Saturday, October 25, 2014

Define "Civilization" -- Give a Counter-Example

That, of course, would be the nation of Iran, which has just hanged a woman who claimed she had stabbed a man who was trying to sexually assault her.

Reyhaneh Jabbari had been in prison since she was 19, arrested on charges that she had stabbed a man who was trying to rape her. The man was a former Iranian intelligence ministry official, an office which would seem contraindicated until one recalls that intelligence also refers to spying.

Ms. Jabbari had said that while she had stabbed her attacker, she had only wounded him and another person had actually killed him. As far as anyone looking into the wayback machine of 9th century jurisprudence that is Iran could tell, this part of her story was not ever fully investigated.

Now, it's true that if Iran's official accounts of the crime and trial are to be believed, Ms. Jabbari's story would be shaky. It's a rare defendant who, when confronted with overwhelming evidence of guilt, does not fall back adamantly on the unlikely but easily asserted "Someone Else Did It" defense.

But accepting that as fact would mean accepting the word of the Iranian government, which is worthless. And accepting the fairness of Iranian law, especially in matters related to sexually-related crimes, which is also worthless. And accepting the impartiality of the Iranian justice system in applying even that flawed code to female defendants, which is ridiculous. And accepting the accuracy of official Iranian media in reporting anything like the actual events, which is not advisable. By the count in The Telegraph story, the so-called moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is closing in on his thousandth execution since taking office about 14 months ago.

In his short story Silly Asses, science fiction author Isaac Asimov supposed a galaxy-wide federation of civilized worlds that recognized new members when they gained control over atomic energy and produced their first artificial fission reaction. I would similarly propose that any nation which wishes to claim to be civilized must first demonstrate a complete lack of interaction with the nation of Iran until the members of its current regime are on the other side of the bars, where they belong.

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