Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fun With Head Scarves, also Smokers, and Missed Opportunities

Starting with the quick news, then moving to the rant. Ready? Good:

> Okay, here's my problem with stories like this. Is there anyone who said, "WHAT?! Diabetes? That's it, I'm quiting." What you think after shrugging off, lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and yellow-stained teeth, Type 2 Diabetes is going to be the straw that breaks the smoker's back? Really?

> When I saw this story, all I could think was, "Man! Why didn't we do more things like this when we were minors?" From over here, being pre-18 seems sort of like a license to dumbass doesn't it? Oh sure, we all dumbassed some, but who among us had the balls to prank call the President. Via the Secret Service, I might add. You really need an anti-guidance counselor when you're a kid, to sit you down and say, "Listen, you only have three years until they wipe your criminal record."

I think my favorite part might be when he says it wasn't too hard getting through Secret Service phone screening because he had Wikipedia open. That killed me.

>When the gang rape victim was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison, I almost posted. I was a bit late to the show, and what I had to say was pretty politically incorrect. Now, there is this.

This story has not gotten major play outside of Canada yet. I'd like to think that's because the it's based mostly on conjecture, but probably it just hasn't been noticed. Murders happen every day, donchaknow.

Before we go any further, I should say that yes, this is somewhat irresponsible journalism, and everything that has sprung up around it is irresponsible journalism. Mostly, people are reporting gossip as news here. We can't be sure why this guy killed his daughter, or even if he killed his daughter, although when a guy calls 911 and says that he just killed his daughter, you do get a certain smoke/fire correlation.

But here's why I'm writing about this: In some ways, it doesn't matter whether Muhammad Parvez strangled his daughter Aqsa because she wouldn't wear a head scarf, or because she wanted to listen to rap music, or whatever other reason. I mean, absolutely the motherfucker should be in jail for the rest of his life if he did it, regardless of why. But what I think is most interesting about this story, and the gang rape victim story, is that they are somehow working their way into a news narrative.

News is, for the most part, a pretty arbitrary beast. What comes to the fore is what is sensational and interesting. Most murders aren't news. Stacy Peterson's disappearance is a national story garnering months of articles and coverage. Soldiers who die in Iraq are lucky to get a line or two in that day's Iraq roundup.

But every so often, a bunch of stories start to coalesce, and soon you have something more than a story. You have a topic. When that happens, the hungry media searches out anything and everything, important or not, interesting or not, that serves the larger narrative, which inevitably turns into an issue. Global warming, immigration, you get the idea. Both those problems had been around forever, but suddenly they're news.

You see where I'm going with this. For a very long time, the West has sat and shrugged about the way the Muslim world treats women. In Iran, they recently had police perform a dress code "crackdown," rounding up and arresting women who they felt were dressed too immodestly (among other things). Adultery is punishable by death. Brothers, husbands and fathers often take matters into their own hands, like this charming Canadian gentleman might have done, and that rape victim's brother tried to do.

Now, the cynical part of me says there's not a lot we here in the West can do. I mean, we're not going to start a war, or GASP endanger our precious oil supply with real economic actions against Muslim countries. And anyway, Muslim countries are only a symptom here. The disease is Orthodox Islam's view of women. It may not be PC to criticize a religion but I'm going to. If a grown woman wants to wear a beekeeper suit for religious reasons, fine. Good for her. But saying a woman must, that she can't drive, or vote or what have you - that's no different from apartheid, no matter how you're justifying it. You have a right to your beliefs up until your beliefs require that you oppress others. After that, fuck you and fuck your beliefs.

(Of course, there's a goodly number of people who would literally want to kill me for saying that. But hey, at least I never named a teddy bear Muhammad. It is apparently acceptable to name a person Muhammad even if he later kills his daughter with his bare hands, but not a teddy bear, which might make the prophet look bad. But I digress.)

Anyway, there may not be a lot we can do politically about this. But part of me wondered what would happen if this became one of those topics. What if the global media was snapping up stories about Muslim abuse of women the same way it was snapping up stories on climate change? Wouldn't major religious leaders sort of start to feel embarassed? Wouldn't they have to keep making statements like, "We do NOT condone violence against women"? Might this not eventually start working its way into sermons and the like?

I know that most Muslims are like everyone else not particularly inclined to violence or nastiness or hatred, and it's only the religion's most extreme wing that does this stuff. Look at the way the British Muslim community dealt with Teddy Bear Gate for example. But it is still a problem, and it's a problem that will and can change, just the way apartheid ended, just the way women got the vote here, and everything else.

That is, with the help of the news.

1 comment:

Amodernbohemian said...

I wonder if Wilford Brimley was a smoker... i mean...he's got the "diabetuhs"... i want to see him on a "truth" commercial for smoking...that would be very entertaining...

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