And they lived happily never after: Were the original versions of classic fairytales more dark and bloodthirsty than what we know today?

“Sleeping Beauty” first saw print about 375 years ago. And, I guess it is sort of creepy, if you’re the kind of person who finds necrophilia and cannibalism creepy.

The story comes from a ground-breaking collection of folktales now known as the Pentameron, assembled in the early 1600s by the Neapolitan courtier Giambattista Basile; like its namesake, Boccaccio’s Decameron, it’s structured within a framing narrative of people sitting around telling stories. Among tales of torture and bestiality we find one about a young noblewoman named Talia, who gets some lethal flax jammed under a fingernail and drops dead. Soon enough a king, out hawking, spies her inert body, feels “his blood course hotly through his veins,” and decides to make his move. Fine, he seems to believe he’s getting off not with a cadaver but with a delightful young woman who happens to be out cold, but that’s hardly an excuse.

Anyhow, he zips up and rides away. Nine months later, the still-stationary Talia gives birth to twins; while attempting to nurse they accidentally suck the sliver out of her finger and so restore her to life. On his eventual return the king resolves to bring Talia and the kids home with him. Unsurprisingly, his wife (yup, this charmer is married) doesn’t like the idea and attempts to have the twins cooked and fed to their dad, but she gets caught and is burned alive as punishment.

You can already hear studio execs saying, “I like it, but can we lose the rape?” Subsequent versions would oblige. Continue reading

Iranians still facing death by stoning despite ‘reprieve’

Fifteen could still die in horrific sentence after being allegedly convicted of adultery

Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Ian Black

Thursday 8 July 2010

An Iranian woman at a protest in Brussels highlights the barbarity of death by stoning, in which women are buried up to their necks in front of a crowd of volunteers and killed in a hail of rocks. Photograph: Thierry Roge/Reuters

Twelve Iranian women and three men are on death row awaiting execution by stoning despite an apparent last-minute reprieve for a mother of two who had been facing the horrific sentence after being convicted of adultery.

Human rights groups and activists welcomed a wave of international publicity and protests over the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, who was awaiting execution in the western Iranian town of Tabriz after what her lawyer called an unjust trial and a sham conviction.

The Iranian embassy in London said in a statement that “according to information from the relevant judicial authorities” the stoning would not go ahead. If confirmed it would be an victory for a brief but intense campaign that was first highlighted by the Guardian last week.

However, there are still concerns over her plight. In a previous case a prisoner who was to be stoned was instead executed by hanging.

Speaking to this paper Mohammadi Ashtiani’s son Sajad, said his mother – whom he had spoken to by telephone – believed the pressure on her behalf might succeed, although he had not heard of any reprieve. “The campaign for her release is going very well,” he said. “They gave me permission to talk to her and she was very thankful to the people of the world for supporting her. I’m very happy that so many have joined me in protesting this injustice. It was the first time in years I heard any hope in my mother’s voice.”

Without a reprieve, Mohammadi Ashtiani would have been buried up to her neck before being pelted with stones large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately. Iran routinely censors information about executions, but all the 12 other women on death row have been convicted on adultery charges, as has one of the three men.

Azar Bagheri, 19, was arrested when she was 15 after her husband accused her of seeing another man. She has been subjected to mock stonings along with partial burial in the ground.

Ashraf Kalhori, 40, also sentenced to death by stoning, was forced to confess to a relationship with her husband’s murderer, and has been in Tehran’s Evin prison for seven years, according to her lawyer.

In one especially gruesome case, Maryam Ayubi, another alleged adulteress, fainted while being ritually washed before her execution in 2001 and was stoned to death while strapped to a stretcher. Outrage over that led to the marking of 11 July as the annual international day against stoning – which will see demonstrations at the Iran embassy in London.

Iranian activists say the tragedy is that the families of those sentenced to death often ignore them. “It doesn’t matter to them whether the charge of adultery is true or not because the honour of the family is tainted so they forget the poor creature awaiting death,” said Soheila Vahdati, who is now based in California.

“It’s not possible to talk about these prisoners in public because their families don’t want their names mentioned or their pictures published. Their families don’t want to defend them neither. Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case is amazing because her children are campaigning for her courageously and said that their mother is innocent.”

Shammameh Ghorbani, who is awaiting stoning, begged not to be freed from prison because she feared being killed by her family.

Shadi Sadr, an acclaimed Iranian lawyer, said it was hard to know exactly how many people were still facing stoning. Last year the Iranian parliament passed a law banning it, but the powerful Guardian Council has been silent on the issue.

“Many women are kept in prison because the government is very scared of the public attention,” Sadr said. “One of my clients has been there for eight years and her family have abandoned her.”

Publicity helps. “The only reason the Iranian government has not carried out stoning sentences on all these people is that it is afraid of Iranian public reaction and international attention,” said Sadr.

The embassy said in its statement: “This kind of punishment has rarely been implemented in Iran” and condemned media reports about the case as unreliable.

The 12 women on death row also include Mariam Ghorbanzadeh, 25, Iran Iskandari, 31, Kheyrieh Valania, 42, Sarimeh Sajadi, 30, Kobra Babaei, and Afsaneh R.

Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of having “illicit relationships” with two men. But her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, insisted there was no evidence to justify an adultery conviction. As a member of Iran’s Azerbaijani minority, her inability to understand the language of the court also prevented a fair trial, he said.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, added his voice to the outrage today, condemning a “medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world”. He added: “The continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates a blatant disregard for international human rights commitments … as well as the interests of its people. I call on Iran to put an immediate stay to the execution of Ms Mohammadi Ashtiani on the charge of adultery and review the process by which she was tried, and her sentence.

“She has already faced the disgraceful punishment of 99 lashes for adultery; her execution would disgust and appal the watching world.”

Actors Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Juliette Binoche and playwright Sir David Hare have backed the appeal to halt the stoning. John Bercow, the Commons speaker, made a rare statement condemning a “horrific” matter and a “grotesque abuse” of human rights.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, requires states that have not yet abolished the death penalty to restrict its use to the “most serious crimes”. The United Nations general assembly has called on all states to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

19-year-old woman, lured by modelling job, was raped, nearly strangled by man in wheelchair, jury told

TheChronicleHerald

DAVENE JEFFREY
Tue. Jun 15

Lloyd Eugene Bailey, 40, is on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on three charges of sexual assault with a weapon. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in a south-end Halifax hotel on Dec. 4, 2008.

The former Brunswick Street resident is also charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, trying to strangle the teenager, administering a stupefying drug, unlawful confinement and uttering a death threat.

The trial is expected to take 10 days and will hear evidence from about 25 witnesses, the eight-man, four-woman jury was told Monday.

The evidence “quite simply will show evil in its truest face,” Crown attorney Mark Heerema told the court in his opening address. He warned jurors they will hear a story of degradation, cruelty and inhumanity.

“The evidence in this case is shocking,” he said.

Bailey first met the 19-year-old when she was working in a pizza shop he frequented, Heerema said.

One day, Bailey told the teen he was involved with a scuba diving shop that was looking for swimwear models. He told her the shop paid models $1,000 and only used female photographers.

The woman, who was a former runaway and had lived on the street for a time, was excited about the prospect of modelling, the court was told.

On the day of her purported shoot, she met Bailey and the two had lunch. When the woman went to the washroom, Bailey drugged her beer with a “powerful narcotic,” the prosecutor said.

The woman soon started to feel sick. She was told the photo session had been moved from an upscale hotel to Point Pleasant Lodge on South Park Street, Heerema said.

In a room at the lodge, Bailey told the woman he would take a few photos of her until the photographer arrived, and she put on a bikini.

Because one pose was hard for her to hold, Bailey started to tape her arms together. That’s when the woman got scared, Heerema said. When she tried to resist, Bailey tied a shoelace around her neck in a “choke-chain fashion” and secured it to his wheelchair.

The harder she fought and screamed, the tighter he pulled the shoelace until “blood vessels in her face and neck began to burst,” Heerema said.

She only stopped struggling when Bailey threatened to kill her, and that’s when he sexually assaulted her with a cucumber, the Crown said.

The woman was able to escape when hotel management, alerted by other guests, began knocking on the door.

Heerema told the jurors they will see photographic evidence of the ligature marks on the woman’s neck and the acne-like evidence of burst blood vessels.

The woman is expected to testify today.

Afghan Child Brides Escape Marriage, but Not Lashes

Sakhina, 15, was sold into marriage to pay off her father’s debts when she was 12 or 13. She is one of four fugitive child brides at a shelter in a secret Kabul location.
By ROD NORDLAND and ALISSA J. RUBIN

May 30, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — The two Afghan girls had every reason to expect the law would be on their side when a policeman at a checkpoint stopped the bus they were in. Disguised in boys’ clothes, the girls, ages 13 and 14, had been fleeing for two days along rutted roads and over mountain passes to escape their illegal, forced marriages to much older men, and now they had made it to relatively liberal Herat Province.

Instead, the police officer spotted them as girls, ignored their pleas and promptly sent them back to their remote village in Ghor Province. There they were publicly and viciously flogged for daring to run away from their husbands.

Their tormentors, who videotaped the abuse, were not the Taliban, but local mullahs and the former warlord, now a pro-government figure who largely rules the district where the girls live.

Neither girl flinched visibly at the beatings, and afterward both walked away with their heads unbowed. Sympathizers of the victims smuggled out two video recordings of the floggings to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which released them on Saturday after unsuccessfully lobbying for government action.

The ordeal of Afghanistan’s child brides illustrates an uncomfortable truth. What in most countries would be considered a criminal offense is in many parts of Afghanistan a cultural norm, one which the government has been either unable or unwilling to challenge effectively.

According to a Unicef study, from 2000 to 2008, the brides in 43 percent of Afghan marriages were under 18. Although the Afghan Constitution forbids the marriage of girls under the age of 16, tribal customs often condone marriage once puberty is reached, or even earlier.

Flogging is also illegal.

The case of Khadija Rasoul, 13, and Basgol Sakhi, 14, from the village of Gardan-i-Top, in the Dulina district of Ghor Province, central Afghanistan, was notable for the failure of the authorities to do anything to protect the girls, despite opportunities to do so.

Forced into a so-called marriage exchange, where each girl was given to an elderly man in the other’s family, Khadija and Basgol later complained that their husbands beat them when they tried to resist consummating the unions. Dressed as boys, they escaped and got as far as western Herat Province, where their bus was stopped at a checkpoint and they were arrested.

Although Herat has shelters for battered and runaway women and girls, the police instead contacted the former warlord, Fazil Ahad Khan, whom Human Rights Commission workers describe as the self-appointed commander and morals enforcer in his district in Ghor Province, and returned the girls to his custody.

After a kangaroo trial by Mr. Khan and local religious leaders, according to the commission’s report on the episode, the girls were sentenced to 40 lashes each and flogged on Jan. 12.

In the video, the mullah, under Mr. Khan’s approving eye, administers the punishment with a leather strap, which he appears to wield with as much force as possible, striking each girl in turn on her legs and buttocks with a loud crack each time. Their heavy red winter chadors are pulled over their heads so only their skirts protect them from the blows.

The spectators are mostly armed men wearing camouflage uniforms, and at least three of them openly videotape the floggings. No women are present.

The mullah, whose name is not known, strikes the girls so hard that at one point he appears to have hurt his wrist and hands the strap to another man.

“Hold still,” the mullah admonishes the victims, who stand straight throughout. One of them can be seen in tears when her face is briefly exposed to view, but they remain silent.

When the second girl is flogged, an elderly man fills in for the mullah, but his blows appear less forceful and the mullah soon takes the strap back.

The spectators count the lashes out loud but several times seem to lose count and have to start over, or possibly they cannot count very high.

“Good job, mullah sir,” one of the men says as Mr. Khan leads them in prayer afterward.

“I was shocked when I watched the video,” said Mohammed Munir Khashi, an investigator with the commission. “I thought in the 21st century such a criminal incident could not happen in our country. It’s inhuman, anti-Islam and illegal.”

Fawzia Kofi, a prominent female member of Parliament, said the case may be shocking but is far from the only one. “I’m sure there are worse cases we don’t even know about,” she said. “Early marriage and forced marriage are the two most common forms of violent behavior against women and girls.”

The Human Rights Commission took the videotapes and the results of its investigation to the governor of Ghor Province, Sayed Iqbal Munib, who formed a commission to investigate it but took no action, saying the district was too insecure to send police there. A coalition of civic groups in the province called for his dismissal over the matter.

Nor has Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry replied to demands from the commission to take action in the case, according to the commission’s chairwoman, Sima Samar. A spokesman for the ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Forced marriage of Afghan girls is not limited to remote rural areas. In Herat city, a Unicef-financed women’s shelter run by an Afghan group, the Voice of Women Organization, shelters as many as 60 girls who have fled child marriages.

A group called Women for Afghan Women runs shelters in the capital, Kabul, as well as in nearby Kapisa Province and in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, all relatively liberal areas as Afghanistan goes, which have taken in 108 escaped child brides just since January, according to Executive Director Manizha Naderi.

Poverty is the motivation for many child marriages, either because a wealthy husband pays a large bride-price, or just because the father of the bride then has one less child to support. “Most of the time they are sold,” Ms. Naderi said. “And most of the time it’s a case where the husband is much, much older.”

She said it was also common practice among police officers who apprehend runaway child brides to return them to their families. “Most police don’t understand what’s in the law, or they’re just against it,” she said.

On Saturday, at the Women for Afghan Women shelter, at a secret location in Kabul, there were four fugitive child brides. All had been beaten, and most wept as they recounted their experiences.

Sakhina, a 15-year-old Hazara girl from Bamian, was sold into marriage to pay off her father’s debts when she was 12 or 13.

Her husband’s family used her as a domestic servant. “Every time they could, they found an excuse to beat me,” she said. “My brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my husband, all of them beat me.”

Sumbol, 17, a Pashtun girl, said she was kidnapped and taken to Jalalabad, then given a choice: marry her tormentor, or become a suicide bomber. “He said, ‘If you don’t marry me I will put a bomb on your body and send you to the police station,’ ” Sumbol said.

Roshana, a Tajik who is now 18, does not even know why her family gave her in marriage to an older man in Parwan when she was 14. The beatings were bad enough, but finally, she said, her husband tried to feed her rat poison.

In some ways, the two girls from Ghor were among the luckier child brides. After the floggings, the mullah declared them divorced and returned them to their own families.

Two years earlier, in nearby Murhab district, two girls who had been sold into marriage to the same family fled after being abused, according to a report by the Human Rights Commission. But they lost their way, were captured and forcibly returned. Their fathers — one the village mullah — took them up the mountain and killed them.

Africa’s deadly backroom abortions

Globe and Mail

An abortion advertisement along a busy street in Soweto, South Africa. Abortion is legal in government-approved clinics in South Africa, but this advertisement is an example of the growing number of unapproved abortion practitioners that are flourishing in the country, often at fly-by-night locations.

In a continent with little access to safe, legal abortion, charlatans prey on those desperate for the procedure, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 women and many more injuries each year

Abortion is strictly outlawed in Tanzania in virtually all circumstances. The word itself is taboo, rarely spoken in polite society. Yet it takes only a few minutes to find a man in the backroom of a slum neighbourhood pharmacy who is quite willing to perform an illegal abortion.

His shabby dispensary is on a dusty street in Manzese, the biggest squatter community in Tanzania’s biggest city. It’s become known as a place for desperate women to go.

The Globe and Mail asked a Tanzanian man to pose as the boyfriend of a young woman wanting an abortion. He was referred to a man in a white coat, in a backroom, who appeared to be a doctor. After a brief warning that the procedure was illegal, the white-coated man began haggling over the price, agreeing eventually to do it for the equivalent of about $18. “It should be done before one o’clock because inspectors pass by in the afternoon,” he told his customer. “The government doesn’t allow it, so don’t tell anyone. It has to be a secret.”

Unsafe abortions, especially those done covertly or illegally, are one of the leading causes of maternal deaths in Africa, killing at least 25,000 women annually and injuring a staggering 1.7 million every year. Many are maimed or killed by horrific “home remedies” that include catheters, roots or herbs placed in their vaginas to induce bleeding.

One-seventh of African deaths in pregnancy and childbirth, and nearly one-fifth in Tanzania, are caused by complications from unsafe abortions. Yet governments in Africa – and Canada – are reluctant to discuss the problem, even as Ottawa puts maternal health on top of the agenda for the G8 summit next month.

For decades, Africa’s crisis of maternal deaths has remained stubbornly intractable, even as the death rate has declined sharply in most Asian countries. More than half of the world’s maternal deaths are now occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, compared with fewer than a quarter in 1980, according to a new study in this month’s Lancet, the British-based medical journal. Of the 20 most dangerous countries for women to give birth in, all but one (Afghanistan) are in Africa.

The failure to reduce Africa’s maternal death rate is partly due to the political and cultural sensitivity of some of the leading causes: abortion, AIDS, early marriage, genital mutilation and the unequal status of women. Many African countries are so culturally conservative that their politicians are unwilling to consider any liberalization of abortion laws – despite strong evidence that illegal abortions are killing and maiming thousands of women.

In Kenya, for example, the country’s new constitution would prohibit abortions in any circumstance except when a woman’s life is in danger. This is essentially the same as Kenya’s current laws. But anti-abortion church groups have lobbied against the constitution, perceiving it as a loosening of the abortion laws, and Kenya’s politicians have been forced to promise that abortions won’t become any easier under the new constitution.

In Tanzania, there’s little discussion of changing the abortion ban. Yet hospitals often see the ghastly results of botched abortions by untrained practitioners. “Very sharp objects are inserted into the vagina to disturb the pregnancy,” said John Bosco Baso, a spokesman for Marie Stopes Tanzania, which runs a network of health clinics here. “The women get infections, they get fever, and some die. Many of them hide it. We only see them at the critical stage, when there’s infection.”

More than 90 per cent of Africans live in countries where abortion is restricted. Abortion is completely prohibited in 14 African countries, and in most others it is permitted only to preserve the life or physical health of the woman. As a result, virtually all of the estimated 5.6 million abortions performed annually in Africa are unsafe. Only about 100,000 are done by properly trained professionals in a safe environment, according to a report last year by the Guttmacher Institute, an advocacy organization for sexual and reproductive health.

“In urban areas, people know where to find illegal abortions, and in rural areas they go to quacks,” said Catherine Slater, an official with Marie Stopes South Africa, which provides abortions at 29 government-approved clinics. “I’ve seen gruesome backrooms doing backstreet abortions in Sierra Leone. You wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

Legalizing abortion would be a simple way to reduce the maternal death rate. In South Africa, the number of abortion-related deaths fell by 91 per cent after the procedure was legalized in 1997, according to a Lancet study.

“Making abortion legal, safe and accessible does not appreciably increase demand,” the Lancet study concluded. “Instead, the principal effect is shifting previously clandestine, unsafe procedures to legal and safe ones.”

A recent editorial in The Lancet said Canada and the other G8 countries should be challenging the ban on abortion in many developing countries, rather than tacitly supporting it.

Even in South Africa, charlatans and quacks still take advantage of the desperation of uneducated or low-income women who cannot afford to travel to a legal clinic. Advertising leaflets and posters for fly-by-night abortion services are littered across South Africa’s poorest communities, even plastered on the walls of police stations and government offices. In most cases, only a mobile phone number is provided in the advertisements, making it easy for those who offer illegal abortions to escape justice.

“The unsafe abortion market is huge,” said Laila Abbas, a spokeswoman for Marie Stopes. She estimates that hundreds of people are performing illegal abortions in South Africa, and the number keeps rising, even though her organization frequently reports them to the police.

Often the abortionists provide a pill that simply opens the woman’s cervix, she said. “The fetus literally falls out, causing great danger and extensive bleeding, often resulting in death. The unsafe service providers tell the women to go to the nearest public toilet and flush the fetus.”

[VIDEO] BILL HICKS: The Tupac Shakur of Comedy

William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian and satirist. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to “enlighten people to think for themselves.”[1] Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes.”[1] His jokes included general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Hicks’ material was often deliberately controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances, and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to “keep people stupid and apathetic.”[2]

Hicks died of pancreatic cancer, which had spread to his liver, in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved significant admiration and acclaim, of numerous comedians, writers, actors and musicians alike. He was listed as the 19th greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central in 2004, and 6th greatest in 2007 and 4th greatest in 2010 by Channel 4.

Born in Valdosta, Georgia, Bill Hicks was the son of Jim and Mary (Reese) Hicks, and had two elder siblings, Steve and Lynn. The family lived in Florida, Alabama and New Jersey, before settling in Houston, Texas, when Hicks was seven. He was raised in the Southern Baptist faith, where he first began performing as a comedian to other children at Sunday School.[3]

He was drawn to comedy at an early age, emulating Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and writing routines with his friend Dwight Slade. Worried about his behavior, his parents took him to a psychoanalyst at age 17 but, according to Hicks, after one session the psychoanalyst informed him that “…it’s them, not you.”[3]

In 1978, Hicks, along with friends Slade, Ben Dunn, John S. and Kevin Booth, began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston. At first, Hicks was unable to drive to venues independently and was so young that he needed a special work permit to perform. By the autumn of 1978 he had worked his way up to performing once every Tuesday night, while still attending Stratford High School. He was well-received and started developing his improvisational skills, although his act at the time was limited.

In 1986, Hicks found himself broke, but his career received another upturn as he appeared on Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians Special, in 1987. The same year, he moved to New York City, and for the next five years he did about 300 performances a year. On the album Relentless, he jokes that he quit using drugs because “once you’ve been taken aboard a UFO, it’s kind of hard to top that”, although in his performances, he continued to extol the virtues of LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms.[4] He fell back to chain-smoking,[5] a theme that would figure heavily in his performances from then on.

In 1988 Hicks signed on with his first professional business manager, Jack Mondrus. Throughout 1989, Mondrus worked to convince many clubs to book Hicks, promising that the wild drug- and alcohol-induced behavior was behind him. Among the club managers hiring the newly sober Hicks was Colleen McGarr, who would become his girlfriend and fiancée in later years.

In 1989 he released his first video, Sane Man.[6] It was reissued in 2006.

In 1990, Hicks released his first album, Dangerous, performed on the HBO special One Night Stand, and performed at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival.[7] He was also part of a group of American stand-up comedians performing in London’s West End in November (or December[8]). Hicks was a huge hit in the UK and Ireland and continued touring there throughout 1991. That year, he returned to the Just for Laughs festival and recorded his second album, Relentless.

Hicks made a brief detour into musical recording with the Marble Head Johnson album in 1992. In November (or December[8]), he toured the UK, where he recorded the Revelations video for Channel 4. He closed the show with “It’s Just a Ride”, one of his most famous and life-affirming philosophies. Also in that tour he recorded the stand-up performance released in its entirety on a double CD titled Salvation. Hicks was voted “Hot Standup Comic” by Rolling Stone magazine. He moved to Los Angeles in early 1993.

Censorship and aftermath

Hicks was constantly facing problems with censorship. In 1984, Hicks was invited to appear on Late Night with David Letterman for the first time. He had a joke that he used frequently in comedy clubs about how he accidentally caused a fellow class-mate to become wheelchair bound. NBC had a policy that no handicapped jokes could be aired on the show, making his stand-up routine difficult to perform without mentioning words such as “wheelchair”. Hicks was disappointed that the TV audience didn’t get to experience the uncensored Bill Hicks that people saw in clubs.[9]

On October 1, 1993, about five months before his death, Hicks was scheduled to appear on Late Show with David Letterman, his twelfth appearance on a Letterman late night show but his entire performance was removed from the broadcast — then the only occasion where a comedian’s entire routine was cut after taping. Hicks’ stand-up routine was removed from the show allegedly because Letterman and his producer were nervous about Hicks’ religious jokes. Hicks said he believed it was due to a pro-life commercial aired during a commercial break.[10] Both the show’s producers and CBS denied responsibility. Hicks expressed his feelings of betrayal in a letter to John Lahr of The New Yorker.[11][12] Although Letterman later expressed regret at the way Hicks had been handled, Hicks did not appear on the show again. The full account of this incident was featured in a New Yorker profile by Lahr[11], which was later published as a chapter in Lahr’s book, Light Fantastic.[13]

Hicks’ mother, Mary, appeared on the January 30, 2009, episode of Late Show. Letterman played Hicks’ routine in its entirety. Letterman took full responsibility for the original censorship and apologized to Mrs. Hicks. Letterman also declared he did not know what he was thinking when he pulled the routine from the original show in 1993. Letterman said, “It says more about me as a guy than it says about Bill because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.”

Cancer diagnosis and death

In April 1993, while touring in Australia, Hicks started complaining of pains in his side, and on June 16 of that year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.[16] He started receiving weekly chemotherapy, while still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth. He was also working with comedian Fallon Woodland on a pilot episode of a new talk show, titled Counts of the Netherworld for Channel 4 at the time of his death. The budget and concept had been approved, and a pilot was filmed. The Counts of the Netherworld pilot was shown at the various Tenth Anniversary Tribute Night events around the world on February 26, 2004.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke openly at performances exclaiming it would be his last. Hicks performed the actual final show of his career at Caroline’s in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents’ house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He called his friends to say goodbye, before he stopped speaking on February 14[citation needed], and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.[17] He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994. He was 32 years old.[18] Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi.

On February 7, 1994, after his diagnosis with cancer, Hicks authored a short statement on his perspective, wishes and thanks of his of life, to be released after his death as his “last word”,[16] ending with the words:

“I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”

Comic style

Hicks’s style was a play on his audience’s emotions. He expressed anger, disgust and apathy while addressing the audience in a casual and personal manner, which he likened to merely conversing with his friends, often making eye contact with individual audience members in smaller venues.

Hicks’s material was less focused on the everyday banalities of life and placed greater emphasis on philosophical themes of existence. He would invite his audiences to challenge authority and the existential nature of “accepted truth.” One such message, which he often used in his shows, was delivered in the style of a news report:

Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration — that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death; life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves… Here’s Tom with the weather! [19]

Another of Hicks’s most famous quotes was delivered during a gig in Chicago in 1989 (later released as the bootleg I’m Sorry, Folks). After a heckler repeatedly shouted “Free Bird”, Hicks screamed that “Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever!” Hicks followed this remark with a misanthropic tirade calling for unbiased genocide against the whole of humanity.[20]

Much of Hicks’s routine involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. Asked in a BBC interview why he cannot do a routine that appeals “to everyone”, he said that such an act was impossible. He responded by repeating a comment an audience member once made to him, “We don’t come to comedy to think!”, to which he replied, “Gee! Where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there!” In the same interview, he also said: “My way is half-way between: this is a night-club, and these are adults.” [21]

Hicks often discussed conspiracy theories in his performances, most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He mocked the Warren Report and the official version of Lee Harvey Oswald as a “lone nut assassin.” He also questioned the guilt of David Koresh and the Branch Davidian compound during the Waco Siege.

Hicks would end some of his shows — and especially those being recorded in front of larger audiences as albums — with a mock “assassination” of himself on stage, making gunshot sound effects into the microphone and falling to the ground.

Legacy

Arizona Bay and Rant in E-Minor were released posthumously in 1997 on the Voices imprint of the Rykodisc label. Dangerous and Relentless were also re-released by Rykodisc on the same date.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, fellow comedians and comedy insiders voted Hicks #13 on their list of “The Top 20 Greatest Comedy Acts Ever”. Likewise, in “Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” (2004), Hicks was ranked at #19. In March 2007, Channel 4 ran a poll, “The Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time,” in which Hicks was voted #6. Channel 4 renewed this list in April 2010, which saw Hicks move up 2 places to #4.[36]

Devotees of Hicks have incorporated his words, image, and attitude into their own creations. Because of audio sampling, fragments of Hicks’ rants, diatribes, social criticisms, and philosophies have found their way into many musical works, such as the live version of Super Furry Animals’ “Man Don’t Give A Fuck”. His influence on Tool is well documented; he “appears” on the Fila Brazillia album Maim That Tune (1996) and on SPA’s self titled album SPA (1997), which are both dedicated to Hicks; the British band Radiohead’s second album The Bends (1995) is also dedicated to his memory. Singer/songwriter Tom Waits listed Rant in E Minor as one of his 20 most cherished albums of all time.[37] The UK band Shack released an album in August 2003 quoting a Bill Hicks routine in the title: Here’s Tom With the Weather. The album also included other Bill Hicks quotes in the liner notes. English breakbeat artist Adam Freeland sampled Revelations for his track “We Want Your Soul.” Welsh punk rock band Mclusky reference a Hicks routine in the lyrics to their song “To Hell With Good Intentions”. Punk cabaret musician Amanda Palmer says, “I have my new Bill Hicks CD” in the song “Another Year” on her 2008 album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The Swedish indie pop singer/songwriter Jens Lekman has written a song called “People who Hate People Come Together” after the same Hicks quote. The last track of The Kleptones album Yoshimi Battles the Hip-Hop Robots, Last Words (A Tribute), includes his “It’s just a ride” in its entirety.[citation needed]

Hamell on Trial’s 1999 album Choochtown includes the song “Bill Hicks,” featuring the lyric “I wish Billl Hicks was alive/I wish Bill Hicks had survived,” as well at the instrumental tribute “Bill Hicks (Ascension).”

Rappers Adil Omar and Vinnie Paz have also cited Hicks as an influence to their work; contemporary comedians David Cross and Russell Brand have stated that they were inspired by Hicks.[38][39] Irish Independent columnist Ian O’Doherty is also a great admirer of Hicks.

On their 2009 album There Is No Enemy, Built To Spill released the song “Planting Seeds” with the lyrics “I’ve heard that they’ll sell anything and I think they might…I think Bill Hicks was right…about what they should do.” referring to his stand up routine which asks marketers to kill themselves. The song title refers to a bit in the same routine when Bill explains, “Just planting seeds here, folks.”.

The British film Human Traffic referred to him as the “late prophet Bill Hicks,” and portrays the main character, Jip, watching Hicks’ stand-up before going out to “remind me not to take life too seriously”. Hicks even appears in the comic book Preacher, in which he is an important influence on the protagonist, Rev. Jesse Custer. His opening voice-over to the 1991 Revelations live show is also quoted in Preacher‘s last issue.[citation needed]

The British actor Chas Early portrayed Hicks in the one-man stage show Bill Hicks: Slight Return, which premiered in 2005.

On February 25, 2004, British MP Stephen Pound tabled an early day motion titled “Anniversary of the Death of Bill Hicks” (EDM 678 of the 2003-04 session), the text of which was as follows:

That this House notes with sadness the 10th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, on 26th February 1994, at the age of 32; recalls his assertion that his words would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism and the American Dream; and mourns the passing of one of the few people who may be mentioned as being worth [sic] of inclusion with Lenny Bruce and George Carlin in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.[40]

Film and documentary

A film about Hicks’ life and career, rumored to be directed by Ron Howard, is said to be in pre-production. Russell Crowe has been mentioned as one of the producers and may portray Hicks as well.[41]

A documentary entitled American: The Bill Hicks Story, based on interviews with his family and friends, premiered on March 12, 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.[42] The film has gone on to screen at multiple festivals including SxSW, London Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

Marital Rape Laws in Canada–Was it Legal to Rape your Wife in the 1980s? Yes.

Canadian law only changed 26 years ago

1983 law change made spousal sexual assault an offence

CAROLINE ALPHONSO AND MARJAN FARAHBAKSH

Wednesday, Apr. 01, 2009

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was accused Tuesday of supporting a law that legalizes rape within marriage. But in Canada, it was only 26 years ago that the law changed to make spousal sexual assault an offence.

Canadian women had the right to vote, but when it came to sexual assault, their rights were limited.

Prior to 1983, rape was considered an offence outside of marriage. That meant a husband could not be charged with raping his wife, and a wife could only charge her spouse with indecent assault, common assault or assault causing bodily harm.

A year before the change to legislation occurred, NDP MP Margaret Mitchell raised the issue of violence against women. She was laughed at by MPs in the House of Commons when she demanded the government take action to stop domestic violence. The outcry from women’s groups brought attention to the issue.

Bill C-127 came into effect on Jan. 4, 1983, making sexual assault against one’s wife an offence. A wife can also charge her husband with aggravated sexual assault if the crime included a beating.

The crime of “rape” was removed from the Criminal Code and replaced with sexual assault. “The intention behind the change in terminology was to avoid the moral stigma connected to the word ‘rape’ and to stress the violent nature of the act,” according to the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre.

Spousal rape is a crime in most parts of the Western world. In its 1993 declaration on the elimination of violence against women, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights established marital rape as a human-rights violation.

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Until rape was codified in the Criminal Code, rape was still a common-law offence. Rape itself is an offence with a long history. Canadian law derives from English common law, which can be traced back to medieval times. Common-law rules for rape have had some very hard criticism from women’s organizations. Historically, this crime was thought to be an offshoot of abduction. The view then taken was that the carrying off of a woman was of greater offence to her husband or father than to the woman herself (Estrich, 1987; Jones & Christie, 1992). This was best exemplified by the first U.S. statute, which was created in Massachusetts, that imposed death for the crime of rape except in circumstances in which the woman was single (Allison & Wrightsman, 1993).Sexism in society and law permeated the Canadian rape law before 1983, which reinforced the informal control of women and helped to perpetuate the ideological premises of the traditional gender order (Los, 1994). First, the patriarchal basis of marriage was protected when husbands had unlimited sexual access to their wives. A man was presumed to have some right of property over his wife’s body. Hence, marital rape was not recognized. Second, women were considered morally underdeveloped, and a woman’s testimony under oath could not be trusted; it alone could not convict the defendant. Rape complaints that were not made immediately after the attack were invalidated. Third, a woman’s credibility depended on her sexual reputation in that her previous sexual conduct could be freely questioned. The complainant’s sexual conduct with men other than the accused was considered important in establishing her consent. Finally, women’s sexuality was defined by men’s sexuality in that the requirement of vaginal penetration was the only standard with which a woman’s body could be sexually violated in rape.

Rape Law Reform in Canada: The Success and Limits of Legislation — Kwong-leung Tang

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“For centuries, husbands have been granted marital exemption to the crime of rape. It was not until the last half of the twentieth century that marital rape was even recognized as a legal problem. Most had believed that it was impossible for a husband to rape his wife due to 3 separate theories: the implied consent theory, the unities of person theory, and the property theory.”

The most common theory behind the impossibility of marital rape is the implied consent theory, which is structured around contract law.  Stated succinctly by Sir Matthew Hale in the seventeenth century, “the husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and the contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.”  Hale believed that “matrimonial consent” was irrevocable.  Variations on Hale’s strict irrevocability principle allow for a wife to revoke her implied sexual consent only in times when “ordinary relations” in the marriage are suspended.  For example, a woman can revoke her implied consent when she and her husband are separated.  Until recently, this view was widely accepted.

The unity of person theory, on the other hand, does not even recognize the wife as a separate being capable of being raped.  This theory stems from the belief that when two people marry, they become one.  The being of the woman is incorporated into that of the husband such that the existence of the woman is effectively suspended during marriage.  Marital rape is thus impossible because a husband is not capable of raping himself.

From unity of person theory, it is not a far reach to the property theory. Under property theory, by marriage a woman becomes the property or chattel of her husband.  The goal behind this theory is to “inspire and perpetuate marital harmony.”  Under this view, sexual intercourse can never be rape because the husband is merely “making appropriate use of his property.”

Criminalizing marital rape: a comparison of judicial and legislative approaches.

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law
| March 01, 2006 | Fus, Theresa | COPYRIGHT 1999 Vanderbilt University, School of Law.