"We are working on the draft of a Sharia penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning."
-- Head of the Afghan Independent Bar Association Rohullah Qarizada, who's part of the Sharia Islamic law committee putting together the proposal
You know, that sounds so official and distinguished, doesn't it? "The Afghan Independent Bar Association." Man, I can only imagine a group of very serious people tirelessly dedicated to the principled implementation of the law, dressed in Anderson & Sheppard suits and gathered in an old and well-appointed room deep inside a building with the scales of justice bas relief etched into its stone face -- who then decide that beating women to death with rocks is a-okay. In a related item, the prestigious Afghan Medical Association has just ruled that menstrual blood is the acid of demons and can only be dealt with through amputation of the affected organ.
While I'm joking about it, the fact that this kind of lunatic thinking can be considered official legal dogma, decreed and codified, anywhere on the planet in the year 2013 is incomprehensible. But this isn't anywhere on the planet we're talking about: this is a region that, despite advancements which make it appear at face-value to have advanced like the rest of us, remains firmly stunted somewhere around the fourth century. And this is why I never want to hear any of that crap about cultural relativism from a certain segment of the left. The people who sneer that a region in thrall -- and often under control -- of an ancient and sometimes barbaric superstition isn't any worse than the West and the rest of the free world, simply different.
Bullshit. If your society has for the most part sought to marginalize the most dangerously crazy among its population and willingly allowed itself to be malleable to the march of progress, it's not comparable to one that hasn't. It's better. Period.
No one's saying that everyone in the Middle East or Western Asia is a savage. In fact, the reality is far, far from it. But an unyielding adherence to the savage edicts of a 1,300-year-old book at the legislative level makes your country or culture hopelessly ass-backward. Sometimes dangerously ass-backward. This is what we've seen in areas that continue to consider Sharia a backbone within its legal system: stonings, honor killings, basically barbarism.
Before anybody starts the inevitable bitching, we here in America absolutely haven't put enough of a muzzle on the theocrats who threaten women and non-believers in far more creative and circuitous ways than their Middle Eastern counterparts. But it's still a false-equivalence to compare the U.S. to, say, Afghanistan or Iraq when it comes to civil rights. And the U.S., in fact, isn't the height of liberal, free civilization anyway. You'd have to look elsewhere to find that.
But despite our issues, we still don't have a bunch of people sitting in a room somewhere proposing that, if there are "four eyewitnesses" to the fact, you can legally stone a woman to death for cheating on her husband. Because even the most villainous of our patriarchs have been forced to heel by some of the strictures of modernity.
By the way, now's a good time to remind everyone that around 2,200 American military-members died to supposedly free Afghanistan from its oppressive fundamentalist government.