So I was sitting here tormenting myself with the Sunday morning talking heads. I don't know why I insist on doing that every Sunday morning. It just makes me cranky. A lot of pointless pontificating and people trying to do "gotchas" with other people and even the people I agree with being pretty inane and stupid. But do I stop listening? No. I thought about writing something about the budget arguments. Being as liberal as I am, I'm delighted with much of Obama's proposed ideas... and I do think that sometimes in life you have to spend money up front in order to save it in the long run or come out even. But that's a big subject and I'm not really qualified to speak coherently about it.
Then I was thinking about one of the most interesting blog posts I've read in a while. Mary the Teach posted an ethical dilemma over at Work of the Poet and had some interesting discussion on the topic. Then this morning I was listening to Fareed Zacharia (hope I spelled that right)'s GPS program where they were discussing radical Islam and the differences between the Taliban and Bin Laden and whether it's our job to fight only bad guys who are waging global jihad or to also fight people who are abusive to women and their own citizens. A whopper of a moral dilemma, but not the one I want to raise.
What I want to talk about is a story I heard a week or so ago and would have written about except for the whole withdrawal-from-the-world-being-in-a-cave thing I was going through. But anyway. There was a story - I think on CNN - about a young woman in Iran who has sought and won the right to extract vengeance literally in terms of an eye for an eye. In 2004, an unwelcome suitor threw acid in her face, blinding and disfiguring her. As a rule, these kinds of cases have been settled by the attacker's family pay a large sum of money to the victim. Ms. Bahrami chose instead to demand an eye for an eye. She says it isn't about revenge but about putting a stop to such attacks in the future.
My first response to this was horror. I'm not an eye for an eye kind of person. I abhor violence. I don't think revenge is useful. But then I thought maybe - if this is truly not about revenge - she knows her society better than I do. Historically, in societies like India, Pakistan, Iran and many Muslim countries there has been no meaningful consequences (other than monetary) for men who burn their wives or disfigure and abuse women. By insisting on a consequence - even a barbaric one - perhaps she is setting a precedent. Perhaps she truly is making a safer future for women like herself.
It's a horrific decision. But is it more or less horrific than there being no consequences for her attacker other than paying blood money. Is this less about revenge than making her society respect her pain and suffering and that of women like her and insist on true atonement. Perhaps her eye for an eye will make men stop and think before they commit such an act in the future. Perhaps the society will come up with a better consequence than an eye for an eye. And perhaps it is a profound shift in their societal dynamics which will alter the future for Islamic women. Or maybe it's just ugly revenge.
On the face of things it is anathema to me and my personal moral code. But is it wrong?
Here's the original story which prompted this post:
I'm curious to know what others think.