Weekend Diversion: Taking Virtue to the Virtue Cops

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


We definitely need a good song for this weekend, and the one I want to share with you is P.G. by Harvey Andrews. It turns out that this is an incredibly difficult song to find, but I heard it on internet radio (which I love, by the way) and did my best to record it and repost it here. (So that’s why the sound quality is so poor.) But it’s a fabulous song by a musician who’s new to me, and I thought I’d share.

PG – Harvey Andrews
One of the themes of this song is the mistreatment of others, especially of women by abusive men. Personally, I find this is still a large problem in our world, and I believe that as long as this problem still exists, people need to stand united against it.

Well, something happened in Saudi Arabia this past week that people need to hear about. They have a group of policemen –the Hai’a — from the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” (known colloquially by some as “virtue cops”). As far as I can tell, these virtue cops go around searching for women who act in violation of the nation’s inequitable religious laws, and then beat and punish them.

One of the things their religious laws forbids, apparently, is for a woman to go out on a date with a man.

Seriously. It’s against the law for a woman to appear in public unless she is chaperoned by a male relative, and socializing with a man in public is also barred.

What can you do in the face of such unjust laws? Well, you can disobey them. And you can try to disobey them civilly, as one woman in her 20s did this past week. She — an unmarried woman — went to an amusement park with a man who was not her relative. And wouldn’t you know what happened? One of these “virtue cops” shows up, accosts the couple, and demands that the couple confirm their identities and their relationship to one another. But this story has a different ending from what you might expect.

For undisclosed reasons, her male companion collapsed. And then, from the article, the following happened.

But before the policeman could do anything else, the woman – believed to be in her mid-twenties – laid into him.

He was punched repeatedly about the head and upper torso during the attack in the eastern city of Hofuf Mubarraz.

The assault was so severe and sustained, the officer was eventually taken to hospital suffering from severe bruising.

I think it’s wonderful that this woman is standing up for her rights to just be a free human being. (Whether those rights are recognized or not is another story.) Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist, had the following to say about this.

To see resistance from a woman means a lot. People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.

The media and the Internet have given people a lot of power and the freedom to express their anger. The Hai’a are like a militia, but now whenever they do something it’s all over the Internet. This gives them a horrible reputation and gives people power to react.

And while I think it’s appalling that people are treated like this — ever, anywhere — I’m proud of all the people involved for standing up to these repressive laws and standing up for their individual rights as human beings.