Wednesday, January 12, 2005


I would have fired Ashcroft.

Draping a nude statue!

No matter what he did before. No matter what he does after. That will be his legacy.

I suppose there have been dumber things done in Washington, but I can’t think of any. It put me in mind of the Taliban blowing up that centuries old statue of Buddha. Of course the scale was different but the stupidity was comparable. But those Taliban people, they were insane. Ashcroft isn’t insane. He’s just terminally anal retentive. And the motive they had in common was their religious beliefs.

I have witnessed some effects of censorship. In 1962 I was working with a tribe in the central highlands of Viet Nam. It was the custom in this tribe to go bare from the waist up, men and women. I pretended not to notice and became adjusted to it - after a while.

Then American soldiers started arriving. The G Is, of course, went bananas when they saw all the bare breasts. They would shout, scream and whistle from vehicles as they drove by.

The poor girls were embarrassed and bewildered. In a very short time they were all covered up. Ashcroft would have been pleased. I thought it a sad outcome of a meeting of cultures.

A few years before, I was camped outside a small town (Shahabad) in western Iran near the Iraqi border. They sent me a kid up from Teheran to work on a survey crew while his school was out. He was the son of someone in our embassy.

He was a good kid and good looking too. 16 years old, blonde, 6 feet. But he got kind of restless in camp. There wasn’t much to do. He asked me if he could visit the town.

I’d been there and it seemed pretty secure so I said okay. But I took two of my Iranians aside and told them, “You’re going with him. Keep an eye out.” So off they went.

A couple hours later, one of my Iranians came back and told us the kid was in jail and I had to go get him. And that’s all he’d tell us.

“He’s killed somebody,” was one of many things that went thru my mind on the way there. I took our bookkeeper with me and a bundle of money.

There was a crowd of men outside the jail when we arrived. “Aw shit,” I thought, “They’re gonna lynch him.”

Inside, to my surprise, the police chief was very polite and apologetic. It seems when the blonde, strapping, handsome young man walked thru town he started to draw a crowd of men. The crowd grew and when it threatened to become unruly, the police placed the kid in protective custody.

“Give him the money,“ I told the bookkeeper.

He looked at me in surprise. I knew he was thinking, “there’s no bail. There’s no fine.”

“Give it to him,” I said again. “And no receipt.” This guy had earned it many times over.

That was not an anti-American mob. That was a mob of men who were sexually attracted to a 16-year-old boy.

Picture the environment. A town with no whores, no bars, no liquor and women with everything covered except hands and eyes, and none of them available. (Ashcroft would love it.)
What can a single man do?

He does what comes unnaturally. I would wager that a majority of men there were bisexual.

The American G Is couldn’t control themselves when they saw female breasts. The Iranian men couldn’t control themselves when they saw a handsome young boy. Both were the result of repression and censorship differing only in degree.


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