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Archive for September, 2008

Splendor in the Sand

©2007, Jack Trimpey. All rights reserved.

A British couple visiting Dubai was recently observed warned by police against having sexual intercourse in a public place, a sandy, public beach which was obviously under the jurisdiction of Islamic law. Later on, they were once again found in their flagrant embrace, deterred neither by fear of arrest nor even by sand itself. As might be expected, they were arrested, charged with public indecency, and now face six years in prison, where they presumably will not have convenient access to each other.

News agencies have seized upon this lurid news story as an example of the intransigence and moral excess of Islamic law, as if one nation must accommodate the cultural traditions and moral standards of their tourists and other visitors. Although I do not endorse such draconian punishments for the crimes this couple committed, I strongly support Dubai’s sovereign right to punish any crime any way they so choose. If they chose to publicly execute this couple through whatever primitive means their traditions may call for, I would grieve for them and their families, and certainly look with moral condescension upon a theocracy so given to moral excess. I would feel great pride in my own ancestral heritage and in the founding traditions of the United States of America which preclude such cruel and unusual punishment. In the American tradition, we legislate morality by creating laws of justice tempered by reason and compassion. Our lawmaking is an inexact art, to be sure, but a sign of human consciousness at work.

An interesting side note to this is that the couple had been drinking, which adds a uniquely American dimension to this international incident. In American courts, this couple may have only faced minor, misdemeanor charges, drunk or sober. If drunk at the time of the offense, however, they may have found considerable leniency in that fact, and the judge may have compassionately sentenced them to “counseling,” or into recovery groups consisting of other lowlife suffering from mysterious biopsychosocial anomalies such as “alcoholism,” and “sexual addiction.”

Yes, we can see an oceanic gulf between “primitive” Islamic theocracy and the New Primitivism carried forward by the American social service system. In Dubai, sin is illegal. In America, sin has transmuted into disease. In Dubai, if you do the crime, you do the time. In America, you may do the crime, cop a disease, and do one day at a time in the spiritual shackles of recoveryism — for life. In Dubai, you are assumed to have free will, able to restrain bodily desires according to laws. In America, you are presumed unable to obey the law due to a constellation of biopsychosocial factors which dispose you to break the law, and referred into political re-education. In other words, our traditional judicial philosophy has come to deny free will, justifying antisocial conduct based upon the intensity of desire, resulting in a radical change in mainstream thinking and public behavior. More and more, we are animals in a large sanctuary regulated by social policies, rather than free souls seeking liberty and happiness.

Six years in prison for a roll in the sand will be a heavy penalty for stupidity, if this couple is convicted. But when they are free again in 2014, they will truly be free to continue their lives as free souls, emotionally battered of course by the ordeal, but nevertheless free to start over, climb back into their family trees, and make whatever they wish out of their terrible vacation in Dubai. I doubt they would be overweight from being provided imported fast-food based upon cultural sensitivity, nor would they be court-ordered to participate in programs delving into why they screwed up on the beach, nor would they be granted proactive forgiveness for future “relapses.” In fact, I imagine either of them might be executed for ever again defying the law of the land in this particular way.

Had they committed their erotic error on American sand, 2014 would see them six years “sober,” at best, or more likely, wound down from six years life on the wild side, and headed toward the docile, burnout state called, “in recovery.” They would hate their genetic origins and original, dysfunctional families, and have no identity higher than “grateful, recovering alcoholic.” More likely, they would not have been prosecuted at all, in the mistaken belief that public morality should not be legislated. That belief has resulted in radical social changes that only 20 years ago would have been uniformly rejected as improbable futurism or humanistic fantasy. Not long before that, the words “pregnant” and “brassiere” could not be said on TV, in strong contrast to current standards which broadcasts dinner-time drug ads which cutely suggest emergency medical services if the product evokes four-hour erections.

Although I disagree that the penalty for sexual error should ever be death, I believe that sovereign Dubai is entirely entitled to impose any sentence it chooses upon persons duly convicted, regardless of their personal values. When you travel into a sovereign, foreign nation, you are subject to the laws of that land, no matter how much you may disagree with them. It is most unwise to enter a foreign country with the idea that you are or should be exempt from the laws and taboos of that culture. Sadly, we have little expectation that our own citizens conduct themselves according to traditional cultural standards, much less those who cross our borders to escape the tyrannies of their homelands.

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