It seems that not one single thing escapes the attention of hardliners in Iran, bent on using the extraordinary powers they hold to suppress every effort by Iranians to exercise their right to freedom of expression. They have even decreed that men should refrain from sporting various hairdos and—yes I am not kidding—from plucking their eyebrows, because those are considered to be indications of “devil worshipping” and homosexuality.
Although such preoccupations may seem risible to some, the people who are caught up in this dragnet are suffering very real and harsh consequences.
Atena Farghadani is a 28-year-old artist and women’s rights activist. She drew a cartoon depicting some members of Iran’s Majles (Parliament) with animal heads, as a form of protest against bills that are in different stages of moving through the parliamentary process that, in an effort to boost child-bearing, would among other things, restrict access to contraception and establish preferences in hiring for married women over single women.
We just learned that she has been sentenced to an astonishing twelve years and nine months in prison on spurious charges of “spreading propaganda against the system,” “insulting members of the parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” because of her cartoon. She is also being charged with “gathering and colluding with deviant groups” because she has met with the families of those killed by government agents in the unrest following the 2009 presidential elections and because of an art exhibition she held which was attended by members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.
—Elise Auerbach. Still more proof that the Iranian “leadership” class is unworthy of the Iranians it purports to lead.
For the Love of All that Is Holy, Stop Claiming that China Will Supplant America as a Superpower. It Won’t. No, Seriously, It Won’t.
Our punditry class and our media in general are filled to the gills with incredibly lazy people who are far more content to recycle stories and analysis than they are to put forth anything resembling original thought and commentary. That’s in part why certain strains of thought that utterly lack any serious intellectual content and are no better than your run-of-the-mill urban myth still get accepted as written-into-stone facts by the public at large. The punditry class and the media in general fail to lift a collective finger in order to demolish myths and half-truths; it’s less taxing for the brain cell(s) of the average journalist/pundit to simply confirm a popular thought–however wrongheaded that thought may be–and to pass that thought along to a guileless public that accepts conventional wisdom without much questioning or healthy skepticism.
Few subjects bring the weaknesses of our punditry class and media to the fore as effectively as does the question of whether China will supplant the United States as a superpower. The conventional wisdom is that America’s days as an international colossus are numbered, and soon enough, the Mandate of Heaven will favor China.
As one who believes that same-sex couples deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that marriage equality only serves to strengthen the institution of marriage, I am pleased and delighted to see that Ireland has decided to enshrine marriage equality as a constitutional right. This is a remarkable and extraordinary achievement, given the power that the Catholic Church continues to wield in the country. The church, of course, wanted the rest of the country to vote “no” on the issue of marriage equality, but the Irish people wisely concluded that when we talk about God “abounding in steadfast love,” we ought to acknowledge that God’s love is–and ought to be–for all people.
I imagine that eventually, the Catholic Church will find a way to reconcile itself to this message. It had better, lest it be left behind by a world whose people increasingly realize that when two individuals commit to loving one another for the rest of their lives, forsaking all others in the process, that phenomenon ought to be celebrated and not condemned. In any event, congratulations to the Irish people, and to all others who work to end the destructive and intelligence-insulting stereotypes that for too long have made life miserable for too many gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
I have written in the past about Stephen Cohen and his habit of writing apologias on behalf of the Putin regime. Comes now this piece to shed further light on Cohen’s habit of using whatever intellectual and moral credibility he has left–and it ain’t much–to characterize even the worst Putinesque behavior in the best possible light:
In its finite wisdom, the Maduro regime in Caracas–which has turned just about everything that it has touched to a disaster–has now decided to tackle the issue of food distribution: [Read more…]
Walter Russell Mead is properly scathing when it comes to his discussion of the media’s coverage of the war in Afghanistan. As he reminds us, back in 2008, candidate Obama ran on the position that Afghanistan was “the necessary war,” and that he would do whatever it took to win it. We haven’t won it, we are set to implement a precipitous withdrawal from the country, and because the incumbent president of the United States is not a Republican, the media is giving him no grief whatsoever regarding his administration’s failure in Afghanistan: [Read more…]