Don’t talk to me about God. Because I don’t care what a barbarian has to say about God.

Her ordeal began with a routine visit to the new Riyadh offices of her finance company, where she is a managing partner.

The electricity temporarily cut out, so Yara and her colleagues — who are all men — went to a nearby Starbucks to use its wireless internet.

She sat in a curtained booth with her business partner in the café’s “family” area, the only seats where men and women are allowed to mix.

For Yara, it was a matter of convenience. But in Saudi Arabia, public contact between unrelated men and women is strictly prohibited.

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?’. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.

The men were from Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

Yara, whose parents are Jordanian and grew up in Salt Lake City, once believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal. But on Monday the religious police took her mobile phone, pushed her into a cab and drove her to Malaz prison in Riyadh. She was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her “crime”.

“They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

Where people like you are in charge, whole nations are dragged down into poverty, misery, and ignorance. Their power is greatest where people are poorest. There is no theocracy on earth that is not also a sewer. This cannot be a coincidence. Look around. Has it occurred to you that you’re worshipping the wrong God?

If I follow you down into the dirty streets, the open sewers, the swarming flies, and the festering sores, if I follow you down into the stench that stewed up your God for you, will I find (if you believe in both a Good and a Bad spirit) that you were simply mistaken? If there is a God, and if He is concerned with your fate, then clearly He is punishing you for what you are. Why should I listen to you? Do you think I want to share your fate?

The ancient, law-obssessed faiths all grew out of the same brutality. The rest of the world has left it, why can’t you, Senator Henry?

Sen. Doug Henry, an 81-year-old Nashville Democrat, explaining to the state Senate his votes surrounding amendments to the abortion resolution: “Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it’s simply, ‘Let’s don’t go forward with this act.’ ”

If I apply all of the laws that someone says God gave them long ago, I find that I am reproducing the blood-taboos of a people who otherwise lived in filth. It was the best they could do at that time. I don’t have that problem. For lack of an argument, their “do this, don’t do that” could only find roots in the unseen. Shallow, like weeds, they creep everywhere. Your victims could only be compelled by dark threats in the hereafter, or by real threats carried out in the dark, you coward.

Perhaps gibbering in the streets and brutalizing women is the best you can do?

There is no reason to follow you back into a past just so you can become relevant. We will not throw away our civilization just so your brutal laws can seem necessary. I don’t care which head of the serpent you choose to worship, I will not give up my birthright just so you can pretend to be something you’re not.

The only reason our fanatics can’t brutalize us the way they used to is because, a few hundred years ago, they were shown their place. Those for whom God is merely a blank check were left to run lesser countries. And, every time they step out of their place, they’re put back, a little more sheepish, a little more ridiculous.

You will insist that God’s law is above man’s law, but only because you get to make up what God’s law means. God never shows up to set the story straight, so you will never pay for stealing His authority. Surely the words of your prophets you’ve learned to mouth, to chirp like a bird in a cage, cannot register at all on that fevered clay we might call your brain. Some prophets talk about how we are measured by how we treat the least of us.

But you do not brutalize women because God told you to. You do it because you think it’s easy.

Like any coward, you attack the weakest among us simply because you can.

Hope Steffey’s night started with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, naked, and sobbing on a jail cell floor. Now, the sheriff’s deputies from Stark County, Ohio who allegedly used excessive force during a strip search 15 months ago face a federal lawsuit, and recently released video won’t help their case.

Eventually, Steffey was arrested and taken to the Stark County Jail, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. But once in custody, her attorney says seven jail workers, male and female, forcibly removed Steffey of all her clothes, including her undergarments, while she lay face down in handcuffs. Local news footage shows Steffey wailing, asking “What are you doing?!?”

“And you have to ask yourself, what was the purpose of the strip search?” said Steffey’s lawyer. “What was the necessity of it? This was a disorderly conduct claim.”

The lawsuit says that Steffey remained in the cell for six hours and wrapped herself in toilet paper to stay warm. During that time, she was not allowed to use a phone or seek medical assistance for injuries she accrued that night, including a cracked tooth, bulging disc, and bruises.

But, when your judges are rapists, your justice is a crime.

But instead of killing herself, Ms. Mukhtaran testified against her attackers and propounded the shocking idea that the shame lies in raping, rather than in being raped. The rapists are now on death row, and President Pervez Musharraf presented Ms. Mukhtaran with the equivalent of $8,300 and ordered round-the-clock police protection for her.

…Meanwhile, villagers say that relatives of the rapists are waiting for the police to leave and then will put Ms. Mukhtaran in her place by slaughtering her and her entire family. I walked to the area where the high-status tribesmen live. They denied planning to kill Ms. Mukhtaran, but were unapologetic about her rape.

“Mukhtaran is totally disgraced,” Taj Bibi, a matriarch in a high-status family, said with satisfaction. “She has no respect in society.”

When the judges see the victim exactly as the rapists did, who is bound to obey their verdict? Why should I respect a man who is so afraid of women?

“God” is just the condom you wrap around your sadism before you do the deed, to her, to whichever victim. You lie and the truth is not in you.

The only things that will stop you are physical violence and the threat of physical violence. The only thing that keeps your disease from infecting an entire body politic is the certainty that your Acts of God will be punished as the crimes they are. Only if you are outnumbered by those who see the shame as the rapist’s and not the victim’s will your mindless brutality, however clothed in the butchered skins of piety, be turned back, confined to the historical record of your sickness, a black-and-white tally of your victims and a perplexed attempt to explain how you could be so insane.

Do not flatter yourself by thinking that we threaten you. A civilized nation will euthanize you, merely, grind you down by the slow exercise of low-level violence that any state works against itself, bore you to death in bureaucracy.

No arena, no altar, no end of the world, which you crave merely because you are a failure in this one. A mad dog stumbles up the street, foam in its mouth and murder on its mind. We will drop it and never think to mourn it.

You gave us no choice.
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