But now I know better:
"Iranian Cleric: Promiscuous Women Cause Quakes (Iranian cleric blames women's immodest dress, promiscuity for earthquakes, urges repentance)"
What baffles me is that Muslim communities around the world swallow this garbage, and expect to be taken seriously by others.
I have long been of the view that much of the western world (or at least our wee corner of it) had moved beyond this sort of medievalist nonsense, and had stopped blaming the victim for rape.
I'm old enough to remember a landmark case in NZ in which a woman who happened to have been wearing a mini-skirt at the time, was raped while walking through the Mount Victoria Tunnel in Wellington. The defence case was that the victim had 'provoked' the rapist! I can't recall the outcome, but do remember being both amused and appalled at the argument.
But such arguments are, of course, an integral part of campaigns aimed at the oppressing social groups - accuse them of having provoked the oppression in the first place, and that provides a justification for the oppression, while simultaneously re-inforcing the need for the oppression.
And what is this Muslim belief, or social practice, but part of a concerted campaign to oppress and keep oppressed Muslim women?
So, how to react? One approach is in this news-story from Belgium, headlined "Belgium set to ban veil", a move similar to plans in France. It appears to be premised on 'security' issues (terrorists hiding behind veils and the all-encompassing burqa) but it's proponents also argue that the burqa is a 'walking prison' for women. My view is that it is, but only for those who wish to wear something else but are 'compelled' by social pressures to wear it.
The normally level-headed Amnesty International apparently oppose the Belgium move, arguing it violated rights to freedom of expression and religion and set a dangerous precedent. Of course it is a denial of the right to freedom of expression - that, after all, is what the burqa and the veil are about - denying women the same rights enjoyed by males in their societies.
The difficulty for western societies, like Belgium, France, and New Zealand is that they will be vilified by Muslim communities for taking such a stance in terms which are deeply offensive (I resent being called an 'infidel' and threatened with death because I disagree with someone else's views), but are prohibited by their own civil and human rights laws from responding in the same (usually carefully orchestrated) manner.
So, the dilemma is how to protect the rights of some communities to continue to deny some of it's own (and others) exactly the same rights; or how to balance directly competing rights?
An alternative approach is the one sparked by the Iranian cleric's claims - ridicule and derision - the "boobquake" approach - although there can be road-bumps along the way. Find it on Facebook or at BlagHag.com
And before you accuse me of being 'anti-Muslim', let me say I find the medievalism of many Muslim views as offensive as I do the continued refusal of the Pope to acknowledge and act constructively to repair the damage his clerics have done and still do, or the Catholic church's failure to acknowledge that it's medieval views on clerical celibacy are part of it's paedophilia problem, or the simple-minded racism and xenophobia of the murderer jailed in Christchurch this week. It is the intolerance I find offensive.