Monday, October 24, 2005
Apostate Cheats the Gallows
Apparently standards have fallen to such a point that one can utter any heresy and not fear serious consequences. An Afghan court has imposed a slap on the wrist, a mere two-year jail sentence, to blasphemous magazine editor Ali Mohaqiq Nasab. This piddling sentence will be appealed, and perhaps the prosecutor's wise suggestion, that the death penalty is warranted, will receive due consideration at that stage. Mr. Nasab, you see, is the editor of a magazine that "had run two articles in its latest issue about apostasy that violated the law by saying that while apostasy was taboo, it was not a crime under Islam." Fortunately, it appears as if the authorities were able to remove copies of the offending issue of Women's Rights magazine from the newsstands.
The most recent blasphemy prosecution in the United States, which ended in dropped charges, took place in Pennsylvania in 1971.
Monday, October 03, 2005
No Lap Dancing in Seattle?
As it often happens, the fans of vice should be careful what they wish for. Recently, a federal judge has struck down the 17-year moratorium on new strip clubs in Seattle. Put one in the win column for vice? Not necessarily. (Note that the claim in the last section of the MSNBC news story that the Vice Squad welcomes the proposed prohibitions is completely misleading and we are planning to sue for defamation.) The City Council is going to vote tonight on introducing one of the toughest adult entertainment restrictions among the big US cities. Reportedly, lap dances, private rooms, and placing dollar bills in the G-string would be prohibited, dancers would have to stay 4 feet away from customers, and the clubs would be required to have parking-garage brightness lighting. Why would Seattle, the city that voted two years ago to make enforcement of marijuana-related laws the lowest priority of the police department, seriously consider significant limitations on lap dancing? Is it because marijuana and strip clubs might be substitutes? Perhaps a person who gets high wouldn’t be interested in watching striptease. The news article does report that there is very little interest in the issue in the city. (This logic would be similar to that used by Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader in the late 1950’s-early 1960’s, who justified jamming western radio broadcasts by saying that no Soviet citizen wanted to listen to those slanderous lies.) But what if pot and striptease are complements at least for some people? Seriously though, after the perverse outcome of the prohibition of discrimination against out-of-state wine shippers (Vice Squad reported on it here) and now this Seattle case, I almost wish that federal courts stopped ruling in favor of vice. But I surely need to be careful about this wish too…