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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By Gene Weingarten, Washington Post
Published August 12, 2007
WASHINGTON - Are you scared of Iran? Me, too. But, unlike you, I have a personal plan to help ease tensions between our two countries. I developed it just the other day, after speaking with my friend, Washington Post reporter Laura Blumenfeld.
A few years ago, Laura was in Iran doing research for a book. She was dressed in an ankle-length black robe and a head scarf, with only her nose, mouth and eyes visible. Her local guide, a young English-speaking man, asked if she knew a poem she could recite for him.
Nervously scanning the streets for cops carrying cudgels, the man explained that the dreaded Iranian morality police consider it a punishable sin for a woman to sing a song or recite a poem to a male other than her husband. The sound of a woman's voice is considered too provocative when used in anything other than ordinary conversation.
Not wanting to insult her host, Laura did her best. But she stopped midway through, because the man seemed to be getting too . . . excited. Laura had been reciting the only poem she knew by heart, from sixth grade: Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
Now, I don't want to make fun of the Iranian leaders just because they are ridiculous puritanical nutcakes. Let's be fair: Jabberwocky does feature the potentially ribald "slithy toves," and the even more lewd "Bandersnatch."
This gave me the idea for my diplomatic plan. I decided to write some poems and songs that are so unsexy, so devoid of any possible suggestive overtones, that they can be recited by Iranian women to Iranian men without the slightest possibility of arousal. It's my gift to Iran, in the name of world peace.
- - -
'Ode to a Standard Western S-Bend Toilet'
O blessed chair! O porcelain!
So inoffensive to the nose!
Thou canst put whate'er morsel in
And still be smelling like a rose.
The secret's in the throne's sleek banks
That banish fast whate'er passes.
And to the "S" we give our thanks
For holding back the sewer gases.
- - -
'The Infield Fly Rule'
Lest canny fielders drop a pop
To force two outs or even three,
The lords of baseball put a stop
To cheating, with Rule 6.05e.
When the ball is in the air
With a runner forced at third or home,
"Batsman out!" the umps declare.
(How is that for a sexless poem?)
- - -
'How to Make a Mechanical Clock'
First you have a power source
That makes things go around.
A weight or spring will do, of course
- Just make sure it's wound.
A pendulum is added then
To lend to it a beat:
Tick, then tock, then tick again -
And repeat, repeat, repeat.
- - -
Finally, if all else fails, a song about Iran's president: