I guess everyone is well aware of the Arab Spring that has swept across the Middle East and North Africa, with the toppling of regimes in countries like Libya and Egypt. It seems to bear out the idea that people everywhere are more or less the same, regardless of their ethnic, cultural or religious differences, in the areas of political and personal freedom. They will put up with a crap-load of oppression and lack of freedom up to a point, but when that point is reached, they’ll snap, rise up and get rid of their oppressors. Usually, this happens in conjunction with an economic downturn. So it’s no surprise to see this with a world economy on the fritz, and it also explains American movements like the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. When people are able to exist with enough of the necessities of life, they are…well, maybe not happy, but content enough with their lives to let sleeping dogs lie. But when every day is a dog-eat-dog form of existence, the rulers better watch out. But enough with the canine cliches.
One of the most egregious Catholic policies of late (aside from boy buggering) has been the refusal to allow the use of condoms in sexual relations. Indeed, all birth control is proscribed, but condoms have collateral benefits, such as restricting the spread of disease. Of course, aside from the procreational aspect in a world where over-population is a significant problem, you also have the fact that Catholics in countries where AIDS runs rampant have to make a choice between obeying the teachings of their church, or dying. And many choose death because that childhood Catholic indoctrination is so hard to shake.
Most people have a tendency to pay religion far more respect than it deserves. We tend to be inculcated from birth with the idea that, generally, religion is good, deserves respect, and that because it usually deals with such things as omnipotent beings, the afterlife, and other delusional concepts, we should tread softly when discussing the subject, lest we anger the gods.
It’s bad enough that the Pope -you know, the guy that heads that little church in Rome – seems to be having his problems with Holocaust denial, now it turns out he also has a problem with medical science. He has declared today, on a trip to Africa, that condoms are not the answer to the AIDS epidemic. In fact, he’s gone just a bit farther than that, throwing his medical expertise around, by claiming that the use of condoms will actually make the aforesaid epidemic worse.
There’s not a lot I can say about the following story that isn’t so obvious, it needs no comment, so I will make this short.
A thirteen year old girl in Somalia was raped by three men. Under Islamic Law, that rape means that she committed adultery, the penalty for which is death by stoning. Guess what the authorities did? If you guessed that they stoned her to death, you are correct. And not only did they stone her to death, they did it in a stadium with over 1000 apparently bloodthirsty onlookers, cheering on the men with stones.
Here is a heartbreaking story, and it’s not a little story either. It should be getting much more attention than it is. It’s called rape, and it is happening on a systematic, daily basis, with increasing frequency and impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not only simple rape, but kidnapping, torture and sexual enslavement of very young girls, some as young as nine years old. The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children also has issued a report on this. There were 27,000 sexual assaults in one province in 2006 alone! A couple of quotes from the above article: Continue reading