Sunday, October 30, 2005

From My Archives

This is a piece I wrote in the 1990's. It's outdated now but still worth reading for the point it makes.

On Babies and Puppies

If you had to choose between a birth as a puppy in the United States or as a baby girl in Taliban-dominated Afghanistan, which would you go for? I know that this is a tough one. Perhaps it would help to compare the options in some detail:

Both are cute, for starters. Both are also often unwanted. The Afghan girls are likely to live longer than puppies, although American puppies may have better access to medical care. Neither puppies nor Afghan girls are required to seek an education. Puppies may, however, go to school if their owners so desire, while the Afghan parents have no such rights over their daughter's education.

Both are powerless in affecting their own lives and equally vulnerable to random strikes of bad luck. Their fates are firmly in the hands of others: those of owners for the puppies and those of fathers (and later of husbands) for the Afghan girls. If these others are kind, the lives of both puppies and girls can be fairly enjoyable. If these others are cruel, both lives can be hell.

Still undediced? Neither puppies nor older Afghan girls are allowed to go out unchaperoned. Puppies must also wear identification tags and be leashed at all times, except in specially designated areas and on the property of their owners. Older Afghan girls must wear a body wrap that leaves no part uncovered, including their faces. It should be noted, though, that they don't have to wear leashes or identity tags. Yet, anyway.

Puppies are routinely banned from many public buildings as well as restaurants and grocery stores. Afghan girls are routinely banned from most public life.

See, I told you that the choice would be difficult. What is not so difficult to see is the incredibly poor taste I am exhibiting in even posing the question. But this is nothing compared to the poor taste the world has exhibited in providing me with the raw materials for this story.