Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thousands of requests have poured in asking for my comment on the conviction and subsequent pardon of Dallas Austin (apparently his real name), the hippity-hop producer who moseyed into Dubai with a gram and a quarter of cocaine and got thrown into the local clink, subsequently sentenced to four years in jail and immediately pardoned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed. (A gram and a quarter of coke is about enough to get you through the night if you're a heavy user or sharing with friends. So I hear.)

The local press has given the story plenty of coverage -- up to the pardon, which has been reported, but then sort of swept under the rung. Leading dailies' letters pages are generally filled with rants about everything from the traffic to the weather to the trouble with kids these days and recent news items. Emirates Today hasn't published a single letter about Austin's pardon.

Most people I know here were thrilled to hear about Austin's conviction. It's pretty hard for me to get excited about anybody going to jail for drug possession charges. On the other hand, his summary pardon -- obviously based purely on the fact that he was a high-profile American -- makes a total joke of the country's justice system. Then again, the more I think about it, the more I think this country is a bit of a joke.


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