Extraordinary claims require extraordinary shirts.


Who Framed Rimsha Masih? (You Know, the Girl Charged with Blasphemy) September 03, 2012 17:11 4 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="460"] Pakistani Mullah Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti is escorted by a colorful cast of characters (Source: njuice, The Guardian)[/caption]

Pakistani Mullah Arrested, Accused of Framing Girl Accused of Blasphemy

Stop me if you've heard this one before - so there's a 13-year-old daughter of Christian parents living in Pakistan, who also has Down's Syndrome.  One day she's carrying around some charred refuse, some of which happens to be some burnt pages of the Qu'ran.  Naturally, she's arrested and put in custody due to the country's blasphemy laws, which can land offenders with a death sentence.  So her defenders are struggling - trying to prove that she's a minor; trying to show that, due to her disability, she's incapable of committing a "crime" of blasphemy; trying to secure bail.  And then, three assistants at a mosque come forward and claim that the mosque's mullah PLANTED those pages on this girl.  This was done, according to one of the assistants, so that Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti could easily rid the area of Christians.  And you can't fault him for tactics - it worked.  "We are not upset the Christians have left and we will be pleased if they don't come back," said Chishti to The Guardian on August 18th, after numerous Christian families fled the area when protests demanding the burning of the young girl began multiplying.

The big deal about this? Why I'm sharing it?  I'm sure we can all agree that anything called a "blasphemy" law is absolute bullshit - there are many things that can be argued to be victimless crimes, but blasphemy takes the nonexistent cake.  The only result of blaspheming is that someone, somewhere, usually in a place of dogmatic power, gets offended.  To paraphrase Hitchens, every struggle for free speech begins as an argument of what is and what is not blasphemous.  But take note of what's at the end of the article - these blasphemy laws are abused by the petty and powerful, and any attempt to fight them, to protect people from abuse, results in violence and even death.  I don't know what can be done, other than spreading the word.  The entire Guardian article can be seen here, with plenty of useful links to follow up on the entire story.

The Stirring, Honest Coda of a Rebellious, Fierce Symphony August 29, 2012 22:51 2 Comments

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="266"] Mortality, Christopher Hitchens'  collection of final essays, is available now (Source: Bookworld)[/caption]

Christopher Hitchens' final writings for Vanity Fair Posthumously Published

Anyone who has found this blog or reads it regularly has other, better things to read, and more often than not, the author of those words will be Christopher Hitchens.  Whether detailing the majesty and necessity of Orwell, decrying the hypocrisies of figures like Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa, or giving all of us the immaculate prose to enunciate our own logical non-beliefs better than all of us could combined, The Hitch had a way with words few could emulate and many adore.  His final published essays for Vanity Fair have been compiled in a volume entitled "Mortality," and a touching review can be found here, by The Guardian's Alexander Linklater.  As much as I want to read it, I've only just started digesting The Hitch, and it wouldn't feel right to start with his terminal works.  Even in that short review, I'm struck dumb by the fear of disease taking away MY ability to write.  If I imagine I had even an iota of Hitchens' skill with language, what a true terror that slow decomposition would be.  But then, I also don't have Hitchens' notorious verve and vigor. I say "don't" rather than "didn't" because it just doesn't seem right to talk about The Hitch in the third person; at least, not when we he lives on in every word he's ever written.

You can pick up Mortality on Amazon.com.