Thursday, March 23, 2006

Democracy in Action

Fresh off the AP (but linking to because their article archives don't disappear):

Afghan Clerics Demand Convert be Killed

"Rejecting Islam is insulting God. We will not allow God to be humiliated. This man must die," said cleric Abdul Raoulf, who is considered a moderate and was jailed three times for opposing the Taliban before the hard-line regime was ousted in 2001.
Hmm, irony. I could have sworn that irony was dead.

Anyway, the article continues:

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death.

Hamidullah warned that if the government frees Rahman, "there will be an uprising" like one against Soviet occupying forces in the 1980s.

"The government will lose the support of the people," he said. "What sort of democracy would it be if the government ignored the will of all the people."


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

And somehow, I can't help but think that part of this is our fault. We, and not just the members of our current, rather fucked-up administration, sure pay a lot of lip service to democracy, but is that *really* the cornerstone, the foundation of the strength of our country, our society? Rock the vote! I'm not even talking about the unspoken controversy of voter irregularities or the apparently deep divisions between vast swathes of the country. We put gravity on the ideal of "one man, one vote" and yet the reality is that in many ways, our individual votes don't seem to amount for much these days. It is a representative democracy, after all.

What does seem important is our freedom, our rights as individuals.

And somehow it feels like that whole concept is getting lost in the shuffle somewhere. There is occasional lip-service (terrorists "hate our freedoms," "Freedom will find a way"), but it feels like that's all it is. Attacks on our right to privacy. The effort to ban gay marriage. Blocked access to birth control.

It's not like we're trying to kill people because of their religious beliefs, but sometimes it sure feels like there's at least a tinge of religious intolerance, if not outright fanaticism in the air these days. And this country is no stranger to capital punishment. I mean, are we sending mixed messages here?

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