One of the newest members of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, elected to that body by acclamation (meaning no nation eligible to vote asked for a recorded vote or objected to the move) seems to have an interesting idea about whose fault it is when the newspaper makes a mistake.
Iran, which sentenced Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to be stoned to death when she confessed to adultery -- after receiving 99 lashes -- was upset that Ms. Ashtiani's picture appeared in The Times of London, because she wasn't properly covered with a veil or hijab hiding her hair in the photo. So they gave her another 99 lashes, according to her lawyer. The problem? The Times ran the wrong photo. It wasn't Ms. Ashtiani. They've said they're sorry. The Iranians have said they didn't beat Ms. Ashtiani, but you can believe that like you can believe the Earth is flat. And, oh, by the way, she also helped kill her husband -- that's the real reason we sentenced her to death even though we never said anything about it until now -- and butt out, everybody.
While the medieval-minded mouth breathers that pass for leadership in that nation have as yet to bury Ms. Ashtiani in the ground up to her chest and throw rocks at her until she dies -- the sentence to which the court condemned her -- the lawyer is also worried that they have simply been waiting for the end of the Muslim religious period of Ramadan, a time of fasting and prayer during daylight hours. When it ends later this week, he believes Ms. Ashtiani will be killed, either by stoning or some other method.
I've given up wondering why the United Nations countenances Iran's presence at any table, let alone one concerned with women's rights, and treats it with anything other than the disdain that any civilized group of people should have for barbarians. There's no good reason and no way to choose from among the bad ones. But I am curious about something else.
Way back in April, Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi ("Hojatoleslam" being his title) said that when women dress immodestly, they tempt young men into sin and God punishes humanity in response with natural disasters. A young woman from Purdue, along with many other people, thought his remarks were very silly. But she went a step further and took action, encouraging women at first via her blog and then through a Facebook group to dress immodestly on April 26 to see if God would in fact send disasters in response. This became known as "Boobquake." The title refers to the body parts that would be more exposed via the protest, not the brain function of those who dreamed it up.
"Boobquake"'s Facebook page shows just above 98,000 "likes," or what would have been called two or three Facebook upgrades ago, "fans." A page entitled "No to stoning Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtian," by contrast, has nearly 150,000 likes. The catch? The second page is actually called "NO ALLA LAPIDAZIONE DI Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani," because it's in Italian. The top number of likes for any English page referring to Ms. Ashtiani is under 1,000. She is mentioned in one link posted to the Boobquake page, a link which has drawn no comments, likes or other notice from Boobquake followers. A notice that a blogger will go without sleep for some time in order to raise money for her school's Secular Student Alliance, on the other hand, earned 88 likes and 30 comments. A news story about a study that suggests a connection between staring at breasts and longer lifespans has been posted at least twice.
So, what I don't understand is this. Why is it that the silly words of some preacher, destined to be soon forgotten (trust me on that one) and offering pretty much no immediate harm to anyone, can stir up such a fuss among people who care about the rights, status and empowerment of women, while the actual threat of actual death to an actual woman who will be killed by men throwing rocks at her until she dies is greeted with what is by comparison a cricket's chirp?