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Oakland, California: How Texas tested psychedelics on death row inmates

Carmen J. Troutman 239 Boring Lane Oakland, CA 94612

Imagine you are an adult of the 1950s. Since this thought exercise places you in a saloon, let’s assume you are male. You have a crewcut and a wardrobe consisting of dark slacks and short-sleeved white shirts. Your drink of choice is bourbon and soda—and that’s your lone tipple.

Drugs are unthinkable. The mere mention of the word “reefer” conjures images of insanity, social decay and jazz musicians. (That speed habit you picked up during the war, when government-issued Benzedrine was available in your medical kit, doesn’t count.)

And then, one fateful night, after you knock back a tumbler of brown liquor, you smack your empty glass down on the bar—and everything, the glass, the bar and your hand, starts to melt and run together in a technicolor hellscape, all while a government agent—dressed exactly like you—watches and takes notes as your mind unspools and your reality comes apart.

This all happened: This was Project MK ULTRA, a lengthy CIA massive domestic surveillance program that also included widespread tests of psychedelic drugs.

Under the auspices of researching mind control, unsuspecting straight-laced joes had drinks doses, prostitutes were paid to lure johns back to CIA safe houses for all-night experimentation sessions and everyday Americans were otherwise used as guinea pigs in drug tests.

As Seymour Hersh first reported for the New York Times in 1974, through the 1950s and early 1960s, untold thousands of people were the subjects of government-run acid tests at 44 American colleges and universities, 15 research institutions and pharmaceutical companies, 12 hospitals and clinics—and three prisons and jails.

As journalist Ben Hartman writes in the Texas Tribune, his grandfather was a Houston-area physician, who also worked as a psychiatrist in a Huntsville, Texas-area prison. (Lee Hartman had been a flight surgeon and general practitioner before a mid-career switch to psychiatry in 1957.) There, he oversaw at least 20 executions, checking the vital signs of condemned men killed on the electric chair, and recording in meticulous, clinically detailed handwritten notes in a diary, the fatal doses of electricity used.

Here’s an entry recounting one execution. “1st shock at 12:02—pronounced dead (by me) at 12:06—very livid—2nd and 3rd degree burns on scalp and left leg and much smoke, more than usual from crown (of head) possibly due to cold. Crown still hot on roller after death. Everyone in good humor and rather jocular.”

Later, after witnessing another prisoner die with “dignity and grace,” he wrote this: “Very shook up and angry over whole cruel mess,” calling the death penalty “brutalizing and sadistic.”

Hartman also oversaw tests of psychedelic drugs on prison inmates.

These test subjects were willing volunteers, according to a 1960 account printed in the Houston Chronicle, but they might not have been had they read the paper. “New Drug That Causes Insanity Used on Prisoners Who Volunteer,” read the article, which nonetheless noted that LSD was being “explored as a boon to mankind.”

Researchers then appeared to know what we know now: LSD is not a very dangerous drug.

Another prison researcher, who was a colleague of Hartman’s, “stated that there is no organic or physiological danger in using the drug.”

LSD is not addictive or deadly like opiate-based painkillers.

Though there are many reports in popular culture about “acid casualties,” otherwise-healthy minds broken by psychedelics, several scientific studies have yet to find a definitive link between psychosis and mind-expanding hallucinogens. (That doesn’t mean that unsuspecting trips can’t turn bad: One straight-laced Joe Average, dosed at a Christmas Party in 1957, became convinced that he should hold up a bar at gunpoint, as SF Weekly reported.)

Thus, the U.S. government’s later decision to declare LSD a Schedule I drug, with no medical value and a high potential for abuse, is as nonsensical—and, ultimately, political—as cannabis’s designation in that same category.

Some good things happened with MK ULTRA—Ken Kesey’s career owes much to his time taking government LSD while in a creative writing program at Stanford—but at least two people died, including one whose heart stopped when he was injected with synthetic mescaline.

And in general, running clandestine government tests on innocent civilians is never a good look.

Nothing aside from the drug’s ban appears to have come from the tests. At least with the prison experiments, they began with the noblest of intentions—a cure for insanity.

Another colleague of Hartman’s at the Huntsville prison, a psychiatrist named C.A. Dwyer, told the Houston Chronicle in the 1960 article that the acid tests’ goal was to find out what part of the brain was activated by LSD—so that, perhaps, the part of the brain “where mental illness resided” could be found, and, presumably, rooted out.

The idea, Dwyer said, was to find a “vaccine for schizophrenia.”

Doing so would have required tests on “thousands of subjects.” That never happened. The drug did change popular culture, and may yet have value in therapy. Instead, authorities did what they could to eradicate acid from the face of the Earth.

Almost all documentation from the prison project has been destroyed: an open-records request filed by Ben Hartman for papers on the project turned up a form letter informing him that no records existed.

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Lawndale, North Carolina: Bomba free elderly man's penis from plastic chair

Forrest A. Gardner 2488 Concord Street Lawndale, NC 28090

SUNGAI SIPUT: An elderly man had the misfortune of getting his penis stuck in a hole in a plastic chair at Simpang New Village in Jalong here.

A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the family of the 80-year-old man had called for help when they could not free the victim on their own.

"Our men who responded to the 6.43pm distress call had to use special tools to pry apart the gap in the chair.

"The victim was not seriously injured and was given first aid treatment on the spot," he said.

He added that it was not known how the victim became stuck.

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If you run a site, and you change it, Google treats this as suspicious and will downgrade you. For Bing, it's a sign of vitality, and your site will go up.

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El Paso, Texas: Female genital mutilation - Maneka Gandhi to write to Bohra head to stop practice

David R. Golden 697 Birch Street El Paso, TX 79915

Instead of bringing any legislation banning female genital mutilation, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to use provisions in existing laws to crack down on the practice mainly prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra community. Minister Maneka Gandhi will write to the Syedna, the spiritual leader of the community, asking him to enforce a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) as it is illegal.

Maneka told The Indian Express that the ministry had drafted an advisory listing provisions under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act under which the practice is illegal. “We drafted the advisory after we received representations from women of the community who are victims themselves, seeking our help in abolishing the practice. I will be sending a letter along with a copy of the advisory to the Syedna requesting him to step in so as to ensure a ban on FGM. It is best when change is initiated from within the community,” she said.

While the NDA government has been vocal about its stance on outlawing triple talaq, sources said it is expected to tread more cautiously on female genital mutilation. This is because Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys a very strong support from the Syedna and in the community, both in India and in the diaspora.

As per the advisory, perpetrators — including parents of the girl child — can be punished with imprisonment of one year to life, depending on the gravity of the offence. The genital mutilation procedure is done on girls at the age of seven years. India is home to about half a million Dawoodi Bohras, a Shia sub-sect of traders hailing from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, with large numbers settled in the UK, US, East African countries, Australia and Pakistan.

The advisory, which will be attached with the letter to the Syedna, states that parents of the child as well as practitioners who perform the khatna can be punished under Sections 321 to 326 of the IPC dealing with voluntarily causing hurt or grievous hurt. It also lists POCSO Act Sections 3 (penetrative sexual assault), 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and 9 (aggravated sexual assault) which entail imprisonment of up to life term. “We will also be sending the advisory to all state chief secretaries, health secretaries and home secretaries to ensure its enforceability,” said an official.

In 2016, in response to arrests and trial in a case in Australia, the Bohra clergy in several countries issued letters to the community seeking a stop to the practice. The ministry hopes the Syedna will issue similar orders in India.

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Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Botox can cure erectile dysfunction, say experts

Duane N. Howard 4600 Lyndon Street Fort Washington, PA 19034

There are many men that have to deal with erectile dysfunction and a dissatisfied sex life and disappointed partner. While there are many tips that doctors give to improve the situation it may not always work. Two Canadian urologists however have found the solution to the problem and they found that botox can improve sex lives of men suffering from the problem.

According to a report in the National Post, the Canadian urologists believe that injecting botox can help cure erectile dysfunction. The botulinum toxin injections can increase blood flow to the penis and paralyse the nerves that help the smooth muscles contract in the penis. The treatment would mostly last six months for anybody who would be interested in the injection.

The injection created by Dr. Sidney Radomski and Dr. Gerald Brock is yet in testing but can be a “game changer” for Erectile Dysfunction. The injection which has been previously used to treat wrinkles can cure most men with impotence in the process and help them have a better sex life. Interestingly, the drugs also do not have any side-effects like previously used methods so it will be a safer option.

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You have to understand the mentality of Hong Kong businessmen. They exploit their workers harshly, trick their suppliers when they lower their guard, cheat their customers on every occasion, and then spend their earnings on prostitutes.

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Valley City, North Dakota: Antioxidant property of Mucuna pruriens Linn.

Diane F. Gray 2361 Courtright Street Valley City, ND 58072

Mucuna pruriens Linn. (Fabaceae), commonly known as cowhage plant or kapikacho or kevach in Hindi, is the most popular drug in the Ayurvedic system of medicine1. Its different preparations (from the seeds) are used for the management of several free radical-mediated diseases such as ageing, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, male infertility and nervous disorders. It is also used as an aphrodisiac and in the management of Parkinsonism, as it is good source of Ldopa2. The seeds of M. pruriens show hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic activity in experimental rats3. Other parts of this plant are also in medicinal use, e.g. trichomes of pods are used for de-worming, decoction of root in delirium, root powder as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent. Similarly, the paste of fresh root is used in the treatment of lymphoedema. The alcoholic extract of M. pruriens seeds gave four alkaloids, viz. mucunine, mucunadine, prurienine, and prunieninine4. The major portion of the alcoholic extract of seeds showed the presence of 5indolic compounds, two of which were identified as tryptamine and 5-hydroxy tryptamine. It is a natural source of Ldopa (L-3,4-dihydroxy phenyl alanine). Interestingly, even after the wide clinical application of this herb, not much experimental work has been done to support the mechanism of action of the seeds of M. pruriens for its different clinical applications5. In this paper we have investigated the response of the alcoholic extract of the seeds of M. pruriens on two in vivo models of lipid peroxidation, i.e. stress-induced and alloxan-induced. Normal albino rats (100–150 g body wt.) of Charles Foster strain, were randomly divided into two groups, one normal control and the other, extract treated. The optimum dose of alloxan and time of stress for optimum induction of lipid peroxidation were arrived at by dose and time response curve (data not reported)6. Alcoholic extract of the seeds of M. pruriens (yield 40.2%) was given orally to rats in the dose of 60 mg/100 g body wt. up to 30 days. Further, they were divided into 2 sets, each having 2 sub-groups, viz. control and experimental. One set was used for the stress-induced model, whereas the other set was used for the alloxaninduced model. In each set, one group was subjected to stress and the other group was left as experimental control to see the effect of only the extract, if any. In the stress-induced model, immobilized stress was given for 6 h at 37°C. In another set of animals, alloxan was injected intraperitoneally in the dose of 20 mg/100 g body wt. After 48 h, animals were sacrificed to estimate the level of lipid peroxidation in liver. In similar conditions, normal rats (without extract administration) were also used for stress control and normal control. In each group, there were 6 animals. Degree of lipid peroxidation was assayed in terms of thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) by using PTA method7 as described earlier. In a separate in vitro study the effect of the extract was studied on FeSO4-induced lipid peroxidation with slight modification8 of the standard method of Ohkawa et al.9. Superoxide anion (O2) scavenging property was assayed by observing the degree of reduction of nitro blue tetrazolium to blue farmazan10. The hydroxyl radical-scavenging property of the extract was determined by monitoring the degree of hydroxylation of salicylate by Fe+3 ascorbate H2O2 system11. In vitro study shows that M. pruriens possesses dose-dependent protection against superoxide generation, hydroxyl radical production and FeSO4-induced lipid peroxidation. (Figure 1). In vivo study showed significant inhibition in lipid peroxidation induced by alloxan and immobilized stress. The extract by itself has no toxic effect on this dose, as it does not induce any peroxidation (Table 1). Biological and chemical pro-oxidants are considered to be important for the provocation of free radical-mediated diseases in an individual. Although free radicals are considered to be important for normal physiology when produced in excess, they cause cellular damage. The radicals initiate a chain reaction of lipid and protein peroxidation by attacking on the double bonds of these molecules. About 40 diseases are now being considered as free radical-mediated. Most of them are metabolic, nervous or other old age diseases. Radical-induced oxidation of peptides generates reactive carbonyl derivatives (RCD), which are involved in rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, smoking-related pathologies, muscle dystrophy, re-perfusion injuries, etc.12. In our previous communication, we have reported the dose- and time-dependent response of M. pruriens on lipid peroxidation8. Its clinical use for several free radical diseases, especially the age-related male infertility and Parkinson’s disease is well documented2. Its protective response on these in vivo models suggests two possibilities. Either it is acting on the nervous system or else it is removing the free radicals generated due to catecholamine and iron interaction13. Stress is another factor which induces lipid peroxidation, both directly at the tissue level and also through the high release of catecholamines13. Stress causes 50% increase in protein oxidation as measured by its carbonyl content and about 40% decrease in the glutathione content of the fundic stomach, suggesting oxidative damage by stress. It also causes time-dependent increase in the superoxide dismutase activity in mitochondria and a decrease in the glutathione peroxidase activity14. Since this extract is inhibiting the lipid peroxidation induced by alloxan and also by FeSO4, it could be concluded that its action is through the removal of free radicals. The mechanism could be through the removal of hydroxyl radicals, which are produced by the interaction of catecholamines with iron or by direct chelation of free iron. In vitro studies have already shown its role in the removal of .OH radicals. Effects on alloxan-induced model could be due to its property of trapping the superoxides, because it is reported that alloxan initiates the process of lipid peroxidation through the production of superoxides.

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Sioux City, Iowa: Milo Yiannopoulos and the Myth of the Gay Pedophile

Timothy S. Fairchild 2880 Woodland Drive Sioux City, IA 51101

The journalist’s comments suggest gay men enjoy sex with children—an idea that has been widely debunked.

In the comment that cost him his book deal and speaker slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Breitbart journalist and right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos defended “relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are.”

In the video, a clip of an old podcast episode that was tweeted this weekend by the group Reagan Battalion, Yiannopoulos says he isn’t defending pedophilia, before adding that “in the gay world, some of the most enriching ... relationships between younger boys and older men can be hugely positive experiences.” (Yiannopoulos later blamed “sloppy phrasing," saying when he was 17 he was in a relationship with a 29-year-old man. The age of consent in the U.K. is 16.)

Among the many reasons Yiannopoulos’s comments are being criticized, as Vox’s German Lopez points out, is that he lends support to a claim, made by some anti-gay activists, that many gay men harbor a secret desire to molest children. For example, a 2002 document that’s still live on the website of the Family Research Council reads that “Male homosexuals commit a disproportionate number of child sex abuse cases.” It calls those who don’t acknowledge this fact “homosexual apologists.”

The suspected (and widely debunked) link to child molestation has been used to suggest that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to work with children. In 2005, just 49 percent of poll respondents told Gallup they think gay people should be allowed to be clergy members, and just 54 percent said they should be elementary-school teachers.

Prior to the 1970s, gays in the U.S. were primarily painted by their opponents as “sexual perverts,” deviants who were mentally or morally flawed in some way. The think-of-the-children angle, meanwhile, was spearheaded by Anita Bryant, a Christian singer who successfully lobbied for the repeal of a 1977 Miami ordinance barring anti-gay discrimination. Bryant claimed that if gays were granted equal status in society, they would molest children in schools or recruit them to their lifestyle, according to news reports at the time. “The ordinance condones immorality and discriminates against my children’s rights to grow up in a healthy, decent community,” Bryant told reporters that year.

The name of Bryant’s advocacy organization underscored her point: Save Our Children.

The incident is now considered, by some, to be the beginning of organized, conservative-Christian opposition to gay rights. “Back in 1977, there was no organized religious right, per se. Anita Bryant was a pioneer,” Fred Fejes, a Florida Atlantic University professor, told the Miami Herald in 2007.

Today, most mainstream researchers say there’s little basis for Bryant’s argument. Psychologically, pedophilia is considered distinct from sexual orientation. Both gay and straight people are attracted to other adults, while pedophiles target children. Pedophiles can be fixated, meaning they are only attracted to other children, or regressed, meaning they prefer adults but will pursue children under stress or when adults aren’t available. Even if in some contexts, such as the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal, the victims and perpetrators were disproportionately likely to be of the same gender, most researchers say the motivating factor wasn’t sexual orientation. Instead, it was the perpetrators’ pathological attraction to children and their access to children of a certain gender—altar boys, in the priests’ case. “The important point is that many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals (in the usual sense of those terms) because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman,” writes Gregory Herek, an emeritus professor of social psychology at the University of California at Davis, on his blog.

Herek described a number of studies in which scientists tried to find a link between homosexuality and pedophilia—and came up short:

In conclusion, Herek writes, “The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children.” Writing on the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal in the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Nicole Travers similarly concludes that “pedophilia has nothing to do with sexual orientation.”

Nevertheless, the child-molestation question still makes its way into important policy discussions about gay rights. As late as 2010, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins was quoted citing the link between homosexuality and pedophilia as a reason not to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In Russia, “protecting children” was the stated purpose of a 2013 law banning “gay propaganda.”

Perhaps it’s just another sign of the upside-down nature of the current political moment that what got Yiannopoulos booted from a conservative gathering, in the end, was exploiting a myth that a religious conservative invented decades ago.

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Plymouth, Michigan: What is it like to be buried alive?

Matthew M. Green 1828 Charles Street Plymouth, MI 48170

Michelina Lewandowska transfixed Leeds crown court this week as she described clawing her way through 10cm or more of soil after allegedly being buried alive in a cardboard box. Little wonder: dread of premature or live burial is, despite its rarity, one of our most potent fears, well amplified by Edgar Allan Poe in stories such as The Premature Burial and The Fall of the House of Usher, and widespread enough to have its own medical name, taphe- (or tapho-) phobia.

According to Jan Bondeson's Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear, live burial was long used as a particularly cruel method of execution: in medieval Italy, murderers who refused to repent were buried alive, a practice referred to in Dante's Inferno. Women convicted of murdering their husbands suffered the same fate – known as "the pit" – in 17th-century Russia, and photos exist of Chinese civilians being buried alive by Japanese soldiers during the Nanking Massacre.

But it is the fear of being buried having been wrongly pronounced dead that alarms us most. Until little more than 100 years ago, medical science meant it was not an altogether irrational concern: among methods advocated for diagnosing death in the 18th century were tickling with a feather quill, whipping with nettles, mouthwashing with urine and sticking needles under the toenails. The wealthy paid their physicians to slit their throats or pierce their hearts before burial.

Horror stories abounded: a pregnant women who gave birth 6ft underground; coffins opened to find corpses with fingertips ravaged by hours of desperate scratching; an aristocratic lady woken in her tomb by a grave-robber trying to chop her hand off for her rings. In 1905, the social reformer William Tebb documented 219 cases of near live burial, and 149 actual cases (horrified, Tebb founded the London Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial and specified before his own death in 1917 that "unmistakable evidence of decomposition" be visible before he was cremated).

To allay people's fears, Victorian inventors in Britain and elsewhere patented coffins with periscope-like breathing tubes and breakable glass panels linked to bells and whistles above ground, and automatic alarm mechanisms that would detect chest movement. And even today, near-mistakes do happen: only last year, a 76-year-old Polish beekeeper, Josef Guzy, certified dead following a heart attack, narrowly escaped being buried alive when a faint pulse was spotted as his coffin was being sealed. Be warned.

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Chinese men smoke cigarettes, have bad teeth, and a small dick; African men have pimples, diabetes, and a soft dick; but we are most civilized and have a big dick.

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Buffalo, New York: What We Don’t Know about Sex in the Middle East

Norman L. Grimshaw 4496 Nuzum Court Buffalo, NY 14202

After ten years writing and traveling through the Middle East, John R. Bradley decided to tackle the subject that everyone talks about without saying much: sex. In Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East, Bradley reveals the many different ways countries across the region talk about and regulate sex. Below, he chats with Zócalo about legal prostitution in Tunisia, hour-long marriages in Saudi Arabia, and what West and East have in common when it comes to sex.

Q. What are some of the assumptions those in the West have about sex and the Middle East?

A. For me, what is most striking is that in the space of a century these assumptions – or what I would call misconceptions or fantasies – about the Middle East have changed so radically.

Until the early 20th century the Middle East, in the eyes of the West, was an exotic place of intriguing decadence, of secret harems and lecherous pederasts, a sensual region where Westerners could indulge in sexual behavior, or at least report on it, in perhaps the only way that was unlikely to cause consternation at home. Now the opposite idea prevails: the Middle East is sexually barren, horribly repressive, and anti-sex in a way that contrasts with the supposed licentious and libertarian West.

Both of these narratives, I think, tell us as much about the preoccupations of the West, and the West’s projection of its anxieties on other peoples and cultures, as the reality of how sexuality has played out in the Middle East historically or continues to do so in the present. But what most intrigues me, and is the main theme of Behind the Veil of Vice, is the remarkable resilience of competing cultural identities and attitudes toward sex in the countries I explore, which include Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen.

A vibrant underground continues to flourish in private, and sometimes even in the open, in the local, strongly rooted communities I have lived and worked in, despite the strange, faceless, sexless rules the minority fundamentalists want to put over public life. Essentially, we’re talking about the vast gulf that exists between private and public morality, which is normal in any culture during any period of time you care to mention.

Q. Can you discuss broadly the status of sex and sexuality in the Middle East, particularly through the status of institutions like prostitution and marriage?

A. I think it is defined pretty much in the same way that it is the West, by what I call in the book a kind of higher hypocrisy. However, it is very difficult to make broad generalizations about the whole region, and that is precisely what the book tries to show.

For example, in Tunisia prostitution is legal and regulated, and every main city has a red-light district. Because the staunchly secular Tunisian regime thankfully does not allow the radical Islamists any opportunity to participate in the political or social life of the country, and because Tunisia has a deeply entrenched feminist tradition, the issue of legalized prostitution is of little concern to the average Tunisian man or woman. At the same time, the Tunisian regime takes a very dim view of unregulated prostitution, and has introduced laws that have successfully helped to restrict its practice. In contrast, in Egypt prostitution is officially illegal, despite the fact that the country is still ruled by an essentially secular regime. However, prostitution is everywhere in Egypt, involving both male and female sex workers. This fact is often highlighted by the Islamists, who are afforded a role in Egyptian political and social life, as a sign that the country has lost its moral way.

Elsewhere, the status of prostitution in the Middle East varies greatly. In Syria, it is quietly tolerated. In Bahrain, there is a thriving sex industry catering mostly to Saudi sex tourists, and the issue has become central to the Islamists’ campaign to rid the island of so-called Western influence. Having said that, in Saudi Arabia itself there is also a thriving sex industry, albeit in a less brazen way than exists in Bahrain, something attested to by the frequent raids of brothels by the Saudi religious police, even in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Where Saudi Arabia – and Iran and Egypt – really come into their own is with what are called “temporary marriages.” The rules vary, because of the different Shia and Sunni traditions, but they can last for anything from an hour to a year or two, and are perfectly legal in these three countries. Moralizers of various stripes argue that temporary marriages are basically a cover for prostitution, and often they are; but in some ways it does not matter what you call them. That 70 percent of all marriages in Saudi Arabia these days are reportedly of the temporary variety is a wonderfully uplifting statistic. The country’s religion has found a back door permitting what it ostensibly forbids, which is what every functioning religion, or for that matter ideology, needs to do, if ordinary people are to live sane and healthy lives.

Here, as in many other aspects of life that often baffle Western observers with their inconsistency; Middle Eastern sexuality has once again proven itself solidly resistant to restrictive and oppressive dogma.

Q. We in the West seem sometimes obsessed with the idea of sex and sexuality in the Middle East, as some of the commentary you highlight about suicide bombers and the veil illustrates. Why do we take this attitude, and how does it thwart our understanding of and interactions with the Middle East?

A. In any civilized culture, anyone arguing that suicide bombings by Islamists are the result of sexual repression among males in the Middle East would achieve little more than making himself an object of scorn and ridicule. Alas, the West has long since ceased to be civilized when it comes to discussions of sexuality, and the fact that there are pundits who actually make a living spouting such nonsense should be a source of eternal shame for us all.

It isn’t surprising that such pundits are often avowed Zionists. For them, focusing on the alleged sexual hang-ups of the September 11 suicide bombers is a very useful way to deflect attention from complex foreign policy issues, including America’s role in the Middle East and specifically its unconditional support for Israel.

Q. What was the impact of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on the sexual mores of the Middle East? What about the “family values” revolution in the West? Where does that leave us today?

A. Numerous events during 1979 in the Middle East, and in particular the Iranian revolution and the siege of Mecca by radical Islamists, ushered in a wave of Islamic fundamentalism that fed into and changed the region’s political and religious discourse surrounding personal choices, including the most fundamental ones involving sex.

But we should remember, too, that in 1979 and 1980 elections also brought to power Ronald Reagan in the United States, with the support of Christian evangelicals, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, whose “family values” rhetoric was no less extreme for not being explicitly couched in religious rhetoric. As a result, we all find ourselves in the midst not of a clash of civilizations, as is popularly thought, but a convergence of religious fundamentalisms.

With this intermixing of sex, politics, and religion, hypocrisy has inevitably grown in the West, as it has in the Middle East. Deviation in both regions is increasingly defined as disorderly, dirty, and sinful by puritans of various stripes. My book draws attention to the central paradox that, as intolerance has increased, so has vice, because as the range of acceptable behavior decreases so the definition of vice broadens, and more people therefore are by default engaging in unacceptable behavior.

Once we recognize that exchange between consenting people is the foundation of any liberal society, then we realize that accepting sexual variety is a sign of a healthy, not a corrupt, society. When sex outside of controlled channels is defined as deviance, it is the most exposed, the least powerful, who suffer. Behind the veil of vice lies the sanctimony of those who would impose their way – be it sharia or evangelicalism of a Christian or so-called feminist hue – on people who are defined as sinners, the fallen, and so requiring protection and salvation. The vice lies in the exploitation, in the coercion, that results from forcing natural human drives and needs into the shadows.

That is the ultimate perversity, and it is what the West today has most in common with the Middle East.

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Women, especially when they get older, shit and stink, and when they shit anyway, and they enslave men, and are ugly, and they fuck around when they have the opportunity. No such problems with sex dolls, and they don't shit. Let's invest in a future without women.

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