, the burka, the niqab, or a burkini, the French have a problem with it.

 

The French brand of secularisation, or complete separation of religion and state, has manifested itself in these bans, which attempt to police women’s bodies and what is put on them. According to this brand of secularism, women shouldn’t be dressing in ways that identify them as the “other”. They need to integrate into the population and keep the banned items of clothing at home.

 

Hossain questions the validity of the French law, and refers to past occurrences of political oppression to contextualize her argument. The author’s use of a circular argument, “The continuous change of laws in France demonstrates that Muslims continue to be targeted and discriminated against, despite the French government’s insistence that they’re not” supported through the highly emotive tone, encourages responders to question the nature of the French government and consider the issue of the burkini ban to be one that is oppressive rather than supportive of the French ideals ‘liberté, egalité, and fraternité’.

 

Value system or world view which underlies the argument

 

To discuss the world view system apparent in this article, the following excerpts are valuable:

 

The French brand of secularisation, or complete separation of religion and state, has manifested itself in these bans, which attempt to police women’s bodies and what is put on them. According to this brand of secularism, women shouldn’t be dressing in ways that identify them as the “other”. They need to integrate into the population and keep the banned items of clothing at home. Else are seen as symbols of religion as dangerous, as they oppress women and prevent them from participating in society.

 

But unfortunately, the French fail to see this. They simply see the burkini as yet another piece of Muslim clothing that restricts women and forces them to hide their bodies. They fail to see that many Muslim women choose to dress modestly. They are not forced by their fathers, brothers, or husbands to do so, but they firmly believe in dressing modestly. But by banning pieces of clothing like the burkini, the hijab, and the niqab, they are no different than the men who do force women to dress modestly. Either way, men continue to dictate what women wear. It’s still oppression, all in the name of Western freedom.

 

Hossian’s explicit claim, “It’s still oppression, all in the name of Western freedom’ supported by the justifications “But by banning pieces of clothing like the burkini, the hijab, and the niqab, they are no different than the men who do force women to dress modestly. Either way, men continue to dictate what women wear”, the author alludes to engaging with value systems by appealing to ethical, social, legal concerns and to emotion.

 

The author uses truncated sentences and an evaluative presumption, “But by banning pieces of clothing like the burkini, the hijab, and the niqab, they are no different than the men who do force women to dress modestly. Either way, men continue to dictate what women wear” to convince the reader that the issue of banning the burkini is essentially eradicating the idea of equality and rather oppressing women in a secular French society. The author’s emotive terminology, ‘force’, ‘restricts’, ‘dictate’ appeal to the reader’s emotive response and inspires the reader to develop an emotional understanding with the issue raised by the author. Thus, the argument presented by the author appeals to both the social and ethical concerns as well as touching on the reader’s emotive response.

 

Conditions under which the items are likely to be persuasively effective

 

The author raises a number of social and ethical concerns, which is likely to appeal to an audience that engages with social equality.

 

The following excerpt:

 

This sexism is clear when you look at the design and purpose of the burkini. For all intents and purposes, it’s no different than a wetsuit that many men wear for water sports. But wetsuits aren’t what are being targeted here, even though they cover the same body parts. Only the burkini is seen as a symbol of oppression and a foreign presence.

 

Hossain’s primary claim “only the burkini is seen as a symbol of oppression and a foreign presence’, supported by the justification “This sexism is clear when you look at the design and purpose of the burkini. For all intents and purposes, it’s no different than a wetsuit that many men wear for water sports”, the author is cleverly engaging the reader to engage with her stance by effectively using an example of an informal fallacy; false analogy. The author compares the burkini to the wetsuit attire worn by sport athletes to create a clever comparison, to reinforce the idea of inequality. By supplying justificatory as a build up to the essential claim, the author strategically convinces the reader before polishing her argument with the primary claim. Hence, Hossain’s clever use of effective language technique provides potential to effectively persuade her audience to engage with her viewpoint.

 

 

 

 

Article Transcript:

 

Last week a shocking image rocked the Internet: a woman fully clothed on a beach, surrounded by policemen was being forced to take off her clothes. The image hit shortly after the burkini ban was announced in coastal towns in the south of France.

For those who still ask, what a burkini actually is, it’s a modest swimwear outfit that covers a woman from the neck down to the ankles and is worn in place of a swimsuit. It can also include a bonnet or a loose scarf for women who choose to cover their hair while swimming. For those who have never seen one, it looks like a wetsuit that divers, surfers, and numerous other people wear when participating in water sports.

The ban has been lifted, but the wounds made during the controversy remain. The burkini ban came only six years after the ban on face coverings, such as niqab, and twelve years after the ban on wearing religious symbols, such as hijab, in public schools, in the country that promises liberté, egalité, and fraternité to all.

But unfortunately egalité or equality doesn’t apply to everyone, certainly not to Muslim women. The continuous change of laws in France demonstrates that Muslims continue to be targeted and discriminated against, despite the French government’s insistence that they’re not. Whether it’s the hijab, the burka, the niqab, or a burkini, the French have a problem with it.

The French brand of secularisation, or complete separation of religion and state, has manifested itself in these bans, which attempt to police women’s bodies and what is put on them. According to this brand of secularism, women shouldn’t be dressing in ways that identify them as the “other”. They need to integrate into the population and keep the banned items of clothing at home. Else are seen as symbols of religion as dangerous, as they oppress women and prevent them from participating in society.

They fail to see the burkini as an aid to participating in society. Before the invention of the burkini, few Muslim women were ever seen on beaches or by the pool. If they chose to dress modestly, there wasn’t much they could do in the water without exposing their bodies. Because of that many Muslim women don’t know how to swim. With the invention of the burkini, and other modest swimwear options, Muslim women were finally able to go swimming or do other water sports without showing an inch of skin. It was made to help them engage in water sports, without compromising their belief in modesty.

But unfortunately, the French fail to see this. They simply see the burkini as yet another piece of Muslim clothing that restricts women and forces them to hide their bodies. They fail to see that many Muslim women choose to dress modestly. They are not forced by their fathers, brothers, or husbands to do so, but they firmly believe in dressing modestly. But by banning pieces of clothing like the burkini, the hijab, and the niqab, they are no different than the men who do force women to dress modestly. Either way, men continue to dictate what women wear. It’s still oppression, all in the name of Western freedom.

This sexism is clear when you look at the design and purpose of the burkini. For all intents and purposes, it’s no different than a wetsuit that many men wear for water sports. But wetsuits aren’t what are being targeted here, even though they cover the same body parts. Only the burkini is seen as a symbol of oppression and a foreign presence.

Clothing is meaningless until it’s put on a body and we give it meaning. This becomes obvious when you take a look at the way the French continue to legitimize certain pieces of clothing and not others, even though they’re the same. It all depends on who’s wearing it and why. For example, a wetsuit on a man’s body is acceptable while a burkini aka wetsuit on a visibly coloured woman is unacceptable. A maxi skirt or dress worn as a fashion statement is acceptable while a maxi skirt or dress worn by a hijabi is unacceptable. A nun’s habit is acceptable while a Muslim woman’s hijab or burka is unacceptable.

After a week of appeals and international outrage, the burkini ban has been lifted for now. Some policymakers in France continue to be adamant that they will introduce it more formally later down the line. Whether they eventually do reintroduce the ban or not, it’s plain that France will continue to police women’s bodies as the country continues to be a place where a bikini equals freedom and a burkini equals oppression, and there is no room for anything in between.

 

 

 

 

Link to article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/30/why-should-france-accept-the-burkini-its-time-to-debate-integrat/

 

The second article that I have selected for critical journalistic analysis is written by Muriel Demarcus, titled ‘Why should France accept the burkini? It’s time to debate integration head on’. The article was published on 30 August 2016 on the Daily Telegraph UK. This article, although circulates the same field of discussion, takes on a completely contrasting viewpoint. The author speaks in support of the burkini ban as opposed to the previous article addressed.

 

Persuasive strategies and the type of argumentation employed by your chosen item in order to influence the reader/listener/viewer

 

The article can be mainly classified under an evaluative argument sector. The author frequently expresses her personal tastes, values and feelings and her personal opinion on the issue of the burkini ban is embedded within her argument and evaluative claims. However, the author supports her evaluative claims with factual and visual data. For example:

 

Then again, I keep reading that the burkini is empowering for Muslim women who wouldn’t be able to go to the beach otherwise. I am struggling with such a point. Just look at the 1950s and 1960s photos of women in modern, comfortable clothes in Afghanistan or Egypt. They clearly were not forced to succumb to the new wave of stricter Islamic dress code. What changed? Why should women suddenly cover up? Islam seems to have been hijacked, and women are, once again, the first hostages. Why should women sympathise with the hijackers? Isn’t this a classic case of Stockholm syndrome?

 

This justification is further supported by an image to support her initial claim that, “They clearly were not forced to succumb to the new wave of stricter Islamic dress code.” The image is as follows, with the caption: Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul with his family in the 1960s. The author’s explicit claim, although derived from personal opinion, is supported by factual data to supply her argument with validity in order to influence the reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrayal or interpretation the items provide of the person, issue or event under consideration

 

Demarcus constructs her article with primarily evaluative claims which, by its very theoretical nature, seek to convince the target audience or reader that the burkini ban controversy was in fact reinforced for the benefit of the French nation. Demarcus’s argument is presented in a positive light in favour of the French nation, yet undermines the significance of the religious implications of the burkini and the idea of what attire is deemed ‘acceptable’. Demarcus presents her argument in an attempt to justify that the banning of the burkini was a response supported by the morals and ethics of the ‘French law’.

 

In the end, the burkini and some other Islamic dresses are less innocuous than they seem. It has to do with an explicit inequality between genders, which is unacceptable under French law. Let’s face it: we already have far too many of such inequalities…So why should the French accept this one? And let’s not forget that Syrian women burnt burqas in celebration after being freed from Isil. In the meantime, in France, more Muslim women are peer-pressured to wear the veil or the burkini. This seems rather counter-intuitive.

 

The author uses a mix of powerful language techniques to articulate her interpretation on the issue of the burkini ban. The evaluative claim “In the end, the burkini and some other Islamic dresses are less innocuous than they seem” is supported by justifications which raise politically and socially valid issues, such as gender equality. The author’s use of rhetorical questions convinces the reader to rethink the controversy and engage with her argument.

 

Value system or world view which underlies the argument

 

To identify and discuss the world view category that aligns closely with this article, I will focus mainly on the except below:

 

They clearly were not forced to succumb to the new wave of stricter Islamic dress code. What changed? Why should women suddenly cover up? Islam seems to have been hijacked, and women are, once again, the first hostages. Why should women sympathise with the hijackers? Isn’t this a classic case of Stockholm syndrome?

 

The explicit, evaluative claim can be identified as “They clearly were not forced to succumb to the new wave of stricter Islamic dress code” is supported by the justification “Islam seems to have been hijacked, and women are, once again, the first hostages.” The claim and the justification is underlined by the world view system that appeals to ethics and other social norms. The use of emotive language and terms such as ‘stricter’ and ‘hijacked’ strengthen the author’s perception of the social and ethical aspects of Islamic attire. The strawperson argument, comparing the issue of Islamic women’s attire to the Stockholm syndrome reinforces the evaluative nature of the author’s argument, concerned with issues surrounding ethics and social practice.

 

Conditions under which the items are likely to be persuasively effective

 

A critical analysis of Demarcus’ article reveals that although the ban of the burkini in France has raised many discriminatory concerns, the authorities were ultimately enforcing rules under the morals and conditions of the French law – reinforcing secular values and the ideals that underpin a French citizen.

 

The Republic has always recognised individuals, rather than groups: this means that you are supposed to be French first, then Muslim, or Catholic, or whatever your religion or ethnic minority might be. You therefore need to comply with the law even if it goes against your religious beliefs, because secularism prevails in all circumstances. 

 

The claim “you are supposed to be a French citizen first…” supported by the justification “you therefore need to comply with the law even if it goes against your beliefs…” holds the potential to be strongly persuasive to a nationalistic or patriotic audience. The author’s affirmative tone “secularism prevails all in all circumstances”, further strengthened by the use of a circular argument, “You therefore need to comply with the law even if it goes against your religious beliefs, because secularism prevails in all circumstances” is likely to convince the reader as it is presented through the use of a firm and emotive voice.

 

 

 

 

In summation, the two articles discussed present strong arguments in favour of the opinion of the author, on an issue that is currently controversial and attracts interest on a global scale. The arguments raised by the authors are distinct although they surround the same topic of debate. The viewpoints of the authors on the French ban of the burkini ban undeniably are contrasting, yet the two authors use similar journalistic language and expression techniques to communicate with their target audience. Language techniques that are commonly shared between the two articles are the use of emotive appeal to captivate the reader and the shared world view appeal to ethical and social concerns. The authors both engage with French political history and utilise the concept of French secularism as a central justification of their claim, yet it is argued on very contrasting levels. Demarcus constructs her article in a positive tone in favour of the burkini ban and justifies the ban to be aligned with secular French values. Contrastingly, Hossain uses the same concept of French secularism and ideals to argue that the ban of the burkini does not correspond with the French ideals “liberty, equality and fraternity’.

 

Therefore, through the critical analysis of the articles presented by Demarcus and Hossain, it is apparent that views journalism can be presented through various lenses using the power of language as a tool to create a stimulating argument.

 

 

 

 

 

Article Transcript:

 

The burkini ban in my home country (I am a French woman living

in London) has made headlines for most of August.  Despite the fact that it has eventually been overturned by the highest French court, the debate is far from over. Journalists have had a field day mocking what they see as an attack against personal freedoms, and keep mentioning that the rightwing in France still supports the ban. What a simplistic view of the situation!

According to various polls, two thirds of the French population supported the ban, and this included the socialist French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, who famously said that that the full-body swimsuit symbolised the enslavement of women. So what is this really about? I got tired of reading analysis that, in my view, only gave a partial side of the issue, so here is my (very French) take on it.

Internet Pranksters Carry Out Burkini Ban Social Experiment on Britis

First of all, France is a secular country. Obviously, France is not the only Western country to insist on the separation of church and state – but I believe that it does so more militantly than any other. To an extent, you could say that secularism is the closest thing we French have to a state religion. It underpinned the French Revolution and has been a foundation of the country’s progressive thought for centuries. The law of separation meant strict official neutrality in religious affairs. The Republic has always recognised individuals, rather than groups: this means that you are supposed to be French first, then Muslim, or Catholic, or whatever your religion or ethnic minority might be. You therefore need to comply with the law even if it goes against your religious beliefs, because secularism prevails in all circumstances.  Although it can be carried to extremes that other countries don’t understand, this view of citizenship is fundamentally non-discriminatory and inclusive. It’s all about finding a common ground, whatever your religion. Burkini bans must be viewed in this context, and are nothing new.

Rightly or wrongly, French citizens are scared of the Islamisation of their society. Obviously the latest attacks in Nice have further polarised an already divided population. The population is still traumatised, and believes that things have become worse over the last decade or so: people see more veiled women on the street, and are shocked to see a few niqabs or burkas from time to time, despite a full ban. This is compounded by the fact that young women are more and more targeted by some members of the Muslim community on the issue of modesty. For instance, last year in Reims a young woman sunbathing in a public park was set upon by a gang of teenage girls. They objected to her bikini, and the town’s authorities were fast to insist there was no religious aspect to the attack. Nobody believed them.

Nicolas Sarkozy brands burkinis a “

I belong to a generation that never saw a burkini or a full-body swimsuit at the beach before this summer’s events. This is clearly a new occurrence. The French also are shocked to learn that France is now home to thousands of Islamic radicals. Citizens feel that enough ground has been ceded to minorities in general, and to the Muslim minorities in particular. They think that things have now come to a head, and learned the hard way that political correctness doesn’t work. Furthermore, the French don’t understand why their women should cover up when they visit some Muslim country, but let women wear a veil or a burkini when they visit France. In short, they don’t understand why they should compromise when other countries don’t. It’s all about “my country, my rules”.

Then again, I keep reading that the burkini is empowering for Muslim women who wouldn’t be able to go to the beach otherwise. I am struggling with such a point. Just look at the 1950s and 1960s photos of women in modern, comfortable clothes in Afghanistan or Egypt. They clearly were not forced to succumb to the new wave of stricter Islamic dress code. What changed? Why should women suddenly cover up? Islam seems to have been hijacked, and women are, once again, the first hostages. Why should women sympathise with the hijackers? Isn’t this a classic case of Stockholm syndrome?

And what’s next? Should we also allow FGM to be respectful of different cultural practices? What about polygamy? In short, Western societies need to define what’s acceptable for them, and what’s not. There is a need to draw a line, and maybe the French have drawn it at the burkini. Is it futile? Maybe. But at least a social debate is starting. It’s a debate that societies simply can’t avoid forever.  Whether we like it or not, society must have a clear set of “inclusiveness principles”, and it’s probably better to face the issue rather than ignore it.

Don’t get me wrong, if covering up was simply a matter of personal style I would be all for it. But let’s be honest: it’s fairly easy to see whether women cover up for religious reasons or not (for starters women would get a hat, not a veil). What makes me angry is when I am out in blistering heat, and I see a family at the beach with kids in bathing suits, the dad in swimming trunks, and the mum covered in black from head to toe. It’s modest and it’s for religious reasons, but those reasons clearly seem oppressive and unfair. I can’t understand why a husband would want his wife to wear this. And don’t even try to swim in such an attire.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemns Frenc

In the end, the burkini and some other Islamic dresses are less innocuous than they seem. It has to do with an explicit inequality between genders, which is unacceptable under French law. Let’s face it: we already have far too many of such inequalities…So why should the French accept this one? And let’s not forget that Syrian women burnt burqas in celebration after being freed from Isil. In the meantime, in France, more Muslim women are peer-pressured to wear the veil or the burkini. This seems rather counter-intuitive.

In conclusion, it’s time to go back, understand and reinforce the principles that underpin our democracies. Integration is a two-way street. Was the ban the best way to deal with the issue? Probably not. But I sincerely hope that it will start a much-needed social debate, in France and anywhere else.