Lunch Links

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

•  One of the more disturbing pictures you’ll see this week.  He’s a 40-year-old Afghan shepherd.  She’s the 11-year-old bride signed over to him by her family.

•  When Russians get bored.  Here’s one I’d like to see:

The assassinated dissident:  A muckraking reporter collecting information on the corrupt, murderous regime in the Kremlin is shot in the head outside her apartment.  Get to it!

Whoa.  $32 trillion.

•  Via Glen Whitman, more fun with band names.

• King County, Washington (home to Seattle) is set to ban on smoking in public housing facilities.  That’s right.  If you live in government housing, you will no longer be able to smoke in your own home.  Thanks to Phil Dawdy for the link.

Best nature photos of the year.

Dumb criminal.

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13 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    That Afghan picture, while shocking to some Westerners, must be taken for what it is: a look at their culture. We may not like or agree with it, but this is how their society works. Who are we to tell them how to live? We certainly wouldn’t want them coming here and telling us that marrying someone you love instead of someone arranged is immoral; we should not do the same to them.

    We believe that because what we think moral now evolved from that form of thinking that it must be better. Progress doesn’t always mean moving forward. It would be arrogant of us to think of ourselves as better or “more civilized” just because we do not agree with their traditions and customs.

    I don’t want people to think that I condone this, either. I just believe in different cultures and in letting people live and choose for themselves.

  2. #2 |  Frank N Stein | 


    I don’t think Radley was advocating an invasion in order to save that girl (not woman). Just that he considered the situation and photo disturbing, as do I. I believe in different cultures too, and I believe some of the mores of those cultures are immoral (based on my understanding of what it is to be human), unjust, and disturbing. Perhaps if the bride was even younger, you would agree?

  3. #3 |  Zeb | 

    Does everyone in Russia wear red shorts?

  4. #4 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    It’s interesting that the man doesn’t look happy either.

  5. #5 |  Geoff | 

    I concede that it’s a slippery slope to judge the practices of other cultures relative to our own because those judgments are riddled with preferences, which are inherently subjective. There are, however, certain practices of which it’s okay to disapprove. We don’t know the particular circumstances of the 11 year old in the picture, but it’s difficult to imagine that she wants to marry someone almost 4x her age and have his children before she exits childhood herself. It’s okay to judge a society harshly that allows what’s probably a forced marriage of this nature to occur. That doesn’t mean that we should use force to make them more like us. We haven’t solved the many problems we have in our own civilization at the moment and should be very hesitant to impose our ever changing morality on others. That doesn’t mean that everything a different culture does shouldn’t be criticized. Because we had civil rights problems well into the 20th century doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have criticized apartheid in the 80s. Until the King of Saudi Arabia issued a pardon, that country was going to flog a rape victim for adultery. I don’t see why any of us should have a problem condemning such practices as inhumane. Likewise, I don’t see why any of us should have trouble condemning the likely forced marriage, and obviously forced sex upon the young person in this picture. Slavery is still okay in certain parts of the world, but I say it’s immoral and I hope that most people would agree with me. I don’t care if it’s okay for the slavers, or in this case the child molesters because their culture permits or forgives it. Setting one’s daughter on fire or otherwise maiming her out of a sense of offended honor is quite alright with some people in many parts of the world. But even in those cultures many understand it’s murder and are simply afraid to condemn it because they are afraid. It’s almost patronizing to think that Afghan culture accepts the practice in the picture. It occurs, but in a patriachal society the daughters who get married off may not have a say in the matter. If that’s the case is it truly a part of the culture?

  6. #6 |  Javad | 

    The nature photos are at the Museum of Natural History in DC right now. Just saw them last week. they are even cooler in real life.

  7. #7 |  alkali | 

    I was even more alarmed — I thought you meant the other kind of Afghan shepherd.

  8. #8 |  Sydney Carton | 

    “We may not like or agree with it, but this is how their society works. Who are we to tell them how to live?”

    Thus, does moral relativism become an apology for child rape.

    I’ll tell you who we are: we’re supposed to be civilized people, who know right from wrong, civilization from barbarity, and good from evil.

    I’ll gladly tell people how to live, starting with you: Get your head out of your butt.

  9. #9 |  JJH2 | 

    “Cultural Relativism” is bunkum for two reasons.

    The first is that the descriptive observation that different cultures have varying practices and consider different things to acceptable or moral simply does not translate, as a consequence of being descriptively true, into a PRESCRIPTIVE argument that all such cultural practices are therefore equally legitimate or moral.

    The second is that, if you take cultural relativism seriously, it’s self-defeating as a method to get to cross-cultural tolerance. If even the most heinous of cultural practices is justified by virtue of the fact that it’s part of ‘my culture’ — then if cultural imperialism is a part of my culture, I’m fully justified in imposing my culture on others.

    In sum: 11 year olds can’t offer meaningful consent to sex, and child rape is wrong, no matter who you are. I don’t think that the US Government should be launching invasions to stamp out the practice, but if, say, an independent organization took it upon themselves to spirit away child brides and punish those who engage in the rape of young children, I wouldn’t be opposed.

  10. #10 |  Billy Beck | 

    Can I just point out that the words “government housing” and “own home” jangled me like a cantaloupe in the side of the head?

  11. #11 |  Mike Schneider | 

    That Afghan photo has been around awhile; I recall seeing it at least half a year ago.

    > That Afghan picture, while shocking to some Westerners, must be
    > taken for what it is: a look at their culture. We may not like or
    > agree with it, but this is how their society works.

    Nando? The “culture” of which you speak is Shari’a totalitarianism in which, among other things, females are chattel property of males.

    I take it you’re not a girl.

  12. #12 |  Nando | 

    Well, I see not many share my “live and let live” philosophy. I do not like to interfere in anything that does not DIRECTLY affect me or those whom I love (close friends and family). I do not believe that I have an absolute grip on morality, or on anything else for that matter. Maybe my beliefs are wrong? So, since I might be wrong, and imposing what’s wrong on others is even more wrong, why would I want to impose my beliefs on anyone?

    People are welcome to campaign for their beliefs. If you want to go to Afghanistan and try to save people from arranged marriages then more power to you. I will not concern myself with matters that do not concern me.

  13. #13 |  Kenzoid’s Autonomous Zone » Blog Archive » Ban on smoking…in your home | 

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