Saturday night I was exuberantly sozzled. I was up until almost Sunday afternoon putting the world to rights with a friend of mine and I had another one of those experiences: It's usually a girl, and it's always after she's had a Bridget-Jones-load of ropey chardonnay. And it's happening increasingly often these days. No, sadly, I'm not talking about that. That's rather rare, unsatisfactorily, whichever side of the street I'm shopping on. I'm talking about the number of lachrymose people I've had to drunkenly comfort lately about 'the state of the world'.
We've all had the 'chardonnay + girl + tale-of-horrid-ex-boyfriend = torrent of blubbing' sessions with somebody. The morning after the evening of illimitable there-there-ing on your part, she always calls up (or, more latterly, text messages - minimising the now acute embarrassment) and says, 'I was just being over-sensitive. I'm a bit embarrassed to have used all your Kleenexes. Just forget what I said about him, all right?'
However, this commonplace maudlin state (and lest anyone think I am making fun of these episodes, let me say I firmly prefer maudlin to lairy, and I myself tend toward the argumentative after a few beverages, which I think many people like least of all), lately seems to me to be increasingly kicked off no longer by thoughts of boyfriend but of thoughts of war, by what seem to be quite heartfelt laments at how wretchedly fucking horrible the world is 'these days'.
One is tempted, especially if one studied history at uni, as I did, to fall back on the old 'It was ever thus.'
But then there are things that you read from time to time - and sometimes it doesn't have to be Srebrenica-sized for it to get to you - and despair grabs you by your scalp and throws you down and, you think, yes, it's true: it really is a world of shit.
On 19 July, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that two gay Iranian teenagers - one 18, the other 16 or 17 - were hanged this week for the 'crime' of homosexuality.
The two young men were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad in north-eastern Iran, on the orders of Court No. 19.
Indymedia Beirut has photos of their last few minutes.
If you've been an activist for a long time you'll know that you become numb after a while to so much, even when you read, say, that we've killed over a hundred thousand people in Iraq. 'Of course,' you think. Of course we've killed a hundred thousand. Of course. How would it be any different to anything else the bosses have done in the Middle East, or Africa, or Latin America? We expect it. And we in our justified cynicism lose a bit of that feeling of that anger or that shock or that pity that made us socialists in the first place at the age of fifteen or sixteen.
It is useful to be angry. This incandescent rage you are now feeling is good. Remember what you are feeling now as you look at these photos - especially the one where the boys are sitting there, knowing what is about to happen - that's the one that gets me - and use that rage. Use it like you're now a battery recharged. Take it with you when next you go out on 'another bloody' march, or are called to come down to 'another damn picket'. Remember: This is why you became a socialist in the first place. To fight this kind of barbarism.
I've not felt so angry or despairing in a while.
Please call the Iranian embassy wherever you are to protest this wickedness. Something better than a call would be better, of course.
I don't expect Condoleeza Rice, however much the White House would like to nuke Iran, to use this to denounce Tehran, as it's something most members of her own party privately or publicly will approve of.
Ambassador Seyed Hossein Adeli, 16 Princes Gate, London SW7 (0044 207 2253000, Fax: 5894440) email@example.com
Ambassador Seyed Mouhammad Ali Moosavi, Embassy of Iran, 245 Metcalfe St., Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2K2 (001-613- 235-4726, 233-4726; Fax, 233-5712)
Ambassador Ali Ahani, 415 Avenue De Tervuren, 1150 Bruxelles, P.O.Box 34 (0032 27623745, Fax: 7623915) firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: My friend James, of the Radical Activist Network, who first alerted me to these events, has posted more details on the RAN site, as well as providing a model letter to be sent to your country's Iranian embassy. Outrage has also issued a press release, noting that a further three young men accused of the same 'crime' are in hiding and being hunted by the police. Amnesty International was built on the idea, long since proven, that letter-writing does, on rare occasion, work. Write that letter, make a call.