Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship The Internet

Blogging in Iran Takes Courage 310

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the making-yourself-a-target dept.
netbuzz writes "This morning's Boston Globe has a thought-provoking profile of Iranian bloggers who are risking everything, quite literally, to bring a modicum of openness and truth to a society where the former is not tolerated and the latter strictly defined by government/religious authorities."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blogging in Iran Takes Courage

Comments Filter:
  • by Wellington Grey (942717) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:15PM (#17293852) Homepage Journal
    Amirhussein Jaharuti, the manager of a major Internet service provider in Tehran, said the government's restrictions focus on pornography, and he feels that filtering is appropriate.

    "This is the demand of Iranian families, that they don't want their children to use these kinds of sites,"


    Ah it's good to see that families are the same the world over. Even in Iran parents don't want to take responsibility for raising their own children.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
    • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:53PM (#17294348) Journal
      Even in Iran parents don't want to take responsibility for raising their own children.
      It's very easy to repeat this popular /. mantra. But if you, as a parent, believe that it is wrong for your children to be exposed to pornography, then it is complete fucking impossible to bring them up right in modern liberal society without enclosing them in a solid steel cube and burying them 20 feet underground. So the fact that some parents would like a little help from the government in bringing up their kids is hardly people failing to take responsibility for their own kids. The truth is that you repeat this mantra, not because you care about how anyone brings up their kids, but because you'd like free access to various materials on the web. I certainly won't hold that against you, but please don't dress up your wishes as anything other than what they are.
      • by Dunbal (464142) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:10PM (#17294542)
        But if you, as a parent, believe that it is wrong for your children to be exposed to pornography

              You know, I'm a parent. My two daughters know all about pornography. They CHOOSE not to look at it because they think it's gross and crude, rather than have my beliefs imposed on them by telling them it's "WRONG". Some people like pornography. Others don't. Turning something into a "taboo" or criminalizing it is not a rational way of dealing with the world. I swear to you that if your kids LIKE pornography, there is nothing at ALL you can do to prevent it. They'll do it behind your back. At school. At a friend's house. Are you going to lock them up? Talking about this stuff with your kids is far more rational than pushing for a law that makes it "illegal" and hoping the government will do your job for you.
        • by ScentCone (795499)
          Talking about this stuff with your kids is far more rational than pushing for a law that makes it "illegal" and hoping the government will do your job for you.

          Interestingly, this is also the right approach to take with cars, alcohol, guns, and Elrond Hubbard books.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          They CHOOSE not to look at it because they think it's gross and crude,

          Not to rain on your parade or anything (because I totally agree with your post), but I think there are very, very few people in this world that honestly find ALL pornography (this means all art intended to sexually arouse--this includes soft core and artistic stuff) completely unappealing. My sister can launch into a very convincing anti-porn tirade, but played with her laptop enough times to figure out that she's a huge yaoi fan.

          A
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by demi (17616)

          This dialog always goes:

          1. Parents who want to restrict what is seen in public forums don't want to take responsibility for raising their children: they want the government to raise them.
          2. Since I do take responsibility for raising them, I would like to have some control over what they're exposed to, or at least when and in what context.
          3. You shouldn't restrict what your kids see! You should raise your children in the manner I see fit.

          The parent post is just step 3. Isn't it interesting how the pe

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by jimicus (737525)
          This is pretty OT, so mods do as you will, but it reminds me of a story (I can't remember the name of it or a lot of detail, so if someone else can fill in the blanks, please do). Relevant to the idea of parents trying to cover their kids in cotton-wool though.

          Many years ago, there was a king. He was very rich, he lived in a nice castle and had anything he wanted. Anyhow, one of his wives fell pregnant and he consulted a soothsayer.

          The soothsayer predicted that his son would see a poor man and a sick man
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tehcyder (746570)

          You know, I'm a parent. My two daughters know all about pornography. They CHOOSE not to look at it because they think it's gross and crude, rather than have my beliefs imposed on them by telling them it's "WRONG".

          Yes, because obviously children don't need to be taught anything at all by anyone at any time, as they come into the world just knowing everything already, with fully developed moral, aesthetic and social awareness.

          Heaven forbid that as their mere parent you should dare to interfere with this

      • Just because you don't want your kids exposed to something doesn't mean that they should't. People die in this world, and it is a traumatic experience. Do you think your kids should never see a death? People cheat, lie and cuss everywhere. Do you think your kids should never be exposed to a lie, a cheater or a cuss word?

        Here's a little hint: if something's so pervasive that it is not possible for you to shield your kids from it without getting the government to ban it, it's probably something they should ge
  • Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bongo Bill (853669) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:17PM (#17293864) Homepage
    Figures. The first two comments are likening Iran to the US. As if there were any comparison between Iranian blogging, where honest journalism is overtly illegal if it's slanted too hard against the government, and American blogging, where every politician of note is compared to Hitler or Stalin on a daily basis. Get some perspective.
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Clever7Devil (985356) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:25PM (#17293950)
      Whereas, in Iran it's moot to compare your leaders to those of the Axis. Without the Holocaust, they are just failed conquerers...
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omERD ... g minus math_god> on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:04PM (#17294478) Homepage Journal

      I agree with you. There is currently no comparison. But that is not a reason for complacency or self-congratulation either.

      Calling people 'unamerican' for not sharing the government's view of things or the president stating that atheists are not citizens and certainly not patriots is edging right up there. It's not that far from uttering that statement and enforcing it, especially now that habeas corpus has been suspended for whoever the president decides are 'enemy combatants'.

      We are kept from becoming Iran by the thinnest of lines. It galls me that probably two the biggest factors in the Republican's losing the legislative branch are sex scandals and the fact we're doing poorly in Iraq. The president's horrible abuse of power, condoning of torture, and his statements like those about atheists probably weren't that important to most voters who switched sides.

      Most Americans seem to think that it's just fine if we become Iran as long as they don't have to actually think about any public figure having any sort of sexuality or see any sort of evidence that can't be ignored that our star is falling in the world.

    • by Duds (100634) *
      Exactly, one oppresses people on purely religious grounds, attacks other countries on flimsy pretexts, detains hundreds of people indefinately in camps without trial or representation and attempts to bully other countries into not having nuclear power when they themselves rely on it.

      And the other one is of course Iran.
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:18PM (#17294630)
    I'm sure Iran is not exactly a bastion of free expression, but I've seen plenty of Iranian people who have been interviewed on camera criticizing the Iranian government and calling them all a bunch of idiots. Then there was the recent case of Iranian students jeering the President, burning a picture of him, and throwing fireworks (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1 462_2043334,00.html). That's not the sort of thing you do if you are terrified of your government. Iraqis would certainly never have dared do that to Saddam Hussein (backed by the US et al, for many years), and Iranians would probably not have dared do it to the brutal US/UK-backed Shah of Iran either.

    I've worked with a number of people from around the Middle East and all of them said that Saudi Arabia was far worse than Iran. Perhaps it would be wise to tackle the most oppressive countries first.

    I have no idea whether Iranian police normally herd student protesters into "Free Speech" Zones well away from President Ahmadinejad, as is common practice in the US. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone) or whether the Iranian government enforces huge protest exclusion zones in Tehran, using the threat of terrorism as some kind of bizarre justification. In the UK there is a half-mile protest exclusion zone around parliament, which was introduced in 2005, 2 years after a million angry citizens marched outside Parliament in full view of the media. Maya Evans, a woman who read out the names of dead soldiers within the zone was arrested, charged and convicted of breaching the "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act" by staging an unauthorised protest. I think it was Chomsky who said "The worst enemy of a government is its own population". It's certainly beginning to seem that way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)
      You're right. In Iran, people aren't herded into free speech zones. Instead, they are beaten to a pulp [bbc.co.uk]. This is just one case. There are several more. I invite you to just dig through the results of "iran student protests", or to find out what happened to prominent politicians who got a little too close to the West.
    • Iranians would probably not have dared do it to the brutal US/UK-backed Shah of Iran either

      I believe they did, in fact, do this. It was called the 1979 Iranian Revolution [wikipedia.org], if I recall correctly.

      I think it was Chomsky who said "The worst enemy of a government is its own population".

      Leave it to a Chomskyite to glorify an otherwise utterly trite observation, made countless times before, and by more insightful individuals at that.

      • by MrSteveSD (801820)

        I believe they did, in fact, do this. It was called the 1979 Iranian Revolution, if I recall correctly.

        Well, of course yes, there was eventually a revolution. I was talking about the odd protest though. The Shah had a secret police called SAVAK which was trained by CIA. They ruthlessly repressed any opposition to the Shah. SAVAK had a large number of student spies, even operating in the US.

        Leave it to a Chomskyite to glorify an otherwise utterly trite observation, made countless times before, and by more insightful individuals at that.

        Really? I think its a pretty interesting observation. Most people do not think of things in that way. i.e. That the public are effectively viewed as an enemy by government. Occasionally they use violence, e.g. i

        • A relevant Chomsky quote (which you may again find trite) is "Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state." It's not just a throwaway sound bite either. It has real meaning. If you look at the history of the US, UK etc, violent repression becomes less and less of an option over time, and has been replaced with a propaganda model of control.

          I don't find this one trite, but I do find it essentially incorrect. For example, Mao's one great weapon was the propaganda organs of

          • So Chomsky's propaganda:democracy::bludgeon:totalitarian analogy is a false one, because in totalitarian states propaganda is just as, if not more, powerful than traditional state levers of power (the bludgeon).

            Your argument is the equivalent of saying that "all leaves are green" is false because some flowers are green. Sure totalitarian states use propaganda too, but that doesn't stop it from playing a different role in a democracy that is more analogous to totalitarian uses of violence.

            Your example of a
        • I have read a number of Chomsky books over the years and I usually check up on everything he says, not because I don't trust him, but because you shouldn't really trust what any one person writes.

          Especially Chomsky. A brilliant man.... 50 years ago...when writing about linguistics.

          The Anti-Chomsky Reader [amazon.com]
    • by Stonehand (71085) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:23AM (#17296572) Homepage
      A cynic might suggest that there is a difference between criticizing a president who is largely a loudmouthed figurehead, and something more substantial such as criticizing the Guardian Council or the very structure of the Iranian government in so far as said Council has the most of the actual power. The Council may be happy with letting Ahmadinejad take some heat, if it makes themselves look more reasonable and their own power is unquestioned.
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      I'm sure Iran is not exactly a bastion of free expression, but I've seen plenty of Iranian people who have been interviewed on camera criticizing the Iranian government and calling them all a bunch of idiots. Then there was the recent case of Iranian students jeering the President, burning a picture of him, and throwing fireworks (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10- 1 462_2043334,00.html). That's not the sort of thing you do if you are terrified of your government.

      Are these by chance the same s
    • I have no idea whether Iranian police normally herd student protesters into "Free Speech" Zones well away from President Ahmadinejad, as is common practice in the US. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone) or whether the Iranian government enforces huge protest exclusion zones in Tehran, using the threat of terrorism as some kind of bizarre justification.

      It's sad to see this so widely tolerated in the US. Perhaps I tend to wear rose-coloured glasses when thinking about the US as it was 10 or 2

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:24PM (#17294682)
    The unholy trinity. This is the real Axis of Evil.

    These three nations are deliberately provoking each other to war. Lets get rid of some pretensions. It's about resources, nothing to do with spreading democracy or a War on Terror. It's all about control of resources, particularly oil.

    The Iranians know that America can't afford another conventional ground war, Iraq is already destroying the US economy. Iran is using Israel to provoke the US into overextending itself, there's a load of talk about replacing Israel with an Islamic state which is pure provocation to Israel, who retaliate by announcing that Iran has a nuclear weapon programme able to produce a bomb within 3 years. Both are trying to get the US involved. Which is quite convenient for the US because Iran has huge oil reserves and they're planning to sell them for Euros, not dollars. Doing so will cause the US economy further damage, causing the dollar to slide further.

    Iran wants a guerilla ground war to bring the US to it's knees, Israel wants the US to give Iran a kicking for them, with a nuclear response if necessary and the US wants to make sure the oil remains tradable for dollars, so preventing soaring inflation in the US. So, everyone's spoiling for a fight, which is very dangerous, this is how world wars start.
     
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      well, I wouldn't get too bothered about it. Sure the US economy might take a hit, they might even need to consider changing the dollar for the Euro as the main oil currency if thats the way everyone else seems to be going - its not the end of the world. I highly doubt that Iran could do any real damage in a total war situation; they don't have nukes and it doesn't seem like any country who does would care enough to retaliate and risk total nuclear war over Iran. Iran will know this, I know Armenijad might
    • Thanks for pointing this out. I had the same exact thought a couple of days ago. This is the real danger in the Middle East right now: the posturing of Iran and Israel to get the US involved in the Middle East - each in their own way and for their own goals.
      • This is the real danger in the Middle East right now: the posturing of Iran and Israel to get the US involved in the Middle East - each in their own way and for their own goals.

        Yeah, but... that assumes that we have no choice but to be influenced by them. The US doesn't have to get involved in the Middle East at all. How about this for a start? Cut off the billions a year we're sending the Israelis-- they've never done a damned thing for us besides used us as muscle to keep the Arabs down so they could kee

        • And anyway, so what if the Iranians have a couple nukes? They're not pointing them at us, and we have tens of thousands of nukes ourselves that we can use if they ever so much as think of doing so.

          The threat of mutually assured destruction is pointless if one of the parties doesn't care if they die, so long as they take out the enemy. You can be sure that if Iran had nukes, they would most certainly be aimed at the US. America may not be their prime target, but you're definitely on the list.

          But our g
    • by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:28AM (#17297982)
      The cost of the Iraq war is a pimple on the behind of either the American economy, or the US Government budget. The annual costs of the Iraq war are on the order of $100-150 billion. The US Government budget is $2 trillion. The US economy is on the order of $12 trillion. From an economic perspective, the cost of Iraq is an annoyance, nothing more. The US Army during the Vietnam war was 3x its current size. During WW2, it was 16x larger while the country was half its current size. Militarily the Iraq war is uncomfortable for the current size of the Army and the policies they want to keep, but that is about all.

      Iran isn't simply provoking Israel, its President is making statements suggesting a threat of genocide [bbc.co.uk] that even various Arab governments condemn. Maybe you can understand why the Jewish state might be sensitive to that [ushmm.org]? Or, maybe not [telegraph.co.uk]. I can't imagine you advocate them accepting annihilation just to keep the peace.

      Europe has been taking the lead [cfr.org] on the Iran problem*, and is failing. Is that because Europeans want oil priced in Euros, a nuclear armed Iran (soon) with missiles capable of reaching Europe (now), they are simply feckless, or maybe the Iranian government is run by fanatics who have an agenda of their own that they value above Europe's carrots & sticks?

      Wars tend to start when one country attacks another. Iran has been sponsoring terrorism across the region, providing arms to Iraqi insurgents, and is making threats against other countries. That isn't a recipe for peace.

      By the way, how does suicide bombing work into this? Since we "know" that religion isn't involved, but oil is, how do they convince suicide bombers to do it? Do they offer to bury the bomber's remains in pure kerosene or something?

      * Yet more evidence of US unilateralism.
      • by Colin Smith (2679)

        he annual costs of the Iraq war are on the order of $100-150 billion.

        And yet, funnily enough, you're running a deficit of around $600 billion. The $120 billion or so spent specifically on the war isn't the only spending dedicated to the war. You'll have noticed your interest rates creeping up. That's going to continue as long as the war lasts, and beyond. That's damaging to the economy. Since the 70s, America has exported much of it's manufacturing capacity and is already borrowing heavily to fund existing lifestyles. The lenders are now becoming unwilling to fund a lifesty

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:28PM (#17294710) Homepage Journal
    Invisiblog took submissions by Mixmaster email and used gpg signing as the authentication mechanism. They seem to be defunct as of about a year ago. The eelbash anonymous remailer announced a replacement, but the page for that is 404 now.
  • Unless of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:43PM (#17294876)
    You are the president [ahmadinejad.ir].
  • There are thoughtcrimes in Europe also. Try living in Germany and voicing a non-sanctioned opinion on, or even just pose the wrong question about - the Holocaust. Yes, the one with the capital H.
    That may very well land you in prison for a long long time.

    Free speech and thought ought to reign supreme everywhere, but it doesn't. No matter what the opinion or message is, who it may offend or who may get generally upset by it - nothing should be banned from being printed, stated, or otherwise communicated. N
  • Proxy access in Iran (Score:5, Interesting)

    by patrick0 (109339) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @04:26AM (#17297726)
    I spent 3 weeks backpacking around Iran in May last year.

    Their blocking system is fairly limited. Each ISP implements its own set of manually updated filters (not a central blocking system like China). I was trying to access certain sites -- www.sitename.com might work at one place but be blocked at another, though at the other net cafe sitename.com or IP address would often work just fine. I found the blocking policy inconsistent, though not that many sites were blocked (mainly gay sites were blocked).

    Because of the Iran/Iraq war the population is very young -- 70% of Iranians are under 30 according to the Iran Lonely Planet guide. I imagine that'll mean plenty of blogs, whether insightful or the usual blog trash. People were quite politically aware and well educated. The news media seemed no more biased than Fox News in the US!

    It's a beautiful country and well worth a visit. Persepolis [wikipedia.org] is amazing. Tehran was like any other big city -- lots of expensive houses, cars and more liberally dressed women. The latest model mobile phones were available everywhere. I was offered alcohol quite a bit (especially by taxi drivers). It's illegal for Muslims to drink but the Christian and Jewish population are able to drink. Incidently, Iran has the highest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel.

    I didn't know much about Iran before visiting, I'm just glad I went. Unfortunately if you're American/British it's difficult (though not impossible) to get a tourist visa unless you're in a tour group. I presume this is due to reciprocal restrictions applied by the UK/US on their citizens.

    The last few years there have been fairly low in terms of tourism numbers and people were incredibly friendly to me - offering to take me to their homes for dinner and so on. Plenty of people were critical of their government but were just as critical of the American govt.

    Funnily enough I just visited Israel last month and had a 45 minute interrogation because I'd visited Malaysia (a very westernised 70% muslim country). I'm glad I wasn't using the passport with the Iranian stamp in it!

    I took photos of the nuclear installation between Kashan & Abyaneh despite the taxi driver panicking I'd get caught (you're not allowed to take photos of military installations). Though you can get a much better view of the place through Google maps!

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

Working...