Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holier than who?

Jonathan Turley this morning reports and links to this story you may remember from March 2008. Aisha Ibrahim Kuhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl was stoned to death in a football (I assume that means soccer) stadium in Kismayo by order of the radical conservative Islamists who control the town. Her infraction? Premarital sex. The evidence? She reported having been raped by 3 men in an effort, unsuccessful, to have them charged.

This is not a post about the horrors inflicted by radical Islamist law or in the name of whichever god to whom one might pray or pay obeisance. It's not a post about the treatment of women or of children in Islamic society. It's not, in fact, a post about anything to do with Islam or Islamists or religion or the religious at all. It's not even a post about a strife-torn, anarchic, sometime nation where people live without rules except those imposed by whoever happens to be in power in this or that town this afternoon.

It could be about any of those things, and perhaps another day I'll talk about some of them. But not today.

This is a post about us, you know, the civilized ones, the ones who are outraged by this sort of thing, the ones who condemn this as evil and barbaric, the ones who say we must stop it lest it spread. It's a post about who we are.

And it's about slippery slopes.

It was just three years ago, in Roper v. Simmons, that the Constitution stopped permitting the execution of juveniles. It was just a year ago, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, that the Constitution said that unless there's a homicide, there can't be an execution (Obama thinks that's wrong, by the way). According to Refuge House, it was just 1993 that marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. The Supreme Court is going to decide this year (Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida) whether the Constitution will begin prohibiting LWOP sentences for juveniles who have not committed homicide. In Florida, there are six children doing LWOP who were 13 or 14 at the time of their crimes. (Story here.)

Statistics compiled by the National Center on Crime and Delinquency, indicate that with about 5% of the world's population, the United States has about 23% of the world's incarcerated people. Not surprisingly, we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

Do we, officially, stone children to death for being raped? No. Do thousands watch while we do that? Well, we don't do that, so I guess not.

But when it's not quite official? Well, you might look here or here or here or; hell you can find more on line yourself.

What we, who think ourselves enlightened, see as civilization and progress is damned recent. And held up by a mighty slender reed. And it's worth remembering that the folks who ordered the killing of Aisha Ibrahim Kuhulow thought they were the enlightened, civilized ones, doing God's will.

1 comment:

  1. Slippery slopes? It seems to me that the superlegislature we have up there in Washington protects us by deciding what is the enlightened stance of the moment. You should be happy. Wasn't it justice Kennedy who created a nifty new right for all of us to "find our place in the universe" or some such thing? The real question, it seems to me, is who is going to decide what is decent and enlightened? Is it an unelected group that usurps the democratic process and undermines our confidence in our own democracy? Or will it be our elected representatives? Having a justice Kennedy tell us what is decent and enlightened is far more of a problem than any slippery slope I can conceive of.