Thursday, June 07, 2012

At least 6 dead, seven injured

AFP reports that a prisoner transfer went horribly wrong today in Baghdad as the prisoner (accused of being al Qaeda in Mesopotamia) allegedly grabbed a guard's gun and shot two dead two guards, wounded a third and then took his own life.  In addition, AFP reports a Mashaada roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier while leaving three more injured and an Baghdad roadside bombing also claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier while also leaving three more wounded.  AP adds that 1 "Interior Ministry official" was shot dead in Baghdad.

In other news of violence, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice announces to Alsumaria that Abed Hamid Hmoud was hanged today.  Hmoud was the former secretary of Saddam Hussein.    AP adds, "As Saddam’s presidential secretary, Hmoud controlled access to the Iraqi president and was one of the few people he is said to have trusted completely, U.S. officials said in 2003."  And, if the ghost of Hussein came back, apparently there was fear Hmoud would control access to that as well?  Whispers insist he was bad, really bad, really, really bad.  And they'd tell you about it but they're sworn to secrecy on what the court was told.  This is the democracy that trillions were spent on?  Secret trials that result in executions?  And no one can discuss what took place?

There are whispers of  'persecution of Shi'ites.'  So, in twenty or so years, we can expect those who targeted Iraq's LGBT community to be put to death as well?  That's not ever going to happen, is it?  Because it really wasn't about 'wrong doing' -- real or merely alleged -- it was about a group given power wanting to settle old scores.  Settling old scores?  That only leads to new scores in need of settling.  I don't support execution to begin with but when you're executing people you can't even claim killed someone, you're about vengence and not justice and you're on a dark path that never leads to sunlight.

Now Lebanon is usually a solid news resource.  But I'm having a problem with Louisa Ajami's blog post.  Soap operas do not cause suicides in Iraq.  Let's be clear on that from the start. And the problem may be me (which wouldn't be the first time).  For example, as April rolls around each year, Jim always wants to do some elaborate prank in honor of April Fool's Day and I always say, "That's fine but announce the week before that I'm only working on the TV piece with Ava."  And I have nothing against pranks but I don't have an online reputation for them and as we're announcing whatever -- WWIII? -- as a prank, someone may take it much more seriously because I don't do pranks.  And maybe Ajami is trying for that sort of humor that Jim would like to and I'm just being a stick in the mud.  That could be.

But in my opinion, suicides are a serious issue.  You can snark, you can be sarchastic, you can do many things with the topic beyond straightforward.  But what you shouldn't do is leave people with the wrong impression.  Headlining your piece "Soap opera suicides" and spending  and waiting until paragraph four of a five pargraph post to admit that soap operas aren't causing suicides in Iraq doesn't strike me as funny.

Often times here, I will write "I am being sarcastic."  And some will feel the need to e-mail me that they knew that already.  Good for you.  But our community is bigger than the US or the US, England and Canada.  We have Iraqi community members, we've had a huge increase in France and Germany in the last six months as well.  Point being, English is not the primary language of everyone reading.  And if I ever feel someone reading might not get that I'm being sarcastic, I will include it because it can be confusing when you're reading another language.

I wonder how many people will read the Now Lebanon post and read to the end and also understand that it appears Ajami is trying to be funny in the earlier pargraphs?  I don't know.  Maybe no one.  That would be a big surprise but it's possible.

Or maybe I don't get the humor because I've been doing this long enough to have heard the lies.  For example, when Newsweek dismissed the deaths of Iraqi women in the KRG as sucidies and, worse, as suicides the young women were doing to appear cool.  It was a fashionable thing to do, Newsweek wanted everyone to know.

No, it was young women being set on fire by their relatives predominantely.  In so-called 'honor' killings.  It was also a few young women -- not many -- trying to take their own lives.  And those that were trying to take their own lives were not doing it to be trendy.

So I don't see the humor in this and I don't see why you'd choose that headline and spend your first three paragraphs backing that up.

I think the women of Iraq have suffered enough and that they shouldn't also have to endure bad jokes.

Inside today's New York Times, you'll find Tim Arango's "Where Arranged Marriages Are Customary, Suicides Grow More Common."  16-year-old Jenan Merza states, "I tried to kill myself.  I didn't want to get married. I ws forced to get engaged."

Maybe more people should be reading Tim Arango's article before they decide this is something to riff on.  Here's another tip for the would be comedians -- it's always funnier if you're speaking from your own experience.  So if an Iraqi woman wanted to build up a routine about this, there would be humor in it, the humor she found in her experience.  But if it's not your experience, you're not sharing humor and you may come off as ridiculing.  That's why good humor aims up.  And I don't mean to "uplift."  I mean the target is the powerful, not the defenseless or the persecuted.

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