August 31, 2001
(This column was written
about 2 weeks
before the New York Attack)
You may recall the Taliban. They're the
ultra-fundamentalists who have taken over Afghanistan and have
been busy turning into an even worse place than it normally is.
You may recall that they blew up two giant statues of Buddha
a few months ago while the rest of the world pleaded for the
preservation of these historic works of art.
At least the Afghan fundamentalist militia
has been able to accomplish something that few others have been
able to. They're managed to bring together most moderate Muslims,
Christians and Jews (and tree worshippers too for all I know)
and unite them in one common opinion: the Taliban is just plain
Among other things, they've already banned
shaving, alcohol, pork, shorts and TV. You don't want to know
the penalty for watching frat boys shave a drunk, shorts-wearing
pig on TV. They've banned movies too, but you can hardly blame
them after the stinkers Hollywood came up with this summer.
They've banned all sports, except for
soccer. Apparently the Almighty likes a good game of soccer but
has given up on the Leafs. Had I known there was such divine
disapproval of sports I could have saved a lot of time faking
all those cramps before gym class.
The Taliban has made it against the law
for a foreign female to drive a car, immediately depriving the
few remaining Afghani stand-up comedians of half their material.
Afghan women also risk a good stoning if they're caught outside
their home for something frivolous like employment or an education.
It's also a punishable offence in Afghanistan
to be caught with pictures of any living creature. So much for
reading 'Pat the Bunny' or 'If I Ran the Zoo' to your kids. It
also must make it easy to be on the high school yearbook committee
when you don't have to worry about class pictures.
Last weekend the Taliban leader announced
that his government was "duty bound to make the use of the
Internet impossible" for people living in Afghanistan because
of its immoral influence. Or maybe he was just fed up with getting
all those free Internet CDs in the mail.
The announcement really doesn't mean
much when you consider less than one percent of the Afghani population
has access to a telephone. And if they have teenagers you know
all you'll get is a busy signal when you call.
The handful of Internet users in Afghanistan
are government employees, and the Taliban wants to make sure
they're not spending the day logged onto www.nakedankles.com.
The computers there are running Windows 98 - in the case of the
Taliban named after the year 998. Microsoft has suggested the
Taliban move up to Windows ME (Medieval Edition) which has fewer
bugs and improved security. It automatically pokes out your eyes
and cuts off your right hand if you view an adult site.
Seriously, I don't have any trouble with
anyone believing or doing any of these things. Religious freedom
is as much for the people you don't agree with as it is for the
person sitting in the next pew. But it's not right to force anyone
else to live according to your own peculiar beliefs.
Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but
it's just wrong to keep an entire country off the Internet or
out of movie theatres at gunpoint.
Unless of course it's an Adam Sandler
movie, in which case you're doing them a favour.