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Friday, August 26, 2005

Leaving out the good parts

For some reason, the partial text of the proposed Iraqi constitution that was published in the NY Times and many other media outlets left out some pretty reassuring provisions re the role and treatment of women. That's assuming that the complete version I found at what looks like the Sacramento Bee's website is accurate. It's not an elaborate joke a la Snappleface, is it? If it is, then a big "Never mind...." (NOTE/UPDATE: while I was looking for this text and before I found it, I found the text of the interim constitution -- the one that's been in effect for a while -- and thought that was the new draft's text. I posted a comment on Ambivablog, quoting the interim constitution as though it were the new draft. That comment got quoted in an Ambivablog "Update". So I feel foolish now. I believe the author of Ambivablog will be re-updating sometime soon to note my error, or something.)

Of interest on the women's rights issue:

--The preamble notes that "men and women, young and old" went to the ballot box on January 30, 2005.--The preamble also states that "We the people of Iraq, newly arisen from our disasters and looking with confidence to the future through a democratic, federal, republican system, are determined - men and women, old and young - to respect the rule of law, reject the policy of aggression, pay attention to women and their rights, the elderly and their cares, the children and their affairs, spread the culture of diversity and defuse terrorism."

--The much discussed provision which the NY Times translation gives as "No law may contradict Islamic standards" is translated in this full Associated Press version as "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Pretty interesting adjective! Any Arabic speakers who can tell us whether this means that no one who counts disputes the truths of Islam, or instead that only the undisputed rules are binding?

--Now here's a nice one: "Article (14): Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ..." Similarly, Article 16 guarantees "equal opportunity" to "all Iraqis". Without Article 14, I might worry that this didn't include women, but....

--"Article (20): Citizens, male and female, have the right to participate in public matters and enjoy political rights, including the right to vote and run as candidates."

--Two excerpts from Article 29:"The state shall guarantee the protection of motherhood, childhood and old age and shall take care of juveniles and youths and provide them with agreeable conditions to develop their capabilities." and: "Violence and abuse in the family, school and society shall be forbidden." The first could be read to suggest a protective condescension towards mothers if not for the other provisions I've mentioned. Article 30 also groups women with children as getting special protection re "social and health insurance."

Now, there are some other aspects that could concern civil libertarians, such as freedom of expression if and only if it doesn't violate "public order and morality" (Article 36) -- but that may not differ much from our obscenity laws and our time-place-and-manner restrictions on various protest activities.

Article 45 is a nice catch-all precaution: "Restricting or limiting any of the freedoms and liberties stated in this constitution may only happen by, or according to, law and as long as this restriction or limitation does not undermine the essence of the right or freedom."

I've become gradually convinced that most MSM, including the New York Times, cherry-picks the news out of Iraq to create a discouraging picture. This is another example -- but it's so obvious that I wonder if I'm missing something.

1 comment:

Paul Hager said...

Would the NYT and other establishment media cherry pick? I'm shocked, shocked that they would do such a thing...