Madness, coming to a Moldova near you

not this one, the other one

It seems impossible that there should be two men named Kirk Cameron who are both lunatic Christian fundamentalists, but it’s true.   One of them, the former teen star of the sitcom Growing Pains, now is in his forties. He tours college campuses denouncing Darwin; not entirely abandoning his art, he’s starred in the movies based on the endless Left Behind books, about godly action heroes fighting the Antichrist after the Rapture. The other Kirk Cameron, perhaps a duller fellow, is a statistician in the fundamentalist resort town of Colorado Springs. Not any normal statistician, no. He cooks up figures (remember Disraeli on statistics? “Lies, damned lies…”) to support the anti-homosexual ravings of his father, Paul Cameron.

Paul Cameron!  Paul Cameron is an ex-psychologist — almost thirty years ago, the American Psychological Association expelled him. He runs his own think tank, if that is the phrase, out in Colorado: the Family Research Institute, a wellspring of anti-gay vituperation. (Sample quote: “Gays are an octopus of infection stretching across the world. Fresh, undiluted pathogens are its daily food and excrement. Most gays are veritable Typhoid Marys, pursuing and being pursued by others as biologically lethal as themselves and having sex in settings unrivaled for stupidity and squalor.”) The right wing cites this as “research,” and he appears as soi-disant expert in campaigns and trials alike. One journalist writes:

His detailed descriptions of diseased sex organs have been repeated from the pulpits of the religious right. Thanks to Cameron, church audiences across the country have blanched at the thought of gerbils crawling up rectums, which he describes as a gay sex practice.

He has advocated quarantining gays and literally branding AIDS victims with the letter “A” on their faces. He makes a point of noting that other societies have called for the extermination of homosexuals. Accused of advocating the killing of homosexuals, however, Cameron replies, “That’s not true. All I said was a plausible idea would be extermination. Other cultures have done it. That’s hardly an endorsement, per se.”

“Other cultures”? What does he know about “other cultures”?

Switch to Moldova.  (If American homosexuals, busy exchanging pathogens and rodents, know anything about this place, it’s because it was the scene of the wedding massacre in the 80s camp soap Dynasty. Or have those nibbling gerbils eaten away their rectal memory cells completely?) Moldova is a splinter of a country between Romania and Ukraine, a point of contention between Russians, Turks, and others for centuries, and one of the poorest states in Europe. An anti-discrimination bill that prohibits unequal treatment on grounds including sexual orientation is before its Parliament, due for debate at month’s end.

In the days before the debate starts, Paul Cameron is coming to town. An e-mail from the Alianţa pentru Salvarea Familiilor din Moldova (Alliance to Save the Family in Moldova) announces that the “U.S. sociologist, founder and president of Family Research Institute” will stay from October 24-29, and “will share the U.S. experience in implementing anti-discrimination legislation.” There will be a roundtable with “representatives of various parliamentary committees, ministries and other institutions of the state,” plenty of lobby meetings with lawmakers — and, of course, media will be saturated with Cameron’s fake statistics.

This is not his first visit to Moldova. In 2008, he came through to preach about the dangers of anti-discrimination laws.  An Orthodox priest who translated for him describes his message:

According to what Dr. Paul Cameron said, it is necessary for every woman of a nation to give birth to 2.1 children, so that that nation may perpetuate, while in the Republic of Moldova, every woman gives birth to 1.3 children. In this way, the population of Moldova will be halved in 35 years. Among the factors that have brought us to this demographic disaster, it is so-called “woman’s emancipation”, that gave such a position to a woman, that she prefers a career, studies, etc. to giving birth to children and being a mother. Among other factors are the spread of the imposed immorality and especially, the promotion of so-called “rights of sexual minorities”, i.e homosexuals, that don’t contribute in any way to the perpetuation of the nation or to the wellbeing of the society.

Here, for those who forgot to order a horror film from Netflix for Saturday night, is a video of one of his lectures in Chisinau.

We’ve seen this before: in Uganda. The overlap is large. Cameron’s bogus research has been cited again and again by proponents of the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” there. And US evangelist and fellow madman Scott Lively, one of the main motive forces behind the Kampala proposal, also came to Moldova in March of this year to oppose the non-discrimination legislation. He warned of an “outbreak of homosexuality.” He offered his own definition of “discrimination”:

“The word ‘discrimination’ means not being in agreement with something, and anti-discrimination law says it is illegal not to agree with that. … So anti-discrimination policy based on sexual orientation says that you, as citizens, and government will have no right to condemn homosexual behavior in public. All the levers of government will be in the hands of gay activists who have a strategy and an agenda of control over society…

“But God is in control and it was Divine Providence that I’m in this country in this period and can contribute with tips and ideas to stop this evil. … If you stay silent and indifferent, and this law goes forward, everything related to Moldova will change: all your children will be indoctrinated in perversion. Some will become gay, many will become gay, but all of them will change their values, and then everything that happens in the West, all the sexually transmitted diseases, perversions and other bad things that occur in the West, will take place in your country.

“I want to tell you something interesting. You have long been part of the Soviet Union. In fact you were in a fierce communist captivity. You have independence and freedom today, and God came into people’s lives and many positive things have changed in the country. But now the European Union tries to lure you to enter her captivity, and this is gay bondage. They are in control.” (My own translation from the Romanian)

Here is Lively on Moldovan TV (they call him “Lively Scott”):

Moldovan human rights activists fear Cameron’s visit, coming immediately before the Parliamentary debate, “will have again [a] very big negative impact on the public acceptance of the law in general, and discussions with the parliamentary commissions will supply them with erroneous arguments against the law.” Again, the U.S. is exporting deception and hate to a country where desperation can feed on them.

But there is a denominational difference, as it were, between Moldova and Uganda.   The anti-homosexual agitation, and bill, in Uganda were the product of indigenous evangelicals, who spoke a very similar emotional and religious language to the Scott Livelies whom “divine providence” brought them.  But Moldova is 96% Eastern Orthodox, so are most of the groups ( such as Christian Moldova) fighting the law, and the Orthodox Church has a testy relationship to American evangelism.

North American missionaries are all over Moldova like maggots on spoiled meat. Google “Moldova” and “missionary” and you’ll find hundreds of evangelical outfits that have planted themselves in the country, from small mom-and-pop affairs to glossy God Squads. I saw a similar inflow when I lived in Romania almost twenty years ago. Poverty draws them; they know in their guts that their message is manna to the poor. But so does post-communism. They came to Romania, as they come to Moldova now, convinced that Communism simply exterminated religion in the country, and that it’s an open field for them among the benighted, cannibal survivors of atheism’s reign. They’re canny in their way; but they know even less about the country than Dynasty fans do.  (Lively’s own comments, above, show how Communism is the prism through which they interpret anything they grasp about where they are.) They arrive with little idea there are domestic religious traditions with roots and strength. The situation is set up for nasty competition.

The Orthodox Church has its own problems. For one thing, there are two of them, churches I mean — one division for Russian speakers, one for Romanians. Their political clout has been damaged by declining religiosity among the young. They look on the flood of missionaries with envy and rage.

Yet the church also looks for what, in the United States, would be called wedge issues: to mobilize the public on its side, and reassert its political power. Homosexuality is a perfect one. And if they can borrow rhetoric, arguments, pseudofacts, megaphones and manpower from American evangelicals more experienced at pressing this particular red button, they will.

So there’s an uneasy, not to say unholy, alliance. I wonder whether, in the longer term, there is a way to exploit the diverging interests of the evangelical Livelies and the Orthodox prelates.  Can anything be done to promote a split?  Finding out exactly what American evangelicals say on their websites, or preach in their churches, about unsaved Moldova might be one way: do they insult the Orthodox in asserting the urgency of their missionary work? I don’t know.

In the meantime, though, Cameron’s visit impends.

N.B. Greg Herek, a professor of psychology at UC Davis in California and an expert on homophobia, has compiled a fact sheet and other information on Paul Cameron and his checkered career, for use in refuting his claims. Check it out; I’ve already passed it on to Moldovan activists.

Uncommonwealth

This used to be her town: Elizabeth greets the Commonwealth Secretary-General

Every two years, the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations –– formerly known, back when there was a single head of government, as the British Empire — meet.   The leaders of Britain’s former colonies (plus, for reasons not quite clear, Rwanda and Mozambique) discuss issues of general moment, from apartheid in the old days to Tony Blairesque generalities like “Building National Resilience, Building Global Resilience.” The next summit will be in Perth, Australia, in two weeks.

Contingents of LGBT activists from the global South lobbied at the last two CHOGMs (that’s Commonwealth Head of Government Meetings), in Uganda in 2007 and Trinidad in 2009. Their aspiration, since the Commonwealth claims human rights as part of its reason for existence, was to draw attention to surviving sodomy laws in the former colonies. They did this at great expense of money and effort, and with some danger. In Kampala they faced angry government officials and an inflamed, homophobic public, and in Trinidad they met in the shadow of a colonial-era law punishing homosexual conduct with up to a quarter century in prison. Nonetheless, because they were voices and faces from the communities actually affected, their presence meant something. Both times, they succeeded in getting LGBT people’s human rights included in the official statements of the Commonwealth People’s Forum, the NGO conference that accompanies the summit.

This year, CHOGM organizers have set up structural barriers to activists from the South attending.   A letter to Commonwealth officials from 15 LGBT and human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean explains:

We understand that under the rules of participation, with only 250 slots available, two of every five have been reserved for Australian participants, leaving the rest of the world to compete for the remaining three. We have not fared well in that competition and, although a number of us who faced recognizable challenges in doing so have finally secured travel support, we have found registration for CPF closed. We are asking you to ensure at least five LGBTI activists from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands from our group, who have secured travel funding, are admitted as official delegates at the Commonwealth People’s Forum and CHOGM 2011, and provided due assistance with obtaining visas. [emphasis added]

They add:

Being left out of CHOGM 2011 is symptomatic of a larger issue. Since our work at CHOGM 2009, we have been noting with keen interest the flourishing of dialogue, interest and specific initiatives in relationship to questions of sexual orientation and gender expression in the Commonwealth, and specifically at this year’s CHOGM. We have also noted with considerable concern that virtually none of the South-based activists who participated in CHOGM 2007 and 2009 have been invited to share our experiences, strategise or guide this London-centred work and advocacy.

It could be pinker: the Commonwealth (and its slices of Antarctica)

This is the interesting part. All year long, activists in the United Kingdom — the onetime colonial conqueror — have been shouting up a storm about their own plans to force the CHOGM to place LGBT issues on the government leaders’ formal agenda. The inimitable Peter Tatchell has taken the lead, with multiple action alerts warning that “we” want “this to be the breakthrough summit,” and taking full credit for recent positive murmurs from Commonwealth leaders. A new British organization, the “Kaleidoscope Trust” which bills itself as “a major new initiative in the global campaign for diversity,” has signalled it will “fight homophobia in the Commonwealth.” It will do this from its easy chair in London, where of course all the homophobic laws in the British colonies had their origin. What goes around, comes around.

Some of their plans and methods show themselves in this document, circulated today.  It purports to be a “Civil Society Statement of Action on the Decriminalisation of Adult Same Sex Conduct in the Commonwealth,” but what does it mean by “civil society?” Well, of the 26 organizations that signed it, fully 10 are based in London. (Tatchell managed to coax his own group, the “Peter Tatchell Foundation,” seemingly created to fund Peter Tatchell, right to the top of the list.) Two are from Australia, one from Malta; another five are from European countries that aren’t Commonwealth states at all — Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands. Only 8 of the 26 signatories are from countries in the global South, or from countries that have or recently had a sodomy law. These represent just four countries (Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Cameroon).   No one from Kenya, Uganda, or other African countries; no one from the rest of the Caribbean; no domestic group from India or elsewhere in South Asia.

Apparently this statement came from a “roundtable conference” for  “LGBTI Rights Activists working across the Commonwealth” that a London NGO organized in August. (Notably, a lot of the signatories aren’t LGBTI groups at all: there are teacher’s unions, mainstream rights NGOs, and others.)  “Across the Commonwealth!” Right. More like: across town.

In other words, the task of lobbying the Commonwealth about the lives and freedoms of people in countries with sodomy laws has been taken over, not by activists from those countries, but by people in the United Kingdom.   The folks who led the fight in 2007 and 2009 have been crowded out.

What could the organizers of this statement have been thinking? What could possibly be the case for excluding from their deliberations the lawyers and activists who got India’s Section 377 eliminated two years ago — a transformative victory in the Commonwealth’s biggest state?  Isn’t it conceivable they might have some strategic wisdom about decriminalization in other Commonwealth countries? Treating them as irrelevant is not just disrespectful, it’s self-defeating. Instead, the folks in the U.K. have decided they know what the goal is, and they know how to get the former Empire there.

The whole project of “ensuring that LGBT human rights are on the agenda of the heads of government when they meet in Perth” seems to me to deserve a little further discussion. Might it not be better to wait till a few government leaders from the global South are primed to speak sympathetically on the issue — till Manmohan Singh, for instance, is ready to defend his country’s legal reform? Otherwise, the “debate” will consist of David Cameron and Julia Gillard berating Uganda and Jamaica, and the latter bemoaning “imperialism.”  How much progress can be expected from that? The fact is, though, that these strategic and tactical questions should be for activists from the countries most concerned to decide. And, token exceptions aside, they haven’t been asked.

It is only natural that activists in London should have easier entry to the Commonwealth’s institutions, which are also based there. But can’t they use that access to open access in turn for activists in the South? Tatchell and the “Kaleidoscope Trust,” moreover, have considerably more resources, and political clout in the UK, than their Southern counterparts can possibly muster — and more power to them.   But how will they use these benefits? Kaleidoscope’s glossy launch last month elicited glowing encomia from everybody from Ed Miliband to Elton John — all without the new organization giving even the slightest hint of what it planned to do.  Great!  But the Kaleidoscopers never reached out to activists in the South to announce their vaunted coming, or ask what they might want or need.  This left little doubt about where their priorities were. Elton John, yes; brave Ugandans, no.

The “Civil Society Statement” from London says: “Since the declaration of the Commonwealth Principles adopted by Heads of Government in 1971, the organization has defined itself by its values.” Well, more or less. The Commonwealth began as a more acceptable mask for empire; it evolved, very imperfectly, toward a vague ideal of power parceled out among equal states and held in common, rather than monopolized by the colonial metropole. What this episode reveals, though, is that the international LGBT movement isn’t evolving in the same direction.  It is still defined by inequalities of money and voice, through which activists in the former colonial capital feel at liberty to speak for their former subjects.

The successes achieved at the past two Commonwealth summits came because LGBT advocates from the countries targeted and affected were there, proving they existed and their lives counted. If they disappear and this initiative turns simply into a ventriloquists’ display, it’s doomed to fail.  I challenge the London signatories of the “Civil Society Statement,” and the Kaleidoscope Trust, to spend the next two weeks lobbying for the Southern activists’ demand: five seats for them at the Australia meeting.  It is the least they can do. Am I holding my breath, though? No.


					

Algerian holidays

This video comes from Abu Nawas, the semi-underground LGBT group in Algeria. They write:

We consider the 10th of October a very important date in Algeria since [for] four years, it honours the national anniversary that stands for defending and legitimizing LGBTIQ rights …  Abu Nawas is faithful to that date and we present it each year for this unique struggle of rights. Our dream is to have the Algerian society to legitimize our existence and our equal rights, but our current reality faces the two penalty articles 333 & 338 of the Algerian Penal and Criminal law, that criminalize homosexuality and all acts that are relevant to it.

This year, like every year, we are celebrating for the 5th time on a row our national day for  LGBTIQ rights as a decision of an actual manifestation to our hopes to confirm our existence and self determination. It is the right of each person to live his\her differences and orientations and with total freedom. …

Today, “Abu Nawas” association calls for solidarity under the slogan: Together To Make Life Better, this step goes along with the logic of the revolutions in the Arab World … Like every year, we are asking you and each person to do a symbolic gesture that shows his\her belief, his\her belonging and support to our struggle. Light a candle on Monday October tenth around eight in the evening, to be the light for all those who suffered in the past or are still suffering this moment because of his\her difference.

To be clear, then, this is a “national anniversary” they have made up.  Last year they explained the significance of the date: October 10 was the birthdate of Selim I, the first Ottoman Sultan to proclaim himself Caliph, over five centuries ago. He also wrote homoerotic poetry.

Thus, we chose the October 10 for its historical and religious symbolism, to maintain our Arab Muslim identity. We do not follow a particular wave, not a Western model. We do not believe in the logic of mimicry and dependency, in which our opponents accuse us of in many cases. They are ashamed of this subject which is taboo, so completely degrade its value to the level of worthless phenomenon; a minority which no need to talk about.

I can’t comment on the historical rightness of claiming Selim (sobriquet “The Grim”): is he the kind of imaginary progenitor one wants, or another J. Edgar Hoover? And the ritual folding-of-the-rainbow-flag in the video is the kind of thing that would (will) drive Joseph Massad crazy. Like the synthetic national holiday itself, they are symbols intruding into a regime of symbols: an attempt to insert one’s self and demands into a historical narrative and a national space, respectively.

Both story and space, in Algeria’s case, have been scarred in the past few decades by violent exclusions.

As it happens, this “holiday” comes exactly one week before another charged date. October 17 is the fiftieth anniversary of the massacre of up to 200 Algerians in Paris. In 1961, French police — under the orders of the prefect, Vichy collaborator Maurice Papon — attacked a peaceful pro-FLN demonstration.  Some protestors were taken to police headquarters and shot; others, tortured to death in a stadium; still others, beaten and drowned in the Seine.  The French government covered up the killings, claiming only two had been shot — though bodies turned up along the river’s banks for weeks after.  Only 37 years later did it admit the crime.

There have been plenty of Algerians massacred on Algerian soil since then: secularists and feminists by Islamists, Islamists and other civilians by government death squads. The question of who belongs in a divided and contested space has again and again taken the accents of life and death. One can’t blame colonial violence simply or unequivocally for the cycle of violence that followed. But French colonialism in Algeria was a regime of particularly brutal exclusion: the effective exclusion of all Algerians from the national space (the whole country was, remember, turned into a department of France) was simply reinforced, or rewritten in blood, by the Paris massacre, which expunged them from the colonial metropole itself. The colonial system was the sufficient cause for the brutalities of revolution. It was not the cause but the necessary condition for the brutalities that followed, in a horrible delayed reaction, decades after.

There’s no link between the makeshift October 10 commemoration, and the monstrous memory of October 17. Putting them in explicit parallel would only enrage many of the partisans of the latter. Still, the unfinished post-colonial project in Algeria (as in so much of the rest of the tiers monde) is one of building a society capable of genuine inclusion — neither striated into in-group and outcast, nor integrated in a fake patriarchal hierarchy of enforced togetherness.   The challenge has only been imperfectly admitted, much less met. If one can wish for anything upon an ad-hoc holiday, it might be this:  let October 10, for those who know about it, be a moment both of remembering and of imagining new possibilites of belonging; for the sake of those living, and for the murdered and unmourned.

The Right’s one defeat?

The author of a new history of conservatism argues the American right wing has effectively won every battle for the last four decades, save one:

Social conservatism mainly came about in response to, broadly speaking, the labor question. Beginning in the 1880s, the working classes started making democratic claims about the reform of the workplace, and many of the distinctive things we associate with conservatism come out of that experience. It was a roughly 100-year battle, and to all intents and purposes, they have won that battle. …

On civil rights, they weren’t able to beat back the fundamental challenge of the civil rights movement, but they certainly were able to beat the movement’s second wave and  really bring it to a standstill. Likewise with the women’s movement. Wage inequality is still quite large, and if you do a survey on all abortion rights and reproductive rights state-by-state, they are clearly winning that battle. They haven’t been able to overturn Roe v. Wade, but, effectively in many states, you just don’t have access to an abortion. Though I think, on a whole wide array, the one area where they probably have lost is on gay rights. …

Partially, I think they were caught off guard. I mean, gay rights was a very late arrival to the ’60s emancipation movement. It gets started in the ’70s but it really becomes a real force in the ’80s and the ’90s, and I think it’s partially a testimony to the gay rights movement. They completely reinvented a whole repertoire of social movement activity and were daring and defiant. But who knows? It’s still very early. The fact is, you still only have gay marriage in, what, five or six states.

Boxers or briefs or sexual perversion: a Cairo question

Back when I researched the massive crackdown on homosexual conduct in Egypt from 2001 to 2004,  I learned the police believed in an infallible proof of sin: men who had sex with men, they supposed, wore colored underwear.   Cops would strip down suspects to check whether they were were clothed in the virtuous, white, baggy cotton underpants of the fellaheen, or some decadent, dyed, tight foreign thing that meant instant incrimination.   Presumably the police also dressed their own agile hips in those pale, limp, traditional garments, as a matter of moral duty.

Seksi Kırmızı Geniş Aralıklı File String! Beefcake photo from a Turkish textile website

This kind of mythology wasn’t restricted to Egypt.  In Turkey, police imagined that all male homosexuals wore red thong briefs, or tanga. I interviewed one gay man, the victim of a hate crime, who was stabbed almost to death in his apartment. He described shouting at the police, “That man tried to kill me! And no, I wasn’t wearing a tanga!”

I remember all this because the excellent Egyptian blogger Rebel without a Cause recounts a recent controversy there. Ramadan, as you may know, is the big TV-viewing season, largely because there’s nothing else to do  from sunup to sundown. Companies save up their best ads for the month.  This year, Cottonil, the textile giant, ran a commercial for men’s boxers.

It’s a little paean to male friendship, which, like your shorts, can be too tight, too sticky, or a little worn; it shows three guys getting kind of gropy with one another, and wearing Cottonil boxers under their low-slung jeans. Rebel describes the result:

Some people saw the advertisement as a sign of media irresponsibility saying that the ad is inappropriate and rude especially in Ramadan and that it offends families watching TV together. Part of this argument is about appropriate dress; i.e. what is considered decent clothes and what’s not! … A lot of people are concerned about what “message” their children would get from seeing young people with low hanging jeans!
The other part of this argument is about the fact that people are seeing Egyptian boxers ads for the first time in their lives. Something about the fact that it’s an ad about underwear seem to irrationally provoke many people. The humorous innuendos did not sit well with a certain mindset that is uncomfortable with the human body and especially because underwear are somehow linked to… genital organs!! … Interestingly though, some of the young people reacted to the ad saying it’s “a gay ad”! I wonder why such comment was made. Is it because it’s an advertisement for male underwear? Or is it because it portrays male friendship and intimacy? Does seeing males touching each other amount to being gay?

 

The commercial contributed to debate about all these things. The English edition of Al Masry Al Youm, for instance, carried an article on all that handholding and touchy-feelyness among boys, “Physical contact between men: An Egyptian phenomenon or an acceptance of homosexuality?”(They concluded basically that it’s not the latter, but a deliberate Egyptian attempt to confuse foreigners, and middle-class reporters.)

How does homosexuality get conflated with underwear? — is what I want to know. There’s a Foucauldian way of seeing this.   When homosexuality meant simply a set of acts, it could be sought out and enjoyed or punished as such, in comparative simplicity, without worrying too much about the interior dispositions of the people involved. But when it became a defining form of desire and the mark of a special kind of person, suddenly it ceased to be simple and material: now it was a hidden inclination within the soul, the intenal sign of difference. If you wanted to extirpate it, you could no longer just concentrate on punishing the acts; you needed to distinguish the kind of person who experienced the want and yearning. You needed to investigate the desire, not just the deeds.

It was tempting, then, to imagine that instead of endlessly interrogating interiority, you could actually find some external signs that marked off that kind of person: Somewhere out there, on the skin or inside the jeans, there lurked the Five Unmistakable Marks that would render hunting this particular Snark easier.

But there’s something else at work here, too. Imagining that the mark of homosexuality is a particular consumer good means identifying it with money, with the cash economy, with the ability to buy.  It’s not natural by definition; it is a literally acquired taste, paid for at the counter. It comes with the privilege of having a few extra pounds in your pocket. The police and the workers, wearing their stained white shorts, can’t afford these rainbow indicators of decadence and power.

It’s foreign, too. Never mind that Cottonil is an Egyptian company; the style, after all, comes from outside. Never mind, moreover, that in the US sagging jeans mean no-homo manhood (the best explanation for the fashion is that it’s a sign of solidarity with brothers in prison, where your belts are taken away).   They can easily be refigured to signify a corrupting, elite effeminacy, an unwanted and infectious import.

Egypt is going through rapid changes, not just political but economic. Information, trends, fashions and attitudes and facts are flowing in. But money and power are, in most ordinary folks’ experience, flowing out of their hands, out of the country. It’s a fine time for hopes but also for fears to flourish: an hour to imagine new freedoms, to flirt with the previously unutterable, but also to fantasize scapegoats and look for forces to blame.  Already the military rulers have successfully dallied with blaming “Israeli spies” for a renewable list of ills.  In the foreseeable future, there could be a steady upsurge of public debate and understanding about forbidden topics. There could equally be a mass moral panic targeting some unpopular group, like the one that underpinned the earlier crackdown. I am packing both styles of underwear in my next suitcase.