Two Steps Forward, One Step Back In Iraq

Three of Ramadi's first female police officers demonstrate how they search visitors at the police station in south Ramadi,
Three of Ramadi's first female police officers demonstrate how they search visitors at the police station in south Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad on Monday, Oct. 22, 2007. Fourteen Ramadi women have now joined the local police force. (AP Photo/Kim Curtis)
AP Photo/Kim Curtis

The Skinny is Keach Hagey's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

By far the liveliest debate of the week surrounded Tuesday's column about the Iraqi government's disarming of policewomen.

The Iraqi government has ordered all policewomen to hand in their guns for redistribution to men or face having their pay withheld, the Los Angeles Times reported. The move thwarts a U.S. initiative to bring women into the nation's police force. Critics say the move is the latest sign of the religious and cultural conservatism that has taken hold in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein ushered in a government dominated by Shiite Muslims.

The response among readers was varied widely. Some said live and let live.

"If the Iraqi people are happy in a theocracy, it's their right to live that way," wrote Kaelinda. "We in America have chosen a secular society, preferably (according to many) without any god at all. We may not approve of Islamic morality, but at least there is some, which is more than we can say for atheist America."

Others were outraged. "How can someone serve and protect without a gun when the population can run wild with AK47's?" asked Displeased. "It appears to be another method to oppress women by forcing them to quit their jobs."

Still others saw a lack of cultural understanding in the framing of the story.

"As an Arab I can tell you that the law system, the governmental politics cannot change the society for few decades, when you hear secular government and you imagine the paradise, however, it is not so," wrote Abdoul_Pasha. "You only read books, watch TV and build stereotypes. However, you would learn so much more if you were me only for one day, if you lived at my place, worked at my workplace, lived in my family only for a single day."

And again others figured the news wouldn't last long. "Iraq is kind of a stwo steps forward, one step back' operation," wrote donbl1. "The women will eventually get their guns back but it will be after some face saving by the government. Probably, one of the women arrested a Shia senior tribesman or something."

Don't Worry, China Will Steal The Banned Movies Anyway

Readers were mostly nonplussed by the news in Wednesday's column that China was thought to be effectively banning U.S. movies in its theaters.

The New York Times reported that China has stopped granting permission for American films to be shown in theaters in an apparent trade dispute with the U.S., according to several Hollywood executives and American government officials. The Chinese government has not announced any ban, but American movies are no longer being approved for release early next year.

Many saw it as payback. China was none too pleased when the United States ran and tattled to the World Trade Organization this spring - in the form of a intellectual property rights case - that its government wasn't doing enough to fight the pirating of American movies.

But Skinny readers pointed out the any ban - official or not - would hardly keep U.S. movies away from Chinese eyes.

"Who's kidding who?" asked hober_mallow "The counterfeit versions of U.S. movies make it to China before the legitimate theater versions. The only difference is that U.S. filmmakers will make zero, instead of the pennies on a dollar that they now make due to counterfeits."

Commenter lochlan basically agreed. "Only the beginning of China's economic attacks on the U.S. Luckily for their citizens, they are tech savvy enough to steal it from us anyway."

But my personal favorite comment came from allUNknowin: "Metallica started all this ***. Stupid Lars."

"You Go, Grasshopper!"

Friday's column about the monks at the Shaolin Temple refusing to participate in the big games in Beijing scheduled to coincide with the Olympics seemed to further endear the monks to Skinny readers - if that's even possible.

"Monks are Monks!" wrote Spectrum108. "People should not expect them to "perform" for personal amusement. Kung-fu is a form of exercise for the monks who become accomplished due to keeping a rigorous schedule. It is their life schedule, not a sports schedule. People forget that they are monks first and above all else!"

Or as seandgreen wrote: "You go, Grasshopper!!"

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