Friday, November 30, 2007
Liberal Democracy - At least we don't mind what you call your bear
It has many flaws, and has often been accused of a lax moral climate, the undermining of standards, a failure to provide strong governments, but liberal democracy still stands head and shoulders above the alternatives. Any doubts about that will have been firmly dismissed by the events in Sudan. The Sudanese government presides over one of the worst, most disgraceful, huminatarian disasters of recent years in Darfur. Culpable in so many ways in both the creation and exacerbation of this terrible state of affairs, and resentful of international efforts to alleviate truly awful human suffering, the Sudanese government in Khartoum has nonetheless been able to act with firmness, and much moral-religious bleating, against a middle-aged primary school teacher who named the class teddy bear Mohammed, after one of the class's pupils. 15 days in jail is probably the most lenient sentence Gillian Gibbons could have expected, but what a terrible, damning indictment of both the country and the religion it seeks to uphold that she received it at all.
There was, incidentally, a dreadful irony in the calls to a 'compassionate, merciful Allah' by students who were then on the rampage to demand the lash, or death penalty, for the unfortunate Ms. Gibbons.