Thursday, July 28, 2005

And the recent executions

Someone was good enough to mail in a few pictorial reports about the recent protests in Milan in disgust with the much publicized public hangings of the two gay youngsters in Iran. You can see them here and here and here.

As those of you reading my blog for a while have probably gathered by now, I don’t have much of a stomach for violence. Especially for these ceaseless vulgarities of the murderous Islamic regime.

I have seen enough to satiate the bloodlust of a few lifetimes. But the recent portrayals of the events in Iran, as usual, have been a badly produced cartoon. And we would not get beyond step one in our efforts to bring about meaningful changes if we remained unable to get even the basics right.

The two youngsters were charged—not (solely) with the "crime" of homosexuality, but-- with the gang rape of a (thirteen year old) minor. And that has been mostly lost amidst all the (justified) rage at this state sponsored murder.

This is not to say that Iran does not executed homosexuals. This is not to deny that we have some fundamental problems in that society with intolerance of alternative life styles. This certainly is not to deny the existence of numerous unjust laws which have to be altered. And ultimately, this is not to deny the necessity of toppling a murderous regime.

But presenting caricatures will only weaken our chances of offering viable solutions to some very intractable problems which continue to demand our urgent attention.

So here I am, again, pleading with you to understand that Iran is not quite the caricature it is presented as. This is a complex society which has consistently belied stereotypes. And the sooner we come to grips with this simple proposition, the better our chances of bringing about fundamental changes.

Notice for instance that Tehran is the sex change capital of the world. You can see all types of people struggling to lead normal lives without being executed. Well, as normal as anyone is possibly expected to manage under the watchful eyes of the self appointed satraps of the Almighty or anchored in a fundamentally intolerant milieu.

But to present the problems we face in stark black and white and to always offer silly one dimensional tales of the struggles of a defenseless, blameless population of victims vs. a bloodthirsty irrational abusive regime is ultimately counterproductive.

For you see, we can't have it both ways.

We can't go on to argue that authoritarian regimes cultivate dysfunctional souls without first acknowledging also that often people might be guilty of what they are charged with. And we can't continue to point to the existing fundamental corruptions in our society without also exhibiting some desire to hold people accountable for their deeds.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that, just like every other society I've encountered, we have our fair share of problems with drug and alcohol induced violence, rape, child prostitution, child abuse, pederasty and pedophilia. Now, are we going to accuse the regime each and every time of having falsely charged someone innocent just because we loath it?

I think with these latest executions, we can certainly draw attention to and debate just or unjust deserts or needlessly cruel punishments and/or all the issues relating to government murder of juveniles, rights of the accused, forced confessions or despicable torture practices.

And a host of other matters I have left out.

And we must do more to draw attention to the plight of the gay and lesbian communities and the ubiquitous violations of their civil rights in Iran, as well as the real prospects of all the legally sanctioned brutalities they must endure. Of course, I should emphasize here also the despicable violence and humiliation that (the mostly closeted) members of these communities are the victims of in their daily lives.

And we certainly can argue over rights and responsibilities.

But we can't start doing any of these unless we deal with the basics of what transpires soberly, judiciously and without resorting to duplicitous omissions.

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