Iran so far away

The problem with censorship is **** **** ****

For anyone who has been in a coma over the last few weeks, there is some political upset in Iran.

Some Muslims pretended to set up a democratic government. Some Muslims objected to the farce and started to protest in the streets. Some other Muslims didn’t like the protests, and so started shooting them. Or maybe it was the first bunch. Or something.

This of course is markedly different to every other upset in the Middle East. And before you all say “of course it’s different – this is one is a struggle between freedom and oppresion, between good and evil”, well think again.

Actually it’s just different because of cell phones. Iran is a wealthy country (compared to most of the other poverty stricken Islamic cess-pits in the world), and protestors and passers-by have cheapo cell phones, which do two interesting things which conventional phones don’t.

Firstly, they do texting, so written reports of bloodshed and oppression can be thumbed out in glorious 160 character sound-bytes (er .. I mean text bytes). Secondly, and more importantly, they have cheapo video cameras in them. Video cameras which can actually record the bloodshed in even more glorious (if low resolution) color.

Humanitarians all over the world were outraged by the youtube video of the murder of a pretty young girl called ‘Neda’, shot through the chest by government forces, and bleeding out of her mouth and nose as she died on the street.

Then we learned that the Iranian government was using technology supplied by Nokia and Siemens to detect ‘subversive activity’ on the internet, and the cell phone network. And they used it to censor data and shut down the protests. Naughty Nokia and Siemens.

Now Slashdot reports that two US senators (Schumer and Graham) want to punish Nokia and Siemens for providing that technology. Apparently supplying governments with the technology to restrict internet access is an evil thing to do.

Funny thing is, there are many governments with that this kind of technology. Including the US, and including Australia.

In fact Uncle Kevin is part way through an internet filtering trial which would stop us mere citizens from accessing ‘unwanted’ material (so ‘unwanted’, apparently that we wouldn’t want to access it anyway).

Are they willing to punish multinationals for selling that technology to Australia as well – or just to Axes of Evil?

Selling internet censorship technology must be only evil if it it is sold to bad governments, not to good governments. Because we all know that the likes of Uncle Kev would never abuse their power.

Remember: Other governments are evil, but YOUR government only wants what’s good for you.

29 thoughts on “Iran so far away

  1. And China’s dropping plans to censor the interwebs –

    China retreated in the face of angry and sustained criticism not only from internet users but also from computer manufacturers and trade bodies. In addition, a US company called Solid Oak has filed a lawsuit against the makers of Green Dam, charging them with having stolen the software that makes up the program.
    “China will delay the mandatory installation of the software on new computers,” said Xinhua, the government newswire.
    “The pre-installation was delayed as some computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time,” it added.
    There was no statement on how long the delay would last, and some observers speculated that the government will not make Green Dam compulsory.

    Over to you Mr Conroy.

  2. There is still no real evidence of election fraud in Iran. Every claim has been compiled and analyzed in detail at, and none stands up to scrutiny.

    THINK: Was Mousavi, a former prime minister and very much regime insider, such a threat to the regime that they would have to resort to massive election fraud to keep him out of office? No.

  3. So those protesters were EVIL? Or in the pay of the Satan called Britain?
    If only Britain DID have as much shadowy power as the Iranians keep complaining about!
    But the initial impetus for the protests was the suspiciously-fast results coming in. It should have taken the counters hours to complile them, but they were much quicker. Is anyone looking into this?

  4. The spelling that really troubled me recently is “licence” as in “taxi licence”. Technically we spell it with a ‘C’ whilst the Americans use an ‘S’ (licenSe). I managed to blog about taxi licences with a mixture of both spellings while most people seem to stick to the American version of spelling. However the relevant NSW government website is also guilty of switching spelling mid stream.

    Why is there no “u” in “forty”? And why is 1 spelt “one”. This are the great mysteries (misstrees) of our language. Battles that with age I have slowly given up on.

    If it was not for mobile technology I would probably blog* about 90% less than I currently do.

    * heck if people can just invent words like blog why can’t I invent my own spelling?

  5. Whatever the situation is in Iran I just hope that the Iranians themselves will be left to sort out their problems by themselves without any overt or covert interference from outside countries.

  6. I don’t really get the tone of this article, it seems a lot like your downplaying the actions of the Iranian government. Your legitimate but far different arguement about internet censorship in local politics and I don’t think it appreciates the seriousness of Iran. The grave human rights abuses in Iran are in no way comparable to the freedom tinkering of K-Rudd. Currently the citizens of Iran are being gunned down and arrested for protesting their concerns over a dodgy election. Whether or not the election was corrupt is irrelevant, Iranians are being denied a right to protest and are being punished for doing so with lethal force. This isn’t to mention the country’s track record of restricting other civil liberties by banning public dancing, alcohol and music, cracking down against women’s rights and instilling capital punishment for homosexuality.

    This really isn’t a situation for political point scoring.

  7. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

    Some of the Iraqi Shiite extremist groups that the U.S. claims are backed by Iran say they are ratcheting up attacks in Iraq in tandem with Tehran’s post-election crackdown on protesters.

    Shiite militia leaders say a toughening resolve among hard-liners in Iran is translating into direct orders from Iran-based leaders to increase attacks, as well as inspiring militants next door in Iraq to demonstrate their influence.

    Jaz, do you also hope the Iranians avoid overt or cover interference in other countries? And if they don’t, as it appears, what should we and others do?

  8. Jarryd –

    Government censorship is one of the many steps toward tyranny.

    There is an idea that censorship is only evil if it conducted by BAD government, but censorship is desirable if it done by GOOD governments.

    Yes, this is a situation worthy of point scoring.

  9. TerjeP wrote “The spelling that really troubled me recently is “licence” as in “taxi licence”. Technically we spell it with a ‘C’ whilst the Americans use an ‘S’ (licenSe)… However the relevant NSW government website is also guilty of switching spelling mid stream.”

    Actually, we use “licence” for the noun and “license” for the verb (as with “prophecy” and “prophesy”, where curiously Americans only use the “c” form even though they aren’t pronounced the same). The NSW government website may be using correct spellings.

  10. I just checked whether the NSW government website is using the correct spelling of “licence” consistently, here. It isn’t, having the wrong spelling in the navigation breadcrumbs etc.

    By the way, “one” is spelled that way dating back to a time when the English language was pronounced very differently and had even more dialect variation (in many parts of England it is still pronounced “wonn”, rhyming with “on”, and the Scottish variant “ane” is pronounced pretty much the way it is spelled). For all I know it dates back before the Great Vowel Shift of the late Middle Ages.

  11. Actually, we use “licence” for the noun and “license” for the verb (as with “prophecy” and “prophesy”,

    Also practice and practise, which I have seen Terje regularly get wrong. He and many like him probably don’t know the difference between a noun and a verb either.

  12. David, for what it is worth I do know the difference between a noun and verb. You ought to avoid extrapolating so much from one weakness. We all have imperfections when it comes to communication. Mine happens to be spelling. Yours seems to be rubbing people up the wrong way.

  13. David, I hope that the Iranians stay out of the affairs of other countries too.There is no reason to automatically assume that the US intelligence claims as reported by the WSJ are correct. Even if they are I still think it is a local issue to be resolved by the people directly involved.

  14. Even if they are I still think it is a local issue to be resolved by the people directly involved.

    In other words, it’s none of our business if the Iranians set off car bombs in Baghdad, Gaza or Tripoli through their proxy supporters. Is that because they’re all just filthy Arabs, or are you opposed to western liberal values?

  15. What would you suggest David? That we go over there and “fix” things? I think the historical track record for that speaks for itself.

    BTW what are these western liberal values you speak of? Do you think we have some kind of duty to be spreading them around the world or something?

  16. Well, I think we should be interfering, but my ‘we’ is libertarian individuals, not the groupthink ‘we’ of the Australian community. What a shame that we don’t have a Libintern, like the old Comintern, to spread the good news! And to sell guns and weapons to rebels and separatists!
    As for governments, they should not go beyond their borders, ever.
    But individuals, you and I, are another story.

  17. David, I’m generally pretty good at ignoring things that might offend others. You seem to have assumed that I was refering to me, when in fact all I did was make a point of comparison regarding observed communication skills. Did I say something that wasn’t accurate?

    A ‘c’ or an ‘s’ may tell people which is a verb and which is a noun in some instances but context will almost always prove to be a superior indicator. As such my spelling is generally only a communication problem for me in so far as others choose to make judgements about me or about my ideas on the basis of non-standard (inaccurate) spelling. That is their decision and it is also their loss. However obviously it would be naive of me to assume that there isn’t also some cost to me. Yet this is no less true of somebody that manages to make remarks that belittle other people on a regular basis.

    In summary: Pot, kettle, black. We can both do better.

  18. Tort law focuses too much on compensation and not enough on corrective justice. The increasing trend of “instrumentalism” has been going on for almost 100 years I think.

    In the US, they have strict liability for the manufacturing of products. (Almost any accident involves some product)

    They also have some mechanism whereby someone found partially at fault may be liable for full damages. (So you settle out of court with some parties, then hit another defendent for the full amount at trial).

    These miscarriages of justice are now ingrained in the culture.

    So it’s no surprise that Nokia and Seimens get blamed, especially in the US even though this is totally absurd.
    Tall poppy syndrome (altruism) out of control IMO.

  19. Yet this is no less true of somebody that manages to make remarks that belittle other people on a regular basis.

    If you choose to feel belittled, make another choice. We each choose our own attitudes.

  20. We each choose our own attitudes.


    If you choose to feel belittled, make another choice.

    Why? There is a difference between feeling belittled and feeling little.

    Also I think it is folly to believe feelings are merely a choice. It is like suggesting that when shown the colour green we can choose to see the colour purple. Feelings are an involuntary response to a situation or event. How we interpret and what we do with the feelings is what is significant. So for example if somebody feels fear they could choose to use that signal as a basis for many different courses of action. Ideally they might use it as a signal that they need to be prepared. However pretending that the feeling of fear was a voluntary choice that can simply be wished away isn’t accurate or useful. Likewise if somebody makes a remark that leads you to feel belittled I think it would be silly to ignore that feeling. If you have a feeling then your brain is trying to tell you something.

  21. TerjeP, your comments are true, up to a point. But, as an ex-toastmaster, you are aware that fears can be tamed and turned into positive talents. I no longer fear the lecturn, though once I wouldn’t go near them.

  22. Nicholas – the reason you no longer fear the lecturn is because you are now more prepared for the task of speaking publicly. You have resources in the way of skills and knowledge that you once lacked. That isn’t wishing away a feeling, it’s removing the cause of the feeling. The fact that you can now stand at a lecturn and talk without fear does not mean that you have learned to wish fear away. Nor would you want to because the feeling we call fear is a very important messenger. As are all feelings. Lepracy is a disease where by people lose the ability to feel pain, the consequence are dire.

  23. How you choose to be rubbed is not my responsibility Terje. I suggest you make a different choice.
    Sorry for the irrelevant post, but I lol’d 😀

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