No Rest for the Righteous: Even Osama Had Porn

Canadian cartoonist Cam Cardow riffs on the discovery of porn in Osama's Abbottabad hideout. [Source: @globalcartoons http://twitter.com/globalcartoons/status/71230697511190528]
Canadian cartoonist Cam Cardow riffs on the discovery of porn in Osama’s Abbottabad hideout. [Source: @globalcartoons]

I used to joke that the way to defeat the Mullahs was subverting them with American trash culture. Give them a taste of Brittany Spears, MTV, and spandex聽 and you know who would win the Clash of Civilizations!聽 The revelation last week that a secret stash of pornography was found in Osama bin Laden鈥檚 compound seems to substantiate the joke, although its spot-on irony makes you wonder if the CIA has hired some hip new script writers.

I was so saturated with media theory last week at MiT7 that I聽 missed this story when Reuters broke it:

A stash of pornography was found in the hideout of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. commandos who killed him, current and former U.S. officials said on Friday.

The pornography recovered in bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive, according to the officials, who discussed the discovery with Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.

Reports from Abbottabad have said that bin Laden’s compound was cut off from the Internet or other hard-wired communications networks. It is unclear how compound residents would have acquired the pornography.

Razib Khan鈥檚 Gene Expression commentary makes the case that there is more than prurient interest going on here:

One issue I鈥檝e noticed personally with some conservative Muslims is that their threshold for what is 鈥榩ornographic鈥 is different from those of typical Westerners. I have an uncle who is a member of Tablighi Jamaat who considers the outfits worn by ballerinas to be pornographic and instances of crass nudity. I do wonder if outbreaks of extreme sexual deviance and psychopathy, such as the notorious Saudi gang rape, might be as much due to the peculiar collapse of what seem clear and distinct categories to us, as much as garden-variety repression. A woman can dress in a sexy and alluring manner in public without being assumed to be a prostitute, but in some societies that鈥檚 really not an accepted category. So the occasional porn caches found in the possession of Islamic militants might be part of the constellation of 鈥榩erversion鈥 which they make little distinctions across. My thinking here is informed by friends in secondary school from religious conservative Christian backgrounds, who also seemed to have an antinomian tendency once they crossed their strict 鈥渓ines鈥 (this is like my conservative Christian friends who sometimes talked joyfully about murdering people for fun and having same sex relations if there wasn鈥檛 a god; it鈥檚 all talk, but I think this mindset is illustrative of a 鈥渂rittle鈥 moral-ethical framework).

And maybe those CIA script writers were an extraordinary rendition from Saturday Night Live:

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