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Stoking Rage

posted this update from CNN about the Saudi rape case.

I’ve seen comments around the web from people arguing that the rule of law is the rule of law, and that while we may not like how Saudi Arabia does business, its their country and they’ve got a right to do as they please.


She was raped. And she’s being punished for it. She is being flogged 200 times because she had the audacity to go out without a male relative accompanying her. And that’s the excuse for it, because that’s her wearing a short skirt, innit? She was asking for it, right?

Except, this little thing, this tiny little thing, that says that a human being shouldn’t have to move in fear in the world. That a society that equates and unescorted woman with a viable target is a broken one (and yes, I’m aware I’m talking about more than Saudi Arabia, here).

I will say it again. She was raped. Specifically, she was gang-raped by 7 men. And she’s going to spend 6 months in a Saudi prison (and anyone who can weigh in on what that stay is going to be like, I’m sure we’d all love to hear it.) She’s going to be flogged 200 times, and then she’s going to prison for months.

And saying they — meaning the Saudi Government — has the right to do as they please is the same as saying that what’s happening in Darfur is cool, because, y’know, that’s their thing, we don’t have anything to do with it.


Universal rights. Inherent rights.

But Saudi Arabia has never really been big on those. Not when a society is built upon a caste-system of dehumanization and hatred. No, Saudi Arabia has never been big on those basic human rights.

And to all you NeoCons out there — nice fucking job, assholes. You sure as hell have done a bang-up job showing Saudi the way towards Democratic Enlightenment. You dumbfucks.

The fact that, time and again, the Saudi government is excused for its reprehensible, vile, horrific behavior, makes me want to projectile vomit. Our government’s continued kowtowing to their regime is shameful.

Some things need to be indefensible, must remain inexcusable.

26 Responses to Stoking Rage

  1. davidwynne

    Well said.

  2. alryssa

    I firmly believe that as long as humanity continues to tolerate the treatment of women like this, there will be no real peace in any corner of the globe.

    As a survivor myself, I lost many things – my innocence, my sanity (for a time), my temper, (frequently) and my sense of self. But I didn’t lose hope. I was lucky, though. I had help. I’m in a place where I could get help.

    Without hope, there can be no change. Without help, there can be no shift of opinion. It can’t come too quickly, in my estimation. But turning the tide of an entire culture that’s essentially stuck in the draconian warlord era isn’t going to happen overnight.

    What can the little people do like this in the face of such bigotry? I think that’s the big question so many people ask. They don’t feel like their contribution can do anything. Rage is so easy to feel, but what happens when it disappears into the ether?

    This is a good place to start.

    (Apologies for the soapboxing. This is something that really affects me on a personal level.)

  3. lancescott


    Understanding is all well and good, but right is right. Sometimes we have to draw them line.

  4. hdefined

    Greg, I admit that this is the first time I’m hearing about this situation, and I haven’t really been following news about the US occupation in Iraq, so bear with me if I don’t quite grasp the extent of the situation. I agree completely that this “law” or whatever mockery of law they attribute it to is insane – but what would you propose we do about it?

    I get the impression that you oppose the war and the US presence in Iraq, but you also seem to be advocating that it’s our job to step in on this situation. I don’t disagree that it’s our responsibility as human beings to say, “Hey guys, uh, if I may be honest for a second here . . .” but what specific actions (words of condemnation included as an action) do you suggest we take?

  5. amazonx

    Just to clarify one thing

    I totally agree with everything you said, not arguing. She’s getting the sentence to talking to the media, not going out alone. Do I think she should be punished? Hell no! But we have those same twisted laws here in the US, where anyone talking about a case can be jailed, if there’s a gag order. There may be a blanket gag order on all cases in Saudi, who knows. But I think she should be let go free.

    Does anyone know about the search/capture/punishment of her attackers? How is that case going?

  6. jonlaw

    Wolf by the ear

    We are in deep with Saudi Arabia and so many other places (can anyone say Pakistan?). On the one hand private individuals, bureaucrats and politicians are and will be horrified by what our allies do, and around the margins, we effect some change and some good. From reading the articles, it would seem that the Saudis are posturing to make some sort of compromise or spectacle of this case for their own ends. Even if it benefits the victim in the end though, they will likely have manipulated the situation to get themselves off the larger hook for a time with the powers that be.

    Good old Realpolitik.

    On the one hand, without American Pragmatism, we, as a country, would likely be screwed. On the other hand, when we are so pragmatic that our ideals can’t even be recognized, we either abet or cause so much suffering, that we have really acted against our long term interests. Balance is really hard.

    And the sad thing is that we can drive all the Neo-Cons we want back to their think tanks and under their rocks, and the Realpolitik does not change. How much did Bill Clinton stand up to the Saudis. How much did Jimmy Carter. How much change did they effectuate? Does not look like much.

    Even if we get a new Clinton administration, or an Obama or an Edwards, will the pragmatic equation really change? I don’t think so? Saudis’ position in GWOT, OPEC and Persian Gulf politics still translate into them pretty much being able to do whatever they want. And to avoid it becoming another Iran, we hold on and stay with the devils that we know. ANd, of course, it is not just the U.S. We may be the biggest and the strongest, but Europe, Japan, not to mention Russia, China, and India. Well, they are as much hands off. They work around the margins, protest here, civil society funding there, but no taking on the issue head on. Because they are just as scared and as self-interested as the U.S. No one is going to support the big push for change.

    And, with Iraq, we have found the limitations of change by conquest (state intervention, whatever you want to call it). I will admit to wanting to see Saddam Hussein gone. I will admit to believing the world left the job undone in Gulf War 1. He was a brutal dictator, he was a regional threat, he was paying premiums to families of suicide bombers, he was shooting at patrols in No-Fly zone, he was circumventing sanctions while letting his people suffer and die, he was playing the long game for weapons and power. He was not doing the big things that the Bush administration thought/claimed he was doing, but in many ways, I thought “so what?” Here was a dictator taken down, one that we had done plenty to set up in the first place. Here we could clean up some of the mess of Realpolitik.

    Boy, I was wrong. We made a bigger mess. We failed to learn from history. We created a Persian Gulf Yugoslavia, but this time we marched in and deposed the Tito figure in Saddam. We messed up. Now, maybe, in the long run, we will make things better. Maybe we just catalyzed a process that would have happened when Saddam died like Tito did, but we’ll never really know. What we do learn is that intervention, even when it looks like we might be cleaning up a mess we have created or at least abetted, is no clear cut thing.

    What do we do to clean up Saudi? As I say, wolf by the ear. We may be stuck holding on and hoping the damn thing domesticates itself in the long run. I don’t see a short range solution for the “sickness” although, I think we may get to treat symptoms here and there, like the plight of this poor woman.

  7. dewline

    Her attackers?

    If I recall the BBC coverage correctly, I think at least five of them got their sentences doubled from five to ten years’ jail time.(And apparently CNN’s contradicting my memory by saying “from two years to nine”.)

    Small favour? No favour?

  8. amazonx

    Re: Her attackers?

    At least some were captured and sentenced. It would be more insult ontop of injury that they didn’t get caught at all.

  9. dewline

    Re: Her attackers?

    I suppose so…up to a point.


  10. dewline

    By the way…

    …about that icon?

    You may want to rethink that, given some some of the concerns recently voiced by Heather Mallick.

    Then again, you may want to accelerate your paperwork if you’ve already started. I don’t know when our next federal election’s going to be, after all.

  11. amazonx

    Re: Her attackers?

    At least some were captured and sentenced. It would be more insult ontop of injury that they didn’t get caught at all.

  12. amazonx

    Re: By the way…

    It’s a joke amongst my friends, actually.

    Them: What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Me: Canadian?

  13. vysion_of_books

    Basic human rights

    Thank you.

  14. admin

    What can we do? Not nearly enough, I acknowledge that. But adding your voice to the condemnations is a good start — writing/faxing/calling your various representatives in Washington, including the White House (whether you like its current occupants or not), and letting them all know that you are aware of the situation, that you are at the least concerned, at the most outraged, and that if the U.S. wants to salvage any shred of credibility as a moral force in the world (something our current Commander in Chief likes to maintain), our government must have an official response. This goes for those outside of the U.S. as well, clearly, with appropriate substitutions of political officials as required.

    By the same token, supporting organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, adding your voice to theirs does make a difference.

    More long-term? Support an energy policy that moves us away from foreign oil, so we can stop calling people our allies and our friends despite the fact that the way they do business is problematic at best. It’s an old chestnut at this point, but I think it’s valid, and I think it’s crucial, not just for the environment, but for bringing about real change. points out that this administration isn’t the first to be in bed with the Saudis (though I would argue that this administration is the first to be in bed, in crotchless panties, holding its ankles by its ears), and he’s right, and we’ve been propping the House of Saud up for over half a century, now. And we’re doing it so we can keep gasoline nice and affordable.

    I’m not sure I want to bring Iraq into this, as I’m not really sure I want to open that enormous can of worms, and I truly don’t have the time to give it the attention it would deserve. What I will say is that there are appropriate interventions and inappropriate ones, and yes, I do believe that sometimes force must be brought to bear. The U.S. led NATO involvement in Bosnia is a good example of this to me, and may be the only incident in recent history (or indeed, ever) where genocide-in-progress was halted (albeit a day late and a dollar short), by U.S. led intervention.

    No, it’s not enough, but it’s something, and everything counts. Voices matter. Raising them loud enough may be all we can do, but I truly believe it can make a difference.

  15. admin

    Re: Just to clarify one thing

    Sentences were increased/doubled. Maximum time served for those involved is now 9 years; minimum is 2.

    Make of that what you will.

  16. hero_writer

    Rape is a crime that never, ever receives enough attention, and rapists are criminals who cannot receive enough punishment.

    Anyone believing otherwise has never known a victim of the crime, or at least not been close with such a victim.

    Rape is worse than murder, because it kills — or at least wounds (and often mortally) — a part of a person, an essential part of what it means to be a person, yet leaves the body walking around, often with no visible marks.

    Rape often kills the ability to love freely and completely.

    If there is a crime worse than that, I can’t think of what it might be.

    So punishing this woman for being raped? Punishing her for going to the media to seek something that might at least resemble justice? That’s a crime. Nothing else — and certainly nothing less.

  17. colubra

    Dear George: Please RTFM.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  18. lithera

    It seems to world is out to make me extremely angry right now.

    Between this further update and this and this disgustingness I’m having something of a problem with humanity.


  19. nealbailey

    Smart not to open the can of worms. You’ll have to teach me how you hold back, some days, because you’re the most politically intelligent (by that I mean tactful) person with rage, admonition, or opinion I’ve met. I lack that wholly. Or at least mostly.

    The people saying, “She broke the law!” are the same people who on one hand, justify the Iraq war by saying we had to go there to “free” those people, while later saying we can’t do anything about the fact that North Korea has no electricity and their people eat grass:

    Because it’s a sovereign nation and we can potentially solve things politically.

    But preaching to the choir, I expect, and please don’t comment to Iraq on my account and get shit thrown at you. I don’t want to sauce your day.

    But yes. Sometimes a society can grow its own will to suffrage. Other times it may be impossible, and something has to be done. And waiting a la the Prime Directive here is a horrid option.

  20. benchilada

    Now now, they’re EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ALLIES in the war against whatever we’re at war against right now.

  21. fluidbeauty

    Just wanted to thank you for raising this issue and commend you for expressing your outrage publicly. It may seem natural to you, but in the current climate I always admire the bravery of public figures to take stands against Bush and his crew and a country that has a Trillion dollars invested in the U.S.A.

    It pains me that the current climate is one where disagreement is labeled treason and I work to shift the current climate however I can as a non-public figure, but it is what it is for now and it’s still impresses me when politicians, comedians, writers, whomever … speak out. I remember Jon Stewart going on tour in ’04 (pre-Katrina, when it was not as common to disagree with the current U.S. administration) and openly trashing the policies of the White House inhabitants and thinking he had a lot balls.

    I’ll add Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to my Xmas gift list for now and research what I can do that’s more substantial. I also hope that everyone concerned about this case, and our relationship with Saudi Arabia participate as much as possible in next year’s election campaigns – starting as now rather than October.

    Thanks for staying angry.

  22. hdefined

    I’m a firm believer of that too – not that I necessarily think it makes a difference to speak out, but that the act is worthwhile and virtuous in itself, and at least sets a good example.

    Thanks for the reply and suggestions!

  23. dewline

    Re: Dear George: Please RTFM.

    He’s already told his aides what he thinks of R’ing TFM, sadly enough.

    Which Manual should be updated with the exact phrasing you use above…

  24. dewline

    …the HELL‽‽‽

    Particularly re: item 2 in your list of links, at the moment.

  25. lithera

    Yeah. That was much like my reaction.

  26. dannyperkins

    I find the Saudi’s worse than the Iraqs of the world.

    At least Syria doesn’t pretend to be our friend.

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