Previous posts in this discussion:
PostHomophobia in Christianity and Islam (Massoud Malek, USA, 03/30/14 7:13 am)
While commenting John Heelen's post of 29 March, JE wrote:
"Certainly Saudi Arabia, with its barbaric anti-sodomy laws (thousands of lashes or even execution), is far more homophobic than Putin's Russia, and the US never raises a protest to the House of Saud."
Should Americans force other people to follow their newly found liberal standards--standards not shared by everyone? Should we consider the Roman emperor Nero who married three men, more sympathetic than Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin? Finally, are Christians more tolerant about homosexuality than Muslims?
On 24 December 2013, Alan Turing, a computer pioneer and a codebreaker during the Second World War, who undoubtedly shortened the conflict and saved thousands of lives, was given a posthumous royal pardon.
In 1952, four years after Britain abolished flogging, Alan Turing was convicted under the "Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885," for gross indecency following which he was chemically castrated. The procedure lasted one year of hormone injection and may have caused his early death.
Today we consider castrating a man for having sex with another consenting man, a barbaric act. Ask any man, if he prefers castration or receiving at most 100 lashes. I assure you that the answer is lashes.
Today's Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy controlled by the Al-Saud ruling tribe and a leading US ally in the Middle East, is very different from the time of the prophet Muhammad. Fourteen centuries ago, the prophet told his followers that if you penetrate a boy, then you may not marry his mother; but if you only play with the boy, then there is no objection by Allah to marrying his mother. He also wrote in Koran, if a man rapes another man, then he should be punished with lashes; but after the punishment, if he stops raping other men, then he should be forgiven. There is no mention of consenting men having sex in the Koran.
Twelve centuries, after Muhammad, in Christian Britain, the "Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861," raised the age of consent from 10 to 12. It also made unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 10. In addition, the 1861 Act had made the penalty for indecent assault or attempted rape of a girl below the consensual age two years' imprisonment. There was no mention of penalty for raping of an older girls.
Sufi poets in medieval Arab lands and in Persia wrote odes to the beautiful wine boys who served them in the taverns. The great Persian poet, Hafez (d. 1389), in his most famous poem, offered Samarkand and Bukhara in exchange for the love of the Turkish boy with a beauty mark.
Unlike the Muslim world, the Renaissance saw intense oppression of homosexual relationships by the Roman Catholic Church. In France, first-offender sodomites lost their testicles, second offenders lost their penis, and third offenders were burned. Women caught in same-sex acts could be mutilated and executed as well.
In Islam, lashes for punishment are not supposed to leave permanent scars, and when the number of lashes is high (maximum of 100 and not 1000, as JE wrote), are frequently done in batches to minimize risk of harm.
During the Napoleonic Wars, the maximum number of lashes that could be inflicted on soldiers in the British Army reached 1,200. Two centuries later, inflicting someone with 1,200 lashes is considered barbaric.
Today, medically supervised caning is routinely ordered by the courts as a penalty for some categories of crime in former British colonies, such as: Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere.
JE comments: One of the central quandaries faced by anyone who studies different cultures: is the intolerance of intolerance itself an act of intolerance? This same question could also apply to female genital mutilation, widows on funeral pyres, the caste system, etc.
I fail to see how lashes can ever be made humane, whether they come in batches of hundreds or thousands. See this entry in WikiIslam, which mentions punishments of up to 7000 lashes for homosexual acts: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Persecution_of_Homosexuals_(Saudi_Arabia)I don't use the word "barbaric" lightly, but it applies to this aspect of the Saudi legal code. Granted, I have the same opinion of capital punishment in general, no matter how "humane." One of the things that makes me proudest about Michigan is that there has been no capital punishment here since 1846.