In the immediate aftermath of Iranian.com going bloggy, to coin a phrase, last year the collective id of its readers appeared to have been unleashed. It was as if a massive boil fomenting and ripening with 2500 years of decease had suddenly been lanced. The readers, allegedly the crème de la crème of “Iranian Diaspora” reared in liberal democracies - were spouting venomous bile at each other with more head turning relish than Linda Blair in The Exorcist. In short, there was enough fecal matter in the threads to fertilize a football stadium. Javid of course had to intervene; the “Nothing is Sacred” motto had suddenly become a noose around his neck and he - like Salman Rushdie before him who once asked “Is nothing sacred?” – had to come to terms with limits of free speech; that free speech without personal responsibility is often not much more than mob rule. Blogging being fairly new will have its growing pains before it matures but here a few simple rules as I see it to help it along the way.
Stick to the topic. It sounds like common sense but in more than one occasion when I’ve had the time to browse through the threads I have noticed posters going on ridiculous tangents with little or no relevance to the article. There are a few posters for instance, both registered and unregistered, who are obsessed with 28th Mordad and the coupe de eta (a matter of debate apparently according to more than one obsessive) that brought Mossadegh’s government down and insist on dragging the said event into any conversation. I have often wondered why these posters don’t articulate their revisionist or orthodox interpretation of 28th Mordad and enlighten the rest of us in a structured and comprehensible essay form preferably backed up with references and documents rather than in the feverish undisciplined blogging style.
Refrain from using obscenity. Let’s face it, we all like to use colourful language in private to describe those we don’t agree with but just as you don’t reveal your inner most thoughts to the woman in short skirt sitting across from you on the bus, checking the language before posting your two cent goes a long way in keeping the alleged conversation fruitful. To paraphrase Freud, keeping the id in check is the essence of civilization.
Maintain civility as much as you can. This of course is a tricky one. How can one define civility objectively? Are there rules of etiquette everyone can agree on? After all politics by its nature is about speaking “truth” to the powerful. The demos, the ones with nothing claiming stake in a society where once only the powerful could do so is the definition of politics. Politics is about conflict, people butting heads and as they say if you can’t handle the heat then get out of the kitchen. Sharp wit and cutting commentary is the very stuff of democratic debate. That said, egotistic vitriol is not wit. Name calling, sloganeering and cheap personal attacks are not dialogue. Take the case ofHossein Derakhshan (Hoder to his friends and enemies). Derakhshan is one of the writers I always read. Not that I necessarily agree with him; on the contrary, I find his views dangerous. The mishmash of Foucault and post-structuralism with a dash of Edward Said (no fault on Said’s part) plus a generous dollop of Stalinism that he dishes out is representative a new Third-Worldism that is misguided and needs to be confronted, just as the vitriolic nationalism that is spouted by many on this site must be confronted. As the success of neoconservative movement has shown, winning the minds is essential to secure the future on one’s terms. In case you haven’t noticed there is an all-out ideological war going across the globe and the Internet is on the front lines. So take on Hoder by all means; engage him, confront him but enough with the Mullah-lover, bache mullah, hoder-you-traitor nonsense.
And that’s my two cents.
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