There was another "honor killing" this week. This time it happened in Atlanta. From CNN, "Father Kills Reluctant Bride". The short of it is the daughter was wed in Pakistan to an arranged husband currently living in Chicago, and was less than thrilled with this. Trying to tell her father about her lack of desire to be married, or stay married, led to a confrontation in which it seems he wrapped the cord from a clothes iron around her neck and strangled her to death.
People being strangled move a great deal usually - The fight, and struggle, and finally writhe before their muscles begin to starve and fail from lack of oxygen. At some point they pass out, unable to move having fought to muscle failure, and shortly there-after they die. This is not a pretty death, nor a quiet one. This man held his daughter's body, supported her weight by the power cord wrapped around her throat, through the fighting, struggling and writhing, until she died in his arms. He did it willingly, and probably of sane mind, because he comes from a culture in which women are property, nothing more and nothing less, and an archaic, medieval idea of family honor is more important than love and life.
This man is not alone - There have been others like him in this country, and many more in the Middle East. There are more still who will never get the opportunity to kill a female family member, but would not hesitate to do so for similarly "dishonorable" behavior. They are, in my opinion, savages. There is nothing redeeming about that culture and I refuse to acknowledge it as worthy of my attentions. Nothing anyone has to say can change my mind - A culture that imposes that kind of tyranny on women, and then kills them for merely disagreeing with it; A culture which has so little respect for, value for, the most beautiful and essential element of our species,; A culture of sexual repression with such little respect for life and the human right* is one I want nothing to do with, unless I can be instrumental in its destruction.
On the home front, from the less extreme sector of the faithful, I commonly hear a cry that one of the biggest problems with this country is our supposed "sexual immorality". Unfortunately what these folks commonly see as "immorality" is merely sexual freedom - An existence without fear of sexuality and the freedom to express it.
I fully believe many people are incredibly stupid about sex - Particularly those who use it as a means to debase themselves and others with meaningless strings of one night stands, unprotected encounters and the like. Such "slutty" behavior, among both sexes, is frankly disgusting, and it takes a pretty stupid, or hateful (of self and others) person to indulge in those behaviors repeatedly. I have in the past, and have very little desire to do so in the future - Because I know just how much it can bite you in the ass, and while I've been quite lucky the small taste of that I've had was more than enough. It takes a special kind of person to do that repeatedly. That said, such stupidity is everyones natural born right. If we want people to be smarter than that, the answer is not legislation, moralization or other "sweep it under the rug" efforts, the answer is education.
We have a nation where-in the primary type of sex education provided for our children is "Abstinence Only" programs, where-in nothing is truly explained about the "birds and the bees" or the human body, but students are repeatedly admonished against the evils of sex, and encourages to make pledges of abstinence until marriage. Abstinence Only programs rarely teach about proper methods for condom use, much-less spermicidal lubricants, morning after pills or birth control. Taking the attitude that "This program cannot fail, so those things wont be needed" such vita information is ignored. The end result? Human beings, with all the natural urges and desires of human beings, who have not only no idea what they are getting themselves into, but often a very bad idea of the reality of it as fueled by that unique combination of pop-media and government sponsored non-education. So, they do what natural, functional, human beings have always done since the beginning of time, and they have sex - Without condoms, knowledge regarding STD's, birth control or any other safety measures. Viola - Teenagers with STI/STD's, babies and more than a few truly bad experiences and/or bad habits contributing to repeated incidents of excess, dangerous, promiscuity.
Sex is an amazing thing - Not just for how it makes you feel, but for the power it has in the human body and psyche. It is an inescapable force of our lives, in fact of the very survival of our species. Simply telling our young "Dont do this" doesnt cut it. If anything, it makes it more taboo and thus more appealing and the greater appeal and lesser knowledge contributes to more problems.
Among adults, unmarried couples having sex, homosexuality and pornography are common examples of so-called "immorality". I quite honestly have no where to begin or end with the unmarried sex issue - Stupid sex with random people is a stupid idea, but as far as I am concerned two people who are in love and committed to one another having sex with or without a piece of notarized paper and/or the blessing of a minister is just fine and dandy. Frankly, it is the most human of behaviors, the most innate and vital of our social actions. It is the one behavior, above all others, which ensures the survival of our species. In a world where the cultures of marriage have become so polluted with argument, murder (see above), and failure resulting from bad judgment, community over-pressure and sheer ignorance (see lack of education) it is no wonder many people who are truly loving and committed dont want to get married. It is not the natural state of human affairs - It is a religiously, culturally, meddled with minefield, an institution which says the body is permanently property - First of a higher power, and then of the spouse until death. What part of that sounds loving? None of it.
On the count of homosexuality - We need to get over ourselves. With a world population approaching 7 Billion at an alarming rate, we have to ask if we really need more breeders. The fact that some members of our species are attracted to and desire those of the same sex is beautiful on two fronts - First, any two people who can find love with one another, even for a short time, in this world are far closer to divinity than a legion of straight, hate spewing, couples, and secondly, anyone who isnt reproducing themselves, who has a way of life that includes living and loving while in the end actually returning resources to the pool, is doing the world as a whole a service. This is not immorality - It is love, and societal contribution (never mind the possibility of actually being a genetic device for population control).
The fact that many of these people get pleasure from looking at, or producing, visual depictions of the sex acts they favor is similarly a non-issue, in the grand scheme. We like to look at one another, particularly if we find an attractive example of the opposite sex. We responds to visual cues indicating prime mating potential, and enjoy the experience of seeing someone attractive. It is of vital importance to our species that we be able to develop perception of good mates and attractive qualities. Stimulation and endorphin release from viewing attractive people has been shown to actually improve concentration and task-performance as well. Pornography like so many other things can be used or abused - Some couples use it as a stimulus and performance enhancer for an active and vital sex life, others use it as a means to access fantasies or desires otherwise inaccessible. Like alcohol, addictions and abuse do happen - But the issue is not a national immorality, it is an immorality of individual self control. In a culture where no one believes they have to be responsible for anything (the government told them just follow directions, you'll be fine - just "dont do it", you dont need to know about it), why do we act surprised when people abuse the small pleasures?
We live in a world were a woman can be killed for disagreeing with an elder male in her family, because she didnt like being given like less than livestock to a man she had never met, to be used (and possibly abused) by him as if she were merely property. That is sexual immorality. The repression and abuse of sexuality and love. And this is not something to which Middle Eastern culture has entire domain.
Through our mis-education of our youth, our conflicted messages regarding the human body, sex and sexuality via education and the media, there exists in this country a similar tyranny of sexual repression.
No culture in which women are told they were in control of their bodies, lives and sexuality has ever fallen victim to honor killings.
No culture in which men and women were allowed to love who they wished to love, as they wished to love, has suffered hate and bigotry based assaults, rapes and murders.
No culture in which men and women are given the knowledge necessary to know and understand their bodies, and the risks to them, and the freedom in which to apply this knowledge as they see fit has suffered the extremes of broken families, sexually transmitted illnesses or sexual-confusion driven violence.
No culture in which women are told they are in control, in which men and women are allowed to love as they desire, in which people are educated about their bodies and their health, in which people can find non-judgmental, relaxed and supportive appreciation of their true (nude) form, or that of someone like them, has ever run into these kinds of problems on this kind of scale.
Or so we can guess - Because frankly, no culture like this truly exists in any widespread fashion, merely in small, isolated, and rather interstitial, pockets.
This is not our culture - Our culture is one which is being invaded, and ordered to cow down to, a culture which supports the idea of women as property and honor killings. And in the face of this, we promote a Luddite view of sexuality, ignorance over education, mixed messages of obscene false sexuality and sexual image in the mass media contrasted with our educational system's supposed "values" on that subject.
That is the face of immorality. The puritanism with which we still regard sex, the tyranny of advertising and music videos which promote unrealistic images and expectations , and the combination there of which leave people (particularly the most important generation) absolutely spinning, directionless, and horribly ignorant in the face of biology and the cruelty of human nature.
(* Without sidetracking to much, I refer to the human right, or an individual overarching human right instead of human rights because I really only believe in one, feeling that it encompasses all the others - The right to try, un-interfered with [within reason]).