Sunday, July 11, 2004

Open Secrets, not Open Inquiry

In the Boston Sunday Globe’s optimistically titled Ideas section is a gruesome article about the state of homosexuality in Pakistan. It is written by
“a journalist based in New Delhi. She reports frequently for National Public Radio from across South Asia.”
Unmentioned but revealed through 10 seconds of Googling is that the author also reports frequently for The Nation, but failing to admit that is only a little white lie on the Globe’s part. After all, since so many writers for The American Spectator and The Weekly Standard appear in the Globe Op-Ed pages without attribution, it is only proper editorial balance to trot out a writer from The Nation once in a while ( smiley goes here ).

Her article is disturbing because it insists that sex between older men and teen boys is “the most common form of male homosexuality” in Pakistan, and that most of these situations involve coercion or violence. We in Boston are all too familiar with the term ephebophile and its unhappy results. The author sees this phenomenon as a result of Sharia (typical of The Nation types…they never met an Islamic dictatorship they liked with the exception of Iraq and Afghanistan after being invaded by Bush and company).

The article claims to be based on “dozens of interviews”, but it is a shame that rigorous academic research into human sexual behavior is about the last thing an objective academic would pursue in today’s era, given that the results of such research would be tightly circumscribed by the current limits of political correctness. Just as in decades past homosexuals were always painted as just the products of a failed upbringing, now nothing which is not highly supportive of the behavior can be published without risking their intemperate wrath. For an honest and curious academic it is purely a dead end where the results of research are constrained by an intolerant political climate.

Isn’t the steady march of human enlightenment a grand thing?

Read the whole article, but here are a few direct quotes:

In villages throughout the country, young boys are often forcibly "taken" by older men, starting a cycle of abuse and revenge that social activists and observers say is the common pattern of homosexual sex in Pakistan. Often these boys move to the cities and become prostitutes...

Further complicating matters, the most common form of male homosexuality in Pakistan, according to Murray, is pederasty, where an older man entices or coerces (sometimes forcibly) a younger boy into sex...

Among the many obstacles facing men who have sex with men in Pakistan is this close association, in the eyes of many Pakistanis, between homosexuality and exploitation. But they face their own psychological barriers as well. Of the dozens of men interviewed for this article, almost none who admitted to having homosexual sex identified themselves as "gay." ...

According to many people interviewed in Peshawar, there's a strict code of behavior in these relationships. The boy is always the passive partner in sex and has often been coerced into the relationship; he is given food and clothes by his partner, and is in may cases forbidden to leave the relationship or marry. (In theory, the boys could marry when they're grown, but they are generally considered damaged, and end up wandering the streets as outcasts.)...

Here, more than anywhere else in Pakistan, the situation resembles that found among prison inmates, where sex is mostly about availability and dominance rather than preference...

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