by Don Waitt
Can you think of any other two words which on their own are harmless but when combined can send the coldest shiver down your spine?
Nothing wrong with the word “morality.” Everybody should have morals. Your morals may not be the same as my morals, but at least we both have our own morals.
Nothing wrong with the word “police.” A few bad cops aside, for the most part the men and women in blue do a good job of standing firm on that thin blue line that keeps us safe from mayhem.
But when you combine those two words—morality and police—what you end up with is a 22-year-old woman in Iran being beaten to death by the government’s Morality Police for wearing her head scarf improperly.
Not for not wearing a scarf.
No, it was for wearing a scarf “improperly.”
On Sept. 14 Mahsa Amini, a vibrant and attractive young woman, was visiting Tehran, Iran from her hometown of Saqqez. She was arrested by Iran’s “Guidance Patrol,” also referred to as the Morality Police, for wearing a “loose” hijab. Witnesses report seeing her being severely beaten by the police before collapsing and dying at the police station. The Morality Police say she died of a sudden heart attack, which doesn’t happen very often to healthy 22-year-olds and which also doesn’t explain the bruises and contusions all over her body.
Her death has sparked massive protests across Iran, and even around the world. According to the Iran Human Rights organization, as of Oct. 8 at least 185 people have been killed in Iran as a result of the government’s intervention in those protests using tear gas, batons and live ammunition.
All because of a hijab. That was “loose.”
A hijab is a scarf or cloth wrapped around the head, neck and chest of a Muslim woman so that only her face is visible as mandated by Iran’s sharia, or Islamic law. Its main purpose is to cover the woman’s hair and “preserve her modesty.” I know. Ridiculous. Not sure how seeing a woman’s hair makes her a tramp.
Although, a hijab is not as bad as a burka which calls for complete coverage of the face with fabric that usually drapes the entire body, with a mesh or grille that lays on top of the eyes so the woman is still able to see. How considerate.
Iran’s Guidance Patrols were started in 2005 and are tasked with detaining people who violate Iran’s conservative dress code so as to “promote virtue and prevent vice” as described by the Islamic Republic’s top clerical authorities. They actually patrol the cities in vans looking for people—mainly women—not dressed properly. Seriously. They aren’t looking for muggers or rapists or carjackers. They’re looking at what the citizens are wearing. And punishment for not dressing appropriately can range from a small fine up to, well, being beaten to death apparently.
Unfortunately Iran is not alone. Afghanistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan all have Morality Police. Thank God we live in America.
The closest thing we have in America are vice cops.
Adult nightclub operators are very familiar with vice cops and their constant harassment, particularly around election time when salacious headlines garner votes. They have to deal with vice cops over six-foot rules and pasties and early closing times and how much of a dancer’s butt needs to be covered.
Anyone who has been in the adult nightclub business for more than a year or two knows that it’s not a level playing field. Pizza shop owners and florists and car repair businesses don’t have First Amendment attorneys on retainer, and don’t have a bail bondsman on speed dial. That vice cops spend any time at all critiquing adult nightclub operations just because bare breasts can be seen seems to be a waste of taxpayer money. Every now and then vice cops cause enough problems that a club owner’s legal bill becomes a headache, but most times they are just an irritating nuisance like a bothersome fly. In other words, nobody’s getting killed.
And American vice cops do more than just measure bikini bottoms. They also handle cases involving gambling, illegal drugs, prostitution, sex trafficking and pornography. There is no question that some of those activities can involve a serious criminal element.
So yes, in some instances vice cops are necessary.
But Morality Police?
Who dictate what your morality should be?
Who beat a woman to death over a scarf?
Who kill hundreds of their own citizens for protesting that death?
No, I don’t think so.
That is not necessary.