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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



Cocktails and condoms

The story: This summer, India announced the opening of its first condom bar. Awkwardly described as a “”bar cum discotheque”” in the Hindustan Times, the bar features condom-shaped beer mugs and decor constructed from actual condoms, in addition to offering free condoms to its young patrons. The bar is an effort to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and emphasize safe sex, especially among young people.

The response: With the number of Indians affected by AIDS climbing higher each year, a condom bar is an admirable effort to reduce the taboos surrounding discussion of sexual health. However, as inventive as the condom bar is, it’s a pity that it has taken a nationwide health crisis to get serious about safe sex. In the United States – supposedly the most progressive nation in the world – I doubt that a condom bar would get the same matter-of-fact reception it has received in India. Will it take our own epidemic to finally break the association between giving kids condoms and encouraging promiscuity? It seems that as much good as we do donating millions to fight AIDS in countries halfway around the world – it wouldn’t hurt to make our own country a bit more prophylactically inclined. Hopefully, we don’t have to resort to condom-shaped beer steins to do it.

-Sarah Devlin is a sophomore majoring in English and political science.

Sex and clerics

The story: A recent New York Times article reported that in Iran, homosexuality is an offense punishable by lashing or death. In stark contrast, the clerical regime considers transsexualism an illness but not an abomination and actually encourages sex-change surgery for transgender people.

The response: The seemingly paradoxical positions of the Iranian regime represent a truly bizarre combination of attitudes toward human sexuality. One would hardly expect a repressive government that publicly executes homosexuals to tolerate, let alone encourage, gender-reassignment operations. This stance seems equal parts medieval Europe and liberated San Francisco – small wonder that Western observers are confused.

However, this peculiar juxtaposition of attitudes is not exactly unprecedented, given the history of seemingly anomalous sexual rules laid down by Iranian clerics. After all, it was Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual father and first political leader of Iran’s Islamic regime, who famously published a text that included an explanation of when it is proper for a man to have sex with a chicken. For the curious, coitus with poultry is permissible as long as the man who commits the act, his immediate family and his next-door neighbors do not eat the chicken. A neighbor who lives two doors away may eat the chicken without sin.

-Lauren Myers is a sophomore majoring in math and microbiology.

Kasparov in the Kremlin?

The story: Multiple-time world chess champion Gary Kasparov, now famous for his outspoken criticism of the Putin government, has announced his intention to run for the 2008 Russian presidency.

The response: I never thought Russia could get crazier after Putin’s entire government resigned a few weeks ago, but somehow the land of Dostoyevsky has managed to slide even further down the Siberian snow-covered slopes of madness.

Kasparov is running on a platform that can be summarized in two words: “”not Putin.”” Insofar as this means “”not Stalin incarnate,”” that’s a good thing for the welfare of basically every other country on Earth that cowers in fear at the threat of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. On the other hand, his bid for victory is slim: Kasparov’s real last name is “”Weinstein”” (the Russian equivalent of being named “”Hitler”” in the U.S.). He is a completely insane man who seriously believes that most of recorded history happened in the last 1,000 years, that the Old Testament depicts events in the 15th century CE and that all Roman and Greek statues are frauds. It turns out there is something out there weirder than creationism.

Add in the fact that Putin isn’t exactly unpopular in Russia, and that many Russians are eating up his Stalinesque displays of power, and it certainly seems unlikely that Kasparov will have any shot at victory whatsoever. Even in the unlikely event that the 2008 election is a fair one, and Kasparov miraculously survives it without being assassinated by Putin’s goons.

It gets worse. Suppose Kasparov does win: then what? If history teaches us any lessons, it’s this: never let extremely intelligent, strategy-savvy Russians get a hold of one of the most powerful air forces and nuclear arsenals in the world. OK, OK … history hasn’t taught us that one yet. But I’m not about to wait for it to do so.

-Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics.

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