The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


December 13 2000

Controversial opinions open eyes

I read your squabble with Termeh Rassi ["Drawing the line"]. I agree with you that controversial opinions open our eyes to the wrongs that sprout in our community. Whether or not they are signed is irrelevant. You reminded us by publishing the letter that indeed there are Iranian racists that are alive and thriving in cyber space. That reminder, however hurtful to the people, involved is rendering a service.

Now if someone did not ask the persons involved permission to publish their picture that is another problem ["Maryam and Daryl"].

One thing I found lacking in the reasoning of Ms.Rassi was the awareness of the nature of the Internet as a medium. There is an immediacy about the Internet that renders web publication quite different in their nature than print media. The Net is a place where information and opinions float at a high speed. Web sites like are a cross between a news magazine and a telephone conversation. You get information from them but also, feel free to participate. The speed with which you can engage in this participation is what makes this relatively new medium so appealing.

A web magazine is by its very nature interactive. It is both a source of information and a public forum. Editing the way you propose would take away from the spontaneous nature of the medium. It would be like trying to censor a college cafeteria discussion. It is therefore much harder and against the very nature of cyber debates to censor them.

Also, we are a community of exiles in struggling to forge a new identity in a foreign land. It is a good thing to keep our differences however unappealing or even appalling as open as possible. God knows we have had our share of censorship and hush hushing throughout our history.

I am grateful to the editor of this magazine for providing a forum where all posturing and pretense is set a side. Continue giving us the bad along side the praiseworthy that is what this kind of journalism is all about. Sensitive souls should just be aware before entering.

Setareh Sabety

P.S. I am ignorant of what in her "lineage and work" makes Ms. Oveissi a public figure. Could you please inform me . I also wish her and her very handsome Daryl all the best. And I apologize to them on behalf of some of our ignorant fellow countrymen. You are lucky you did not criticize Googoosh -- you would get hate mail till kingdom come! Iran like all other nations has its share of bigots. It is when they run governments that we must all cringe.


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