September 26, 2011 8:39AM

Tolerance à la Mode Français

Given America’s at best mixed record on free speech, I am usually reluctant to point fingers at other countries, but Thursday’s fining of two French women for wearing a full face veil was a little over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the burqa — as it leaves far too much to the imagination for my tastes — but I am a fan of tolerance and religious freedom.

I’m still trying to decide which is more absurd, that the law in question allows an exemption for clown masks (more rulings like this should take care of that need) or that in addition to a fine, the two women will be required to take lessons on “tolerance”. It seems to me the whole experience has already provided them a pretty clear lesson on French tolerance.

In much better news, Saudi Arabia announced “that the nation’s women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015.” While such a change is obviously long over‐​due, and one can reasonable ask why wait until 2015, it is a positive change and should be celebrated.