Tag: International Affairs

Osama Bin Laden 'extensive' porn collection?

By Razib Khan | May 13, 2011 2:40 pm

This is happening. Pornography found in bin Laden hideout:

The pornography recovered in bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.

Three other U.S. officials familiar with evidence gathered during investigations of other Islamic militants said the discovery of pornography is not uncommon in such cases.

One issue I’ve noticed personally with some conservative Muslims is that their threshold for what is ‘pornographic’ is different from those of typical Westerners. I have an uncle who is a member of Tablighi Jamaat who considers the outfits worn by ballerinas to be pornographic and instances of crass nudity. I do wonder if outbreaks of extreme sexual deviance and psychopathy, such as the notorious Saudi gang rape, might be as much due to the peculiar collapse of what seem clear and distinct categories to us, as much as garden-variety repression. A woman can dress in a sexy and alluring manner in public without being assumed to be a prostitute, but in some societies that’s really not an accepted category. So the occasional porn caches found in the possession of Islamic militants might be part of the constellation of ‘perversion’ which they make little distinctions across. My thinking here is informed by friends in secondary school from religious conservative Christian backgrounds, who also seemed to have an antinomian tendency once they crossed their strict “lines” (this is like my conservative Christian friends who sometimes talked joyfully about murdering people for fun and having same sex relations if there wasn’t a god; it’s all talk, but I think this mindset is illustrative of a “brittle” moral-ethical framework).

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: International Affairs

What do the people think?

By Razib Khan | January 31, 2011 1:00 am

With all the geopolitical tumult and news I was a bit curious to see what The World Values Survey could tell us about public opinion in Egypt and Tunisia. Unfortunately, Tunisia hasn’t been in any of their surveys, though Egypt has. So I thought it might be interesting to compare the USA, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq, for wave 5, which occurred in the mid-2000s. The main thing I took away from the exercise is to reflect that Americans are a more equivocal people than I had expected. Many of the questions have a 1 to 10 scale, and I’m providing the most extreme answers. So the low fractions for Americans for some questions point to a relative moderation on some topics…which is kind of weird when you are asking whether “People choosing their leaders is an essential characteristic of democracy.” Since that’s the definition of democracy broadly construed anything below a 10 out of 10 seems strange to me.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Politics
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