03 July 2005

Hookah Palaver III: Parley Beyond The Parochial

Chronicalling the events of Feburary 19, 2005

“Hookah Palaver III: Parley Beyond The Parochial,” sought to build on the traditions of “Why Did Blacks Vote Republican in 2004?” and “Gentrification,” this time looking at issues of international import. As with all shisha soirees, however, the subjects and conversation meandered, and the evening culminated with a viewing of an episode of “The Family Guy.”

Our first topic of the night was one brought to our attention by my erstwhile hostess Liz. We discussed HIV/AIDS prevention policy, namely the ongoing debate over the three pronged A (abstinence), B (be faithful), and C (use condoms) approach to prevention. Liz mentioned Uganda’s success in reducing their HIV prevalence rates, the reasons for which have been a bone of contention, although a preponderance of the evidence shows that promoting abstinence and monogamy, and encouraging the proper use of contraception when sexually active, is the most effective strategy. This topic has particular salience, with the Bush Administration’s Global AIDS Fund requiring that at least 33% of the funds go towards “Abstinence-only” education programs.

Any conversation of international reproductive or sexual health issues inevitably involves U.S. domestic politics, so our discussion veered into an examination of, and reminiscence on, the American sexuality education experience.

From here, we discussed the current situation in Iraq, with most of us falling under the description of beleaguered realists, subscribing to the view that we must soldier on, the merits of the war notwithstanding.

This evaluation was followed by a discussion of American policy towards China. Many a prospective president has promised to take a stand against Beijing’s human rights abuses and occasional bouts of regional surliness, only to turn into a pragmatist once in office, with nary a mention of Taiwan, Tibet or Xinjiang. This reluctance to confront burgeoning powers, or longtime allies, meant a logical point of further discussion was…

The municipal elections in Saudi Arabia! Has the Middle East ever been so free!? While President Bush was his effusive self when describing the Middle Eastern election du jour, many wondered exactly how far our much ballyhooed push for democracy would go if it meant that the oil spigots were turned off. Leaving aside the conspiratorial tones of the House of Bush, House of Saud variety, the discussants couldn’t help but wonder how the U.S.’s incredibly close relationship with the Saudis may jeopardize our idealist tendencies. The inconsistencies of our foreign policy were mentioned by not a few people.

At this point, the palaver left the international realm altogether, while some friends attempted to best immortalize their pipe-toking for posterity. Many thanks must go to our erstwhile benefactor, Brandon, for supplying the digital camera. As always, we did not end where we started, but enjoyable conversations were had, friendships made or strengthened, and a cool vibe embraced.

Much, much gratitude must be reserved for Liz, who introduced several topic ideas, and helped me attend to our guests. Thanks, friend! Wo pE laif paa!

Special thanks in absentia to James for the use of Jonah, and Kavitha for once more allowing me to let India spend the night. In honour of James, and in deference to my head cold, I carried the torch and used a catheter, or condom (in line with our first topic of the night), when inhaling. Keep your eyes peeled for Hookah Palaver IV: Title Embargoed For Release.

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