Spying on Eros

A Sydney-based Muslim cleric, Sheik Hilaly, recently made headlines in Australia when he publicly reflected that immodest women invite rape because they are like “uncovered meat.” More unfortunate still was his implication that this was the cause of a series of gang rapes in Sydney in 2000, in which the attackers’ legal defense was that they thought the women were sexually available because they wore Western clothes.

Although local Muslim leaders have since criticized Hilaly’s attitude, the incident again raises the question of attitudes regarding sex in “orthodox” communities, and how they can be reconciled with prevailing norms in the West.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the controversy over government spying on its citizens seems to have died down, mostly because people are now convinced that their government will only look at the really bad guys.

What do these two issues have in common?