Skip

Gay Teens Executed in Iran
July 21, 2005 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Iran executes two teenagers. Their crime? Making love. Homosexuality is a crime under Sharia law. Meanwhile, newly "liberated" Iraq moves closer to embedding traditional Islamic laws in its new constitution, reducing rights for women. Will Iraqi gays be the next to suffer the wrath of "Allah's law" after years of secular oppression under Saddam Hussein?
posted by digaman (109 comments total)

 
(Immediate derail: Just last weekend, I talked to a Zionist who supported the occupation of Palestine because it's good for gays and lesbians there. Apparently this meme is going around.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:46 PM on July 21, 2005


What makes you think that gays aren't being killed in Iraq already? Do you think that the laws of the country have much effect on what people are actually doing in that chaos? Murder and kidnapping are crimes already and they sure haven't slowed down.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:54 PM on July 21, 2005


nebulawindphone: "(Immediate derail: Just last weekend, I talked to a Zionist whosupported the occupation of Palestine because it's good for gays andlesbians there. Apparently this meme is going around.)"

What meme would this meme be? I'm still not seeing the link.
posted by ori at 12:58 PM on July 21, 2005


Under the Iranian penal code, girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 can be hanged.

Wow, that's a pretty harsh place to have to try and live. That said, I'd like to see some validation of this newstory, not that I think the Outrage! News Service is lying or anything but some sort of corroboration would be welcome.

And, not to be nitpicky even though I am, the FPP says they made love, that connotes a much deeper relationship than just screwing around as the news piece puts it.

To quote Stan Marsh, "This is some pretty fucked up stuff right here."
posted by fenriq at 1:12 PM on July 21, 2005


Will Iraqi gays be the next to suffer the wrath of "Allah's law" after years of secular oppression under Saddam Hussein?

Sorry, I'm just trying to parse this. Are you asking whether it is preferable to suffer beheading under Sharia law or summary execution via Hussein's law-by-edict? Because I don't see much difference, in the end: gay people are being killed for being gay.

I'm no fan of the Iraq invasion but whether this state-sanctioned murder happens under a secular or fundamentalist state seems kind of a moot point. Help me out, here.
posted by Rothko at 1:39 PM on July 21, 2005


I find it interesting that apparently in Iran the courts can execute people without releasing information on how long they had been held, or even how old they are. Lovely setup.
posted by sotonohito at 1:40 PM on July 21, 2005


Were homosexuals executed under Saddam Hussein? I had not heard about that. Sources?
posted by chaz at 1:42 PM on July 21, 2005


I hear they're really tough on people who play GTA with the 'hot coffee' mod too.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:43 PM on July 21, 2005


By the way, folks, the article is about Iran, not Iraq. Stay on target.
posted by fenriq at 1:45 PM on July 21, 2005


I think the point here chaz is that homosexuals were not executed under Saddam Hussein in that he didn't run things according to Sharia law.
I can't verify the validity of that, but I believe it's the point.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:46 PM on July 21, 2005


some sort of corroboration would be welcome

At the bottom of the Outrage! story is a link to the original news story from the Iranian Students News Agency. If there's someone on MeFi who can read Farsi, perhaps he or she could read the article and corroborate for you.

There are additional photographs of this horrific, barbaric event here and here.

Jesus Christ. They were just a couple of kids, one 18, and one "under 18" (the minor's age wasn't specified).
posted by chuq at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2005


Were homosexuals executed under Saddam Hussein? I had not heard about that. Sources?

"In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the "Revolutionary Command Council, the highest executive body in the country, issued a decree to provide the death penalty for the offences of prostitution, homosexuality, incest and rape." [1] It is believed that sudden usage of the death penalty was tied to a desire by Saddam Huessian to win the support of Iraqi Islamic conservatives." (Original source.)
posted by Rothko at 1:47 PM on July 21, 2005


By the way, folks, the article is about Iran, not Iraq. Stay on target.

Look at the tags and FPP text, fenriq. I'm still not sure what this post is about, frankly, but it does involve both Iran and Iraq's treatment of gay men.
posted by Rothko at 1:49 PM on July 21, 2005


For anyone who hasn't read it, I really recommend reading both volumes of Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Aside from being really engrossing, those two books really humanized the situation for me; they changed my perception of Iran from "generic bad place" to "specific, real place in the world where horrible things are happening to actual people."
posted by COBRA! at 1:49 PM on July 21, 2005


That said, I'd like to see some validation of this newstory, not that I think the Outrage! News Service is lying or anything but some sort of corroboration would be welcome.

I don't know if this helps, but other reports:
Iranian Student News Agency (Farsi website)

Peykeiran.com (Farsi website)

Doug Ireland: Iran executes 2 gay teenagers

Iran Focus

National Council of Resistance of Iran - Foreign Affairs Committee
Seyd.com
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on July 21, 2005


Regardless of what the more conservative Shiites are proposing, re: women's rights, for the new constitution, it is unlikely it will be tolerated for long, especially if Iraqi women & coalition governments put pressure on the new government to keep their eye on the future. From the linked article:

US and Iraqi officials said changes can still be made to the draft copies of the constitution before the August 15 deadline, but it has already caused unrest among Iraqi women, 200 of whom demonstrated on Tuesday in downtown Baghdad, according to the daily.

I'm no fan of the Iraq invasion but whether this state-sanctioned murder happens under a secular or fundamentalist state seems kind of a moot point.

I'm with Rothko. Your question is confusing and seems like a rather clumsy attempt to blame the current US occupation for If and When and How "Allah's Law" is applied. If a window has been opened for the people of Iraq to choose a more secular government and instead they choose something closer to Sharia, then so be it. Do we want the US to "meddle" in how Iran & Iraq regard human rights, or don't we?
posted by dhoyt at 1:58 PM on July 21, 2005


Oh dear - and they're pissed on the media reporting the ages of the executed. from the Iran Focus article:
"Members of Iran’s parliament from the north-eastern city of Mashad, where a minor and an 18-year-old man were publicly hanged yesterday, vented their anger on Wednesday on foreign and domestic news outlets for reporting the ages of hanged prisoners.

Ultra-conservative deputy Ali Asgari said that the two deserved to be hanged in public, adding, 'Whatever sentence is decreed by an Islamic penal system must be approved, unless proven otherwise.'

Asgari complained of foreign and domestic reporting that the two were mere boys. 'Instead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state,' the member of the Majlis Legal Affairs Committee said.

'Even if certain websites made a reference to their age, journalists should not pursue this. These individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary and it served them right.'

Effat Shariati, another Majlis deputy from Mashad, told a state-run news agency on Wednesday, 'The issue of the age of the convicts is created by those who are causing problems for our country.'

The two young men were lashed 228 times before being hanged at 10 am (local time) on Tuesday in Edalat (Justice) Square in downtown Mashad."
posted by ericb at 2:01 PM on July 21, 2005


*they're pissed on off at the media* - but, I kinda like my first version!
posted by ericb at 2:03 PM on July 21, 2005


What a stupid stupid thing to execute these two teenagers.

I don't quite follow the link to Iraq either, though, other than to echo the sentiment that it would indeed be a tragedy if similar laws were enacted there. Of course, it would be a tragedy if similar laws were enacted anywhere.
posted by event at 2:05 PM on July 21, 2005


I know this is about Iran, but in regards to Iraq, I remember before we invaded that the Salam Pax dear_raed blog and others talked at length about how Bahgdad was a very gay-friendly place, like the San Francisco of Iraq, if one could stretch a metaphor for all its worth. I recall Salam Pax himself was gay as well.
posted by mathowie at 2:07 PM on July 21, 2005


My farsi reading ability is only elementary, but as I look through this link I'm not surprised to see that the hangings took place in Mashad- one of the most conservative cities in Iran.

This story makes me really sad- I went to Iran in september and like anywhere else in the world, you saw gay men and women in the streets trying to live their lives. We complain about the difference between civil unions and marriages here in the USA, but for queer Iranians gay rights is literally a matter of life or death.
This one time, don't assume the government is acting contrary to the wishes of its citizens- few heterosexuals in Iran are likely to be outraged that homosexuals are being put to death there. Even in America, I have come out to but a very few Iranians who did not take it extremely badly. I still never understand why.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:08 PM on July 21, 2005


The two young men were lashed 228 times before being hanged at 10 am (local time) on Tuesday in Edalat (Justice) Square in downtown Mashad.

Utterly disgusting. Iranians should be ashamed of their "justice" system.
posted by Rothko at 2:13 PM on July 21, 2005


vented their anger on Wednesday on foreign and domestic news outlets for reporting the ages of hanged prisoners
I'd like to cause some problems for their country, and Mr. Shariati. Grrrrrr!!!
*goes off to attempt to curb bloodthirst*
posted by Smedleyman at 2:13 PM on July 21, 2005


Prior to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, I taught at an international boarding school in the U. S. At the time, 10 or 12 Iranian boys had been accepted because the school needed the money and because the boys needed to stay out of the Iranian army.

These kids were rich and did not care a whit about getting educated. There was some weird sexual vibes going on: the dominant, oldest boy seemed to have his pick of the rest of them sexually. I only saw making out, but it SEEMED as if there was more going on.

Partially due to my cultural ignorance, and partially because I have been told this, I have assumed that it is a common thing in Middle Eastern culture for adolescent boys to play together sexually.

Oh preview, BuddhaInABucket, is what I say above way off base?
posted by Danf at 2:18 PM on July 21, 2005


In the United States we had an early tradition of executing foks for homosexuality...
"Colonial statutes severely punished homosexual activity. In every colony, sodomy was a capital offense--at least five men were executed during this era--and other homosexual acts, from 'sodomitical practices' to lewdness between women, were punished with whippings and fines. To be sure, many other sexual acts, such as adultery and fornication, were also subject to punishment. But officials tended to single out homosexual offenses for especially severe treatment." [source]
There's the often discussed case of Nicholas Sension of Windsor, Connecticut who was brought to trial in the 1670s on charges of sodomy.

And in modern times our esteemed Justice Antonin Scalia harkens back to those early days in his homophobic dissents:
“Scalia's dissent from last week's epochal Supreme Court decision striking down Texas's anti-sodomy statute confirms Ayatollah Antonin's standing as the intellectual leader of the forces arrayed against equality and modernity in the United States. In establishing the deep historical roots of anti-gay sentiment in America, for instance, Scalia took pains to note the 20 prosecutions and four executions for consensual gay sex conducted in colonial times. He noted, approvingly, that even today, ‘many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home.’" [Washington Post | July 2, 2003]
posted by ericb at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2005


I recall Salam Pax himself was gay as well.

Yes, and he also wrote about how some of his very close male friends--reading between the lines of his blog entries and judging from a Guardian article at the time, it was implied that some were his boyfriends--were "disappeared" by Saddam's goons. One of those blog entries was absolutely heartwrenching. I don't know that being gay was the reason they themselves were taken, more likely just that they weren't too keen on a dictatorship, but it did happen.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2005


From the linked article: ...under Iranian law both the victims and perpetrators of sexual crimes are punished.

Wow. Is this for real?
posted by event at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm not sure why my post is "confusing." Under Sharia law = it sucks to be gay. Under Saddam's secularized dictatorship = it sucked to be gay. I was hardly trying to make the point that Saddam was some hero of gay rights and the coalition fucked it up. Of course, under American theocratic law, it sucks to be gay too -- but the executions are freelance rather than official.
posted by digaman at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2005


I just wrote an e-mail to Farah Pahlavi, the former empress of Iran, famous for her efforts in improving the rights of women and children, insisting that she make a statement supporting gay rights. Perhaps if enough people wrote her, encouraging her to use her influence on the hundreds of thousands of Iranians abroad and at home who listen to her, she might do something.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2005


Ugly, indeed. I wonder how the US Christian right will respond to this, since some of their followers also seem to believe in this sort of "justice."
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2005


What about the dolphinophiles?
posted by graventy at 2:24 PM on July 21, 2005


Danf- I was raised in the US of A, so I can't corroborate your anecdote, but there is definitely an increased level of intimacy among males- kissing (not making out) and holding hands among friends is totally common, so it's not a huge stretch to assume that there is sexual behavior going on as well- young kids of all sexual orientations do that all over the world.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:26 PM on July 21, 2005


fenriq writes "the article is about Iran, not Iraq. Stay on target."

The FPP poses the question: "Will Iraqi gays be the next to suffer the wrath of "Allah's law" after years of secular oppression under Saddam Hussein?". I kind think that brings Iraq to the table.
posted by Mitheral at 2:27 PM on July 21, 2005


realcountrymusic: Ugly, indeed. I wonder how the US Christian right will respond to this, since some of their followers also seem to believe in this sort of "justice."

One of the things that always baffled me was how the Taliban and Saudi Arabia were the darlings of the arch-Conservative religious right until 911. The destruction of Buddhist relics in Afghanistan was met with a massive yawn outside of the left.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:28 PM on July 21, 2005


One of the many things that upset me in this article was learning that the victims as well as the perpetrators of a sexual assault are to be punished under sharia law.

Those photos are really heart breaking. If I have the strength I'll print them up and send them to our Iranian ambassador. I can't think of what you could say to a government that executes children for something so common.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm still not sure what this post is about, frankly, but it does involve both Iran and Iraq's treatment of gay men.
posted by Rothko at 1:49 PM PST on July 21 [!]


And I'm not sure why you are intentionally trying to be dense. I think others here have spelled it out pretty well. What happened to these boys is horrible - not just because they were killed for being gay but because their execution was sanctioned by the state. Hopefully this will not be the case in Iraq when the new consitution is drafted.

Wow. That was tough.
posted by billysumday at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2005


I would be surprised to see this event make waves in the USA. It's a safe bet that a quarter of the population approves of the outcome, and another quarter simply doesn't care.
posted by mullingitover at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk: there's no Iranian Ambassador to the United States, we already don't have diplomatic relations with them... if you do want to say something anyway, you'll have to send it to the Iranian Interests department of the embassy of Pakistan.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:32 PM on July 21, 2005


ericb writes "The two young men were lashed 228 times before being hanged"
Thanks a lot of lashes.
posted by Mitheral at 2:33 PM on July 21, 2005


Thats a lot of lashes. What a horrible brain fade.
posted by Mitheral at 2:34 PM on July 21, 2005


What about the dolphinophiles?
Don't be a pervert. Clearly they would only go after people having same sex relationships with dolphins.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:35 PM on July 21, 2005


Of course, under American theocratic law, it sucks to be gay too

I wonder how the US Christian right will respond to this, since some of their followers also seem to believe in this sort of "justice."

In the United States we had an early tradition of executing foks for homosexuality...

I would be surprised to see this event make waves in the USA. It's a safe bet that a quarter of the population approves of the outcome, and another quarter simply doesn't care.


It doesn't matter how far the topic is from the US & its gov't -- there will always be the temptation to insert it, however awkwardly, into the context. Happens in every thread regarding any slight to human rights in the MidEast. I'd love a discussion on this topic without an insistence on US-centric viewpoint.

There's the often discussed case of Nicholas Sension of Windsor, Connecticut who was brought to trial in the 1670s on charges of sodomy.

Yet he got more of a legit "trial" in 1670 than these two boys did in 2005. Perhaps international pressure can help bring certain MidEast practices forward by about 350 years.

One of the things that always baffled me was how the Taliban and Saudi Arabia were the darlings of the arch-Conservative religious right until 911. The destruction of Buddhist relics in Afghanistan was met with a massive yawn outside of the left.

You have to be kidding. The destruction of Buddhist relics was an act which united more disparate groups globally than I could have ever imagined, all condemning it. That "the Left™" are the only ones who took note of it is unsupported dreck.
posted by dhoyt at 2:36 PM on July 21, 2005


Rothko: Iranians should be ashamed of their "justice" system.

I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here. You see, Iran's justice system can be traced back directly to God's will. Asking Iranians to be ashamed of their justice system is like asking them to be ashamed of their God. Or to put it more succinctly:
Justice = God's will
Punishment = Divine retribution
Government = Religious leaders
State = Church
Resistance = Futile

And that's why I'm glad to be living in a culture that has gone through the age of enlightenment and has strict separation of state and church.
posted by sour cream at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2005


sour cream: not all iranians are muslim, and not all muslims believe that state should = church. It's very easy for a devout muslim to be ashamed of their justice system, the same as a devout christian can be ashamed of people that bomb abortion clinics and gay-bash people.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:47 PM on July 21, 2005


Utterly disgusting. Iranians should be ashamed of their "justice" system. - Rothko

Many Iranians are. And many of them must live in exile because of it.
posted by raedyn at 3:00 PM on July 21, 2005


BiaB: not all iranians are muslim...

I didn't mean to blame the average Iranian who looks through this charade and hopes that those Mullah assholes will soon die of terminal cancer. I was just trying to point out that in accordance with the misguided of conception justice under Islam, justice comes from God and not from man, as in the West, so it's not really possible to be ashamed of it.

I also think that this is one aspect where Islamic culture (as diverse as it may be) is clearly inferior to Western culture. In essence, this is the main reason why virtually all (culturally) Islamic countries are really shitty places to live in and many people try to just get the hell out of there. Also, it doesn't really seem to matter whether they are governed by the Mullahs, by some evil dictator as in Iraq under Saddam or by some not-quite-so-evil dictator as in Syria, Jordan or Morocco -- the general pattern seems to be the same.
posted by sour cream at 3:02 PM on July 21, 2005


Quick reminder to those of you who believe in the Bible as the Word of God:

Leviticus 20:13 [God said to Moses] If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Yes Sir, that is the originator of all life unambiguously ordering the execution of all His gays for being gay. The law was enacted, and the punishment was very probably more painful than the Iranians manage. Have a nice day.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2005


I know this is about Iran, but in regards to Iraq, I remember before we invaded that the Salam Pax dear_raed blog and others talked at length about how Bahgdad was a very gay-friendly place, like the San Francisco of Iraq, if one could stretch a metaphor for all its worth. I recall Salam Pax himself was gay as well.

It was. And there was a city in Afghanistan--Kandahar, i think, that was famous/notorious for being sorta the San Francisco of the region.
posted by amberglow at 3:09 PM on July 21, 2005


Just curious, but can someone fill me in on the degree of tolerance toward homosexuals in Saudi Arabia?

I'm sure it's very tolerant.
posted by dreamsign at 3:16 PM on July 21, 2005


An Arab once told me a proverb about Kandahar that he translated hilariously as "When crows fly over Kandahar, they cover their butts!"
posted by digaman at 3:18 PM on July 21, 2005


dreamsign - from what I've heard from my Dad, it's fairly common. They don't see it as being gay of course - gays deserve death. It's just an inevitable result of never seeing women's faces except members of your family.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:19 PM on July 21, 2005


It was.

RonSuresha.com:
Pax thoughtfully recalls Iraqi gay life under Saddam's brutal reign, when going out to fraternize with foreigners or even friends could cost your life: "[Under Saddam] you never know what the punishment for anything is, you just disappear. And your family's told it's better not to ask. You might get the person in a bodybag after a year, you might never see them again, or you might see them after a month. . . . When my [boy]friend, Hassanain, disappeared, my parents were saying 'You're not going to that place any more, you're not calling him any more, you're staying put at home for the next week.' Just being associated with someone who disappeared was a bad mark."

Today, although Iraqi society remains highly homophobic, his dilemmas are less life-threatening - such as choosing the right lead actor in Salam Pax, the movie. "George Clooney . . . of course." We should be so lucky.



Via BNews.com

What made Salam even more interesting was the fact that he claimed to be gay, as well as an atheist and other rather un-Iraqi things. He documented the persecution of gay men by Saddam's regime - which in November 2001 introduced the death penalty for homosexuality.
posted by dhoyt at 3:28 PM on July 21, 2005


Thanks for the updates and insights. And thanks for the corroborating links. I had clicked through the Farsi link on the bottom of the Outrage! page but forgot that my Farsi's a little weak.

The fact that they whipped them both before hanging them is pretty unbelievable.

How dare the infidel western news agencies report on their ages! Whippings all around!
posted by fenriq at 3:46 PM on July 21, 2005


> Clearly they would only go after people having same
> sex relationships with dolphins.

Or alternatively, they may execute the dolphin as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:47 PM on July 21, 2005


dhoyt: I'd love a discussion on this topic without an insistence on US-centric viewpoint.

It doesn't matter what the thread is about. You will find some way to sneer at those of us who detest the leadership of the US at the moment. Indeed, you're the one who sees everything from a US (or is that ME) centered "viewpoint."

In wondering how the US "Christian" right would respond, I was not "insisting on a US-centric viewpoint," (except insofar as I, like most MeFites, live in the US, and thus can't help it, as you can't either). I was pointing out, sardonically, that for all the opprobrium Iran deserves for this barbaric cruelty, our own society is not exempt from a similar critique in kind, if not in degree. There are significant factions in the US, some of whom are well regarded by our country's current rulers, who give every indication that they regard the lives of gay people (and even children who commit crimes) as expendable. One of the reasons one might want to support a just society at home (including, for example, opposing the death penalty at least for minors, and opposing extra-judicial detention and torture for "enemy combatants") is that without doing so, one weakens the force of any moral critique one might make of another society or nation. It's a reasonable response to a story like this, and it's neither US-centric nor a derail to point this out. And besides, you are as usual striking a disingenuous pose. What you mean is, "can't we be hatin' on some Muslims for just once without hatin' on the American right wing?" Your comments routinely derail and take offense in far less on-topic ways. So yes, I wonder what the US "Christian" Right can say in response to this, given how ethically compromised their positions on both homosexuality and the execution of children already are. What this story tells me is that a) it sucks even more to be a gay Iranian teenager than it sucks to be an American gay teenager, because here the state won't kill you, just brutal private citizen thugs; and b) this is a perfectly good example of where the witches' brew of hatred, piousness, and authoritarian rule can lead.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:30 PM on July 21, 2005


realcountrymusic - well said. And let us not forget Fred Phelps!
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on July 21, 2005


welcome to the planet
back up your smack, please, or fall back.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 4:39 PM on July 21, 2005


...and his congregation that travels the country spewing theird vile hatred!
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on July 21, 2005


You know I am less outraged by the fact they were punished for being gay or that they were young than the fact that they were tortured and killed.

It's the killing part that really bothers me rather than the specific types of people they were. The vibe this story gives off is that somehow this particular case of capital punishment was wrong because either the crime wasn't worthy of the punishment or that the age of the killed was too low. It reminds me of the straight A students or the virginal Sunday School teachers whose deaths are tragic while the rest of us have mundane deaths.

Killing is tragic. The particulars of the victims shouldn't matter. It sucks for people to be killed. There really are not extra special deserving characteristics.
posted by srboisvert at 4:51 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm with Rothko. Your question is confusing and seems like a rather clumsy attempt to blame the current US occupation for If and When and How "Allah's Law" is applied. If a window has been opened for the people of Iraq to choose a more secular government and instead they choose something closer to Sharia, then so be it. Do we want the US to "meddle" in how Iran & Iraq regard human rights, or don't we?

So let's get this straight.

You've been a vocal supporter of the Iraq war. And you're saying that you'd be perfectly happy if the result of that war was a regime as or more repressive as Saddam's?

You'd consider that the many hundreds of US dead and the tens of thousands of Iraqis dead would be worth it even if Iraq installed an oppressive religious dictatorship?

Words fail me.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:02 PM on July 21, 2005


I was pointing out, sardonically, that for all the opprobrium Iran deserves for this barbaric cruelty, our own society is not exempt from a similar critique in kind, if not in degree.

As an openly gay man in America, I have to say that there is no "similar critique" you can make. Sure, there is discrimination. Sure, there are people here in the US who hate gays. There are people here who believe that Iran's setting a good example with their treatment of gays. However, those people are not running the government, and the government here is not in a position to do these sorts of things even if these people were running it. This is not a difference in degree, but in kind. Yes, what happened to Matthew Shepard was a terrible thing, but his killers were punished for their crime, while the killers of these two kids were agents of the state. This may seem like a minor difference to you, but I can say it sure isn't for me.

And let us not forget Fred Phelps!

When Fred Phelps has an army or a police force, then it's time to worry. Phelps is a clown and nothing more.

Killing is tragic. The particulars of the victims shouldn't matter. It sucks for people to be killed.

True enough, but there are always some situations that will draw more sympathy than others. In this case, the kids, like kids anywhere in the world, are really too young to even be full members of their society, but they received the harshest punishment their society can give, for something which caused harm to no one. They were betrayed, in a way that no mature adult can be.

You've been a vocal supporter of the Iraq war. And you're saying that you'd be perfectly happy if the result of that war was a regime as or more repressive as Saddam's?

I didn't see dhoyt mention anything about happiness. But your question goes to a fundamental problem faced by democracies - how do you keep non-democratic elements from participating? The answer is, you can't, without destroying your democracy in the first place. I think dhoyt is just (realistically) saying that if a repressive regime is elected through a fair democratic process, what could really be done about it?
posted by me & my monkey at 5:22 PM on July 21, 2005


Point taken, me & my monkey, and I meant very much to observe the distinction, but to point out that we are a little less clear on that distinction in this country every day as the religious right gets hold of more and more levers of power.

However, this only applies to the issue of the boys' alleged "homosexual" conduct. There is a distinct issue, which concerns me even more, and which is clearly a point of equivalence between Iran and the US, which is that both *states* sanction the judicial killing of people who commit crimes as legal minors (or to be more generic, they sanction state-sponsored judicial torture and killing of anyone). While a recent supreme court decision has rolled back some of the worst of this barbarism in the US (for now, and I do wonder how Roberts thinks about this), we have seriously undermined our ability (sorry to be speaking here from what truly is a US-centric perspective) to claim the moral high ground, just as we have with the torture and illegal detention without due process of prisoners of war. Yes it sucks to be a gay teenager in Iran in a way that is more terrifying than in the west by a long shot. I am not minimizing my own outrage at this story. I just wish America had more of a righteous voice to decry it with. And this story drives home how hypocrisy has costs.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:37 PM on July 21, 2005


I think dhoyt is just (realistically) saying that if a repressive regime is elected through a fair democratic process, what could really be done about it?

This was an o-b-v-i-o-u-s possible outcome of our intervention. Saddam himself thought we'd be nuts to remove him since he and his thugs were the main thing holding back the "islamofascists" we all like to hate.

So we blow hundreds of billions of dollars on our wargasm, incur thousands of US casualties, and get a Iran II at the head of the Persian Gulf. Smooth move, exlax.

And I disagree with your assertion that the religious whackos are not in government now. This latest SCOTUS appointment is a crypto Opus Dei fruitcake as far as I can tell. Rove hooking up with Bush was the strategy to triangulate the Republican party toward the whacko fundies as much as necessary, and so far it's given the Republicans a decade or so of increasing power.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:42 PM on July 21, 2005


Metafilter: crypto Opus Dei fruitcake . . . Rove hooking up with Bush

Seriously well said Heywood.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:45 PM on July 21, 2005


Killing is tragic. The particulars of the victims shouldn't matter. It sucks for people to be killed.

I'm not sold on this. They were killed because they were gay, that is where the tragedy lies. Regardless of ones opinion on capital punishement it is certainly easier to understand in the context of a violent criminal act than it is to grasp in the context of a private sexual matter.

If they were executed for murder they could just as easily be in Texas, Florida or other of several dozen states. Hell, it's not like we've never executed a minor in the US.
posted by cedar at 5:48 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm sure we will see, momentarily, the same sort of outrage over this that we saw over the flushing of the Koran, right? I'm expecting front page coverage in all major newspapers, 21 days on the front page of the NYTimes, and... no, wait, it's not if there is malfeasance by A government that attention is paid, it's whether it's the US government or not. My bad.

Me & My Monkey is spot on.
posted by swerdloff at 5:49 PM on July 21, 2005


. .
mullingitover: maybe not a quarter of the population, but a sizable one to be sure. My father used to be one of the "death sentences for homosexuals" types until I came out. Back in the 80s, his winger friends used to come over and talk about ways to run the queers out of town, and it utterly horrid to hear otherwise educated people talk about bringing back the whipping post and the noose for gays. Iran is actually a fairly well educatd country, and before the extremists took over, was looking to be a fairly 'cosmopolitan' state with Islam as religion, not as law. This shit is clearly what happens when the rule of law caves in to craven interpretations of arcane scripture and man-made taboo. Vile. Poor kids.
posted by moonbird at 5:52 PM on July 21, 2005


Something can be egregious and tragic for two different reasons, cedar, without us needing to minimize either.
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:55 PM on July 21, 2005


realcountrymusic, it certainly wasn't my intention to minimize the horror of this.

However, to state that the "particulars of the victims shouldn't matter" in a discussion about state sanctioned capitol punishment makes little sense to me. Of course the crime matters and I doubt it would upset as many people if the executed men were adult serial killers.
posted by cedar at 6:02 PM on July 21, 2005


Gosh, I am so sorry their barbarism bothers any of the rest of us enough that it would trigger foreign reporting. How dare we object to their incredible inhumanity to one of their own? Maybe less than 200 lashes might have enabled them to spin it better...
posted by Samizdata at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2005


... we are a little less clear on that distinction in this country every day as the religious right gets hold of more and more levers of power.

The levers of power in a democracy are pretty hard to hold for long. The religious right is a blip on the screen - it has no chance against popular entertainment, I think.

This was an o-b-v-i-o-u-s possible outcome of our intervention.

Well, sure, it's possible. Possible doesn't mean likely, much less certain. So because one possible outcome out of many is no better than the status quo, you shouldn't do anything that would cause change? There are plenty of good - great - arguments against the Iraq war. My favorite is Bush lying to the American people about the justification for war. Why try to make everything an argument against the war? That one argument is bad enough to condemn Bush completely and utterly, and I won't support the war even if everything turns out wonderfully, because of that one fact.

And I disagree with your assertion that the religious whackos are not in government now.

You may disagree all you like, but my response is simply to let you compare and contrast between the US and Iran. It's very popular here on MeFi to talk about how the US is becoming a theocratic police state, but it's flatly ridiculous. In fact, I hereby announce my plans to the world to commit homosexual sodomy this very evening with my partner, with whom I've lived for seventeen years or so, in the house that we purchased together. It will be the most serious form of sodomy, and will likely involve anal penetration. Woohoo! To any mullahs who may wish to interrupt, please wait at least 15 minutes, ok?

This latest SCOTUS appointment is a crypto Opus Dei fruitcake as far as I can tell.

Really? Any proof? I wonder why Laurence Tribe thinks so highly of him, then?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2005


this story is both outrageous and horrific. it deeply saddens me.
posted by brandz at 6:33 PM on July 21, 2005


me: This latest SCOTUS appointment is a crypto Opus Dei fruitcake as far as I can tell.

Really? Any proof? I wonder why Laurence Tribe thinks so highly of him, then?

Just looks like another Scalia apparatchik clown. I'm a white hetero man who has little need to petition the government for anything so this kulturkampf crap doesn't really affect me at all.

I don't disagree with Tribe that Roberts is "brilliant, decent and a man of integrity" [save for that last part], and I don't wish to see this appointment stopped, but I think it's safe to say that Roberts' decisions aren't going to be divergent from Scalia or Thomas, the "other" two Opus Dei members on the court. There's going to be, what, 4 conservative catholics on the court now?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:05 PM on July 21, 2005


I have to say I agree with dhoyt, it is annoying to see people compare the barbarity of Sharia and in the same breath say "Oh and it sucks in the US too". This attitude of comparing something really bad to something that is less than perfect is one of the things that drives people away from the otherwise ok ideology of the left. Things shouldt be improved here, but wouldn't a reasonable response be something along the lines "We have our problems here, but at least we don't have Sharia law". This latter comparison implies (correctly) that things ARE better here. Things are actually, comparatively speaking, pretty good compared to the past and/or other places around the world.
And rcm, last I heard is that the two thugs that killed Shepherd are spending the rest of their lives in prison ... so again, the comparison between Iran, where the state condones and participates in the torture and killing of homosexuals, to the US, where the state imprisons the perpetrators (and in the Shepherd case ... for life), seems misplaced. I really fail to see the connection of Iran=US in this. I do see the connection between religious wackos. But even then I see that your shotgun approach is intent on taking on the entire "Christian" Right, as opposed to the religous wackos that actually condone such behavior.

On preview: dammit ... me and my money said it much more eloquently and much less inflammatory than I did. Well I'm gonna post this anyway, and take my lumps by sulking in the corner for a bit until I can play nice.
posted by forforf at 7:13 PM on July 21, 2005


fortorf, you are missing my point. I took pains to point out the difference between state-sponsored and civic violence against gays. (However, my point about the moral equivalence of executing people who commit crimes as minors under the law stands, and you have conveniently ignored that perfectly equivalent point of comparison between Iran and the US, when it was my major point.) If these kids had killed a teacher, there would still be a moral outrage here, just as there is when the US executes people who commit crimes as minors.

I have said it several times. I am NOT using this story to say "see, we're as bad as Iran." Duh. I am saying we lack the full moral authority to condemn Iran when we allow our own government to perpetrate equivalent atrocities -- as in *executing children.* (I repeat it for emphasis, since no one seems to have read it the first four times I wrote as much above.) It's not that subtle a point.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2005


Almost 230 lashes and *then* hanging.

You don't have to wonder too long about why many in the West think of the Middle East as a generally extremely cruel and savage place.
posted by clevershark at 7:45 PM on July 21, 2005


Of course I meant "Middle East and some parts of South Asia" since Iran is sometimes said to not technically be in the ME.
posted by clevershark at 7:45 PM on July 21, 2005


problem is, forforf, people will begin to adopt this middle ground of which you speak and say (perhaps condone) what goes on in this country to gays ain't so bad afterall. sure it's way worse elsewhere, but it's still pretty bad here. you'll have to trust me on this one.
posted by brandz at 7:49 PM on July 21, 2005


Jesus! Can the human body even withstand 230 lashes?
posted by TetrisKid at 7:54 PM on July 21, 2005


what brandz said.
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on July 21, 2005


sorry, rcm, I should have been more clear and less tongue in cheek in my "on preview" comment. You clarified yourself in subsequent posts, rendering my call out of you ill mannered.

I have no problems pointing out the problems with the treatement of gays in the US. Make a FPP about it, or call out the issues in a tolerance thread, or in a thread about gays coming out. My point is that approaching it in this way, you hurt the cause. Its like going into a discusson about terminal cancer complaining about acid reflux. Acid reflux is painful, and deserves getting some sound advice.

I agree with your message, but its getting minimized by its placement.

posted by forforf at 8:15 PM on July 21, 2005


You don't have to wonder too long about why many in the West think of the Middle East as a generally extremely cruel and savage place

Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense...
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:31 PM on July 21, 2005


I'm against this, for the record.
posted by jonson at 8:32 PM on July 21, 2005


.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:57 PM on July 21, 2005


Just remember folks, this is what Christian fundamentalists want here in the U.S. too.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:20 PM on July 21, 2005


I may be banished forevermore for saying so, and yes, fuck the GOP and the religious zealots, but if the US invades Iran for oil or profit I don't care, as long as the people there are freed, to whatever extent, from the theocracy that binds them.

Yes, I will sell my soul to capitalism if it means war yet less judicial injustice.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:23 PM on July 21, 2005


Jesse: I'm all for that, more or less, if the decision to liberate the Iranians from themselves is reached democratically, ie with debate, informed consent, all that crap. Otherwise, we should just chuck what remains of the constitution and just go by the führer prinzip. Not that that would be much of a diff, really.

But I think your main misapprehension is that the Iranians are trapped in a hell not of their making, just like the neocons, or their dupes, went into Iraq before realizing Saddam was more of an effect than a cause.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:10 PM on July 21, 2005


Iranians are beautiful, friendly, decent people, for the most part. This shit does so much for fueling anti-Muslim sentiment its ridiculous. I would love to see a truly Free Iran, free of this yoke of religious insanity.

Some jackass above said we should WAIT for Fred Phelps to have his own army/police force before we complain. WRONG, and so stupid it hurts. The time to object is before they get the power. How could any red-blooded American think otherwise? Oh, wait, the problem is the failure to think, obviously.

This horror in Iran is an example of the direction some of those in power, in the US, would like to see things go. The time to resist is before we get there. The mere fact that a Supreme Court Justice would write up colonial executions in a decent supporting the punishment for gay sex should be PLENTY to justify comparisons with the US. Would a Justice dare to site slavery, as a reason to support segregation today? I think not!
posted by Goofyy at 11:16 PM on July 21, 2005


People here forget how recently gayness was cause for legal incarceration and forced lobotomy; that was still going on when I was in high school. Only the radicalization of gays and mass coming out changed that -- the very things that the GOP identifies as the moral slide they are planning to reverse. The new pope, Ratzinger, condemns homosexuality as "an objective moral evil." And while my partner of 11 years and I still can't get legally married, closet cases in the White House collaborate with "Christian" mullahs to change the wording of the Constitution to ban gay marriage as a cynical ploy to win elections. Don't talk to me about how great it is here -- we're living on a knife's edge of liberty that was hard fought for and could be easily lost.
posted by digaman at 11:56 PM on July 21, 2005


Don't talk to me about how great it is here -- we're living on a knife's edge of liberty that was hard fought for and could be easily lost.

Agreed. Let these and other examples of Islam-sanctioned torture and murder stand as fair warning to the centrists and moderate Christians within the US that it can happen here, too.
posted by Rothko at 2:04 AM on July 22, 2005


I'm sure all this heartfelt concern about gays in Iran, or women in Afghanistan for that matter, was there long before, say, to pick a random date, 2001. Right?

I'm also sure that this concern goes beyond saying they're all shitty places to live, and that no one is surprised to hear that Iran has been run by a repressive theocratic dictatorship for the past 26 years. Finally, I'm positive that this deep, genuine concern for real people and their lives under a dictatorship, which by definition doesn't need majority consent to kill whoever they want, is stronger than the urge for self-congratulations about your western democracies being infinitely superior in terms of human rights and civil liberties for all, hooray, like it's your own personal achievement, and not the recent and ever precarious result of centuries of bloodshed, wars, and revolutions against despotisms of all kinds.

Yes, I'm sure no one is using stories like these only for jingoistic purposes, because that would be quite sad.
posted by funambulist at 2:11 AM on July 22, 2005



As an Iranian who's lived in exile I can tell you that this horrifies me, my family, and every single Iranian I personally know to no end. After all, that's why we we're here.

danf, I lived in Iran for the first twelve years of my life and gay activity among boys was by no means commonplace. Last I heard about 10-15% of the population of any country is homosexual or bisexual, and I'm sure this applies to Iran as well. Males (especially family and close friends) do kiss each other on the cheek, but that's about it. During my last year in Iran (when I was in the 6th grade) one of my two best friends was very effiminate (and also very smart and funny), and one older goon,a senior, took to ridiculing him. We -- his friends-- ignored the older boy at first, but when the verbal abuse increased in frequency and severity we started sticking up for him and eventually went to the principal who put a stop to it.

And sour cream...as I said I haven't been to Iran in a while (27 years now) and might be out of the loop, but from what I hear from family, acquaintances, bloggers, and people who've visited, everyone I/they know (regardless of religion, age, sex etc.) is disgusted and very angry about the lack of human rights and the draconian punishment the fucking Mullahs and their followers mete out. They are the minority, but they're the ones with the guns and the power, sort of like the Sunni Baathist were in Iraq.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:33 AM on July 22, 2005


*Baathists
posted by Devils Slide at 3:46 AM on July 22, 2005


In 2000 years, when archeologists find relics of our society (humans in the 21st century -- eastern and western, muslim, judeo-christian, hindu, etc.) and learn more about us, they will likely say: "these people... they were assholes."
posted by psmealey at 5:36 AM on July 22, 2005


fortorf: I agree with your message, but its getting minimized by its placement.

I honestly do not understand your point. What, so someone posts an FPP about something terrible, and the only permitted response is "how terrible?" or "let's bomb them back to the stone age?"

My response was: how terrible, and I wish our nation had cleaner hands so that our collective opprobrium would be more meaningful on the world stage. And one more time on the key point for me: that the boys were "gay" (if they were) is less important to me than that they were *kids.* You still aren't making that distinction in responding to my point. So I'll say it: things are not all that much worse in Iran for minors convicted of capital crimes (whatever they may be) than they are in the US. Or, the US is just as barbaric in its treatment of kids convicted of capital crimes (whatever they may be).

I am not "hurting the cause." I don't even know what cause you are talking about, but if "the cause" is gay rights, I think it helps to point out that the Iranian example is where certain tendencies in our current political discourse ultimately lead. Since that is not my primary "cause" to defend here, however, I leave that to others. I might point out that homosexual conduct *is* criminalized, albeit not as a capital offense, in many states in the US. And extrajudicial killings of gays have in the past had the tacit approval of the state apparatus here as well. Be that as it may, the state in Iran sucks for doing this -- I for one have no problem distinguishing that apparatus from "the Iranian people," though surely many of them, like many Americans, believe it is good to "kill fags" (see my picture link in my first post).

The point is that our "liberal, secular" legal system is the moral equivalent of Shariah with respect to the state-sanctioned torture and killing of minors of any sexual persuasion. Therefore, even as we get on a high horse about Iran, we must acknowledge our own society's failings will undermine any critique which emanates from our shores (again, apologies to non USian MeFites for the collective "our"). I see *nothing* wrong, and much to be gained, by taking the occasion of a West Asian atrocity to both condemn said atrocity and reflect on our own society's hypocrisy. The cause I have in mind is human dignity and freedom from terror, not gay rights or nationalism.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:17 AM on July 22, 2005


Some jackass above said we should WAIT for Fred Phelps to have his own army/police force before we complain. WRONG, and so stupid it hurts. The time to object is before they get the power. How could any red-blooded American think otherwise? Oh, wait, the problem is the failure to think, obviously.

I think I'm the jackass you're looking for. But you misunderstood what I meant. Let me try again. Fred Phelps is not the enemy. He's a clown. He doesn't affect the discourse on gay rights in this country. Focusing on him as the enemy og gay rights is pointless, because he isn't significant enough to warrant it. He'll be dead in a few years, and forgotten a few years after that. The ones to worry about are less rabid and more mainstream.

People here forget how recently gayness was cause for legal incarceration and forced lobotomy; that was still going on when I was in high school. Only the radicalization of gays and mass coming out changed that -- the very things that the GOP identifies as the moral slide they are planning to reverse. ... Don't talk to me about how great it is here -- we're living on a knife's edge of liberty that was hard fought for and could be easily lost.

I don't think it could be lost as easily as you do. I haven't forgotten any of the things you mentioned; I remember how much things have changed, and how quickly. But it's really hard to put the genie back in the bottle once it's out.

And while my partner of 11 years and I still can't get legally married, closet cases in the White House collaborate with "Christian" mullahs to change the wording of the Constitution to ban gay marriage as a cynical ploy to win elections.

The fact that gay marriage is the hot topic du jour is amazing in and of itself. If you'd asked, say, the head of HRC ten years ago whether we'd be debating gay marriage in 2005, my guess is that he'd have said no way! While Bush (and Kerry) oppose gay marriage, Bush has publicly stated that states should be able to legalize civil unions. So I think a little perspective is in order.

So I'll say it: things are not all that much worse in Iran for minors convicted of capital crimes (whatever they may be) than they are in the US.

You are absolutely right. Of course, the range of capital crimes makes a big difference in the outcome of things. It seems to me that Iran is doing two things that are very wrong: making capital offenses of victimless crimes, and executing minors for capital offenses. Is Iran beyond criticism for doing both, because we do one of those?
posted by me & my monkey at 7:52 AM on July 22, 2005


Is Iran beyond criticism for doing both, because we do one of those?

And just to repeat: when did I ever say Iran was beyond criticism for either? On the contrary, I condemn Iran's government for these executions. I did so forecfully several times upthread. My point is that the US would be in a more righteous position to criticize Iran forcefully on the world stage if we had cleaner hands. I guess I am also criticizing our government's coziness with citizens of this country (again, being US-centric) who give every sign of believing in a similar standard of "justice" for both gays and minors, but my point is that tolerance of hatred by our current administration and judiciary (in the sense that our courts are permitting the lines between church and state to be substantially blurred) is not only wrong, but hypocritical, and as I said, we see here the price of that hypocrisy in very pragmatic terms. Pots that call kettles black tend to get scorched.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:24 AM on July 22, 2005


My point is that the US would be in a more righteous position to criticize Iran forcefully on the world stage if we had cleaner hands.

Well, personally, I don't think that capital punishment is appropriate for anybody. So, let's say that we stopped executing minors here in the US. I could make the same point as you're making now. Would it be a valid point? How clean do one's hands have to be before one can criticize another?
posted by me & my monkey at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2005


In America you can go to jail for having a few ounces of banned plants, where you will be tortured and raped by gang members for years, and probably get AIDS and Hep C whole you're at it.
posted by chaz at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2005


I am saddened by the discrimination that gay & lesbian people face everywhere that it happens. It is worthy of fighting against, and it's a cause I hold very dear. But it is patently ridiculous to compare the discrimination that gay and lesbian people face in the US to the persecution and execution those same people face in Iran.

From the first linked article: "According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. " That's 154 people per year, or three people per week are Put. To. Death. in Iran for being gay.
posted by raedyn at 10:08 AM on July 22, 2005


Well, personally, I don't think that capital punishment is appropriate for anybody.

Then we agree fully. But there are shades of black here, and executing people who commit crimes as minors puts us in an even smaller group of nations that still do this than the ones that still execute adults. If the US renounced the use of the death penalty entirely tomorrow, not only would it restore a huge degree of moral authority this nation has lost with Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and the rest, but it would add a great deal of force to the arguments of those who claim to be "pro-life" on other issues (abortion, stem cell research, etc.).

So, let's say that we stopped executing minors here in the US. I could make the same point as you're making now.

What point would that be? I truly don't grasp what we are arguing about, if anything. Your initial charge to me seemed to be that I was either using this story as an occasion to bash the (much less dangerous or immoral, in your view) state of affairs in our own nation as it drifts in intolerant and theocratic directions. Yes, I was, but my major point was the one elaborated at length above, namely, that taking such an atrocity as these executions as an occasion to point out the costs of American hypocrisy on certain moral issues of global significance on a very pragmatic level, namely that the west's struggle to cultivate enlightenment values (with which I agree profoundly) in the less free societies around the world, a struggle which is inherently connected to the war on "terror," global militarism, and other important current crises, and arguably the most effective and necessary long term goal of any effort to make the world a safer place for all of us, is set back or hindered when we ourselves do not practice what we would preach to others *as a nation.* (I assume as individuals everyone who reads this thread is likely to oppose the execution of gay teenagers for having sex. If you don't, there's nothing to discuss escept where the fumigation kit is kept.) So I am talking realpolitik here, not rainbow-hugging, dolphin-fucking (with apologies to another thread) utopianism.

Thus I fail to see how ending the death penalty in the US would allow you to make "the same point" as a refutation of my arguments here. One could also say, to invert one of your arguments, that although the US does not practice state-sanctioned judicial execution of homosexuals, and arguably actively protects some of the civil rights of homosexuals (though only some, and in other cases the state is clearly intolerant or intolerant by ommission of specific remedies, such as the right to marry a person of the same sex), nonetheless our own society's civic intolerance of gays is demonstrable and has violent effects, which, while not comparable to the routine execution of gays in Iran, nonetheless cause some gays to feel terrorized by the apparatuses of both state and civil society, deprives them of civil liberties many of us take for granted, and results in a climate in which violence against gays is tolerated on some levels, and actively imagined by many as at least an excusable crime or bearable cost of failing to protect gays. That being the case, we dim the beacon of enlightenment with which we profess to wish to illuminate the world in exchange for global enthusiasm for, or at least submission to, an American Imperium. As I said above, this is not a black and white issue that can be reduced to "well, we don't execute gays, so there is no purpose to calling attention to the west's hypocrisy when it levies moral critiques of other societies. Does that mean the critiques are invalid? Of course not. "We're" better than "them" in many ways with respect to many human rights issues, by a long shot. But we're hardly perfect, and a story like this is an important reminder of why we should always strive to improve our own societies' commitment to the values we espouse as fundamental to our states' existence. What happened in Iran is, as someone pointed out, where our relatively tolerant society came from, and there are vigorous and powerful forces at work in our own society who are trying to bring us partway back to that state of premodern barbarism. We honor these dead boys best by taking their deaths as an occasion to reaffirm a commitment to human rights in general, for everyone, everywhere, and not to relax in the secure knowledge that we don't have serious problems closer to home with respect to the same kinds of abuses we condemn when practiced abroad.
posted by realcountrymusic at 11:08 AM on July 22, 2005


I don't know a lot about Iran, but I do know many many Iranians. Religious extremism is only one part of Persian culture; there are also humanists and sympathetic moderates and many others who want to be free of the Mullahs.

I stand my promise to send pictures of the kids and letters of protest to the embassy, because totalitarian regimes are not monoliths. Calling attention to these acts can shame people into thinking for themselves. Being faced with pictures of murdered children is difficult for all but the most committed zealots.

The Soviet Union dissolved, in part, because the average person no longer believed in the integrity of the State. The same thing is very possible in an educated country like Iran.

And Chaz, your comparison is ridiculous and insulting.

I would suggest sending letters of protest to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa:

Ambassador Seyed Mouhammad Ali Moosavi, Embassy of Iran, 245 Metcalfe St., Ottawa, Ontario .K2P 2K2 Canada Telephone (OO1-613- 235-4726, 233-4726; Fax, 233-5712
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:46 AM on July 22, 2005


What point would that be? I truly don't grasp what we are arguing about, if anything.

I was simply pointing out the difficulty of having "clean hands" from your perspective. You used the fact that Iran executes kids for gay sex to point out that the US - or more accurately I think, some states in the US - execute minors for capital crimes. So, if we stopped executing minors, the next time Iran executes kids for swapping BJs you could take that opportunity that the US executes people for capital offenses as well.

If the US renounced the use of the death penalty entirely tomorrow, not only would it restore a huge degree of moral authority this nation has lost with Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and the rest, but it would add a great deal of force to the arguments of those who claim to be "pro-life" on other issues (abortion, stem cell research, etc.).

Well, personally, I'd be very happy to see that happen. However, the people who are anti-abortion and pro-death-penalty are no less consistent than the people (like me) who are pro-choice and anti-death-penalty.

So I am talking realpolitik here, not rainbow-hugging, dolphin-fucking (with apologies to another thread) utopianism.

We obviously have different definitions of realpolitik, then. You may think it is useful to attempt to change the behavior of several US state governments before you can protest an atrocity elsewhere, but I would take issue with the practicality of that.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:30 PM on July 22, 2005


You may think it is useful to attempt to change the behavior of several US state governments before you can protest an atrocity elsewhere, but I would take issue with the practicality of that

What? Where the heck did I say anything of the sort? I think we must live in parallel universes. That, or you are intentionally trying to twist anything I say out of sheer contrariness.

One more time, and I will put it plainly: I condemn these executions. I trust the United States government will condemn these executions. I assume every thinking American would condemn these executions. But I think all of our collective condemnations would have more force if we had our own house more in order. Is that clear now? I am not saying that we must have our own house in order before we speak critically of another nation. I am saying we would have more moral authority to do so, and thus be more effective.

I'll let the other responses slide, as there seems to be no point to this debate. We seem to agree on everything substantive here, except that you don't agree with my mentioning that the US is hardly perfect on either gay rights or capital punishment issues, as if somehow that softens my repeated condemnations of Iran in this conversation. So again, I am just as outraged as you or anyone else about the story in the FPP. I abhor the death penalty, consider its application to minors to be the height of barbarism and unequivocally evil, believe that gay people should enjoy full civil liberties (and specific protections reflecting the history of abuse of those liberties) everywhere, consider intolerance toward gays evil and sick, and absolutely indict the Iranian government for committing an atrocity in this case that should bring those Mullahs in front of an international human rights court. None of the above causes me to rethink my condemnation of the US for a) pursuing capital punishment for minors or b) tolerating a wide range of violations of the human rights of homosexuals in both civil society and by the state. All I am saying, to repeat again (why do I think it helps?) is that were the hands of the United States cleaner, then the US would be a more powerful force for human rights in the world. You can dispute that claim, but it seems obvious enough on its face.

My last word on the subject (thank god, I can hear many saying).
posted by realcountrymusic at 3:49 PM on July 22, 2005


The U.S. dosen't execute minors. They exucte people who commited crimes as minors. Maybe a distinction without a difference, but a distinction nonetheless.
posted by Snyder at 4:19 PM on July 22, 2005


The U.S. dosen't execute minors. They exucte people who commited crimes as minors.

I realize this, and it was a careless shorthand. Upthread you will note that I make that distinction perhaps half a dozen times. Mea culpa.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:13 PM on July 22, 2005


teenagers getting lashed a few hundred times and then getting hung from a crane on a street corner for the 'crime' of being gay is not remotely comparable to raping/murdering someone and getting executed for that, so let's be careful with the word 'crime' here, ok. just because some idiot somewhere thinks that being gay is a crime doesn't mean that it is. those who are murdered for being gay aren't the real criminals here.
posted by TrinityB5 at 10:01 PM on July 22, 2005


let's be careful with the word 'crime' here
Under Iranian (or shariah) law, what the boys did is a "crime." We don't have to agree with it, and of course everyone in this thread agrees that it is not a crime in any universal, transcendental sense, obviously (making your point cheap). It is still intellectually consistent to distinguish capital punishment as an issue from gay rights as an issue. Yes, no one should be punished for being gay. And yes, no one should be put to death by a state for any "crime" (as defined by the state in which they live) committed as a minor (or at all, in my opinion, but let's start there). I am being careful with the word crime. I am using the technical definition of the term: a violation of official law. You are conflating that usage with a "violation of natural law." It is clear from the context of my comments, and others in this thread, that the distinction is being observed carefully throughout this thread. It's not like the word "crime" has some magical power that makes it un-PC to use it in its specific legal sense. And let's pick battles we might have a ghost of a chance of winning here.

I might point out that homosexual conduct is still technically a "crime" in much of the United States. But the a certain someone upthread would accuse me of making a moral equivalency.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:35 AM on July 23, 2005


I might point out that homosexual conduct is still technically a "crime" in much of the United States. - realcountrymusic

Well, umm. It's my understanding that in Lawrence & Garner v. State of Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that sodomy laws are unconstitutional on June 26, 2003. But don't take my word for it. Read the text of the Supreme Court's desicion.
posted by raedyn at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2005


« Older The Proof of Creationism Bomb   |   Augmented Maps Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post