Thoughts on a Land without Gay People

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Commenters have been chiding me over my glib Staubach post on the day after Iran's president spoke at Columbia University (transcript).

I thought Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president, displayed the proper mix of ceremonial grace and brutal honesty in the day's signature line: "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

And I was struck by how foreign — alien — Ahmadinejad's speech was. Starting with his opening, end-timer's prayer for the return of the 12th imam and running through to his absurd proclamation that "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. I don't know who's told you that we have it." (We do not have it, he ought to have said, because we hang all of our homosexuals.)

It's worth reading the whole transcript. If only to hear directly from a man who has been diminished to caricature in the collective imagination. He's clearly dangerous in his Holocaust denial and his designs on wiping out Israel, but he's also clearly not deranged. He's clever and dedicated to his worldview. And it's a mind worth wrapping your head around for a few minutes as you take in U.S. Iranian relations from the Persian perspective.

What did you all make of his speech?