The Whipping Boy

Should anyone much care whether an American boy living overseas gets six vicious thwacks on his backside? So much has been argued, rejoined and rehashed about the case of Michael Fay, an 18-year-old convicted of vandalism and sentenced to a caning in Singapore, that an otherwise sorry little episode has shaded into a certified International Incident, complete with intercessions by the U.S. head of state. An affair that sometimes sounds -- on editorial pages -- equivalent to the abduction of Helen of Troy has outraged American libertarians even as it has animated a general debate about morality East and West and...

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