aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Iraqi police ‘killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual’
Human rights groups have condemned the “barbaric” murder of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to witnesses, was shot on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq’s most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
At 14 turning tricks for money to support his poverty-stricken family, he is a double victim (and not necessarily gay). The US position?
[The co-ordinator of a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq Ali] Hili, whose Abu Nawas group has close links with clandestine gay activists inside Iraq, said US coalition forces are unwilling to try and tackle the rising tide of homophobic attacks. “They just don’t want to upset the Iraqi government by bringing up the taboo of homosexuality even though homophobic murders have intensified,” he said.
A number of public homophobic murders by the Badr militia have terrified Iraq’s gay community. Last September, Hayder Faiek, a transsexual, was burnt to death by Badr militias in the main street of Baghdad’s al-Karada district. In January, suspected militants shot another gay man in the back of the head.
...hard to imagine accurately:
“Teenagers get tattoos because they are confident that DEATH ROCKS will always be an appealing motto,” [Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert] writes. “Smokers who have just finished a cigarette are confident for at least five minutes that they can quit and that their resolve will not diminish with the nicotine in their bloodstreams.” For another, as Gilbert shows through a series of logic games and diagrams meant to dupe the reader (they worked on me), we misperceive reality - as philosophers since Kant have recognized - and then use those misperceptions to build a mistaken view of the future.
Events that we anticipate will give us joy make us less happy than we think; things that fill us with dread will make us less unhappy, for less long, than we anticipate. As evidence, Gilbert cites studies showing that a large majority of people who endure major trauma (wars, car accidents, rapes) in their lives will return successfully to their pre-trauma emotional state - and that many of them will report that they ended up happier than they were before the trauma. It’s as though we’re equipped with a hedonic thermostat that is constantly resetting us back to our emotional baseline. [...]
Gilbert argues that what he calls the “psychological immune system” kicks into gear in response to big negative events (the death of a spouse, the loss of a job) but not in response to small negative events (your car breaking down). Which means that our day-to-day happiness may be predicated more strongly on little events than on big ones. On its face, this sounds preposterous, but Gilbert cites study after study suggesting that it’s true.
I’ve been there:
Interestingly, the clinically depressed seem less susceptible to these basic cognitive errors. For instance, healthy people can be deluded into greater happiness when granted the mere illusion of control over their environment; the clinically depressed recognize the illusion for what it is. All in all, it’s yet more evidence that unhappy people have the more accurate view of reality - and that learning how to kid ourselves may be a key to mental health.