In which our intrepid hero wonders at the link between madness and power.

Have a listen to this February 2002 rant (MP3) by former Speaker of the South Australian Parliament, Peter Lewis, and then tell me that the guy’s all there. I dare you.

Now, I admit, it could be worse. At least he’s not hurting anyone. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, on the other hand, is seriously starting to lose it. But, I suppose, he might be representative of his constituency.

Yes, that’s a big call. I’m generally not prone to inflicting stereotypes, but I have to take issue with what seems to be a general fucked-up attitude to rape in Pakistan. Let’s start with the case of Mukhtaran Bibi.

I learnt of this Pakistani woman’s plight several months ago, via a post on Preposterous Universe. Firstly, she was sentenced to gang rape for a crime committed by her brother. Having endured this so-called "punishment" at the hands of four men and paraded naked before 300 jeering onlookers, she refused to curl up and die; she fought back and had six of those involved convicted. She spent her compensation money opening two schools in her village.

When she tried to travel to the US, however, she was put under house arrest and her landline was disconnected. When she tried to use her mobile, she was put in prison. And then, to add insult to injury, her attackers were sent free.

It seems that the Pakistani government was afraid that Ms Mukhtaran might tell her story and portray the government and the Pakistani justice system in a bad light. Funny, that. Maybe Americans just don’t understand how her treatment could constitute "justice", in any sense of the word—I certainly can’t.

Fast forward to Monday, when I stumbled across this article in the Washington Post. Musharraf apparently stated, when asked about rape victim Dr Shazia Khalid, for whom he arranged $US50,000 compensation and a visa to Canada to seek asylum:

"This has become a moneymaking concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped. […] It is the easiest way of doing it. Every second person now wants to come up and get all the [pause] because there is so much of finances. Dr. Shazia, I don’t know. But maybe she’s a case of money, that she wants to make money. She is again talking all against Pakistan, against whatever we’ve done. But I know what the realities are."

With all due respect, I don’t think Musharraf has too many close brushes with reality lately. Neither have many others in the Pakistani government. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people?