Sunday, October 23, 2005

Born to rule


Barrington Moore has died, at 92. If you’re like me, and I suppose it’s vaguely possible you aren’t, you were assigned his Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy in pretty much every single college course you took.

Brazil, the country with the highest rate of gun deaths in the world (39,000 per year, compared to 30,000 in the US), has voted in a referendum not to ban gun sales. The BBC implies that the American NRA had a direct involvement in the No campaign. Has anyone seen something more substantial about this? The AP merely says that the No campaign translated a lot of NRA material, so that some Brazilians now think they have a Second Amendment which gives them a right to keep and bear arms. Which they don’t. Under statute law, though, anyone over the age, interestingly, of 25 can buy a gun.

The editor of the Afghan magazine Women’s Rights has been sentenced to 2 years for blasphemy for various articles, including ones which argued against lashing adulterers 100 times, and stoning to death Muslims who convert to other religions. Since the Afghan government survives only due to the American military presence, this sentence is our responsibility. Will we see Marines doing crowd control when a convert is stoned to death or an adulteress is lashed? Will they be assigned to throw the stones? The standards of criminal justice were exacting: the judge in the case said, “The Ulama Council sent us a letter saying that he should be punished so I sentenced him to two years’ jail.” So let me repeat: the US invaded Afghanistan in order to put the Ulama Council in charge of its legal system.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the last legitimately elected president of Burma, has been under house arrest for ten years.

In the battle to lead the British Tory party, one of David Davis’s lieutenants has accused David Cameron, who went to Eton, of thinking he was “born to rule.” Imagine that! a Tory who thinks he’s born to rule. Indeed, a Britisher who thinks he’s born to rule. Astonishing. Liam Fox, out of the race after the last round of voting, has accused Davis of spreading rumors that Fox has a secret homosexual past. Honey, your name is “Liam Fox”: we all assumed you were gay.

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