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Make or break
Are we unable to contribute to a good thing?

December 12, 2004

Not too long ago, my daughter, Lilly, told me about a friendly online site.

"Mom, click on and you'll see an article by me," she said.

I wouldn't miss the chance. After reading her article, I was so moved; I had to write a response.

That's how I became hooked and, before I knew it, I had turned into a regular, a feature writer, if you will.

Through the past couple of years, not only have I read numerous good articles, but also have enjoyed a chance to put some of my own writing out and gather an impressive number of loyal readers whose encouragement has kept me going. And, of course, a few angry souls who seem to like profanity in print.

Outside of the pages of, I do not know Jahanshah Javid. But I've always been grateful for the opportunity the has offered to be in touch with my own kind, exchange ideas and read the works of other writers. The photo essays connect me to a home I left behind long before I had a chance to enjoy its beauty. The art exhibits make me proud of the many good artists among the new generation of Iranians and the poetry tells me I'm not the only one who knows the meaning of pain.

Over the years, has become the community I can turn to when no one seems to be around. In the lonely life of a writer, I consider that a gift.

But we can't leave well enough alone, can we? Lately, the more I read, the more I understand why anyone would succumb to censorship. There is a phrase printed in large letters on the front page, "Nothing is sacred." Coming from a demoralized society and suffocated by censorship, Jahanshah has vowed to give his writers the kind of freedom they have never experienced.

He'd be the last person to stop them from saying what is on their minds. He has offered a clean slate, something Iranians never knew. Indeed he takes pride in publishing whatever his writers wish to say, even if it involves profane comments addressed to him. His message is loud and clear: "Here's an open door. Enjoy your freedom of expression!"

This freedom seems to have turned into a mirror to reflect our true identity. As always, there seems to be the two extremes. While it succeeds to bring us a wealth of information, true works of art and lovely prose, it also exposes us to harsh comments from those who are unable to accept that different people are entitled to their different opinions.

Lately, readers have started to object to this. They sound unhappy over the lack of restriction and do not approve of the fact that some articles are printed without an editorial intervention. Am I wrong to think that they are indeed asking for censorship? Did we not move across the globe to be free of just that? has turned into a metaphor of our old society. It reminds me of an old saying, "You can take the farmer out of the farm, but can't take the farm out of the farmer." At times, I'm reminded of the "koocheh" where people come to watch a good fight. And, naturally, when someone is unable to put up a fair fight, profanity comes to their rescue.

Here is a chance for us to interact as a people, to learn from one another, and to gain strength from our global unity, and yet, what do we do with it? We use it to settle old scores, to humiliate each other, to demean someone, or to show prejudice and generate antagonism, wrath and devastation

Are we unable to contribute to a good thing? If somebody builds something, must we find a way to destroy it? Some of us may have moved around the world and changed appearances but, deep down, we remain the same. If an endeavor fails, we'll say we knew it was doomed and if it succeeds well accuse it of deception. "The British have a hand in this one!"

We hate prejudice, yet do not hesitate to make nasty comments about others. We allow our religions, philosophies and emotions to divide us into fragments of a lost nation. All this young man aspires to do is to bring us together. And, yes, this happens to also be his job.  But, no-ho! We can't have that, can we? We're going to push and shove to see exactly at what point he'll cave in and set a limit.

When will resort to censorship? Soon, I hope. Because the comments I hear lately, as well as some of the recent articles, indicate the danger that it may lose its quality, if not some of its best writers.

Oh, I assure you, I'll remain loyal. I take pride in my lack of prejudice and don't mind being published next to someone who does not necessarily write with dignity, but there are many who do mind. One of the readers just told me, "It's going downhill! I have better things to do with my time than read THAT!"

"Downhill?" I said. "I should hope not!"

I command J. J for his perseverance. He sure is a man of his word. I guess now it's up to the Iranians to make or break something that truly belongs to them. I continue to hope that goodness will prevail. The only problem is we have a questionable track record, don't we?

.................... Peef Paff spam!

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Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani



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