A provocative series of maps from Esquire's politics blog depicts the countries of the world according to a couple of controversial policies:
The countries that ban gays in the military, according to Esquire, are Cuba, China, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, United States, Venezuela, and Yemen
The countries that execute people are Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, South Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
And the countries that do both:
That is some pretty rarefied company for the United States: Cuba, China, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, and Yemen. The US's only company in the Western hemisphere are Cuba and Jamaica. Other than that it's just a handful of countries in Africa, a handful of countries in the Muslim Middle East, and a few in East Asia. No European countries on the list. The only other developed country is Singapore.
But all this is likely to change as the gears of the military bureaucracy seem to be slowly but inexorably grinding towards repeal of Don't Ask-Don't Tell. In which case the US will join only one other country in the executes-people-but-allows-gays-in-the-military pile: Israel.
What I find most interesting here, though, is the matter of American exceptionalism. To the extent that this term refers to the tendency of the US to embrace more authoritarian-conservative policies, it turns out the US isn't all that exceptional - except within the Western World (i.e., for these purposes, Europe + Latin America + Anglophone settler countries). It joins with a geographically coherent coterie of nations in clusters across parts of Africa, the Middle East, and much of South and East Asia.
But these areas couldn't be more unlike eachother - politically, culturally, linguistically, historically, religiously, geographically... They just tend to be alike in embracing more authoritarian policies. This consistent authoritarianism just seems to be independent of any other variable. Odd. (Of course, you could also take the view that the anti-authoritarianism of Europe and Latin America and perhaps part of Africa is exceptional, and what needs explaining.)