The decision to kill gays as a matter of state policy, however abortive and hedged, is not one that lends itself to charitable interpretation from those who consider themselves broadly liberal. And indeed I find all these hedges as risible as they are sincere. They sound like cognitive dissonance: loyalty to a religion and to a sovereign, mixing uncomfortably with a cosmopolitan moral sense that says killing gays means killing gays, and is abhorrent under any circumstance…

But the Sultanate of Brunei is, by the standard of, say, Saudi Arabia (let alone the Islamic State), liberal.

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Excellent writing by Graeme Wood, in which, with a nod toward “the King’s touch,” he invokes the weird premodern/postmodern mix of many countries.

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