Choice vs Constraint

The walls will indeed fall


Choice vs Constraint
by Saideh Pakravan

A piece of news out of Iran informs us that the country’s government, never particularly benevolent, is starting a more vigorous campaign against women who, disrespectful of Islam, choose to be fashionable—imagine!—rather than turn themselves into the subservient shadows of their lords and masters. (Converts and fanatics in the West might want to take note of what happens when covering up is an obligation rather than a whim.) The morality police is directed to patrol more intensively, including on highways, and fine or haul to jail female drivers mistakenly believing themselves safe in their own car.

To the invasive pc brigades in our countries–the free ones–people are all the same. According to their non-critical, non judgmental, and smug stance, we are all not only equal (glaring differences notwithstanding) but equally respectable, no matter our beliefs or ideologies. All systems of government are valid, all cultural values are good, all traditions respectable, all religions comparable in their teachings. But what if they aren’t? Too many peoples in too many countries have to submit to the edicts of a repressive and idiotic regime or bear unhappy consequences. The Human Development Index maps out countries where people have choices and others where they don’t.

Choice is being allowed to live how we want to live. Of course, one can object that no one is absolutely free. Chains, fetters, obstacles, exist in the most open societies. Actual or implied walls, barbed wires, or electric fences, still isolate entire communities. Here, in the United States, sharks infest our financial waters and the gap between haves and have-nots grows wider by the day, putting the American dream beyond reach for most. But a look at parts of the world where people live in incredible difficult conditions should still make us realize how good we have it, what few constraints we live under. Imagine a lifetime of being told how to think, what to believe, what to eat or drink, what music, if any, to listen to, what dress code to follow, what to read, what to talk about. Imagine keeping a mental list of everything that’s forbidden and knowing that any transgression can cost you dearly.

There are countries where women can be stoned, stoned, for having illicit sexual relations, where people can be thrown in jail for questioning election results. Countries where people can be hanged for expressing views different from those of the regime. (Although the dimmest dinosaur brains, say those of the ruling elite in Iran, perceive the weakness of the charge as hanging offenses go and come up with trumped-up accusations of spying or plots to overthrow the regime).

The consolation in all this is that no matter how bleak the general picture, the trend is in favor of more freedom (see the Freedom in the World Report of 2012). Maybe not today but some day, the walls will indeed fall. Dinosaurs are doomed, even if they don’t know it. But then, they don’t know much.

Visit Saideh Pakravan's blog.


Recently by Saideh PakravanCommentsDate
Good cinema, bad history
Nov 18, 2012
My house has many rooms
Oct 24, 2012
Radical Islamism falling apart? Inshallah!
Sep 30, 2012
more from Saideh Pakravan