Another Comment gone lengthy …0
knicq posted in Comments Gone Lengthy on October 31st, 2004
This time it was Vora’s blog that got victimized… By the time I was finished, I was too drained to work on an entry of my own, so I thought might as well put it up here. I think it would be best if I stopped going to other blogs – for others’ blogs and for mine. Below was in response to a discussion on EU demanding that Turkey strike off adultery from the punishable crimes list if it wanted in with the EU.
Benjamin, I realize we come from two different worlds, and like you said we obviously subscribe to a different view of as to to what extent can/should a government get involved in the lives of the people. More importantly, coming from different cultures we define adultery differently – not the act, but the implications of the act. To you it is an act that affects a family or two, to me it is a violation of society’s integrity. Most importantly, I believe you confuse two very different aspects of law. One is having a law, the other is enforcing it. However interrelated the two may be, they are different in essence. The success of one is contingent upon that of the other’s. Having a perfect law but not enforcing it justly and properly, as is the case in the examples you quote, is as futile as are rigorous attempts to enforce a flawed law. Yet, we must understand that inability to enforce a law is no premise to scrap the law. The real issue then is to find ways to enforce the law properly. A question Vora raises in her comment. The law as laid down by Islam would take a post of its own, but suffice it is to say that if it were enforced in spirit, there would be very few, if any, convictions for the crime. The harshest penalty attached to the crime is more to underline the severity of the crime than anything else. Like you said, to actually enforce the law we would probably have to have cameras installed in every room â€“ not very practical you will agree. That, however is a different discussion.
We can debate the status of adultery as a social crime or not for ages, and still not mutually agree. Middle East and much of the Islamic bloc is backward enough, thankfully, to not have come up with a euphemism for a bastard child. The repercussions of adultery can thus have far reaching effects on such an individual, and hence his reaction to the world around him. I agree that drunken driving and some other crimes I had mentioned can have fatal consequences, and I can understand why you feel they must be punishable. But then, fraud, theft, tax evasion and many other crimes are punishable by the Government also, even though they do not necessarily lead to fatal consequences. Isn’t adultery the worst kind of fraud? Isn’t it the biggest breach of a contract between two individuals? Food for thought. It is again a matter of what a society attaches more value to. Theoretically, a breach of trust that carries a monetary tag is within the jurisdiction of a capitalist government, while one that carries social stigma might be deemed punishable by a government attaching more value to social well-being than to monetary well-being. (Yes, I know they are not entirely mutually exclusive).
You make a strong point about the need to perpetually question the values of a society, I would add just this: Such questioning should be done with a view to making the values and hence the society better, not for the sake of questioning alone. Development, sometimes I think, is over rated. Development when not in tandem with social well being is not all that desirable.
In the end, I would like to clarify my point about us having to put up with the nudity of our western/westernized guests here in the Middle East. I did not mean to make a sweeping statement, nor do I intend to deride anyone. I am sorry for having sounded so earlier. It is again a question of difference in social values. In a society, where women traditionally cover themselves head to toe, most if not all out of their own choice, deep necklines, short skin baring outfits ARE considered bordering on nudity. Our guests in this country do know that, yet it does not seem to perplex them. The point however I was trying to make was that we accommodate them nonetheless, there are no laws that define any dress codes for anyone. The UAE, though a small country, is home to over 120 nationalities, and it makes for a nice potpourri. Not everything is great about this country, but most things are, tolerance being one of them. The other point was that the western/westernized guests do not respect the local customs and traditions because they are convinced that these are base/outdated/under developed laws inferior to those in their own countries. It is the same attitude that gives EU the cheek to interfere in something as private as a country and hence a society’s stance on what does or does not fall under the penal code of that country.
Frankly, I could not care less whether or not Turkey joined the EU, or whether or not the adultery law is repealed. It is just that I am intrigued by the EU’s demand that implies a lot more than it explicitly says.
Hope to have clarified myself.