This is a long piece but it does have underage sex and bestiality in it. So enjoy!
The other day I had an e-mail from M J Murphy, who blogs as Big City Lib, saying only this:
I think you owe Dr. Miller an apology.
There followed a link to a post called Steyn Gets Punked By 28-Year Old Literary Hoax:
Remember the kerfuffle between Mark Steyn and journalism professor Dr. John Miller from a few weeks back? Dr. Miller accused Steyn of taking material for "America Alone" from illegitimate sources like the infamous Little Green Book: Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini.*
[*UPDATE: M J Murphy has quietly revised this paragraph, and so the airbrushing begins]
Actually, I don't think Dr Miller has accused me of any such thing, though I admit, given his shifting accusations, that I'm no longer quite sure what he's accusing me of. Just to recap, said "kerfuffle" arises from this passage in a review I wrote for Maclean's of Oriana Fallaci's final book The Force Of Reason:
Signora Fallaci then moves on to the livelier examples of contemporary Islam -- for example, Ayatollah Khomeini's "Blue Book" and its helpful advice on romantic matters: "If a man marries a minor who has reached the age of nine and if during the defloration he immediately breaks the hymen, he cannot enjoy her any longer." I'll say. I know it always ruins my evening. Also: "A man who has had sexual relations with an animal, such as a sheep, may not eat its meat. He would commit sin." Indeed. A quiet cigarette afterwards as you listen to your favourite Johnny Mathis LP and then a promise to call her next week and swing by the pasture is by far the best way. It may also be a sin to roast your nine-year-old wife, but the Ayatollah's not clear on that.
A cheap joke en passant. Indeed, insofar as I dwelt on the ovine fornication, it was to suggest to La Fallaci that, even for us flagrant Islamophobes, it was not perhaps the most useful avenue of attack:
I enjoy the don't-eat-your-sexual-partner stuff as much as the next infidel, but the challenge presented by Islam is not that the cities of the Western world will be filling up with sheep-shaggers. If I had to choose, I'd rather Mohammed Atta was downriver in Egypt hitting on the livestock than flying through the windows of Manhattan skyscrapers. But he's not.
And that's it. That's all I said. And no one would remember had not El Mo's sock puppets included the sheep-shagging line in the dossier they submitted to the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission. Whereupon Dr Miller â€¦actually, I'm not sure he is a doctor: He calls himself "The Journalism Doctor", but the title seems to be entirely self-conferred. Anyway, at this point, Doc Miller, Prof Miller, Herr Baron von Miller or whatever he is got interested in the case and asked the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal if he could intervene. Silly ol' me assumed that he wished to intervene to argue the cause of free speech. But no: he wanted to intervene to argue that I was not a "responsible journalist", and so it was entirely appropriate for the state to censor me. As Rory Leishman notes, since this thought-police racket got going, "Most journalists have either condoned censorship or cowered in silence." Canadians who still value liberty should know that, if they rely on anemic PC flunkeys like Professor Miller, they'll lose their country. At any rate, the BCHRT gave him the bum's rush, so Prof Miller surfaced a few weeks ago and kept returning to the subject of the sheep-shaggers line. His complaint is in an apparently endless process of evolution. But let's go through the story so far:
1) First, insofar as I understand his initial argument, he advanced the curious line that the ruling from the Ayatollah was not widely cited, and therefore it was improper of me to use it.
After it was pointed out that in fact Khomeini's views on the post-bestiality buffet, child sex and other arcane points of Islamic law are known to many (especially those on the receiving end), a couple of weeks later he revised his line of attack:
2) Now his argument was that I'd concocted it out of whole cloth. The J-Doc declared boldly that Steyn "gave no citation for the quote, and I suspect it was made up."
In fact, as anyone who reads the passage above can see, I attributed it to Oriana Fallaci's book. The disinterested observer might conclude that Professor Ethics-Bore had never so much as glanced at the offending article but had simply taken the Sock Puppets' word for it. So the E-Bore was obliged to revise his argument yet again - and decided to accuse me of what he appeared to have done himself:
3) Now my sin was that I "clearly accepted someone else's word for it". Evidently, it wasn't all that "clear" when he was accusing me of making it up, but a drowning ethics prof can be forgiven for clutching at straw men.
At any rate, that makes three different complaints. As I wrote:
That's the great thing about the self-appointed "Journalism Doctor": When he diagnoses you, he provides his own second opinion.
Now, on Prof Miller's behalf, M J Murphy has revised my crime yet again:
Dr. Miller accused Steyn of taking material for "America Alone" from illegitimate sources like the infamous Little Green Book: Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
As I said, the sheep-shagging passage is from a review of La Fallaci's book in Maclean's. It's nothing to do with America Alone. There is no mention of sheep shagging in America Alone. There is no mention of any Little Green Book in America Alone. There is, indeed, no mention of Ayatollah Khomeini in America Alone. Prof Miller and Mr Murphy and their enthusiastic chorus boys at Law Is Cool are welcome to check for themselves.
But, leaving that aside and forgiving M J Murphy for confusing America Alone with a book review in Maclean's, if you return to the passage up above, you'll see that neither Oriana nor I refer to any Little Green Book. We cite a "Blue Book" - or "Libro Azzurro", in La Fallaci's original Italian. That's the color we're nailing to our mast. We're singing the blues, and it's you fellers who are smelling the green. Indeed, the guy who brought up the Little Green Book is Prof Miller in his response to me. I never mentioned any green book. Like I said, I'd rather be blue. So, if M J Murphy and the excitable schoolgirls at Law R Cool have proved The Little Green Book is a "hoax", the person who's been "punked" is Professor Miller.
Incidentally, I wouldn't describe The Little Green Book as a "hoax". It would be truer to say that it is a somewhat lurid and condensed version of the Ayatollah Khomeini's work. Nevertheless, if you read M J Murphy's post, you'll find that Marvin Zonis of the University of Chicago declined to provide an introduction for it. Professor Zonis is evidently regarded by M J Murphy as a greater authority in these matters than I am, so please keep his name in mind.
However, as it happens, I didn't take "someone else's word" for anything, whether it was the word of Oriana Fallaci or the compiler of The Little Green Book. When it comes to the Ayatollah Khomeini's views on sheep shagging, my guide for many years has been a book called Resaleh Towzih al-Masael. The author is a chap called â€¦Ayatollah Khomeini. Let's go back to the original offending quotation from my Maclean's book review:
Signora Fallaci then moves on to the livelier examples of contemporary Islam -- for example, Ayatollah Khomeini's "Blue Book" and its helpful advice on romantic matters.
Prof Miller has great sport with this. Why, that birdbrain Steyn! He can't even get the color of the hoax book correct: It's not a "Blue Book", it's a "Green Book". Everyone knows that. Boy, that Steyn, he don't get nuttin' right. As the Credentialed Fact-Checker gleefully mocks:
There is no Blue Book, it's The Little Green Book. And it wasn't written by the Ayatollah at all, as you say, but by a source who was apparently at least three times, and three languages, removed.
"There is no Blue Book": Thus saith the J-School Professor, and he surely wouldn't make such a baldly definitive statement if he hadn't fact-checked himself with the rigor Signora Fallaci and I are so deplorably lacking in.
Okay, I'm going to try to explain things very slowly for Doc Miller and M J Murphy, and with pictures, too. For personal reasons, which I'll explain in a moment, I happen to know that 30 years ago many Iranians did, indeed, refer to the Ayatollah's "Blue Book". Visiting Iran in the wake of the revolution, Oriana Fallaci would certainly have heard the Towzih al-Masael referred to both by Iranians and westerners as what she would call the "Libro Azzurro". Are you wondering why? Well, here's a clue:
Hmm. Here's another clue:
But how can that be? We all know: "There is no Blue Book." The Lord High Checker of Facts has pronounced. As it happens, Resaleh Towzih al-Masael has been published in Iran in several editions. But the most popular was the paperback edition published by Nashr I Sharia't of Tehran. It sold for 120 rials. It had some 350 pages, approx 5x7 inches, with a blue cover, featuring a picture of its ever more famous author. A souvenir hardback edition marketed as the perfect New Year gift was subsequently published by Rashidi with a plain blue cover. Since the old boy's death, the Khomeini Resaleh has got a bit like the Johnny Mathis Christmas album, re-released every year in a different color. But many versions of the "Blue Book" are still out there:
In the relevant passage in her book, Oriana recalls first seeing excerpts from the "Blue Book" in 1979. That's what it was back then: A blue book. The blue book in revolutionary Iran. It certainly wasn't a "little green book" as that wasn't published till 1980. So when she and I refer to the Ayatollah's "Blue Book" we're referring to that Nashr I Sharia't edition of the Resaleh. It was translated into English, unabridged, by J Borujerdi and published in 1984 by Westview in London and Boulder, Colorado under the title A Clarification Of Questions.
I was given it a couple of decades ago by the Iranian gal I was then dating. She had a copy of the pocket paperback with the Ayatollah on the cover, and once, when she read out a bit to me, I expressed skepticism that it could really be that wacky. So a few weeks later she presented me with the English edition. As she explained, these were not just some personal musings from the Ayatollah but a kind of moral compass for the Islamic state. So I didn't need to "accept someone else's word for it" on having sex with nine-year-old girls, because, like anyone else who's taken even a cursory interest in the subject, I've known for a long time that, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, girls could be legally married at the age of nine. Article 1041 of the Civil Code states:
Marriage before puberty by the permission of the Guardian and on condition of taking into interest the ward's interest is proper.
"Puberty" is defined as "nine full lunar years" - although, in practice, girls as young as seven can be married on the say-so of a doctor. The justification for all this is in the highly elaborate rules of Islamic life. They may sound unlikely to M J Murphy or Prof Miller but the Ayatollah's "clarification of questions" doesn't strike most devout Iranian Shi'ites that way. Mr Borujerdi, the English translator, was an Iranian Ă©migrĂ© living in Cleveland, and he gave an interview about the book to David Remnick (now the editor of The New Yorker) in The Washington Post in 1985. It's not available online but M J Murphy and Prof Miller and the Law R Cool nellies are welcome to go to their local reference library and check it out. It's the Aug 21 issue, page B1:
"I did the translation because it gives a very close understanding of the Shiite view of the world," he said. "The Bantam Press published a very slight version five years ago called The Little Green Book'-just 6 percent of the original-but that was really a joke book, to poke fun at Khomeini and debunk Islam at the beginning of the hostage crisis. In Iran, this book is mandatory for every literate person, a kind of guide to living."
So this is the real deal, not the sensationalist prĂ©cis but a serious, scholarly "unabridged translation" designed to provide "a unique picture of the belief structure of Shi'ism". Mr Borujerdi had no difficulty finding eminent academics to provide an introduction â€“ namely, Professors Mehdi Abedi and Michael Fischer of Rice University in Houston. But he also consulted on the translation and interpretation with many other scholars, among them Professor Wilfred Madelung of the Oriental Institute at Oxford University, Professor Wheeler Thackston of Harvard's Near Eastern Languages department, Professor William Darrow of Williams College, Professor Vincent McHale of Case Western, Professor Merlin Swartz of Boston University â€¦oh, and Professor Marvin Zonis of the University of Chicago. That would be the same Prof Zonis who was unhappy with The Little Green Book, and thus made M J Murphy unhappy, too. But Prof Zonis is cool with A Clarification Of Questions, so presumably M J Murphy will also be satisfied?
Resaleh Towzih al-Masael/A Clarification Of Questions consists of almost 3,000 "problems" for which Ayatollah Khomeini provides answers, plus a few follow-ups he dealt with in subsequent editions.
Here is a page from Mr Borujerdi's translation. In case you're on a slow dial-up in Mexico and the j-peg's taking its time a-loading, I'll reprint a bit:
#2631. It is loathsome to eat the meat of horse and mule and donkey and if somebody makes coitus with them, that is an intercourse, they become unlawful and they must be taken out of the city and sold elsewhere.
#2632. If they have intercourse with a cow and sheep and camel their urine and dung becomes unclean and drinking their milk will also be unlawful and they must be killed and burned without delay, and the person who had intercourse with them must pay money to the owner. Further, if he had intercourse with any beast its milk becomes unlawful.
I first read this book all those years ago with my Persian gal, and I take it off the shelf every once in a while because, like Oriana, I enjoy a good laugh: If you bonk your mule, you've gotta take him out the city and sell him. If you shag your neighbor's sheep, you've gotta write him a check. That's not me, that's not Oriana, that's not some compiler of some discredited anthology, that's the Ayatollah Khomeini. You can find the great man's magnum opus in the original Farsi at imam-khomeini.com. But here's the relevant lines:
(Click here for slightly bigger version.)
Now, it's true that La Fallaci's wording differs from Mr Borujerdi's. But so what? The King James Bible is different from the New International Version, or the Reader's Digest version. And the Towzi has been published in many different versions by the Ayatollah himself. For his translation, Mr Borujerdi looked at six different Farsi editions, some with supplemental questions, others with no answers to some of the original questions. In this instance, Oriana was translating into what she called "Fallaci's English" from an Italian version of the Ayatollah's Farsi that was excerpted in an Italian magazine under the headline "I Dieci Khomeindamenti", or "The Ten Khomeindments", which is a pretty funny title.
So, just to clarify, neither of us got "punked" by The Little Green Book, a book neither of us so much as mentioned. We both cited Khomeini's "Blue Book", because that's where we got it from. And Oriana's cited source for her Italian translation, "The Ten Khomeindments", was published in 1979, a year before Bantam released The Little Green Book, and at a time when the strictures of the "Khomeindments" were among the research she took to Iran for her famous interview with the Ayatollah.
So I wonder what it is Professor Ethics-Bore thinks I should have "checked". That the Ayatollah disapproves of post-coitally chowing down on your barnyard sex partner? Check! Indeed, check mate. On the other hand, the E-Bore didn't check anything - not my original book review, not Oriana's original quote. He pronounced magisterially on the non-existence of any such "Blue Book" without checking a thing.
But, beyond all that J-school snoozeroonie stuff, what I find even more perplexing is why Prof Miller, M J Murphy and the nellies at Law Am Cool are so weirdly obsessed with insisting that somehow the Ayatollah's rulings about eating shagged sheep and having sex with nine-year-olds must be some malicious rumor got up by Oriana and me and a couple of other neocon buffoons. No one who knows anything about Khomeini or Shia jurisprudence would be in the least bit surprised, so why would a prissy PC drone like Prof Miller be so cavalier as to expose himself as entirely ignorant of the subject he's loftily pontificating on? Not for the first time you realise that, for the lazy white liberal, driving around with a "CELEBRATE DIVERSITY" sticker absolves one from having to take the slightest interest in other cultures.
So, just to bring the deplorably unicultural Prof Miller up to speed, the easiest way to get a flavor of the Ayatollah's book is simply to sample the contents pages:
1&2. Urine and stool
6&7. Dog and pig
11. Sweat of an unlawful ejaculation
12. The sweat of a camel that eats uncleans
Hey, Multiculti Man, that would be you at big hit sound number 8: "Infidel" â€“ right behind "Dog and pig" but, if it's any consolation, ahead of "Sweat of an unlawful ejaculation". But hang on: ejaculate-wise, the Ayatollah's just getting cranked up:
PRECEPTS OF EJACULATION
Things that are unlawful for an ejaculator
Things that are loathesome for an ejaculator
The bath of ejaculationâ€¦
I confess I was worried that Prof Miller, M J Murphy and Law R Cool might be in breach of the Ayatollah's "Precepts of Ejaculation" but, after thumbing through them, I can't find anything in there preventing you from doing it repeatedly all over the Internet.
In other words, anyone who had the most casual acquaintance with the Ayatollah's writings would be aware not only that it's not in the least bit surprising but entirely par for the course that the old boy had complex rules re using your embraceable ewe for the Friday night kebab special. But let's leave me and M J Murphy out of it, since we're merely the middle men in what is in effect Prof Miller's "fact check" of Oriana Fallaci. Could anything be more ludicrous than the tenured Ryerson bore presuming to lay down the law on Ayatollah Khomeini to the last western writer ever to interview him? In my (rigorously fact-checked) obituary of her for The Atlantic Monthly I wrote of Oriana's encounter with the Ayatollah:
After traveling to Qom and kicking her heels for ten days waiting for him to agree to see her, she was ushered â€“ barefoot and wearing a chador - into his presence and found what she subsequently described as the most handsome old man she'd ever met. In his own way, he must have dug the crazy Italian chick: The meeting was terminated when she tore off "this stupid medieval rag" and hurled her chador to the floor. But he agreed to return a day or two later to finish the interview.
It seems a fantastical encounter now: a man who'd just shoveled every female in supposedly the most modernized of Middle Eastern nations back into "medieval rags" versus the apotheosis of the ballbusting western career woman. The phrase "personality interviewer" is grossly devalued these days: look at Mike Wallace's cringe-making oleaginous encounter with today's Iranian must-get, President Ahmadinejad. Indeed, Wallace seems to have found Ahmadinejad more attractive ("very smart, savvy, self-assured, good looking in a strange way") than Fallaci found Khomeini. She was by that stage "the greatest political interviewer of modern times" (Rolling Stone), and yet unlike so many of the bland bigshots jetting from foreign ministry to presidential palace she gravitated to power mainly for the opportunities it afforded to knee it in the crotch. She asked the Ayatollah indignant questions about the executions of prostitutes and homosexuals and he sneered at women like her for going around uncovered "dragging behind them a tail of men".
It's worth citing the "medieval rag" bit in full. La Fallaci had just raised with the Ayatollah the matter of "the condition of segregation into which women have been cast" in the Islamic republic. "They can't study at university with men, or work with men," she said, "or go to the beach or to a swimming pool with men. They have to take a dip apart, in their chadors. By the way, how do you swim in a chador?"
What a splendidly offhand question. Alas, the Ayatollah didn't care for it. "This is none of your business," said Khomeini. "Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women."
"That's very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now. There. Done. But tell me something. A woman such as I, who has always lived among men, showing her neck, her hair, her ears, who has been in war and slept in the front line in the field among soldiers, according to you, is she an immoral, bold and unproper woman?"
That was 1979 - before any "literary hoax" called The Little Green Book was ever published. I had a thousand points of disagreement with Oriana Fallaci, but I adored her. She was a fearless woman, and when she went into a room with the dictators of the day she was full of facts. In a navel-gazing media forever congratulating itself on "speaking truth to power", she just got on and did it. In his "open letter" to me, Professor Miller wrote of Oriana:
When the New York Times wrote her obituary on Sept. 15, 2006, the headline called her a "writer-provocateur." Sound familiar? Remind us of anyone we know?
What a sad little man. He actually thinks he's insulting me by comparing me to the peerless Fallaci. But, of course, he's only doing it so he can go all J-school on us:
Journalists usually try to deal with primary sources (Writer-provocateurs seldom do).
Oh, my! I wonder if he has any idea quite what a Ryerson-atrophied pansy he sounds wagging his finger at Oriana Fallaci? "Writer-provocateurs" don't "deal with primary sources"? Well, her "primary source" on Ayatollah Khomeini is Ayatollah Khomeini. What have you got, Finger Boy? When she was hurling her chador at him in 1979, what were you doing? Retyping press releases from Ed Broadbent?
Unlike Signora Fallaci, I can't claim face time with the Ayatollah. But I've read his writings in the scholarly translations, and cross-referenced them with the original Farsi, and I am familiar with his rulings on camel sweat, touching one's beard after ejaculation, defecating in a dead-end street without the permission of its owner, and whether you can divorce your child bride before she's begun menstruating. It's unfortunate that the most influential Muslim of the late 20th century is a barbaric nutjob, but it happens to be the case.
So just to reprise:
Did I cite Oriana Fallaci accurately? Yes.
Did she cite Ayatollah Khomeini accurately? Yes.
Is there a volume by the Ayatollah commonly known as the "Blue Book"? Yes
Does it include rulings on sex with nine-year olds and what to do with a shagged sheep? Yes.
Did either of us mention a Little Green Book? No. In fact, the translation Oriana cites pre-dates The Little Green Book by a year.
I think Professor Waggy-Finger is doing what they call "projecting". He's accusing me of everything he's been doing himself. I took "somebody else's word for it". Er, no. That would be you, taking the Sock Puppets' word for it on my book review. I didn't check the "primary source". Er, no. That would be you, cavalierly announcing there's no such thing as a "Blue Book". To be more charitable to you than you deserve, you assume that Oriana Fallaci and I so want to think the worst of Islam that we'll fall for any old hooey. Actually not. On the other hand, you so want to think the worst of us blowhard provocateurs that you assume we're as ignorant of Islam as you evidently are.
To end where we came in, M J Murphy wrote: "I think you owe Dr. Miller an apology." Au contraire, I think "Dr Miller" owes me and Oriana an apology. Since he decided to go to such kinky lengths to catch my eye, he has accused me of failing to provide a source for a quote: False. He's accused me of making up famous rulings of the Ayatollah: False. He's declared flat out that there is no such thing as a Khomeini "Blue Book": False. And people pay money to study "responsible journalism" with this guy? At least for his own ill-advised adventures in fact-checking, his unfortunate acolyte, M J Murphy of Toronto, isn't charging cash.
If I were celebrated toilet photographer Warren Kinsella or leading Canadian Internet Nazi Lucy Warman, I'd sue. But I'm not. Nor, despite a flying visit to the Falklands and a couple of wet weekends in Wales, have I ever been attracted to sheep-shagging. But I imagine it feels a bit like dealing with Messrs Miller, Murphy and the Law R Cool kids: No matter how often you roger them senseless, they keep on bleating. I wouldn't have bothered with this response were it not for the fact that Professor Waggy-Finger traduced not me but a great and courageous lady who is no longer here to laugh her magnificent scoffing laugh in his face. Oriana Fallaci is a hundred times the man John Miller is. Read her interviews with Arafat or the Shah and ask yourself whether she needs any posthumous lessons in "journalistic ethics" from an unread parochial poseur. And, if you are considering a career in journalism, think about what you'd like to be looking back on in 40 years' time: Oriana's resume or Professor Miller's.
Prof Miller came on like the Fact-Checking Ethics-Bore J-School Ayatollah and limps off like a poor little lamb who has lost his way, as they sing in the barnyards of Qom. While we're waiting for Murphy and Miller to withdraw their feeble slander of La Fallaci [UPDATE: There doesn't seem much point waiting for Law Is Kool-Aid - see my thoughts on their various responses here], I think we'll keep this piece here with a convenient permanent link on the home page to enable them to find it easily enough. We'll call it "Professor Miller, M J Murphy and Law Is Cool: The Shagged Sheep." Come to think of it, that would make a good chapter title when we reprint this in The Mark Steyn Flagrantly Islamophobic Reader. But if they'd prefer an alternative title how about "Professor Miller's Precepts Of Ejaculation"?