On November 26th I wrote a short post entitled "Steyn Gets Punked By 28 Year Old Literary Hoax ". The subject of this post was a passage from Mr. Steyn's review of Oriana Fallaci’s book The Force Of Reason in Maclean's magazine, where Steyn discusses the writings of the Ayatollah Khomeini:
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.
And the particular claim I made re the passage above was that no legitimate source for this statement on the topic of bestiality could be found in Khomeini's work. Having read Mr. Steyn's response, I must concede that my claim has not been fully proven.
Now, a couple of things.
Firstly, it is pretty appalling that Maclean's should have published this garbage. They are, after all, supposed to be Canada's national magazine, and not some potty-mouthed blog dedicated to flinging rhetorical poo at vulnerable ethnic and religious groups. And it is reassuring that, in recent months, Maclean's seems to have ended its association with Mr. Steyn.
Secondly, the kind of "cheap joke" (his own words) that Steyn is playing here can be played, with identical results, upon any religion. One might point out that Europe's animal trials, which were carried out by both secular and church authorities, continued into the 18th century and had their own odd customs in regards to bestiality. For example, if you were caught sleeping with your sheep, the sheep hung too, which seems grossly unfair.
Furthermore, biblical injunctions against bestiality are similarly peculiar. Take Leviticus 18:23:
Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
While (according to The Bible) neither men nor women may actually engage in sexual relations with animals, women are additionally prohibited from "presenting" themselves to the animal for the purposes of sexual activity. Which is to say that guys are, and women are not, allowed to flirt with their animals, as long as no tongues are involved.
Nuance aside, however, let me just say at this point that I believe bestiality to be wrong. In fact, I think the Ayatollah and I concur on this point. Of the three of us, it is Mr. Steyn who, with such statements as
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...
...appears most ambiguous on the issue. I would call upon him now to come out with some kind of clear statement against bestiality, if not for the sake of the children, then at least for the sake of the child-like men who read his work and may otherwise show up at his next book-signing with their newly purchased bovine lover in tow.
But these are side issues. Although I still hold that Mr. Steyn's writings are ghastly and ill-researched, this inference could not be legitmately drawn from the example I presented. That I drew such an inference is wrong, and I apologize for it most whole-heartedly.
PS. Is Khomeini the guy they referred to as "the Ayatollah of rock n' rolla", or is that someone else?
Meanwhile, we offer Mark Steyn a chance to make an apology of his own here.