Pharyngula

“Our tribal custom”

Whenever you hear someone defend an action with the excuse that “it is our custom,” “it is traditional,” “we’ve always done it that way,” “it is written so in our sacred texts,” or variants thereof, slap ’em down and spit in their eye. Those are not excuses for anything but the perpetuation of bad old dogma rather than taking the useful step of actually thinking about causes and consequences — it’s the common fallacious shortcut that allows ancient evils to thrive. Case in point in Pakistan:

Balochistan Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri stunned the upper house on Friday when he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.”

Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah of the PML-Q raised the issue citing a newspaper report that the girls, three of them aged between 16 and 18 years, had been buried alive a month ago for wishing to marry of their own will.

The barbaric incident took place in a remote village of Jafarabad district and a PPP minister and some other influential people were reported to have been involved. The report accused the provincial government of trying to hush up the issue.

Ms Shah said that the hapless girls and the women were first shot in the name of honour and then buried while they were alive. She also said that no criminal had been arrested so far.

Hmmm. We have a difficult choice here, and someone is going to be offended no matter which way we go. Shall we offend half the population of the planet by saying we should we support torturing independent-minded teenage girls to death, or should we piss off a gang of pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman by pointing out that their customs are barbaric and savage and oppressive?

Wait, hey, that isn’t a difficult choice at all! It doesn’t matter that someone might be offended, what’s important is that we support equal opportunity and autonomy for all individuals and recognize that gender should not be a factor that affects the standing of citizens. And if that means traditional dogmas must be disparaged, I’m all the more for it.

(via Twisty)

Comments

  1. #1 Kobra
    August 31, 2008

    He buried them alive? Tsk tsk.

  2. #2 Sven DiMilo
    August 31, 2008

    It’s a fucked-up world, no doubt about it, and it’s going to take more than Obama to even start making things right. Wish I knew what.

  3. #3 Donovan
    August 31, 2008

    “shot in the name of honor”?

    I remember when honor involved DEFENDING the helpless and preventing cruelty. One of us, Mr. Zehri or me, is seriously f^$%ed up in the head! Okay, maybe both of us are, but I’m not THAT f^$%ed in the head!

  4. #4 hje
    August 31, 2008

    Some of these despicable practices pre-date Islam, but regardless … to defend such practices in the 21st century boggles the mind.

    We have a lot to worry about in Pakistan, not the least of which is that Al-Qaeda is being sheltered by tribal leaders in NW Pakistan, the leadership of the country is in flux, and terrorists have been able to attack and kill leaders with impunity. While Bush and McSame continue to focus on Iraq (for the next millennium if necessary), Afghanistan slips back into the control of the Taleban, and Pakistan edges slowly closer to a nuclear armed state run by Islamic radicals.

  5. #5 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    it’s going to take more than Obama to even start making things right.

    Probably will take a virgin to get another son of God…

  6. #6 Jacques
    August 31, 2008

    Hey PZ, I thought you never went after the Islamists! Maybe someone should inform Bill Bennet, lunatic catholic windbag, of this article.

  7. #7 Jason
    August 31, 2008

    “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.” – General Sir Charles James Napier (in relation to Sati)

    Seems an appropriate quote.

  8. #8 Andrés Diplotti
    August 31, 2008

    #5 oh, please, no. The last thing we need in this state of affairs is a messianic movement.

  9. #9 Sleeping at the Console
    August 31, 2008

    These traditions are so barbaric that it’s hard to imagine that there are still such savages and primitive “cultures” in the world. We broke free from the Dark Age, why can’t they? We don’t do torture anymore, and the death penalty is abandoned. It’s possible to advance.

  10. #10 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Hey PZ, I thought you never went after the Islamists! Maybe someone should inform Bill Bennet, lunatic catholic windbag, of this article.

    Do you mean Bill Donohue ?

    I hope no one does tell him. He might get ideas and wonder how he can argue Catholics not being allowed to kill their disrespectful children is a form of anti-Catholic bigotry.

  11. #11 thethyme
    August 31, 2008

    Buried Alive… Buried Alive… under what ancient delusion was this a custom?
    Whose cares if people are offended lives are on the line. Your tribal customs be damned!

    Just remember to ask yourself what would The Doctor do?

  12. #12 raven
    August 31, 2008

    The Hindus used to burn widows alive on funeral pyres, settee. And claimed it was their custom, truly.

    The British told them it was their custom to hang men who burned women alive. They also said, the next clown that torches a widow would swing from a rope. That ended settee.

    At some point, one just has to say, “your custom is totally fucked up.” Our custom is to charge killers with murder, try and convict them, and send them to prison.

  13. #13 hje
    August 31, 2008

    “… it’s going to take more than Obama to even start making things right. Wish I knew what.”

    ?Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Hudson: Fuckin’ A…

    I’m not suggesting this is really the solution–but it does briefly come to mind.

  14. #14 Jason
    August 31, 2008

    @#12 Great minds think alike :-)

  15. #15 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    #8,

    why ? This time, if he walks on water, transforms loafs of bread, and resucitates after dying, he’ll really have to be the son of God. I’m quite sure he’d convert anybody, Muslims, Budhists and even Agnostics and Atheists.

  16. #16 Capital Dan
    August 31, 2008

    I read this yesterday, and damn near puked. I wish religion would just go away. It serves no purpose other than to destroy societies, cultures, and people. Humanity simply can not advance into the 21st Century with this anchor around our necks.

    We don’t need the fucking ghosts.

  17. #17 Stephen
    August 31, 2008

    What annoys me as much people saying “we do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” is people saying “we’ve done it that way for ages, so we need a change”.

    Both are substitutes for actually using ones brain.

    Of course this case raises the appeal to tradition to a dreadful level of horror.

  18. #18 Sven DiMilo
    August 31, 2008

    Paraphrasing Robert Anton Wilson, somnetimes I think it’s a waste of time to try to change people; maybe our time would be better spent working to get the hell off the Planet of the Apes to start over someplace else.
    Then I think about my daughter again.

  19. #19 Zachary B.
    August 31, 2008

    Is it morally right to wish death upon these people that did this? Because I do. Thoughts anyone?

  20. #20 Stephen
    August 31, 2008

    These traditions are so barbaric that it’s hard to imagine that there are still such savages and primitive “cultures” in the world. We broke free from the Dark Age, why can’t they? We don’t do torture anymore, and the death penalty is abandoned.

    You don’t live in the USA, do you?

    Given the centuries it took “the west” to get from the Dark Ages to where it is now, I suggest that it would be unreasonable to expect the whole of the rest of the world to make the transition in a few decades. After all, the “civilisation” they experienced for much of the colonial period was in most cases probably not what you or I would care to subscribe to as a modern civilisation.

    Was indeed civilisation in Europe or the USA just a few decades ago what you or I would care to subscribe to as a modern civilisation? To pick a random example: until the late 1940’s Britain was still imprisoning women for the “crime” of being raped. What about how the USA was treating blacks in 1960? Be thankful for where we are and don’t take it for granted.

    Not of course that this in way means that we should refrain from condemning barbarity when we come across it.

  21. #21 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    PZ said:

    Whenever you hear someone defend an action with the excuse that “it is our custom,” “it is traditional,” “we’ve always done it that way,” “it is written so in our sacred texts,” or variants thereof, slap ‘em down and spit in their eye.

    I don’t think that would be very effective. Perhaps it would be better to suggest that they read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson?

    …he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.”

    Never mind. That’s worse than “The Lottery” so they wouldn’t get it. In that case I suggest fire bombing the whole tribe. The world would be better off if they just stopped existing.

    Shall we offend half the population of the planet by saying we should we support torturing independent-minded teenage girls to death, or should we piss off a gang of pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman by pointing out that their customs are barbaric and savage and oppressive?

    Of course, condemn the pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman all you want because they’re probably never going to read this — they probably can’t read English and they probably don’t have internet access. They don’t have have a Bill Donohue of the Muslim league with hordes of brainwashed emailers threatening us for saying that… Well, not yet.

    Those pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman have never had the world looking at them the way we are now looking at them now and they don’t actually realize it’s happening — they can’t even comprehend what it means to have the world watching. They really have been living that way without anyone caring for untold generations. We turned our eyes to our own problems and ignored them as we did most of the world because the pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman never threatened anyone until Osama bin Laden decided to hide among people like them.

    I’m sure they feel the same murderous, offended rage knowing we let our women dress as they want and marry who they want.

    What do you think we could to do to effect change in a peaceful way? Perhaps there is no peaceful option? If not, how far do you want to go to effect change?

    Why can’t we recruit those tribal women in the “war on terrorism” – meaning, the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his other operatives? Is there a way the women of these tribal areas can be reached? A secret network of cell phones given to the women of Pakistan? If they don’t want change – then change will never happen.

  22. #22 I am so wise
    August 31, 2008

    “I suggest that it would be unreasonable to expect the whole of the rest of the world”

    Not really. People and cultures can change with remarkable speed. Look at Germany. 60 years ago, they were massacring Jews and others by the millions. Today, there the most well behaved of all Europeans, narry a soccer riot from them.

    In 1990, we mocked the Soviets for having travel papers, secret courts, and prison camps and today?

    War Before Civilization has a good discussion the plastic nature of human nature and actions.

  23. #23 Andrew T.
    August 31, 2008

    Did anyone notice that Tim Pawlenty endorsed intelligent design on Meet the Press this morning?? Let’s make sure this isn’t forgotten!

  24. #24 Danio
    August 31, 2008

    Paraphrasing Robert Anton Wilson, somnetimes I think it’s a waste of time to try to change people; maybe our time would be better spent working to get the hell off the Planet of the Apes to start over someplace else.
    Then I think about my daughter again.

    You’re fucking-A, Sven. My kids are not yet old enough to know the extent to which such atrocities are carried out in the world, but the day that they become aware is not far off. My concern is not so much for the inevitable explanations I’ll have to make about why some people shoot their daughters and bury them alive, but for the explanation that a considerable number of people fully endorse this practice, and that an even greater number may feel a bit queasy about it, but wouldn’t dream of interfering with the rights of the shooters and buriers.

    The degree of tolerance that most are willing to extend to these monsters is simply mind-boggling.

  25. #25 Matt Platte
    August 31, 2008

    Those who casually toss the phrase “pig-ignorant” either haven’t spent much time with swine or don’t recognize it’s inherently satiric.

  26. #26 The Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    Hey PZ, I thought you never went after the Islamists! Maybe someone should inform Bill Bennet, lunatic catholic windbag, of this article.

    This has nothing to do with even the most radical and strictest interpretations of Islam. It’s a tribal custom, Islam explicitly forbids the burying alive of women and daughters as well as forced marriage. Gods and ghosts have nothing to do with it, though we can presume some level of rationalization on that end.

    Why can’t we recruit those tribal women in the “war on terrorism” – meaning, the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his other operatives? Is there a way the women of these tribal areas can be reached? A secret network of cell phones given to the women of Pakistan? If they don’t want change – then change will never happen.

    That is the single dumbest statement to appear in these comments. That’s just what we need, the struggle of women to attain equality to be equated with global geopolitics.

    Look, here’s the be all and end all of the situation as far as “the West” is concerned in relation to this. “The West” is not very popular right now and has gone through the trouble of ensuring that level of discontent by propping up dictators, starting a meaningless war, and otherwise interfering in the affairs of the region.

    Do you think that for one second, people there actually give a shit what you think? The answer is no. They don’t, you’re moralizing against a highly dubious backdrop. All this does is make it harder for feminists and rationalists over there to seem like anything more than ideological “agents of the West”. You want to help? Don’t. They don’t need you, they have their own backgrounds and their cultures have their own ways of effecting change. Don’t entangle the issue by tossing military might into the it.

  27. #27 eddie
    August 31, 2008

    Just remember. Those who support the present war in Afghanistan see the tribes as allies.

  28. #28 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    Is there a way the women of these tribal areas can be reached? A secret network of cell phones given to the women of Pakistan?

    These areas tend to be pretty remote so I am not sure to what extend there would be mobile phone coverage. There is also the problem of re-charging the phones as electricity grids are not always present, and it would not be so easy to charge a phone from a generator (limited sockets etc). Using wind or solar chargers might be to visible.

  29. #29 razib
    August 31, 2008

    this practice has nothing to do with the true islam! this is culture, not religion.

  30. #30 Captain C
    August 31, 2008

    If people keep using “it’s our custom” or “tradition” to defend barbarism, eventually, someone’s going to get wise and point out that it’s Western “custom” and “tradition” to conquer the sh*t out of everyone else and take all of their stuff, and that therefore they shouldn’t do anything about it, lest they offend us, or be culturally imperialistic, or something.

  31. #31 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    Let’s just make a big fucking crater out of the middle east, Iran, pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Like this, we’ll kill Osama bin Laden, get rid of Islamic fundamentalism, and it’ll be easier to extract petrol.

    And don’t tell me there aren’t many Americans who’d approve this message.

  32. #32 truth machine, OM
    August 31, 2008

    What annoys me as much people saying “we do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” is people saying “we’ve done it that way for ages, so we need a change”.

    Both are substitutes for actually using ones brain.

    If you actually were using your brain, you would realize that your latter is a caricature — no one actually says that — whereas the former is real. Such false equivalencies are a hallmark of intellectual dishonesty, a refusal to use your brain when doing so might upset your pet beliefs.

  33. #33 Ghost of Minnesota
    August 31, 2008

    http://www.stophonourkillings.com

    Visit the above link. Bookmark it. Support these people. They’re doing good work.

  34. #34 Sleeping at the Console
    August 31, 2008

    Given the centuries it took “the west” to get from the Dark Ages to where it is now, I suggest that it would be unreasonable to expect the whole of the rest of the world to make the transition in a few decades.

    But it doesn’t have to take as long as it did us, either. And we too have much work to do here as well.

    After all, the “civilisation” they experienced for much of the colonial period was in most cases probably not what you or I would care to subscribe to as a modern civilisation.

    No of course not. And I think that Europe have some sort of responsibility to help them out today.

    Was indeed civilisation in Europe or the USA just a few decades ago what you or I would care to subscribe to as a modern civilisation? To pick a random example: until the late 1940’s Britain was still imprisoning women for the “crime” of being raped. What about how the USA was treating blacks in 1960? Be thankful for where we are and don’t take it for granted.

    I would not want to go back to those days. Even if we had made considerable advancements up until a few decades ago, we have achieved even more since then. But to be honest, I’m not happy with the way we are now, either.

    We still have many problems with racial discrimination, gender inequality, social injustices, poverty even in the rich world, narrow views on marriage, ignorance, etc. We’re far from where I want us to be.

    Not of course that this in way means that we should refrain from condemning barbarity when we come across it.

    Wherever we may come across it, here or there.
    .

  35. #35 Stephen
    August 31, 2008

    Razib:

    this practice has nothing to do with the true islam!

    So just tell us this:
    a) which authority (person or organisation) defines what is “the true islam”?
    b) what percentage of the nominally muslim world accepts this authority?

  36. #36 truth machine, OM
    August 31, 2008

    In that case I suggest fire bombing the whole tribe. The world would be better off if they just stopped existing.

    Yeah, let’s kill off the women and children along with the men so the whole problem goes away.

    Or perhaps we should firebomb all the morons on the planet, including Norm.

    A secret network of cell phones given to the women of Pakistan?

    How about a secret network of cell phones given to the members of Pakistan’s upper house?

    Idiot.

  37. #37 Stephen
    August 31, 2008
    What annoys me as much people saying “we do it that way because we’ve always done it that way” is people saying “we’ve done it that way for ages, so we need a change”.

    If you actually were using your brain, you would realize that your latter is a caricature — no one actually says that …

    “No one actually says that????” I will charitably assume that you’ve just got up and not yet had any coffee. Or something. Let’s just say that if you had to buy me a meal for every time I’ve heard that from marketing managers, line managers, PR people, politicians etc, then your bank account would suffer serious damage.

  38. #38 truth machine, OM
    August 31, 2008

    Is it morally right to wish death upon these people that did this? Because I do. Thoughts anyone?

    If you acted on that wish, would it be morally right for their survivors to wish death upon you?

    What exactly does wishing death upon someone else get you? And it’s clearly all about you.

  39. #39 truth machine, OM
    August 31, 2008

    “No one actually says that????”

    Indeed, no one actually says that.

    I will charitably assume that you’ve just got up and not yet had any coffee. Or something. Let’s just say that if you had to buy me a meal for every time I’ve heard that from marketing managers, line managers, PR people, politicians etc, then your bank account would suffer serious damage.

    Let’s just say that you’re an idiot who can’t comprehend what is being said to you.

  40. #40 Interrobang
    August 31, 2008

    The British told them it was their custom to hang men who burned women alive. They also said, the next clown that torches a widow would swing from a rope. That ended settee.

    You wish. Haven’t read much about rural India lately, have you? The Indian government is still trying to enforce the ban, and ban the associated practice of women committing suicide by other means when their families and home villages shun them and turn them out. They then have nowhere to go and often wind up either committing suicide or begging in faraway cities while waiting to die.

    In other words, the prevailing patriarchy made sure that what replaced sati was no better.

  41. #41 Matt Penfold
    August 31, 2008

    this practice has nothing to do with the true islam! this is culture, not religion.

    Religion is merely part of culture.

  42. #42 Art
    August 31, 2008

    What gets me is not the act in and of itself.

    It is not uncommon for women to be shot and buried. What gets me is that the vast majority of these tragic events are done behind high fences, under the cover of night, by a small group and these individuals who are sworn to secrecy and who work hard as denying that the event ever took place. These people live in shame of the part they played and in fear of being caught and brought to justice.

    What bothers me is that this was done openly with the approval of the powers that be and to the acclaim of religious leaders. The men who did the deed do not feel shame and they do not fear prosecution. Indeed, they likely feel pride and have received some acclaim for their willingness to perform this brutal act.

    It is not so much that what they did was wrong on all possible levels. It is that this wrong is seen as right, just and a benefit to the society and its members. It is not just shameful and wrong. It is perversely held up as right.

  43. #43 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Matt Penfold wrote:

    Is there a way the women of these tribal areas can be reached? A secret network of cell phones given to the women of Pakistan?

    These areas tend to be pretty remote so I am not sure to what extend there would be mobile phone coverage. There is also the problem of re-charging the phones as electricity grids are not always present, and it would not be so easy to charge a phone from a generator (limited sockets etc). Using wind or solar chargers might be to visible.

    You’re right. They don’t have the infrastructure to support a normal cell-phone operation. In order to empower the women of the region you’d still need that communications grid with us plugged into it. Not only would you need the towers for mobile phone coverage (easily subject to sabotage if not hidden and protected) you’d need to be able to keep supplying them with batteries and/or have solar arrays that recharge them because of the lack of a good power grid.

    It would cost, yes, but consider what we’ve already spent on this war for such meager results and also what it would mean to get the women of the region on our side. They might be an incredible information source that could tell us where bin Laden and the others are.

    They’re the people who should have the biggest gripe and the biggest desire for the western change. They might be the easiest to recruit into a a spy network for that reason (not that they’d be the only ones you’d recruit).

    I could start listing the things you’d need and add up the cost and I think it would still be cheaper than many military operations we’re already doing… And not just the technology but local language speakers already on your side to do some consciousness raising of the women and it could be done in Pakistan because it’s not a military operation, but a police and spy operation.

    Alas, I’m not with the NSA or CIA so this is just some crazy idea I’m throwing out there and hoping it might percolate upwards to the right people for them to judge it’s merits.

  44. #44 Capital Dan
    August 31, 2008

    razib | August 31, 2008 1:07 PM

    this practice has nothing to do with the true islam! this is culture, not religion.

    Bullshit. When it comes to all religions, there is no such thing as a “true” anything. If you can’t grasp that, you are part of the problem.

    Just say that this is not your Islam, and pretend that your conscience is clean.

  45. #45 JStein
    August 31, 2008

    This is really a tragedy, and while I agree with you, PZ, that it’s a good idea to take some action on this, I do think it’s important to remind you that this is a tragedy, not just an opportunity to make a point. Your post seemed to ignore any sentimental attachment to these young women and use the event simply as a point.

    For those who would defend this as saying that this is part of religion and not a part of culture, it does say in the Koran that if a woman disobeys her parents, she is to be stoned to death. In fact, it says this in the Bible too. So that’s pretty obviously crap.

    That said, “true Islam” is only what it’s practitioners make it. If religious people are destroying every religion, using it to do evil things, then perhaps it’s not an issue of the people (who are capable of doing alot of good), but an issue of a religious system that doesn’t call for accountability for the stoning of young girls.

  46. #46 Alan Chapman
    August 31, 2008

    Argumentum ad Antiquitam incorrectly asserts that something is more likely to be correct because it is old or because “it has always been done that way.”

  47. #47 Daniel
    August 31, 2008

    It doesn’t matter that someone might be offended, what’s important is that we support equal opportunity and autonomy for all individuals and recognize that gender should not be a factor that affects the standing of citizens.

    Hmm. Aren’t equality and autonomy cultural values, just as oppression is?

    Yes.

    And I’m enough of a cultural imperialist to want to impose those values anywhere they aren’t found.

  48. #48 Neural T
    August 31, 2008

    We should support a modified version of Grover Norquist’s famous quote: “I don’t want to abolish religion. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

  49. #49 foxfire
    August 31, 2008

    or should we piss off a gang of pig-ignorant misogynistic Muslim tribesman by pointing out that their customs are barbaric and savage and oppressive?

    I can think of something far more effective than “pointing out” – see Raven’s # 12 (beat me to it)

  50. #50 Katharine
    August 31, 2008

    razib –

    It’s kind of sad when you, who are a very good blogger on ScienceBlogs, resort to a No True Scotsman argument.

  51. #51 Marcus Ranum
    August 31, 2008

    Is it morally right to wish death upon these people that did this? Because I do. Thoughts anyone?

    Morality: je nai pas besoin de ce hypothese.

    If you simply recognize that there is no such thing as “morality” or “right” and “wrong” then suddenly everyone’s* become a lot easier to make sense of.

    (*human, animal, etc.)

  52. #52 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    This story reminds me of two million deaths in Latin America over 40 years associated with the price of bananas and coffee.

    Well, except for the difference in numbers, but you’re right about ignorant fuckwad murdering barbarians and their silly customs.

    -post over
    Shop as usual

  53. #53 natural cynic
    August 31, 2008

    First of all, I think that “pig ignorant” is the proper Muslim-related level of insult to the Baluchi culture in this instance.

    One should also note that Baluchistan covers part of Iran and the Baluchis are “friends” of the CIA which has been trying to foment rebellion and independence from Iran. The enemy of my enemy is…

    On a milder note, Mike the Mad Biologist links to a Driftglass piece about something much nearer home in the attitudes of those being screwed the most by the neocons while they are focused on political trivialities. That’s part of our culture.

  54. #54 Bill the Cat
    August 31, 2008

    Why not help in some practically way, as in teaching women and girls how to murder a man in his sleep? If they would start killing off the men who get uppity, there’d be fewer and fewer arrogant men.

    In such societies, women cannot march in the streets. But they all have access to kitchens, knives, and whetstones.

  55. #55 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Bill the Cat wrote:

    Why not help in some practically way, as in teaching women and girls how to murder a man in his sleep? If they would start killing off the men who get uppity, there’d be fewer and fewer arrogant men.

    Because for one woman to do that would only result in her following death, it would be a kind of “suicide bombing” knowing what will happen when you do. That’s why you need to empower them with a communications network first (as in #43).

  56. #56 T_U_T
    August 31, 2008

    If you simply recognize that there is no such thing as “morality” or “right” and “wrong” then suddenly everyone’s* become a lot easier to make sense of.

    I sincerely hope you are just kidding.

  57. #57 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Danio #24
    The degree of tolerance that most are willing to extend to these monsters is simply mind-boggling.

    Right, but I assume you are an American, and are paying taxes, and hopefully Gustav will blow out the fire that just erupted when my hypocrometer exploded.

    I suggest reading up on the works of Jennifer Harbury as a starting point.

    There’s a big difference between getting belly shot and buried, which is a relatively easy way to go, and having every bone in your body broken, then reset purposefully crooked, you genitals removed by twisting, or breasts in the same fashion, having gases injected into your body, being drowned unconscious every day, and burned with a blow torch for over two years with doctors on hand to prevent your death.

    Those were your tax dollars at work if you’re over thirty, and coffee still went up in price, despite our tolerance.

    One might suggest those days are behind us, but how about this report from Bag-dad I lifted for a torture mix?

    http://acksisofevil.org/audio/torture.mp3

    I’ll take the gut shot and buried alive option over US practices any day.

    Danio I love you to death, and enjoy reading you regularly, but please understand, there’s not a whole lot we can do about Pakistani lunatics, so perhaps we should focus our energy inward, even though the twisted image from a warped made in USA mirror reflects a somewhat hideous image.

  58. #58 T_U_T
    August 31, 2008

    I love this one
    some americans horribly tortured some people, so all americans have to shut up forever and can not complain about anything other people do no matter how evil

  59. #59 T_U_T
    August 31, 2008

    I love this one
    some americans horribly tortured some people, so all americans have to shut up forever and can not complain about anything other people do no matter how evil

  60. #60 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Stephen and Truth Machine

    At my own peril I have to side with Stephen on the dabate. People will change shit that is working just fine simply to make a name for themselves.

    Not only is history rife with misguided do-gooders or self promoters crashing a system, but the field of engineering is constantly threatened by such improvements

    Not a week goes by that I do not have to clean up mechanical systems that have been upgraded into the new digital wonderland.

    Sometimes a simple on off switch, and a potentiometer is sufficient, as opposed to fully programmable digital front end display systems.

    And so on down the line.

  61. #61 Jacob Basson
    August 31, 2008

    at least it’s evidence for evolution…these people seem like a transitional species, somewhere between apes and humans.

  62. #62 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    T_U_T
    some americans horribly tortured some people, so all americans have to shut up forever and can not complain about anything other people do no matter how evil

    Your point is well taken, and a pertinent criticism.

    However it’s not just some americans tortured and murdered some people . The subject was tolerance of barbaric practices, how could that be?

    In that context 300 million taxpaying US citizens not only tolerate, but finance practices far more barbaric than described in PZ’s post. So it’s a lot of Americans tolerating alot of other Americans torturing and murdering a SHITLOAD of human beings.

    I used the example of Guatemala where we financed the extermination of many Mayan cultures and language groups, and even with the Sudan in mind, I would challenge anyone to come up with a body count from Islamotards since 900 BC that would rival the victims of US nationalism, which is a very recent tumor.
    so all americans have to shut up forever

    I never said Danio should shut up, I simply remind people on this list that they need to take a good long hard look in the mirror, then post their outrage in context.

    This is consistent with the message I’ve been preaching since Newbie.

    Nationalism is stoopider and more dangerous than religion.

    And religion is astonishingly stoopid.

  63. #63 The Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    Hegemonic Imperialism WIN!

    To say this has nothing to do with Islam is not a NTS argument. It fundamentally has nothing to do with Islam. As in: There is no Islamic rationale behind it. It’s a tribal custom, pure and simple.

    It’s just that everyone on these comments has no experience with the region. The absolute only thing you people understand is Pakistan=Muslims. While it is true that most Pakistanis are Muslim, that’s all people here know. It would be like someone who knows nothing about America except that it has high rates of drug crime trying to explain a phenomenon based on no other knowledge or context.

    This is evident from the discussion people are having about cell phones. I know people who live in the tribal regions of Pakistan. It depends on the tribal region, but many of these places do have internet access and cellphones and whatnot already. Meanwhile, in case it wasn’t obvious from the article from a Pakistani newspaper, Pakistani lawmakers are trying to do something about it.

    To sum: Most of you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about, because you have no context, you understand nothing else but the idea that religion is bad. Most of you wouldn’t be able to tell me what language these people speak without looking it up. You don’t know the region’s history, or its ethnic makeup, but you’ll stand there and refute the idea that Islam has nothing to do with this. When Dawkins says that religion is not the cause of all evil, I get the feeling he’s the only person that take that seriously.

    You think that because you can find Pakistan on a map you know a hell of a lot more than the average ignoramus who can’t string together more than too syllables, you are wrong.

    You know what though, I’ll agree with you, Islam is exactly what caused this to happen. Fine. Now based on that fundamentally wrong assertion, let’s see if any course of action will arise that will bring an end to this behavior. Go ahead, run with your foolish little assumption, but when you fuck things up beyond all recognition, don’t expect me to forgive you for the damage you do.

    Oh, what’s that? You aren’t going to do anything? You’re just going to sit here on the comments section of someone’s blog and spout puerile moral declarations? That’s a relief. You won’t do any damage after all.

  64. #64 T_U_T
    August 31, 2008

    How many americans really do tolerate torture perpetrated by their own country, opposed to being just ignorant about it, or being unable to stop it ?
    I would guess, that no one on this blog is actually tolerant to atrocities perpetrated by US of america, so, please, take your old tired tu quoque gambit and go troll somewhere else

  65. #65 Alan Chapnman
    August 31, 2008

    T_U_T #64: A great many Americans support using torture because they see it effectively used by Jack Bauer on 24 to save the day.

  66. #66 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    The Chemist wrote:

    This is evident from the discussion people are having about cell phones. I know people who live in the tribal regions of Pakistan. It depends on the tribal region, but many of these places do have internet access and cellphones and whatnot already.

    That was me. And you’re right, I have no fucking clue what I’m talking about as far cell-phones in the tribal regions and I have no context for understanding how this “tradition” could be, but I do think I understand more than the idea that religion is bad.

    I also think this repression of women is bad no matter what context. What I don’t understand is why the woman themselves aren’t fighting it more aggressively.

    Pakistani lawmakers are trying to do something about it.

    So?

    … you’ll stand there and refute the idea that Islam has nothing to do with this.

    That was not me. Don’t lump us all together into one ignorant mass — we each have different levels of ignorance — as do you.

    I’ll agree with you, Islam is exactly what caused this to happen. Fine. Now based on that fundamentally wrong assertion, let’s see if any course of action will arise that will bring an end to this behavior.

    I never blamed Islam – I don’t know. I may not know what cell-phone and internet accessibility there is in Pakistan, but I do think I know that if you can get in there and start talking to the women, raising consciousness, and net-working them they might be fine allies and spies. Shouldn’t they have less loyalty to the system that oppresses them than the men?

    Go ahead, run with your foolish little assumption, but when you fuck things up beyond all recognition, don’t expect me to forgive you for the damage you do.

    I’m just tossing ideas out here – I’m not claiming to know anything so I can’t fuck it up until someone who should know better uses my idea. If you’ve got reason to criticize my idea other than to note that I don’t know about cell-phone accessibility then do so.

    Until then you’ve just missed the point.

  67. #67 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Horrible enough that the practice takes place, for someone in the Senate to defend it? I nearly threw up.

    However (and I hate statements that begin with ‘however’), the notion of burials such as these as being a tribal custom are, quite rightly mentioned in the article, questionable. As is the link to Islam, being inferred (at least to me, so I could be misinterpreting, in which case I apologise) by a couple of comments here.

    Traditions, customs et al are always going to be devised as a means of retaining certain social/political strengths. All it takes is someone to commit a horrific act – whether suttee, burying someone alive, or stoning – claim a context in which it can be allowed, and then after enough time it gets taken as a long-standing tradition, never mind how illogic or horrific it may be. Calling something “a tradition” in response to criticism of certain behaviours is a way of curtailing any further discussion, especially if the adherent stands to lose out. Living in Pakistan, I can’t count the number of times my friends and I have had arguments with South Asian American/English equivalents of Israeli Settlers (in terms of sheer fanatical/romanticism mindsets) as to why honour killings aren’t something to “take pride in, and something the West is trying to take away from us” (yes, really). At some point, the words “a tradition” have been used.

    Religions are pretty much the most obvious examples. Whether it’s circumcision – male and female – or sacrificing of animals (which really has no use, and needs to be banned, quite frankly), there’ll always be a tradition that’s been carried on for so long, that it becomes “part” of the religion. That being said, though, I do have to say that as much as Islam is flawed ( and I’m not talking in the Mark “I’m a bigot” Steyn or Christopher “Here’s another cash cow” Hitchens senses of the word), it’s not the culprit here. Horrible abuses have taken place in its name, no question there, but what you have here is patriarchal power being not only used to a horrible end, but also the justification of such under the flag of tradition.

  68. #68 Chiroptera
    August 31, 2008

    The Chemist, #26: This has nothing to do with even the most radical and strictest interpretations of Islam. It’s a tribal custom, Islam explicitly forbids the burying alive of women and daughters as well as forced marriage.

    I have always maintained that the “true” tenets of a religion are what the adherents of that religion actually say and do. If in the next couple of days important Islamic teachers and leaders will condemn these acts as un-Islamic, pointing out that these people are acting against the clear tenets of Islam, ask Muslims worldwide to do what they can to alleviate the plight of the women in this area, and ask non-Muslims not to judge Islam by what these particular people are doing.

    Me, I suspect that most Islamic teachers and leaders aren’t going to care all that much about these tribal customs, and that Islamis practice is, overall, at least complicit in horrendous acts of misogyny. I hope I’m wrong, though.

  69. #69 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Norman, aggressive and pro-active measures must be undertaken that provide stable physical support to women, and guaranteed access to education, legal services, jobs, that propel them towards rightful egalitarian standing. The laws must be changed so that women regarded as equal, and not subject to whims of “ordinances.” There’s no disagreement there.

    What I do have to disagree with is the notion of recruiting women as “allies and spies.” Setting aside the obvious dangers to not only the women, but their friends and loved ones, discovery of them being spies would lead to further hostilities and distrust towards any ngos that work in sustainable developement, in particular with gender issues. Another point is that as mentioned earlier in the comments thread, America’s not exactly well-loved here in Pakistan. This precedes the whole post September 11th headache, and goes back to the Afghan/Soviet/US scuffle of the 80s. Much like the US ditching the South Vietnamese soldiers to the North, the Americans pretty much ditched Afghanis and Pakistanis to the devices of proto-Taliban and Pakistani ISI types for a number of years. And keep in mind that although the marginally less psychotic Awami League has managed to gain the NWFP/FATA areas in terms of votes, you still have residual hatred for the US in that sense. Osama may be scum to most Pakistanis, to fanatics and victims of American/British missiles he’s a hero. Consider what female “allies and spies” would be up against, even if America and Western nations could insure that these women and their loved ones could be taken somewhere safe (outside Asia) at a moment’s notice.

    I’m just sayin’.

  70. #70 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Chiroptera (#68): I recall reading a story in a book about Islam my parents had bought for me as a kid. The story talked about how a man had buried his young daughter alive (one that loved him) out of shame of having no sons. When Muhammad had found out about this, the story went on to say that he cried out of sadness for this, as he felt that she was to have been loved more than a son, and he condemned the man strongly and refused to think of him as a Muslim.

    A couple more examples:

    a) Muhammad’s first wife Khadija – who was a couple of decades older than him or so – was an independent merchant who had hired him as a salesman. When she saw how successful he was, she proposed to him.
    b) One of the things I had to read about as a kid was how Mo was being laughed at for having no living sons. He then claimed that god/allah had said that “verily, your enemies are cut off from the root”.

    I’m not saying that Islam is perfect, I’m just citing a couple of examples of how it’s not all “women are bad, mmmkay.”

  71. #71 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Adnan Y. wrote:

    Osama may be scum to most Pakistanis, to fanatics and victims of American/British missiles he’s a hero. Consider what female “allies and spies” would be up against, even if America and Western nations could insure that these women and their loved ones could be taken somewhere safe (outside Asia) at a moment’s notice.

    Point taken, but that’s true for all people who become spies. There is no spy who doesn’t take that risk. And if women already take such a risk just to assert their desire to marry whom they want then being a spy would add only a little more to the risks the rebel women already take. The point is that this isn’t just a bad/immoral practice the Taliban are engaging in, it’s a military weakness that might bring them down if we can properly exploit it. There should be a larger pool of women willing to take that risk than you’d find in a more egalitarian system.

    Of course, I guess America sucks at keeping promises and if that’s true we shouldn’t be as easily trusted — our mistake.

  72. #72 Chiroptera
    August 31, 2008

    Adnan Y, #60:

    I lived three years in a country that was even split between Christians and Muslims. The Muslims I knew were pretty decent folks, not much different than the Christians I knew. There were Muslims were terribly backward (the euphemism we used was “traditional”) viewpoints, and some with very progressive viewpoints.

    At the same time, I knew a Seventh Day Adventist who loved pork. Just because I know some Seventh Day Adventists who eat pork or shellfish or drink alcohol, I’m not going to claim that Seventh Day Adventists doctrine allows the consumption of these items. Doctrine can only be determined, in my opinion, by the actual practices of the adherents.

    Just as I have little patience with the retards at worldnetdaily who cherry pick the Qur’an for verses to claim how Islam stands against the values of Western liberal democracy, so I don’t have much patience with people who quote the Qur’an or the Hadith or traditional stories to claim that Islam is somehow more progressive than that attitudes of majority of its adherents.

    Most Muslims live in “traditional” cultures where women tend to have low status. As such, most Muslims, including many of the ones who immigrate to the West, hold very “traditional” views of women, and use their Islamic beliefs to justify this. So it is fair to say that overall women have a lower status in Islam.

    It may be that eventually the more progressive ideals of the Western Enlightenment will percolate into the nations where Islam is predominate (like, for example modern Turkey), or that Islamic women, seeing the possibilities in the examples of Western women, will be successful in their demands in being treated and viewed as equals, much like Western Christianity was, by and large, forced to accept many of the tenets of Western liberal democracy. Maybe someday it will be part of the practice of actual living Muslims to treat women as equals. If and when it comes, then, looking at the practice of actual Muslims, I will conclude that equality of women has become Muslim doctrine.

    Overall, I agree that it is too simplistic to say that “this is un-Christian” or “that is un-Islamic”. But I am of the opinion that how the greater part of the adherents of a belief system believe, talk, and act is what actually defines the belief system under consideration.

  73. #73 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    #7 Jason,

    For one more example of the Brits showing cultural insensitivity, they took the lead in fighting the slave trade in the 1800s, over the objections of just about everybody else.

    Hell, the Saudis still practice it rather blatantly, even though they nominally outlawed it in 1960. There have been a handful of cases of Saudi nationals keeping slaves in the United States over the last couple of decades.

    -jcr

  74. #74 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    #63 Chemist

    I agree with your post. At the High School my daughter attends, a mexican kid was kidnapped by white supremacist students and tortured nearly to death.

    He managed to survive, but was torn up inside from anal assault with objects.

    It became a national issue, and he was a poster child against hate crimes, but sadly he committed suicide.

    White Supremacy and Christianity have a long history in bed, but no one would blame this crime on Christianity. There is a tribal tradition in southern states torturing and murdering people of color, but that is not an extension of sky fairy bullshit.

    The cops do it, the rednecks do it, it’s big fun around here.

  75. #75 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    Is it morally right to wish death upon these people that did this?

    Yes.

    -jcr

  76. #76 the Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    Adnan @ 69

    Exactly my point, but made so much better.

    Norman @ 66,
    I was only speaking to you specifically in my comment preceding the one you reference. That other one was directed at a host of other people.

    However your idea is a common colonialist one: These people can’t be trusted to civilize themselves, let’s jump on in there!

    Meanwhile, feminism experiences difficulty maturing in part because it gets conflated with “The West”. For more information, see As’ad Abu Khalil’s pointed critique of what is essentially colonialist feminism. For the record, aside from being a fully qualified political scientist, he is also an atheist.

    @ Chiroptera,

    If I wanted to sit here and defend Islam, I would have done so explicitly. My primary point is that Islam is to the greater extent irrelevant to the issue.

  77. #77 John C. Randolph
    August 31, 2008

    In that case I suggest fire bombing the whole tribe.

    Woah, there. There is no such thing as collective guilt. We do not know that every person in that tribe was complicit in the crime, and if you execute someone who didn’t participate, then you lose the moral basis for your action.

    -jcr

  78. #78 Chiroptera
    August 31, 2008

    The Chemist, #76: My primary point is that Islam is to the greater extent irrelevant to the issue.

    I agree. At least until the tribal leaders use their Islamic beliefs to justify their customs while other Muslims around the world refuse to unequivocally condemn the practices as having nothing to do with Islam. Then I think it becomes relevant.

  79. #79 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Adnan Y. wrote:

    Setting aside the obvious dangers to not only the women, but their friends and loved ones, discovery of them being spies would lead to further hostilities and distrust towards any ngos that work in sustainable developement, in particular with gender issues.

    How much more hostile can they get?

    You may have a very good point there, I don’t know how to evaluate that. It depends on how much “ngos” (non-governmental organizations?) that work in sustainable developement and gender issues are not already associated with the west and the war. Doesn’t the Taliban already resent and distrust them?

    You seem to be suggesting that a fake CIA ngo would be how we recruit female spies, or that this would be assumed by the Taliban.

    If we actually plan on winning this thing and changing the culture that association could eventually be positive as those women would become heros, proven competent and effective where an American military wasn’t.

  80. #80 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Chiroptera: Fair comment, and I have to agree that perhaps citing anecdotes may not have been the best on my part. But that being said, I was not trying to say that it was progressive. I simply put those bits forth as the other side of the coin, as it were. As much as I disagree with Islam and religions in general as an atheist, I was also raised in what I could consider a fair enlightened household, with a mother, gran, and other relatives that considered Islam and feminism to be compatible – even if spending my teens in Lahore, as well observing how some Muslims act in parts of the UK, has made me somewhat sceptical over the years in that regard.

    Also, whilst you concluding statement is something I’m inclined to agree with to an extent, I’m not entirely sure that I could say that Wahabist/Sunni-tinged Islam defines the rest of Islam, any more than Catholic Christia…hmm, might have to re-think that. ;)

    Norman (#71): the last two sentences in your first paragraph make sense. I think that yes, you’d have a more than ample amount of women willing to take the chance, but they’d want to make sure that they weren’t left hanging by their allies/backers, only to be fed to the Warlords – some of whom, the last time I checked, are have brokered deals with the Pakistan Gov and the US. I’d love to see women militia/soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Swat, etc, but if the US got into their corner, at least publicly, that’d end up jeopardising things, if only due to being American. To quote the Jackal, the Americans have “queered the field for everyone else.”

  81. #81 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Argh. That “are” isn’t supposed to be in front of “have brokered.” : P

  82. #82 Sven DiMilo
    August 31, 2008

    razib’s was truly not a true No True Scotsman argument.

  83. #83 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Chiroptera

    If in the next couple of days important Islamic teachers and leaders will condemn these acts as un-Islamic,

    Right, that’s a good point but what country do you live in?
    Every Islamic fucktard Iman on God’s grey earth could protest this and how would you know about it?

    Unless you subscribe to AP wire feeds, or get Al Jizzeara on your computer.

    You don’t honestly believe that you would hear Muslim outrage on any news network this side of Tel Aviv do you?

    You live in a country where every kook freak Muslim in the world was outraged by 9-11, and CNN played file footage of Palestinians dancing in the street that was a year old.

    Get a clue

  84. #84 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    John C. Randolph wrote:

    In that case I suggest fire bombing the whole tribe.

    Woah, there. There is no such thing as collective guilt. We do not know that every person in that tribe was complicit in the crime, and if you execute someone who didn’t participate, then you lose the moral basis for your action.

    Please, don’t take that out of context. We are already fire bombing whole tribes. War doesn’t assume collective guilt, just the expediency of mass murder. It wasn’t meant to be taken as a real recommendation.

  85. #85 Adnan Y.
    August 31, 2008

    Norman: “You seem to be suggesting that a fake CIA ngo would be how we recruit female spies, or that this would be assumed by the Taliban.”

    What I was suggesting was more the latter part. The Taliban and their supporters would be – and are – suspicious in that regard. Heck, you have fundamentalist-sympathisers (I’ve met a couple) in Lahore who claim that RAWA – The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, an organisation I support- was created with CIA money, and is actually a front – never mind that they’ve openly been against American involvement in Afghanistan both after Sept 11th and in the 80s.

  86. #86 Chiroptera
    August 31, 2008

    scooter, #83:

    Okay, let’s assume that I live in a cave with my TV permanently set on Fox News. I clearly have access to the internet. So, since this thread will be open for a few more days at least, why don’t you supply us with what you feel is relevant news about Muslim reaction as it comes in? Personally, I will be delighted to find out that the majority of Muslims and their leaders are far more reasonable than I fear.

  87. #87 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    T_U_T

    please, take your old tired tu quoque gambit and go troll somewhere else

    wow a latin term, I’m impressed.

    I missed the meeting where you became the gatekeeper for free speech.

    Reminds me of photographers banned from flagged draped coffin off loadings.

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

    Nice try but as a flamer, you’re pathetic.

  88. #88 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    the Chemist wrote:

    … your idea is a common colonialist one: These people can’t be trusted to civilize themselves, let’s jump on in there!

    No, this isn’t, to my knowledge, colonialist. This is a defensive war. America was attacked by a group perhaps located near that region. And because the Taliban hasn’t civilized themselves they have a weakness we might exploit — their women should resent them.

    …feminism experiences difficulty maturing in part because it gets conflated with “The West”.

    Is that a bad thing? Why? Modern feminism is of the West, isn’t it?

  89. #89 T_U_T
    August 31, 2008

    huh ? free speech ? you mean free trolling, dont you ? ( I hope this is the last food on this thread you will get )

  90. #90 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Adnan Y. wrote:

    The Taliban and their supporters would be – and are – suspicious in that regard. Heck, you have fundamentalist-sympathisers (I’ve met a couple) in Lahore who claim that RAWA – The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, an organisation I support- was created with CIA money, and is actually a front – never mind that they’ve openly been against American involvement in Afghanistan both after Sept 11th and in the 80s.

    We lost the cultural battle in the 80s? Because when we were supporting the Taliban against the Russians they didn’t like us? RAWA doesn’t look to the U.S. as a progressive influence, people whose help they would welcome? Or are they just trying not to get killed by the Taliban and can’t admit to that?

    If it’s the later, maybe that just makes the risks more worth taking since you’ll be under suspicion no matter what, because it is too logical a choice to spy for us and the Taliban can see it.

  91. #91 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    John Randolph at #73

    For one more example of the Brits showing cultural insensitivity, they took the lead in fighting the slave trade in the 1800s,

    oh Pulleeeeze. The brits took a stand against slavery, but the largest market for slaves was the US and the Carribean.

    Look into this a bit deeper, all of the slave ships running around the globe were owned by British investors.

    Nice lip service from the brits, whose economy would hardly benefit from slavery in their borders, after all, they had plenty of Irish, but Britain controlled the transportation side of the Slave trade till the bitter end.

  92. #92 The Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    Is that a bad thing? Why? Modern feminism is of the West, isn’t it?

    Ah, ethnocentrism, my reliable little buddy! I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t raised its ugly little head so blatantly.

    This only goes to show precisely how little you know about feminism in general.

    Do you honestly believe that feminists in Soviet Russia held the same ideas as women in the United States? No..

    Do you honestly think the west exists as a post-feminist society? No yet again.

    It also shows how little you understand about world history.

    By the way, framing this in the context of some vaguely defined “War on Terror” is utterly quixotic, windmillish, and above all, fucktarded. Women are parts of the societies that oppress them, to point to them as this distinct group that exists in a vacuum is to fail to understand the role women themselves play in perpetuating sexism.

    @Chiroptera,

    The point that Scoop is trying to make is that you never hear the Muslim’s condemn anything amongst themselves in their languages. They have no obligation to turn to you for approval. Sorry.

    Just remember this story is printed in a Pakistani newpaper whose primary readership is Pakistani and was originally founded to be a part of the Muslim press. You could hardly argue it’s slanted to the murderers.

  93. #93 Ron Sullivan
    August 31, 2008

    Bill the Cat at #54:

    Why not help in some practically way, as in teaching women and girls how to murder a man in his sleep?

    Bill, Bill, Bill. Do you have some fantasy that women and girls don’t know how to murder a man in his sleep? Why don’t they do it? Sometimes they do, and gee, ya think that might have something to do with why, e.g., suttee/sati was invented? Never mind the culturewash job thrown over it; it’s generally safe to assume those are, to speak ironically, rationalizations.

    Terrorism works. Duh. Hostage-taking works, too, especially when the hostages (as well as the hostage-takers) are your own children, siblings, parents, family, people. And contempt gets internalized when one’s born into it and surrounded by it all one’s life.

    As for the idea that we should recruit “tribal” women–What you mean “we,” white man?

  94. #94 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Chiro

    since this thread will be open for a few more days at least, why don’t you supply us with what you feel is relevant news

    c’mon give me a break.

    I have a life a family a day job and radio show, I can’t sit around collecting data for Pharyngula.

    My point is that you assumed if the Muslim world denounced this murderous act that you would hear about it on TV, radio, or a yahoo group

    I can tell you with some authority that you would not hear about it.

    I am part of the fucking media, and Muslims denouncing honor killings in backwash Pakistan is not news.

    I don’t mean to demean your outrage, ‘No Man/Woman is an island’.

    But you can’t blame this stuff on Islamic fucktards, it wreaks of Hindu customs, but you won’t hear that on TV unless it is politically expedient. The world is a complicated place, and the News is all about that which can be explained in 30 seconds.

  95. #95 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    The Chemist wrote:

    By the way, framing this in the context of some vaguely defined “War on Terror” is utterly quixotic, windmillish, and above all, fucktarded. Women are parts of the societies that oppress them, to point to them as this distinct group that exists in a vacuum is to fail to understand the role women themselves play in perpetuating sexism.

    I may not know much about feminists in Soviet Russia or elsewhere in the world, but I do get that women are parts of the societies that oppress them. That still happens in America with Mormons and victims of spousal abuse. I never said or implied that they were a distinct group that exists in a vacuum. To a certain extent I get how women themselves play a role in perpetuating sexism (Why? I think fear has a lot to do with it. Can you elaborate on any other reasons they would continue to perpetuate such extreme sexism besides religious beliefs?).

    None of that changes the fact that those who can have their consciousness raised might want to help the West in bringing down the Taliban. What I am starting to see is how you seem to resent the West and America.

  96. #96 David Marjanovi
    August 31, 2008

    What I don’t understand is why the woman themselves aren’t fighting it more aggressively.

    Because they’re brainwashed, duh. People are capable of actually believing religious, cultural etc. dogmas that are to their manifest disadvantage.

  97. #97 David Marjanovi?, OM
    August 31, 2008

    Hindu customs in Balochistan? Hard to imagine.

    PZ, would you please fix the typo in the code near the beginning of the page? All the formatting is gone. The page, as displayed by IE7, currently starts with “<\/SCRIPT>’);”. And my name ends up miscoded, it seems.

  98. #98 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    T_U_T

    huh ? free speech ? you mean free trolling, dont you ? ( I hope this is the last food on this thread you will get

    WHOA I’m totally awesomed by your frantic scary typing in your mothers basement.

    Your wit and cleverosity has crashed teh Internets, all online functions have ceased, and taken this historic moment in history to bow down before your shocking, yet humane, with a whiff of poignant human interest cornucopia of verbal brilliance.

    There’s no way I’m going to fuck with T_U_T, that mutherfucker rocks, and probably has awesome tires on his ride and subscribes to Soldier of Fortune.

    I’m no match for that infinite expanse of awesomeness.

  99. #99 SC
    August 31, 2008

    CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE.

    They are fighting against it aggressively. Pay fucking attention, and show some solidarity.

    http://iran-women-solidarity.net/spip.php?article430

  100. #100 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    Ron Sullivan wrote:

    As for the idea that we should recruit “tribal” women–What you mean “we,” white man?

    I mean “we” as in America, it’s an idea that might percolate up to the guys (and gals) in the American intelligence departments who are trying to take out Al Qaeda if they haven’t already considered it. It’s not about some altruistic motive to help women — that just might be a side effect. It’s about exploiting a weakness that logically should be there.

    It’s an idea about exploiting emotions like these:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/books/chapters/chapter-19th-wife.html?_r=1&ref=firstchapters&oref=slogin

    Those feelings that caused that murder should exist among the women of Al Qaeda.

  101. #101 SC
    August 31, 2008

    PZ, would you please fix the typo in the code near the beginning of the page?

    Please, please, please.

  102. #102 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2008

    What typo? It all looks fine to me. Is it on the main page too, or just in this one article?

  103. #103 The Chemist
    August 31, 2008

    @Norman,

    Yes indeed, it is my resentment of the US that is going to compel me to vote in November. It is my resentment of “the West” (which you should notice I rarely fail to put in quotation marks) that makes me wear jeans and a t-shirt 99% of the time. I just so happen to have one foot in both camps in this case.

    This preoccupation with the War on Terror, the war you “plan on winning” pisses me off. When will you understand that this is not a winnable war because it has no clear objectives? You won’t, because you’re like every other gung-ho uber nationalist I’ve ever met- patriotic and idiotic at the same time.

    When you feel that it is necessary to lecture people who not only are deeply involved in the cultures you mention, but who also are related and connected to women in those cultures, you become like every other colonialist: “Here, eat this, it’s good for you! No your history doesn’t matter, this is from my house, IT’S GOOD! Open wide! I said open you fucker!”

    Meanwhile, people like Adnan and I, who actually spend time on the fucking ground doing things to help make the situation better, and who have to come in contact with the absolute worst sexists and terrorist sympathizers also have to deal with you trying to make us seek your “civilized” standards.

    You know what? Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I’m not going to bother attempting to drill through that thick skull of yours.

    @ Chiroptera: Since I’m not coming back, I’ll meet you halfway on the providing Muslim sources of contemplation/outrage thing. This isn’t specifically related to the issue at hand. However it does go to show that people over there can think for themselves without Western intervention from time to time. This is a comic decrying the relationship between Islam, Ramadan, The War on Terror (TM), and scientific discovery.

    You want me to translate it for you? Well if the junk mail I get from private security contractors offering jobs in Iraq is anything to go by, that’ll be a couple of thousand bucks.

    I’ll take a check.

    The Chemist- OUT!

  104. #104 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    David Marjanovi? wrote:

    Because they’re brainwashed, duh. People are capable of actually believing religious, cultural etc. dogmas that are to their manifest disadvantage.

    That’s not a real explanation. That’s a pseudo-explanation. A real explanation would have to explore the emotions and ideas associated with such “brainwashing.”

  105. #105 SC
    August 31, 2008

    What typo? It all looks fine to me. Is it on the main page too, or just in this one article?

    This post and comments are running off the edge of the page. Something is wrong. Make it stop! :)

  106. #106 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    The Chemist wrote:

    When will you understand that this is not a winnable war because it has no clear objectives?

    Some clear objectives for you:

    1) Capture or kill Osama bin Laden and all others involved in planning the 9/11 attack.

    2) Don’t leave behind a mess that will just give birth to another monster like bin Laden.

    When you feel that it is necessary to lecture people who not only are deeply involved in the cultures you mention, but who also are related and connected to women in those cultures, you become like every other colonialist: “Here, eat this, it’s good for you! No your history doesn’t matter, this is from my house, IT’S GOOD! Open wide! I said open you fucker!”

    Hmmm… really angry there, are we?

    Meanwhile, people like Adnan and I, who actually spend time on the fucking ground doing things to help make the situation better, and who have to come in contact with the absolute worst sexists and terrorist sympathizers also have to deal with you trying to make us seek your “civilized” standards.

    You have a problem with our “civilized” standards. Got that.

    You know what? Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I’m not going to bother attempting to drill through that thick skull of yours.

    Well, whatever you were trying to communicate I think it was you who did a piss poor job of communicating it, not me trying to get it. I’ve admitted there is a lot I don’t know but you’ve done nothing but insult me.

  107. #107 tcb
    August 31, 2008

    This post and comments are running off the edge of the page. Something is wrong. Make it stop!

    Yikes! What a mess.

    It’s only IE; Firefox (Mac and Windows) looks fine.

  108. #108 SC
    August 31, 2008

    It’s only IE; Firefox (Mac and Windows) looks fine.

    Ah. I should have known. The recent “Am I still crashing IE?” thread explains my pitiful circumstances. :)

  109. #109 tcb
    August 31, 2008

    Found it. From the page source:

    meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Whenever you hear someone defend an action with the excuse that “it is our custom,” “it is traditional,” “we’ve always done it that way,” “it is written so in our sacred texts,” or variants thereof, slap ‘em down and spit…”

    IE can’t parse the multiple double-quotes and gives up until it decides to use the one in the /script tag. Or something.

  110. #110 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    Norman Doering
    A real explanation would have to explore the emotions and ideas associated with such “brainwashing.”

    duhhh the Milgram experiments, google freely

    -post over
    keep shopping

  111. #111 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Yay! Thanks.

  112. #112 SC
    August 31, 2008

    (and thanks tcb :))

  113. #113 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    scooter wrote:

    …the Milgram experiments, google freely

    I know about “The Milgram experiment” it was about concerning obedience to an authority figure. That is not “brainwashing” and it doesn’t really describe the victim (a fake in the experiment) but the willing abuser of the victim.

    You are seriously off target.

  114. #114 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    When you have a nation of sheep, there is no need to brainwash.

    They must have been born like that. It’s a biological imperative we inherited from Clams like L, Ron Hubbard told us.
    Clop Clop Clop

    c’mon

    Doering

    I know you want to say it

    c’mon

    you support the troops, don’t you?

    give it up
    say it

    Norman supports the troops

    go for it, it sounds awesome
    I support the Troops

    don’t forget to capitalize “Troops”

  115. #115 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    scooter wrote:

    When you have a nation of sheep, there is no need to brainwash.
    They must have been born like that.

    “They”? Not you too?

    I know you want to say it
    c’mon
    you support the troops, don’t you?

    What does that even mean?

    Whatever your delusion is I find it incomprehensible.

  116. #116 scooter
    August 31, 2008

    No microsoft font dribbles were harmed when Norman posted:

    When you have a nation of sheep, there is no need to brainwash. They must have been born like that.

    “They”? Not you too?

    uhhhhh, I are not brainwashed, that’s why I refuse to talk to a traitorous, liberal commie faggot shit like you, who does not support the troops.

    I have friends at homeland security and they will be in contact with you soon

  117. #117 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Here’s a classic work – a good place to start:

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2938584

    #43:

    Alas, I’m not with the NSA or CIA so this is just some crazy idea I’m throwing out there and hoping it might percolate upwards to the right people for them to judge it’s merits.

    Oh man, whatever. (It would be equally crazy were you with those agencies – about their speed, actually.)

    Ghost of Minnesota’s link @ #33.

    Mine @ #99.

    See also LabourStart’s Iran campaign.

    getting belly shot and buried, which is a relatively easy way to go,

    Are you insane? Seriously. Are you insane?

    This is a defensive war.

    Right. Again,

    http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/music_satire.htm

    (Scroll about 40% of the way down for Robert Newman’s History of Oil.)

  118. #118 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    Norman Doering,

    2) Don’t leave behind a mess that will just give birth to another monster like bin Laden.

    And that’s going to happen with spending all the money on the military and sending soldiers, but nothing for educators, civil engineers, doctors, etc…

    I really think most Americans have absolutely no idea the mess Afghanstan is in today, and that’s 7 years after the begining. Nobody in America starts thinkng that getting rid durably of the kind of mess they’re in so that the Taliban won’t come back as soon as soldiers have left is going to take something different than just sending more soldiers ?

  119. #119 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    SC wrote:

    (It would be equally crazy were you with those agencies – about their speed, actually.)

    Yes, but they might have done it without fully exploring the ramifications (not that I fully have) but I actually did find out what one cost of doing it might be: According to Adnan Y. it could seriously harm homegrown efforts to fight sexism and the reputation of ngos working in the region if it ever got exposed.

    If I were with the NSA or CIA I would still be exploring the idea, everything has potential blow back and that cost doesn’t sound that bad compared to the blow back we seem to have already harvested… So, maybe I am as bad as they are… if you think they are. I’m not sure if you mean “their speed” as an insult or a compliment… I think an insult.

  120. #120 SC
    August 31, 2008

    … I think an insult.

    You’re right.

    According to Adnan Y. it could seriously harm homegrown efforts to fight sexism and the reputation of ngos working in the region if it ever got exposed.

    This thread is probably the tenth time I’ve linked to groups or organizations fighting sex/gender discrimination in these countries and called for solidarity with them. These posts have been completely ignored. I can only think that the attachment to the idea that there’s no one struggling on the ground there, or people working with them here, is so strong that people are unwilling to see the evidence in front of them. Anyway, I’m not part of your “we.” I’m part of theirs.

  121. #121 Paul Murray
    August 31, 2008

    I don’t understand the people here who, in response to the deaths of these young women, propose massacring the whole region. An old quote about motes in ones eyes come to mind.

    There are not simple solutions. But one thing is obvious: let the anthropologists wail about the erosion of native cultures, but some cultures – like smallpox – the world is better off without.

  122. #122 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    negentropyeater wrote:

    2) Don’t leave behind a mess that will just give birth to another monster like bin Laden.

    And that’s going to happen with spending all the money on the military and sending soldiers, but nothing for educators, civil engineers, doctors, etc…

    But even if we did spend money on educators, civil engineers, doctors, etc. we’d still risk what The Chemist wants to accuse me of: ethnocentrism and colonialism. Everyone struggling for their own vision of “civilization” without our help would be pushed out by our resources and our vision. That could have blow back too. Would you want to just hand money over to someone who resents you like The Chemist does me?

  123. #123 John Scanlon FCD
    August 31, 2008

    Somebody said

    Islam explicitly forbids the burying alive of women and daughters as well as forced marriage

    N.B. “explicitly
    Why even mention it, if it wasn’t an established practice in Mo’s day? (Or whoever’s; ‘Islam… forbids’ was not exactly a precise citation of a source, so the Quran may not have been meant; but if not, whose Islam?)

  124. #124 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    SC wrote:

    I’ve linked to groups or organizations fighting sex/gender discrimination in these countries and called for solidarity with them.

    “solidarity with them”?

    Is that like supporting the troops – you just have to say it and you’ve done it?

    I think the CIA and NSA are going to want a little “solidarity” with their own goals before you get any “solidarity” in return from them. I don’t know (my only experience with this stuff is a couple spy novels) — but they ain’t ngos out for your purely humanitarian benefit. They don’t have the same motives and you’re nuts to expect them too. You have to get their goals before they’ll think too much about yours.

    To the extent that there should be some shared goals you both can work together on shouldn’t be overlooked. They’ve probably got good reasons to want to see women empowered for their own uses. You take your own risks no matter what. Who do you fear more, the threats and suspicions of the Taliban or the ethnocentrism and colonialism of another culture?

  125. #125 clinteas
    August 31, 2008

    These are the kind of stories that make me physically ill,and make nuking the islamic world seem an attractive option.
    Whoever buries another human being alive,for whatever demented reason,deserves to die.

  126. #126 dave X
    August 31, 2008

    Dear demented clinteas:

    Nuking people will bury some of them alive.

  127. #127 negentropyeater
    August 31, 2008

    we’d still risk what The Chemist wants to accuse me of: ethnocentrism and colonialism.

    Well I think this war in it’s first few months it took to liberate the country from Taliban enjoyed tremendous support both in the USA, the internatonal community, and the Afghani people themselves.

    And the vast majority of Afghanis did think that we were going there to liberate them from a terrible government and help to make things much better for their daily lives.
    But Bush decided otherwise as we all know, as he never saw the strategic importance of point 2) and this thing dragged on for many years, and by 2006, 5 years later, the new government had become as corrupt and inept as the previous one, the day to day situation for most people had actually gotten worse than during the Taliban era, almost no bridges, no roads, no hospitals, no schools, no water distribution systems were funded and there was no external compentency brought in to help manage and form the local people and surprise, surprise, many villagers started to form some resistance movements to what was now clearly seen by a majority of rural Afghanis as an occupation and they started becoming pro taliban again and the old cells started getting reactivated everywhere throughout the country.

    That’s where we are today, so now, after screwing up that much, we really only have two options:
    1) leave this country a.s.a.p and let Taliban bring it back to the way it was prior to 2001.
    2) finally put the money and resources in real aid that helps take this country out of the misery it is in, and that’s not going to be achieved with that many soldiers, but with the thousands of competent professionals that are deeply needed and should be able to win over the Afghani’s support.
    Problem is finding such people who are willing to move over there for a few years to do other work than military is difficult, you have to pay them very well, the budgets are all in the military, and the current local government is a problem in itself.

    So if you really don’t think we can do 2) properly, and that we can afford 1). It’s easy, do 1)
    If you think we can’t afford 1), then put the resources necessary to do 2), and stop thinking about a military operation only.

  128. #128 Norman Doering
    August 31, 2008

    negentropyeater wrote:

    … this war in it’s first few months it took to liberate the country from Taliban enjoyed tremendous support both in the USA, the internatonal community, and the Afghani people themselves …. and by 2006, 5 years later, the new government had become as corrupt and inept as the previous one, the day to day situation for most people had actually gotten worse than during the Taliban era, … they started becoming pro taliban again and the old cells started getting reactivated everywhere throughout the country.

    Well, the only thing I can do about that is vote for Obama and hope he gets it.

  129. #129 Ron Sullivan
    September 1, 2008

    Norman Doering in #124:

    I think the CIA and NSA are going to want a little “solidarity” with their own goals before you get any “solidarity” in return from them.

    Norman, Norman, Norman. You’re the one who thought the CIA and NSA ought to be using “the Taliban’s women” as a fifth column, no? Why the hell do you think you or the CIA have even a speculative right to female pawns? Why the hell would Pakistani women have any more interest in being sold to CIA owners than being sold to home-grown owners? Why the hell would any Pakistani–or Afghani or Iraqi or Iranian or Kurdish or Tibetan or Sudanese or (Name Here)ese–woman, assuming she loathed her immediate oppressors singlemindedly (and I think I’ve listed a few reasons why she might not), and who read this comment string think even for a second that allying herself with one more bunch of wannabe godlike shit-stirrers might be a good idea?

    You have nothing to teach these women. I have nothing to teach these women. Most of the time I think that the best thing we could do in solidarity with them is to set our own “Western” house in order.

    We don’t own feminism. I’ve been a feminist for longer than I knew the word–I’m one of those bitter old Second Wavers whose first reaction to hearing about the “women’s liberation movement” was to be overwhelmed with relief that I wasn’t crazy, or alone–and I don’t own feminism. I will bloody my knuckles on “cultural relativists” including local ones, but I sure as hell won’t consider women elsewhere beholden to my country or culture for their own anger, fire, or ideas.

    And I sure as all hell wouldn’t consider trying to recruit them to the CIA, which is no more my ally than theirs.

  130. #130 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    Ron Sullivan wrote:

    Why the hell do you think you or the CIA have even a speculative right to female pawns? Why the hell would Pakistani women have any more interest in being sold to CIA owners than being sold to home-grown owners?

    Because the CIA won’t shoot them and then bury them alive. Because they are not owned, they are employed and paid for information. Because once Al Qaeda is gone we’d owe them a lot. Because we have no interest in oppressing them. Because they believe that what they’re doing is the right thing to do.

    Why do soldiers fight any war? Why does any spy do their spying?

    I certainly don’t think they’d be pawns any more than any other soldier or spy. Are all soldiers and spies just pawns?

    We don’t own feminism.

    When did I ever say that? What I said was in responding to this: “…feminism experiences difficulty maturing in part because it gets conflated with ‘The West’.”

    I just asked, “Is that a bad thing? Why? Modern feminism is of the West, isn’t it?”

    Being “of the west,” a late product of the secular enlightenment unlike any before it, doesn’t mean we own it. If you think it originated some place else let me know. Maybe I am wrong. But you guys seem to have reading comprehension problems.

  131. #131 clinteas
    September 1, 2008

    dave X,

    if you thought i meant what i said literally and not as description of the emotions i feel when i read a story like this,that you are far more demented than me.

  132. #133 Hena
    September 1, 2008

    I am kinda disturbed about how many people so easily are willing to bomb the hell out of my mother country because of this outrage. It often doesn’t seem like it but Pakistan does in fact have a huge moderate muslim population in favour of rights, education and equality for women. Many of my aunts and cousins are doctors, scientists, and engineers in Pakistan. Although being an open atheist/agnostic can still get you killed, many Pakistani muslims have turned to a far more liberal interpretation of Islam, somewhat contorting religious beliefs to accomodate a liberal value system. I think the best way to create any meaningful change in the tribal regions of Pakistan is to saturate the area with news and culture of the outside world which condemns such acts of cruelty, however since the men most likely control all means of information, doing so would be quite difficult. Pakistan has an incredibly long way to go before it gets to any point near that of the West but lets not forget that these tribes dont define the entirety of the region.

  133. #134 Kel
    September 1, 2008

    Bombing Pakistan would hardly achieve anything; it’s being bombed enough by it’s own citizens *DA BOOM TISH*

    While I agree that defining a country by it’s extremists is wrong, when the security situation is compromised there is inevitably an international backlash. From this it’s understandable that the Australian or South African cricket teams don’t feel it’s worth the risk to play there. The extremists may represent a small minority, but they are a potentially dangerous minority.

  134. #135 SC
    September 1, 2008

    “solidarity with them”?

    Is that like supporting the troops – you just have to say it and you’ve done it?

    No. But recognizing their existence and actually reading or listening to what they have to say – rather than treating them as objects or pawns – would be a first step. I was talking about donating money and/or time to these organizations, publicizing their efforts, protesting here on their behalf,…

    I think the CIA and NSA are going to want a little “solidarity” with their own goals before you get any “solidarity” in return from them. I don’t know (my only experience with this stuff is a couple spy novels) — but they ain’t ngos out for your purely humanitarian benefit. They don’t have the same motives and you’re nuts to expect them too. You have to get their goals before they’ll think too much about yours.

    I don’t expect them to. I don’t share their goals. (See Ron Sullivan’s comment.) If you think they have any genuine interest in women’s liberation, or can/will do anything in favor of it, you’re sadly mistaken. What on earth are you talking about?

    I certainly don’t think they’d be pawns any more than any other soldier or spy. Are all soldiers and spies just pawns?

    You can answer that for yourself. Certainly, if I have a choice between supporting people’s liberation struggles and promoting their recruitment by the US government’s nefarious agencies – which I don’t believe should even exist – I’m going with the former.

  135. #136 SC
    September 1, 2008

    Here’s another link:

    http://www.madre.org/

    (They don’t work in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but they do work in Iraq.)

  136. #137 Colugo
    September 1, 2008

    This is a classic of cultural relativism:

    University of Chicago anthropologist Richard Schweder, response to John Tierney in New York Times Magazine, 12/5/07:
    http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/circumcision-or-mutilation-and-other-questions-about-a-rite-in-africa/

    “”Female genital mutilation” is an invidious and essentially debate-subverting label. …

    many African women … object to naming a practice which they describe in local terms as “the celebration” or the “purification” or the “cleansing” or the “beautification” as “the mutilation”. …

    Fact checking has not been the strong suit of anti-“FGM” advocacy groups or of the American press. Indeed, the press in general has served as an effective outlet for the advocacy groups and has kept itself innocent of available sources of information that run counter to the received horror arousing story-line about barbaric or ignorant or victimized Africans who maim, murder, and disfigure their daughters and deprive them of a capacity to experience sexual pleasure. …

    For example, in recent years there have been two major scientific reviews of the medical literature and an exemplary Gambia-based research study, which have raised serious doubts about the supposed effects on mortality, morbidity and sexuality that are so often attributed to these customary surgeries; yet, as far as I know, there has been absolutely no mention of these reviews and studies in any American newspaper or on NPR, although one might have thought they were sufficiently eye-opening and significant to warrant media coverage. …

    My conclusion from reading those three publications is that the harmful practice claim has been highly exaggerated and that many of the representations in the advocacy literature and the popular press are nearly as fanciful as they are nightmarish.”

  137. #138 Colugo
    September 1, 2008

    A new candidate classic of cultural relativism:

    Naomi Wolf, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/30/08:
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/behind-the-veil-lives-a-thriving-muslim-sexuality/2008/08/29/1219516734637.html

    “Ideological battles are often waged with women’s bodies as their emblems, and Western Islamophobia is no exception. … When Americans were being prepared for the invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban were demonised for denying cosmetics and hair colour to women; when the Taliban were overthrown, Western writers often noted that women had taken off their scarves.

    But are we in the West radically misinterpreting Muslim sexual mores, particularly the meaning to many Muslim women of being veiled or wearing the chador? And are we blind to our own markers of the oppression and control of women?

    The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I travelled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home. …

    I experienced it myself. I put on a shalwar kameez and a headscarf in Morocco for a trip to the bazaar. … the curve of my breasts covered, the shape of my legs obscured, my long hair not flying about me – I felt a novel sense of calm and serenity. I felt, yes, in certain ways, free.”

  138. #139 Pikemann Urge
    September 1, 2008

    I hate to bypass the actual issue (Donovan, #3, nailed it), but maybe PZ should have a 350-char. limit on comments. Dissertations should be the privilege of the blogger. Some of the ‘comments’ I see on Pharyngula are longer than some of PZ’s posts!

  139. #140 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 1, 2008

    The error is gone, everything displays normally. Yes, Firefox corrects certain errors in the HTML of pages, and IE doesn’t, which means Firefox users don’t always notice when they make such mistakes…

    Is it morally right to wish death upon these people that did this?

    Yes.

    -jcr

    No.

    What is morally right is to wish them a fair, devastating, humiliating trial and then the slammer.

    Shove your revenge fantasies. Didn’t you notice you are seriously suggesting to kill people in order to tell them that killing people is wrong? Why do you stop thinking just because you’re angry like me?

  140. #141 PZ Myers
    September 1, 2008

    Actually, it wasn’t an html error at all. The way I fixed it was to simply replace every instance of a quote mark with an equivalent html entity. IE was somehow getting confused on the text, bugging out on it and using it to interpret layout, something a browser should never do.

    This isn’t the first time IE has choked on normal, ordinary, legitimate code. It is a very bad browser and I hate it — I wish it would die and go away and that everyone would switch to something that has a laundry list of serious, stupid quirks.

  141. #142 SC
    September 1, 2008

    Colugo @ #138,

    A quotation from the Wolf article, in order to be fair, should include her concluding paragraph:

    I do not mean to dismiss the many women leaders in the Muslim world who regard veiling as a means of controlling women. Choice is everything. But Westerners should recognise that when a woman in France or Britain chooses a veil, it is not necessarily a sign of her repression. And, more importantly, when you choose your own miniskirt and halter top – in a Western culture in which women are not so free to age, to be respected as mothers, workers or spiritual beings, and to disregard Madison Avenue – it’s worth thinking in a more nuanced way about what female freedom really means.

    Is anyone really taking an extreme cultural-relativist position in the case at hand? Others in Pakistan, it appears, are denying that any such custom exists in the first place.

  142. #143 SC
    September 1, 2008

    I wish it would die and go away and that everyone would switch to something that has a laundry list of serious, stupid quirks.

    Or, y’know, doesn’t, as the case may be.

    (And I wish I could switch. Some of us don’t have a choice.)

  143. #144 Holbach
    September 1, 2008

    razib @ 29

    What is meant by “true” islam? Are there phony sects of islam? So by putting the word “true” before islam lends this shit insane religion credence to carry out actions of “cultural” barbarism divorced from non “true” islam? Are you fucking mad? Religion is pernicious in any form in any country, but in those regions dominated by islam it is insanity rum amuck and totally dangerous to humanity. Islam should not be termed a gutter religion, but something that should be exterminated as irrepressive vermin.

  144. #145 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    Colugo wrote, quoting the Wolf article:

    “Ideological battles are often waged with women’s bodies as their emblems, and Western Islamophobia is no exception. … When Americans were being prepared for the invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban were demonised for denying cosmetics and hair colour to women; when the Taliban were overthrown, Western writers often noted that women had taken off their scarves.

    I get what you’re saying. Every article we read, like this one about women buried alive, is a kind of manipulation of our minds where the practices of another culture are demonized. However, my appreciation for cultural relativism stops at murder and before the war started I saw Christine Amanpour’s special where women were shot in a soccer stadium, not just denying them cosmetics and hair color.

    If it were just that then this wouldn’t bother me. So I consider it a heavy dose of spin to limit it to denying women cosmetics and hair color. They’re killed for wanting what every Western woman considers a right — to say yes or no to whom you will marry.

    … we in the West radically misinterpreting Muslim sexual mores, particularly the meaning to many Muslim women of being veiled or wearing the chador? And are we blind to our own markers of the oppression and control of women?

    There is probably, at the very least, a grain of truth to the idea we are “blind” to our own markers of the oppression and control of women, but they apparently don’t include being shot in a stadium while a crowd watches or being buried alive. I can not support a cultural-relativist position on this matter.

    On the other hand, it seems useless to fight for people who will not fight for themselves. Once you fight the battle and leave, things will just return to the way they were until the men who do this learn to fear the women they would do it to. To a certain extent all forms of respect contain an element of fear. It has to become self-sustaining by changing women’s attitudes.

    I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private,…

    This is where the issue gets fuzzier. It’s hard for me to accept that it is not rooted in repression when I hear that women who don’t wear the burka are beaten with sticks.

    It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home. …

    I think this is where religion comes in and just becomes a way to justify the repression.

    P.S. — SC I’m looking at the site:
    http://www.madre.org/

    Lots of linked little articles on US Air Strikes Killing Civilians and such. I hope Obama can change things like that. I can’t.

  145. #146 SC
    September 1, 2008

    Lots of linked little articles on US Air Strikes Killing Civilians and such. I hope Obama can change things like that. I can’t.

    I’m glad you’re looking at the site, but my point in linking to it was to show that there are women in these countries who are fighting against violence being done to them from whoever or wherever it comes. And I believe there was a single article on the main page about deaths caused by aerial bombing in Afghanistan (and the calls from people there to stop this bombardment), followed by several about women’s struggles for food rights.

    And counting on Obama to make changes in the absence of speaking out and protesting is a recipe for disaster.

    On the other hand, it seems useless to fight for people who will not fight for themselves.

    Fuck it. I give up.

  146. #147 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    SC wrote:

    On the other hand, it seems useless to fight for people who will not fight for themselves.

    Fuck it. I give up.

    You really need to learn how to put things in context. That wasn’t directed at you — it was directed at the Wolf article which in my mind explains why some woman don’t fighting for their rights; religious indoctrination. I am not denying that there are plenty who are.

  147. #148 SC
    September 1, 2008

    You really need to learn how to put things in context. That wasn’t directed at you — it was directed at the Wolf article which in my mind explains why some woman don’t fighting for their rights; religious indoctrination. I am not denying that there are plenty who are.

    You really need to understand that others can respond to your points even if they weren’t directed to them specifically. It also doesn’t appear as though you read my earlier response to Colugo. Wolf is generally a sloppy writer (and thinker, perhaps), but you’ve missed the point of her article entirely.

  148. #149 SC
    September 1, 2008

    And, I may be wrong, but I don’t believe Colugo was agreeing with those articles.

  149. #150 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    SC wrote:

    … but you’ve missed the point of her article entirely.

    Maybe. What do you think her point was?

    As for me, I don’t buy the idea that the burka and veil aren’t legit signs of woman’s repression. I even think Western dress is a symbol of freedom. Once women are given a choice in their mates they’ll find out that there is competitive market and those choices are limited by their looks, and so see the advantage to looking good and appreciate it.

    I seriously cannot buy the burka as legit freedom of expression. It turns women into amorphous blobs that all look the same. How can you have any identity when you don’t even have a face.

    Wolf seems to think these things are culturally relative.

  150. #151 Rob
    September 1, 2008

    Adnan Y:

    I’m not saying that Islam is perfect, I’m just citing a couple of examples of how it’s not all “women are bad, mmmkay.”

    And Catholicism has a “Mother of God” and has prayers to her.

    Doesn’t stop them from being misogynistic assholes.

  151. #152 Lilly de Lure
    September 1, 2008

    Norman Doering said:

    Once women are given a choice in their mates they’ll find out that there is competitive market and those choices are limited by their looks, and so see the advantage to looking good and appreciate it.

    Right, because the entire point of a Western Woman’s existence is to compete with other women to land a husband.

    Somehow I feel you may have missed the point of feminism somewhere along the line!

  152. #153 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    Lilly de Lure wrote:

    Right, because the entire point of a Western Woman’s existence is to compete with other women to land a husband.

    I never said it was the entire point, but it certainly is part of our lives when you want it to be. What other alternative would you prefer? Not to mate, or to have someone else choose for you?

  153. #154 Lilly de Lure
    September 1, 2008

    BTW SC thanks for posting all of those links to anti-honour killing organisations – inspiring and humbling people who we should all be doing our bit to support.

  154. #155 Lilly de Lure
    September 1, 2008

    Norman Doering said:

    I never said it was the entire point, but it certainly is part of our lives when you want it to be. What other alternative would you prefer? Not to mate, or to have someone else choose for you?

    Well the implication of your comment is that women don’t really choose at all – we are chosen, by men, based upon our looks and compete amongst ourselves for the priviledge of male attention.

    Sorry mate, but in the West in the 21st Century women do actually have other things on their minds now and again (Rom Coms not withstanding) other than competing with each other in a beauty contest for your entertainment.

  155. #156 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    Lilly de Lure wrote:

    Well the implication of your comment is that women don’t really choose at all – we are chosen, by men,

    Spoken like an ignorant woman who has never been a man in our culture and doesn’t understand a damn thing. You have no idea how much rejection I’ve gotten from women when trying to get a date in high school. We fucking know women in our culture choose and respect that.

    We both choose – for many various reasons including looks.

  156. #157 johannes
    September 1, 2008

    > I would challenge anyone to come up with a body count
    > from Islamotards since 900 BC

    Impossible, because nobody ever kept exact records of the Islamic slave trade. Nobody cared enough about pagan African, Hindu, Baltic, Finno-Ugrian, Slav or Turco-Mongol tribesman to count how many were enslaved and how high the mortality among the slaves was. Nor do we know if all slaves considered enslavement a personal disaster, or rather a chance for a career in the civil service or the military of the Islamic countries. In fact, we don’t even know how many Italians, Provencals, Spaniard and Catalans were enslaved by the Barbary corsairs, because the Habsburg rulers considered the mediterranean a backwater, that was less important than the low countries or the American colonies.

    > that would rival the victims of US nationalism, which is a very recent tumor.

    Possibly true, possibly not, but irrelevant in the end. The raise of capitalism and the national state, while it ususally came at a terrible cost (the French revolution and the napoleonic wars probably killed much more people than the ancien regime, and ask the Irish, or at least the catholic part of them, about the English revolution) was (and is) a necessary step toward liberalism, socialism, anarchism or whatever is your idea of an ideal society. Beside this, to abandon the modern national state in favour of a reversion to tribal or feudal barbarism (but with modern weapons), as tried by the Nazis, will only add another dimension of human suffering.

  157. #158 SC
    September 1, 2008

    As for me, I don’t buy the idea that the burka and veil aren’t legit signs of woman’s repression. I even think Western dress is a symbol of freedom. Once women are given a choice in their mates they’ll find out that there is competitive market and those choices are limited by their looks, and so see the advantage to looking good and appreciate it.

    I seriously cannot buy the burka as legit freedom of expression. It turns women into amorphous blobs that all look the same. How can you have any identity when you don’t even have a face.

    Ojectifying yourself and looking good are not the same thing.

    See her conclusion. The point, I think, was that it’s about women having the right to make their own choices about how to dress, and understanding how these choices are always shaped by culture (as opposed to a simplistic repression/freedom dichotomy). She’s saying that we can try to understand why some women would consciously choose to wear a veil.

    Whether you can “buy” that women wearing a veil in France or England are exercising their rights is immaterial. The people who should be having this conversation/debate are women from these cultures. And they are (I’ll spare everyone the links). As a woman from another culture who supports the expansion of rights, I can listen to what they’re saying and support them in their struggles to obtain free choice in how to dress. Understanding a different point of view can also give me a greater appreciation of my own culture and how women’s choices are shaped and constrained here.

    BTW SC thanks for posting all of those links to anti-honour killing organisations – inspiring and humbling people who we should all be doing our bit to support.

    You’re very welcome, but I think Ghosts of Minnesota posted the link to the honor-killings site.

  158. #159 Dancaban
    September 1, 2008

    You really can’t make this sh1t up.

  159. #160 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    SC wrote:

    The point, I think, was that it’s about women having the right to make their own choices about how to dress, and understanding how these choices are always shaped by culture (as opposed to a simplistic repression/freedom dichotomy).

    I get that. But look at the part of culture that is reinforcing that desire to hide your face: religion. She says:

    Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband.

    As an atheist I’m seeing religion as an aid to what is finally a repressive system where woman don’t really have choices. There is no God to relate to, just the culture. I see how that makes things harder to change, but it really is just religion being used to justify repression.

    And thinking back to my own high school days it also occurs to me that the men in these tribal cultures are not getting the kind of cultural indoctrination I got — those were not the easiest times for me emotionally and those Muslim men in the tribal cultures have never experienced them.

    You’re job is going to be even harder there, with the men.

  160. #161 abb3w
    September 1, 2008

    I’d make at least a token defense of custom. That something has become custom for a long time means “this society works that way”. Merely because something can be done differently does not automatically mean it should; there ought to be a REASON for change.

    In this case, the reason is that such “executions” are howling barbarism, which have no place in any society advanced even to the feudal stage.

  161. #162 SC
    September 1, 2008

    I get that. But look at the part of culture that is reinforcing that desire to hide your face: religion.

    No kidding. But there’s also this:

    Indeed, many Muslim women I spoke with did not feel at all subjugated by the chador or the headscarf. On the contrary, they felt liberated from what they experienced as the intrusive, commodifying, basely sexualising Western gaze. Many women said something like this: “When I wear Western clothes, men stare at me, objectify me, or I am always measuring myself against the standards of models in magazines, which are hard to live up to – and even harder as you get older, not to mention how tiring it can be to be on display all the time. When I wear my headscarf or chador, people relate to me as an individual, not an object; I feel respected.” This may not be expressed in a traditional Western feminist set of images, but it is a recognisably Western feminist set of feelings.

    Look, I don’t think any religious delusions are a legitimate basis for choices, and of course I agree that religion is repressive. I don’t have the same experience as these women, and I have no intention of adopting a veil. I’ll argue with any woman who suggests a religious reason for doing anything. But I’ll listen to her reasoning in general, and respect her right to make her decisions. I don’t have a “job” to do beyond sharing my views and ideas and joining with movements there that I believe are advancing human freedom – economic, political, religious, sexual,… Oppression has many facets, and human liberation depends on these movements everywhere.

  162. #163 Norman Doering
    September 1, 2008

    SC wrote:

    But I’ll listen to her reasoning in general, and respect her right to make her decisions.

    I think I’m getting it. While to me something like this: “When I wear Western clothes, men stare at me, objectify me, or I am always measuring myself against the standards of models in magazines, which are hard to live up to – and even harder as you get older, not to mention how tiring it can be to be on display all the time.” may at first look a bit neurotic it’s not when you haven’t lived in our culture and learned to put models and magazines in the proper mental compartment or gotten used to men looking at you. Of course, all the cultural indoctrination I got in high school the women also got making it easier to adapt to all that.

    I can appreciate how hard things are to change. Thanks for your time in explaining all that.

    abb3w wrote:

    In this case, the reason is that such “executions” are howling barbarism, which have no place in any society advanced even to the feudal stage.

    I agree. But think back to your high school days and about how you got “civilized.” Men in their culture are not experiencing women in ways we take for granted. This is ultimately about sex. You don’t read much about women getting killed because they asserted their right to help the starving or paint a picture or get elected to some office. Women do that and survive. It always seems to be about sex and choice when they kill young women:

    …that the girls, three of them aged between 16 and 18 years, had been buried alive a month ago for wishing to marry of their own will.

    It takes a lot of life experience to shape us to our culture. It no doubt takes a lot of life experiences to shape them to theirs. We can’t ultimately imagine the effects of all those experiences. Then add religion to it.

    That is not to excuse it, just to point out why it is hard to change things. Which is I think SC’s point.

  163. #164 Chiroptera
    September 1, 2008

    Hena, #133: It often doesn’t seem like it but Pakistan does in fact have a huge moderate muslim population in favour of rights, education and equality for women. Many of my aunts and cousins are doctors, scientists, and engineers in Pakistan. Although being an open atheist/agnostic can still get you killed, many Pakistani muslims have turned to a far more liberal interpretation of Islam, somewhat contorting religious beliefs to accomodate a liberal value system.

    Thank you, Hena. This is the sort of thing I was asking for. And which I was just being told a few posts up I would never actually see.

    And since my own experience with tolerant (in some cases, even liberal in the Western sense of the word) Muslims were in a part of the world very distant from Pakistan, we might be able to conclude that this sort of thinking may be widespread in the Islamic world.

    I still don’t buy into “Islam forbids this sort of thing”, but it may be equally too simplistic to say, “Islam tolerates this sort of thing.”

  164. #165 Colugo
    September 1, 2008

    SC: “And, I may be wrong, but I don’t believe Colugo was agreeing with those articles.”

    You’re right; I disagree with both Schweder and Wolf.

  165. #166 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 1, 2008

    Or, y’know, doesn’t, as the case may be.

    I haven’t found a browser without serious stupid quirks yet. Yes, people, I have tried Firefox, on both PC and Mac.

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