Hot news from the Dark Ages - a man who danced naked on his car was sentenced to...have a guess...no, go on, take a wild stab in dark. What should be the punishment for a man who took all his clothes off and D.I.S.C.O.'d on his car in the naughty naked nude? Small fine? Community service? I know, it is a difficult thing to answer. Did he do it at night in a car park where no-one else could see? Was his car parked next to the font in Westminster Cathedral during a carol concert? Was he in Saudi Arabia at the time? Yes to that last one.
Now the question becomes much easier - if you said he should get ten years in prison and 2000 lashes, then you win a flint axe and a woolly mammoth throw rug.
For the sake of the state, I hope they make him serve his time first and lash him later as 2000 strokes of a whip will probably kill him. Wouldn't want the authorities to feel short changed. He has also received a financial penalty, which again they should take before the lashing as dead men don't pay fines.
The friend of the man doing the disrobed gambol, who filmed the event and posted it online, was also imprisoned. He got seven years and will get 1200 strokes. Two men who witnessed this "violation of public morals" got three years and 500 lashes each. They may not survive the punishment either. And all because a man got his winky out and shared it with the world. Truly a proportionate response by the Saudi Ministry of Justice who may want to look up the last word of their title in the dictionary. It might not mean what they think it does. Perhaps it got lost in translation.
Earlier this year, the editor of a Saudi website that propagated liberal thought and freedom of speech was sentenced to seven years in prison and given 600 lashes. His crime, apart from the whole free speech thing, was to have put the website together against the wishes of his father. Disobeying your father is a crime in Saudi Arabia. I am not making that up. He's lucky - he could have got the death sentence as he was initially charged with apostasy, which is the changing of one's religion. It is one of the many religious based offences that carry the death penalty in the country of the House of Saud, a family that runs the country as though it is their own, and which our government believes are nice people to do business with.
In 2009, a journalist from LBC - not that one, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation - was given 60 lashes for helping prepare a programme in which a Saudi man talked openly of his sexual exploits. The man who did the talking got five years in jail and 1000 lashes and a perhaps unnecessary travel ban on leaving the kingdom for five years. Dead men don't travel.
Of course, I may be overstating the severity of the punishments. If a person dies of being lashed then the state will not get its pound of flesh, so to speak. In order to maintain the focused attention of the person undergoing the punishment, lashes are often broken up into bite sized chunks of reckoning, say 50 lashes every seven days, which for the crime of doing the naked fandango is a right going over every week for the best part of a year. That'll teach him.
In other news from the dawn of time, a couple aged 14 and 15 were arrested in Morocco for posting a picture of themselves kissing on the World Wide Wait. The authorities presumably scrolled through the approximately 8 billion other photos of teenagers kissing on Facebook to gain their evidence and the evil doers were put in a detention centre for violating public decency.
We should be grateful that the cork of repression has well and truly been popped from the bottle of liberty in this land of loose morals. If our police were lead by the hand that guides their compatriots in some other places, they would have to open a 24 hour-a-day lash repair shop in Leicester Square.
By the way, in a great show of support, a campaign to post a million copycat photos of similar decency violations was launched by human rights organisations. It won't affect the content of the web but it might make an impression on the medieval minds who thought teenage love to be worthy of the state's retribution.
Personally, I'm not holding my breath but I am striking both countries off my holiday list, in case I forget where I am and come over all British. I may not remember that their rulers want to party like its 1399.