Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bush Beds Down with Iran

Two Iranian gay teenagers, one 18 the other 16 or 17, were hanged a few months ago in the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran, for engaging in homosexual acts. They had a choice, of course. The compassionate and merciful Iranian law gives gay offenders the choice of “being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch.” The equally compassionate and merciful law, incidentally, spares gays of the death penalty for engaging in penis-rubbing between the thighs. Death is reserved for non-Muslim offenders. So it was to be expected that Iran would introduce a measure at the United Nations denying two gay rights groups the right, like 3,000 other non-governmental agencies, to have their voice heard at the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council. Cuba, Sudan, Senegal, Pakistan, China and Zimbabwe, where gay-bashing is also sport, supported Iran. No surprise there, either. A bit more surprising (but only a little bit so) was the United States bedding with Iran and that murderers’ row of medievally slouching nations, and rubbing its pandering tumescence between the thighs of the religious right. A few years ago it would have been an outrage: The United States, siding with a tyrannous régime in support of a regressive act that crushes the human rights of others. But it is now routine. The Bush Administration can no more stand for human rights than the regimes of Central Asian republics, where merely uttering the words inspires official suspicion. Still, it’s one thing not to be surprised by the administration’s neo-barbarism anymore. We get examples of it virtually every day. It’s quite another to react to it with barely a shrug, or its media equivalent: a ten-second mention on the news, a 330-word brief in just one of the national newspapers. Has the American conscience been corroded that deeply by the Bush years? The question answers itself for needing to be asked. The Bush Administration is being its consistently contemptible self. But America, so easily acceding to the contemptible? This is new, and worrisome, and contemptible.