@QuiteEvilGraham & Sarah Bee
"Any laws (or other conventions) which proscribe anything which doesn't cause actual harm to another person (and to hell with offended senses of propriety or morals) are going to lead to crap like that described in the article."
Dude, where I completely disagree with corporal punishment and personally believe this sentence to be abhorrent I must pick you up on the absolutely absurd statement suggesting that alcohol consumption doesn't cause actual harm to another person.
Seriously, most of us here will drink to some extent but hands up anyone who can honestly say they have drunk alcohol and *never* taken an action that has caused actual harm (or indeed serious risk of harm which is pretty much as bad) to another, whether it is driving whilst impaired, fighting, hurtfully mouthing off at loved ones (mental harm is also bad, mmmkay?) or just accidentally walking into people/hitting them whilst flailing around pissed on the dance floor or whatever.
Not to mention the assorted problems that go with alcoholism and dependency.
@Sarah Bee RE: Islam is kind of one of those all-or-nothing things
Actually this is a very common misconception.
There are many degrees of Islam the same way as there are many degrees of Christianity (etc.) - much of the rules attributed to Islam have nothing to do with the Qu'aran or The Prophet Muhammed pbuh but instead have been put in place by political leaders over the years as a way of strengthening their power.
Interestingly enough, and worthy of debate is the comparison between "accepted" Christianity and the word of the Bible versus "accepted" Islam and the word of the Qu'aran. Where I use "accepted" to mean the typical perception of said religion.
If you read the Bible it clearly proscribes a great many things which western "Christian" nations have chosen to ignore whereas the Qu'aran clearly gives a great many rights / benefits that hard-line Islamic states have elected to withdraw.
For a good comparison look at the differences in the way the Bible treats women versus the way the Qu'aran treats women:
Bible: Eve is responsible for Adam eating the forbidden fruit
Qu'aran: Adam and Eve jointly responsible for said eating transgression
B: Women punished for ever (childbirth) for Eve's transgression
Q: Adam and Eve both forgiven for the appley faux pas
B: It is OK for a man to rape a virgin as long as he pays her father and marries her
Q: WTF? Seriosuly? Rape OK? on what fucking planet?
And there are many more examples such as these. Really to call authorities that do things like caning people "Islamic" makes as much sense as calling North Korea "Democratic" or the crusades "Christian"
Sorry for the rant, carry on.