With a shout out to the Burgers over at for the amazing blog thread that inspired this little bit of fluff…

People of Earth, I am confused about the difference between hypocrisy and irony.  Allow me to explain.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Fox News and saw a story about a Muslim man who decapitated his wife. No big deal, right? The media has fostered the popular impression that Muslims have a fetish for cutting people’s heads off.  And, in all fairness, radical Muslims have actively attempted to strengthen the stereotype by seeking publicity by broadcasting actual beheadings.  Simply put, your average, every day insane Muslim knows that beheadings make headlines, and everyone loves to see their name in the newspapers.


But this particular beheading wasn’t just another story about just another crazed, radical Muslim cutting off someone’s head because he thought it was the right thing to do. The Muslim guy I am talking about is Muzzammil Hassan, the owner and CEO of the Bridges Television Network – an Islamic television station featuring programming designed to counter Muslim stereotypes.  Mr. Hassan lives here in America, is a vocal critic of radical Islam and has devoted his life to demonstrating that Arab Muslims are just like you and me.  His website states that Bridges TV plans on broadcasting sitcoms like the Cosby Show, substituting a middle class African American family with a middle class Muslim American one.

The cast of the new sitcom "Arab Labour"

The cast of the new sitcom "Arab Labour"

Now that I’ve explained it, I am sure you can see my conceptual problem: is it ironic when a guy who has devoted his life to fighting Islamic/Arab stereotypes cuts his wife’s head off because she wants to divorce him, or is the decapitator a hypocrite, saying he believes in moderate Islam while behaving like an Islamo-fascist?

Muzzammil Hassan: ironic hypocrite?

Muzzammil Hassan: ironic hypocrite?

Does it even make a difference?  I decided to dig deeper to find out.

I admit I was surprised by what my research revealed. It turns out that the tradition of wife decapitation is a practice Arab/Islamic culture learned from European civilization and the impulse for a man to cut off his wife’s head is more common than most folks are willing to admit.


Leading authorities agree that the fashion of spousal decapitation began in Ancient Greece.  The poet Homer tells us the story of King Agamemnon and his wife Queen Clytemnestra.  After the Trojan War, Agamemnon returned home.  He spent the war having sex with mostly female Trojan slaves (mostly) and his wife knew it. One slave-chick in particular named Briseis became famous because she was so hot that Agamemnon sent his troops to take her away from Achilles, who was so upset over it that he refused to fight, and without him the Greeks didn’t have a chance against the Trojans (yes, Achilles was that good). So Clytemnestra was certain to have heard – a the very least – about the tug of war between Achilles and Agamemnon over Briseis.

Whats really amazing about the whole thing is that Achilles was gay.

Agamemnon also brought Cassandra (a Trojan priestess with whom he also had prodigious amounts of sex) back home with him, sort of as a souvenir.


“Honey, I’m home! And there is someone I want you to meet!”

So Clytemnestra had plenty of reasons to be less than happy with her husband upon his return.

But when Agamemnon got home, his wife greeted him warmly and told him a hot bath was waiting for him. Agamemnon surely thought he pulled a fast one as he lowered his battle-scarred body into the steaming water, undoubtedly muttering “what a wonderful woman” to himself as he contemplated sex with Cassandra with his wife’s tacit approval.

Agamemnon’s bliss didn’t last very long. His satisfaction and relief ended the moment Clytemnestra hit him in the head with an axe.


Don't mess with Clytemnestra

Dont mess with Clytemnestra

After Clytemnestra killed her husband, she beheaded Cassandra – just to make sure no one misunderstood what had happened or why.


No ambiguities.


Clytemnestra’s revenge became all the rage throughout the Ancient World’s aristocracy, resulting in royal families across the civilized world engaging in recreational murder as a fashion statement, spreading into and eventually taking firm root in Europa.  Due to the natural male domination of European society, kings more often murdered their queens than visa-versa.

This fashion trend reached its peak in England with King Henry VIII, who ordered the beheading of two of his wives.  This had a profound affect on upper class Muslim society. The modern impression of Henry VIII is at odds with how his contemporaries viewed him.  Today, we see him as an ignorant, brutish buffoon who blamed his wives for his own infertility.  But in the 16th Century, Henry was admired throughout the civilized world as an educated, sophisticated man of great wealth and impeccable taste. Aristocrats everywhere would ask themselves “what would Henry do?” when confronted by a problem or a difficult choice.

Fellow monarchs thought he was a righteous dude.

Fellow monarchs thought he was a righteous dude.

This was especially true in the Muslim world – long suffering from an inferiority complex since the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.  When Henry began decapitating his wives, the always-fashion-conscious Arabs saw this as a sign of European refinement. They copied Henry’s example in the same way women began to dress like Jackie Kennedy in the 1960’s and men around the world began imitating former President Bill Clinton by having sex with chubby interns.


Eventually, the practice was seen as a luxury only wealthy Muslims could afford, Middle and lower class Muslims saw decapitation as a sign of social and economic upward mobility.  “You haven’t made it until you’ve decapitated at least one of your wives” was a common saying in 17th Century Cairo.


In time, the practice lost its glamour and declined both in the West and in the East, but the roots of spousal decapitation still simmer beneath the surface of “civilized” cultures – especially here in America.

“The truth is that most American men and women seriously contemplate decapitating their spouse at least once every month,” said Dr. Krista Schnurstein, Director of the Severed Head Project, a privately funded charitable organization. “Based on semi-credible psychological studies, it is surprising it doesn’t happen more often,” said Schnurstein.


No one knows why more husbands and wives don’t attack each other with axes as Clytemnestra did.  But maybe the reason is best expressed by Cooter McDonald, a trailer park resident and Facebook participant.

“Aint a day goes by that I don’t want to cut my wife’s head off,” McDonald explains. “But it wouldn’t do no good. She would just end up complaining about her head not being attached to her body and how it’s all my fault.”



  1. Lermontov Says:

    Still haven’t stopped laughing!

    Didn’t catch the irony bit though!


  2. Next thing you’ll be telling us is that Europeans in the Middle Ages cut the hands off convicted felons.


  3. paulboylan Says:

    Please, Simon, give me some credit. I would never make such a claim. The Europeans in the Middle Ages did NOT cut the hands off of convicted felons – only convicted thieves, and only one hand at a time.


  4. Hmmm, the Agamemnon losing his head in the bath could not only explain the popularity of beheading, but also the English people’s fear of the bath.


  5. Great post. I’m still chuckling.


  6. Fantastic, thoughtful and thorough post as always, Sir Boylan. I wish I had something witty to add, but I am so distracted by a stand-up routine by a Playboy Bunny on TV right now…I’m getting dumber by the second, I can feel it.


  7. (Do you think people in the audience would consider a beheading of a Playboy Bunny/comedienne? Surely it would take awhile before people noticed her head was even gone)


  8. You’ve done it again. Taught me something. I always thought there was an air of dodginess about the Greeks. Sure, they had all that philosophy ‘n theatre ‘n democracy ‘n mathematics but now it seems they started this decapitation thing.
    Excuse me while I go and berate a few of the sons and daughters of Helen.


  9. paulboylan Says:

    As a person of Hellenic ancestry, I can confirm that it does explain why Greek people are so obsessed with getting ahead in life.


  10. Nocturnal Says:

    In this case it’s both hypocrisy and irony. Hypocrisy should be obvious because he goes directly against his own teachings – unless he is going to do a sit-com about how decapitation is a healthy normal part of modern society, entitled “Heads Will Roll!” and featuring a zany Muslim dad who solves most of his problems with violence, with hilarious consequences. There will be a spinoff reality show (working title: “Who Wants to Keep Her Neck?”) with a cast of 18 wives, at least one of whom gets her head lopped off every week according to viewer text message votes.

    The irony is in this behavior undermining years of his message of moderation. He worked so hard to show that Muslims aren’t the kind of people to cut each others’ heads off at the slightest provocation, and now it ironically made him famous enough that he serves as living counterexample.

    In all seriousness I feel like there should be a distinction between “weak” and “strong” irony. The original term was very restrictive and nowadays we apply it to many more things.


  11. I still say it’s ironic.


  12. paulboylan Says:

    You’re probably right.


  13. I didn’t understand any of this. Are you saying beheading is normal?


  14. A very witty post.
    I laughed my head off.


  15. You mean Cassandra, that Agamemnon brought from Troy.


  16. paulboylan Says:

    Leroy: You’re right. For reasons totally unknown to me I used “Clytemnestra” for both. I will correct it at my earliest opportunity to do so.


  17. To the person who talked about the Tea Party agenda, as if everybody agreed it was a problem, please consider this viewpoint. And about 10 more from different angles.


  18. paulboylan Says:

    Okay. I’ll do that right away…


  19. […] decapitation (αποκεφαλισμός), έπεσα πάνω σε μια ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορική αναδρομή για τη "μόδα" του αποκεφαλισμού από συζύγους. Θα […]


  20. Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ. Η μητέρα μου είναι Ελληνίδα και μου αρέσει πάντα Έλληνες επισκέπτες εδώ. Παρακαλώ επισκεφθείτε ξανά (αλλά σας παρακαλώ να με συγχωρήσετε: Μιλάω Ελληνικά πολύ άσχημα).


  21. […] decapitation (αποκεφαλισμός), έπεσα πάνω σε μια ενδιαφέρουσα ιστορική αναδρομή για τη «μόδα» του αποκεφαλισμού από συζύγους. Θα […]


  22. paulboylan Says:

    Σας ευχαριστούμε για την επίσκεψη στο blog μου. Πολύ λίγοι ελληνικό λαό σχόλιο εδώ. Φυσικά, εγώ κατηγορώ τον εαυτό μου. Σπάνια περιλαμβάνουν στοιχεία που θα ενδιέφεραν ελληνικό λαό.


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