Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sofie's Choice, Tehran edition

We generally think of free speech as a guarantee of self-expression and the flow of information -- the right of all to input and output. Iran's theocratic geniuses have found a way to split this atom. Tehran Bureau reports:
Government officials are asking residents in north and northwest Tehran to choose: either keep their much prized — but illegal — satellite dishes, or continue chanting, “Allah o Akbar!” or “God is Great,” the revolutionary slogan piercing the capital every night, but not both...

In north and northwest Tehran some residents have been ordered to choose between keeping their satellite dishes or taking part in the “Allah o Akbar” chant that takes place every night from city rooftops and windows.

The message is simple: “We’ll let you watch your CNN, your BBC, and your favorite entertainment shows, as long as you do not join the 10 p.m. chorus!”

Sofie's choice: you can learn the truth, and stay silent, or you can speak the truth, and stay ignorant. You can pray or play, but not both. I am reminded, somehow, of Mousavi's rather fantastic vision of the founding of Khomeini's earthly paradise:
If the large volume of cheating and vote rigging, which has set fire to the hays of people’s anger, is expressed as the evidence of fairness, the republican nature of the state will be killed and in practice, the ideology that Islam and Republicanism are incompatible will be proven. This outcome will make two groups happy: One, those who since the beginning of revolution stood against Imam and called the Islamic state a dictatorship of the elite who want to take people to heaven by force; and the other, those who in defending the human rights, consider religion and Islam against republicanism. Imam’s fantastic art was to neutralize these dichotomies. I had come to focus on Imam’s approach to neutralize the burgeoning magic of these.
Mousavi claims for "Imam's fantastic art" a balance that ever existed and never will. You can't rule as God's mouthpiece and respect the people's right to information and dissent. That is a miracle beyond God's power to deliver.

Islam and republicanism may be compatible. Theocracy and republicanism, never.

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