Back Of The Bus Again, Rosa

When she boarded the One-Ten in Brooklyn
And sat in her seat at the front
The men who were seated around her
Had a message, unwelcome and blunt:

Don’t ask, just move to the rear now
The answer is “God made the rule”
You have to respect our religion
You ignorant, secular fool

It’s Orthodox rules that apply here
So move to the back of the bus
If you think that it’s just segregation
Then it’s clear that you’re not one of us

So it’s “back of the bus, again, Rosa”
Though it’s not cos we’re white and you’re black
It’s not racism, no—it’s religion
But you still gotta sit in the back.

Context and rant, after the jump:
Women are required to ride in the back of the Boropark-Williamsburg bus.

The B110 bus travels between Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn. It is open to the public, and has a route number and tall blue bus stop signs like any other city bus. But the B110 operates according to its own distinct rules. The bus line is run by a private company and serves the Hasidic communities of the two neighborhoods. To avoid physical contact between members of opposite sexes that is prohibited by Hasidic tradition, men sit in the front of the bus and women sit in the back.

It is entirely possible that goyim will prefer not to ride that bus, and the passengers can voluntarily follow what rules they wish. But in New York City, God doesn’t make the laws.

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School and editor of the CityLaw newsletter, said that anti-discrimination laws apply to bus franchises, but that religious groups are sometimes granted exceptions. “Do all these laws apply? Yes, they apply to buses that are franchises,” Sandler said. “The question is whether there is an exception for this particular bus line.”

The Transportation Department said that the B110 had not been granted any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws.

Respect goes both ways. I can expect respect for my positions to the extent that I respect the positions of others, and within the confines of the law. I won’t demand that Orthodox women sit in front, nor that Orthodox men sit in back. But their rules are not mine; their god is not mine.

The Comments at this story are particularly interesting–from remarkably thoughtful to incredibly prejudiced. Sounds like New York City.


  1. Hank Fox says

    Interesting to read the bus policy defenders:

    One woman:

    I don’t know for sure why they chose “men in front and women in back”, but I can guarantee that every one of the Orthodox women that rides that bus is totally comfortable with it.

    One man:

    It is only because of your hatred for orthodox Judaism that you make an issue where no issue is to be made.

    And this woman truly fails to understand equal rights:

    I’m not Jewish, but I believe in equal rights. Accommodating members of a religion is the same as accommodating people with disabilities. YES, it requires accommodation, and YES it is fair to ask other people to accommodate these people so they have equal rights.


  2. freemage says

    I do rather like the notion of comparing religion to a disability, though. It’s amusing what truths slip through the cracks….

    And my position on this issue is plain–sounds like a great neighborhood for a Slutwalk. (Or maybe a Slutride?) Preferably one featuring lots and lots of Jewish women who are tired of this crap.

  3. gravityswings says

    Absolutely. Someone needs to organize a protest where a dozen women sit as close to the front as they can. People can’t simply force their religion on people and expect to get away with it.

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