Those of us who have been around this site long enough remember when iranian.com's former owner; at one point practically removed all the restrictions on membership and commentaries. The site immediately became filled with fake multiple identities and rude, abusive and vulgar comments.
A small number of us (myself included) objected to the anarchy and the lack of accountability while many including JJ himself hailed the so called freedom and wrote “everything goes...get used to it”.
It wasn't that those of us who opposed the new format were against the freedom to express but we were against abusing that freedom and the lack of any accountability.
The site was a controlled site anyway. As a blogger you were limited in the number of the blogs, its content and its placement which was all being decided by JJ and his extensions. He was the advocate of freedom of speech but was “The good Dictator”, with no constitution or a loose constitution that he himself did not go by when he didn't feel like it.
He would be deleting a blog , because he said it had nothing to do with Iran or Iranians but then so often filled the top of the front page with sightseeing photos of his or someone else's trip to some other country or city in the world .
He was a promoter of the human rights but when we desperately asked him to put the imminent execution of Delara Darabi on the top of the front page, he would ignore it and place some music or sex related videos instead. But when 24 hours later the teenager gets executed , Delara becomes the big headline... but only after her death....
But we Iranians like "The Good Dictators", because we are afraid of ourselves and our responsibilities. We like the Good Mojtahed, the good Shah and the good elder …. to make the decisions for us , to control the good and bad. We come from 1000's of years of Kings, Mojtaheds and Imams and from a Kad- KHODA culture.
We may cry for freedom but we confuse it with doing whatever we wish without accountability on one end of the spectrum ….and giving our rights away to the good dictator to control our freedoms on the other end.
Often the first group get disappointed when their own freedoms start getting violated as a result of the lack of accountability and then in an overreaction they swing to the direction of the good dedicator
and the second group gets disappointed after the good dictator turns bad or give its place to a bad one, wishing for the freedom that they gave away.
And the vicious cycle continues.......
Our history , especially post constitutional monarchy revolution is filled with such examples. 1979 revolution is another one. The former supporters of the current regime who now have became its own enemies are another example. We are the ones who voted 98% for The Islamic Republic after we kicked a secular dictator out while hailing the new Vali Faghih. …. we are the ones who do not like what is happening in our homeland but lack the responsibility to unite, organize and make a difference. Many of us are waiting for the Good Dictator ....while some are still hoping for the bad dictator to turn good.... and some others are waiting for the foreign liberator. All because we do not want to take the responsibility of doing it ourselves which takes commitment to what we are good at talking (or blogging) about! We blame the foreigners, the shah, the mullahs, the moderates, the extremists, the communists, the crown prince, …..but …...never ourselves. As if the Islamic Republic was sent to us from Mars and we had nothing to do with and still don't !.....
Back to iranian.com :
The new iranian.com has taken the control of the comments from the hands of the good dictator and given it to The People. The blogger has the right to monitor his/her own blog and the reader has the right to like, vote and toop the contents and the comments.
This has scared some bloggers, commentators and readers (The 3 categories of the iranian.com users)
Deep inside those bloggers who oppose the new format are afraid of the responsibility. After all they have historically been used to the Dictators (the good or the bad ones) and don't know what to do with their new role. They need that editor to blame or whine to when something goes wrong on their blog .Now they don't know who to blame and who to complain to except themselves and their readers. Now they are accountable for the management of their own content. They can give full freedom of everything goes...... to not allowing a single comment....if they wish.
The commentators are afraid of the bloggers, thinking that their comments might get deleted by the unfair blogger . One recently compared it to not being able to do anything to KKK if they show up at his doorstep. Another was afraid that the new iranian.com might turn to a tool for those who want to propaganda their view without giving a chance to others to rebuttal (by deleting opposing comments). But the point the first one was missing is that its not the KKK that is showing up at his doorstep but it will be him that is going to the blog of the KKK, therefore he has to deal with the consequences.... and that he has the freedom not to go there, not to comment there or if he is so passionate about his view, to write a counter-blog opposing the KKK. The point that he is missing is that in a democracy the KKK has as much right to express itself as the blogger next door and KKK in his own home, organization, church or blog has the right to allow or disallow a certain opinion BUT the right of the KKK stops at its own doorstep and once it step out of there, s/he is subjected to the right of the other blog that he enters in and can not prevent the freedom of the expression of the others.... and at the end its the people (the readers) who decide ...
…..and of course inside or outside the blog every one is subject to the letters of the law that governs the local governments and internet such as the copyrights, rights of privacy, slander....etc etc...
I also read someone ridiculing me for having supported controlled comments in the past iranian.com and oppose it in the new one. It was obvious the person had either never read my arguments in the old site or had never understood my point.
The old site was a controlled site with an editor. The blogger had no control. It was like a radio station who allowed some shows or the phone calls and had its own editing room who decided who gets to go on the air and who doesn't. In that forum , I was, as always have been, for the freedom of expression but opposed lack of accountability. I promote freedom but not abuse of it. My freedom and rights end when it encroaches on the rights of another and at the time the boundaries did not exist which gave room to abuse until eventually even JJ himself realized that freedom itself has its own rules and restrictions. So he started editing and required registration . Freedom is not driving any way that you want. Freedom is your right to drive but with respect to the right of the other drivers and the pedestrians by paying attention to the lines and the signs.
After that realization, when it came to editing the comments, they actually did a good job overall . There is no perfection and I am sure there were exceptions but JJ and the crew tried to do what any civilized forum with comment editorial would do.
My problem with them was JJ's own lack of accountability and lack of terms and rules of the website or lack of adherence to it. One day he would allow a two liner blog and another day deleted it saying a blog has to be longer!. As if the greatest quotes of the biggest thinkers of history would also not have made it to iranian.com under his (man-dar-avoradi) rule. It all depended on which side of the bed he woke up on..... The decisions were also based on the relationships. Some got better preferential treatment than others and it is not surprising they are the one who now miss their VIP status the most!
I am as afraid of the good dictators as the bad ones because at the end, we The People remain to be the sheep and when the good dictator is gone we don't know what to do with ourselves or with the bad dictator that takes over.
Cherish your newly given freedom to write your opinions whether its in a blog or a comment or a simple click of a TOOP. Don't be afraid if a blogger deletes your comment, because soon the readers will get to know that blogger's lack of tolerance and this allow the people to chose who to read, comment on and (TOOP) and don't be afraid to express your opinion of it in your own blog and letting the people decide.
But no matter what, make sure you exercise your right to choose and vote (TOOP) because if you do not show your opinion and support of your preferred blogs, views and news , then if the bad ones take over or the good ones get buried, there is no shah, no ayatollah , no good or bad dictator and no editor or JJ to blame but to blame yourself.
You, The People, The blogger, The Commentator, The Reader are now in control. Cherish it and make the best of your newly given freedom and don't be afraid of the responsibility that comes with it.
May the TOOP be with you!