home Must Reads Must reads: LGBQT in Turkey, fish intelligence, Paris after terror, homosexuality and Islam, and conservative extremism

Must reads: LGBQT in Turkey, fish intelligence, Paris after terror, homosexuality and Islam, and conservative extremism

We’re starting out the week with reads about the gay community, conservatism, and…fish? Read on to find out more!

What Does Islam Say About Being Gay?‘ (New York Times)

Stereotypes assert that Muslims and predominantly Muslim nations are intolerant of the LGBQT community, but the truth is more complicated, as this thoughtful assessment of the Muslim relationship to LGBQT people illustrates.

The real Islamic basis for punishing homosexuality is the hadiths, or sayings, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. (The same is true for punishments on apostasy, heresy, impiety, or “insults” of Islam: None come from the Quran; all are from certain hadiths.) But the hadiths were written down almost two centuries after the prophet lived, and their authenticity has been repeatedly questioned — as early as the ninth century by the scholar Imam Nesai — and they can be questioned anew today. Moreover, there is no record of the prophet actually having anyone punished for homosexuality.

Hook, Line, and Thinker‘ (Pacific Standard)

We assume that fish don’t think, feel, and reason like mammals do — one reason many people feel comfortable eschewing meat while still consuming fish. But what if what we thought we knew about fish was wrong?

Reflecting on these findings, scientists and animal behaviorists have weighed in on the possible ethical implications. Perhaps most vocal has been Brown, the Australian researcher. He writes: ‘Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioral and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate.’

Rich Eyes and Poor Hands‘ (Guernica)

Reflections on a changed Paris after a year of horrific terrorist attacks.

But standing in front of Le Petit Cambodge, the Cambodian restaurant that was one of several sites of the November attacks that left 129 people dead, the facts on the wet sidewalk were undeniable. Paris, the city that helped me to love the lightness of life inherent in the word légèreté, had come under the grip of gravity. I’d first come to the city as a ten-year-old boy who wanted to rise up into the sky, like the boy in the magnificent French movie The Red Balloon, which I’d seen in Mr. Mathis’s fourth-grade class. The story of a child who encounters a balloon with its own personality, befriending it as they walk, skip, and run through the rough, working-class neighborhood of Belleville-Ménilmontant, spoke to me. The poetic power of the red balloon made me, a lonely kid who grew up around the 26th Street projects in San Francisco’s Mission District, long for one of my own—so much so that I pestered my parents to let me fly to Paris on a kid’s pilgrimage to see the land of balloons and levitating children.

How the Rebel Flag Rose Again—and Is Helping Trump‘ (Politico)

With the rise of Trump has come an escalation in conservative rhetoric, and a growth in hate groups.

A new flourishing of Confederate flags is certainly evident in Floyd County, Virginia, where both Boone and I live. I travel regularly to Blacksburg by two different routes, and now I see at least half a dozen rebel flags on either route, in addition to an occasional American flag turned upside-down—a military signifier of distress, and—in this context—a statement of loving the country while opposing the federal government. The Confederate battle has also drawn support from anti-federal government patriot/liberty groups of the kind that support Trump. Boone, for example, is not just a flag activist, but a member of the anti-federal government 3 Percenters, a Constitutionalist militia group founded in Alabama about the time Barack Obama was elected as president.

Police use teargas against LGBT activists in Istanbul‘ (The Guardian)

In Turkey, being openly gay can be extremely dangerous. For LGBQT people who wanted to celebrate their community during Pride, it came at a high cost.

Authorities have banned transgender and gay pride marches this month, which coincides with the period of fasting for Muslims, citing security concerns after warnings against any such events taking place in Turkey.

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Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Creative Commons