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May 7, 2011 12:45 AM   Subscribe

Ahmadinejad allies charged with sorcery. Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits). Increasingly, there is a rift between the President and his Supreme Leader.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (142 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Iran's somewhere in Texas, right?
posted by philip-random at 1:01 AM on May 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Bah. If they really were magicians they'd have escaped on magic carpets.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:05 AM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You made your theocracy, now you have to lie in it.
posted by Avenger at 1:19 AM on May 7, 2011 [41 favorites]


I would wager $10 that no one on the Guardian Council of Iran actually believes in sorcery, but that everyone believes in the utility of having irrefutable charges you can lay against a political enemy.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:37 AM on May 7, 2011 [42 favorites]


You made your theocracy, now you have to lie in it.

Yeah, well, the young people currently suffering under the religious leadership didn't actually make the theocracy, they just inherited it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:40 AM on May 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I can see this ending badly for Ahmadinejad. Is Iran ready for a second revolution yet? Previous student uprisings weren't met with understanding.
posted by arcticseal at 1:51 AM on May 7, 2011


The Iranians must marvel at American's inability to grasp metaphors.
What Does Islam Say About Magic

There are reports about the Prophet being under a magic spell for a brief period of time, when he could imagine things that did not happen. But this is untrue. God says in the Qur’an: “The wrongdoers say: ‘The man you follow is certainly bewitched.’ See to what they liken you. They have certainly gone astray and are unable to find a way back (to the truth).” (17: 47-48 & 25: 8-9) This statement, repeated twice in the Qur’an, makes clear that only wrongdoers make such a claim about the Prophet, and that they are in error and cannot find a way back to the truth. This is a very clear denial by none other than God.
posted by three blind mice at 1:52 AM on May 7, 2011


I'm not sure about magic as a metaphor but the quran has some non-metaphorical things to say about jinn.
posted by dibblda at 2:10 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow... what year is this, again?
posted by polymath at 2:11 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They've just released a picture of the prosecuting attorney.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:20 AM on May 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow... what year is this, again?

I think it's 2084.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:34 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1994, 72% of Americans said they believed in angels; in 2004, 78% indicated belief in angels. (religionfacts.com)

But djinns? Those primitive Iranians sure are stupid!
posted by fredludd at 3:40 AM on May 7, 2011 [67 favorites]


The primitive Americans are stupid too.
posted by ryanrs at 3:44 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The primitive Americans are stupid too.

That was fredludd's point, my friend! But an official reiteration from the Department of Obviousness is sometimes unavoidable, I suppose ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:11 AM on May 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Good on Iran. A number of years ago here in Massachusetts we killed all the witches and now we don't have them anymore. Good for people and good for the crops.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:20 AM on May 7, 2011 [51 favorites]


Meanwhile : Is Shane Bauer really an enemy of Iran? The journalist, a fearless defender of the Middle East's dispossessed, is about to go on trial in Tehran for alleged espionage.
The Guardian reports that Ahmadinejad is grooming his chief-of-staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei to take over as president. Mashaei, who is launching a newspaper next month, is also believed to have tried to secure the release of three Americans detained in Iran, a move that resulted in the release of one of the prisoners, Sarah Shourd. Her friends, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, remain in Tehran after their release was believed to have been blocked by hardliners.
posted by adamvasco at 4:22 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What else floats?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:27 AM on May 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess this the thread where I can post this wikipedia page I found a week ago.
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 4:30 AM on May 7, 2011


Serves the fucker right. Betcha $10 that he will launch himself as a progressive candidate in a couple of years, it is the order of business in Iran, and people will still vote for him.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:38 AM on May 7, 2011


Ha, ollyoxen, an encyclopedia article on a style of government that only exists in fiction.
Makes me wonder how many volumes Wikipedia would be if printed in the old fashion.
posted by joost de vries at 4:39 AM on May 7, 2011


CNN poll: majority in U.S. say bin Laden in Hell.

I prefer to live in a rational society, where questions such as how many angels can dance on the head of pin are decided via computational knowledge engines.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:17 AM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Avenger: "You We made your their theocracy, now you they have to lie in it."

cite
posted by idiopath at 5:21 AM on May 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


"I would wager $10 that no one on the Guardian Council of Iran actually believes in sorcery, but that everyone believes in the utility of having irrefutable charges you can lay against a political enemy".

I would wager $10 that none of the guys who flock to every thread about Iran to suggest OMG IRAN IS JUST LIKE THE US LOL actually believe the US is anything close to a theocracy, but they all believe in the utility of having a ready-made fallacy to spew in lieu of a real argument.
posted by falameufilho at 5:21 AM on May 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


....the US is anything close to a theocracy

Getting closer all the time, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Magi are from there.
late 14c., "art of influencing events and producing marvels," from O.Fr. magique, from L. magice "sorcery, magic," from Gk. magike (presumably with tekhne "art"), fem. of magikos "magical," from magos "one of the members of the learned and priestly class," from O.Pers. magush, possibly from PIE *magh- "to be able, to have power"
It'd be interesting if there was astrology mixed in.
posted by ServSci at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2011


Ahmadinejad's obsession with the hidden imam is well known. He often refers to him in his speeches and in 2009 said that he had documentary evidence that the US was trying to prevent Mahdi's return.

THOSE BASTARDS!
posted by the noob at 5:45 AM on May 7, 2011


Ahmadjinnejad.
posted by bwg at 5:48 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


…I got better.
posted by sidesh0w at 5:53 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tehran Bureau analyzes:

(1) What is Ahmadinejad's goal in confronting Khamenei?

(2) Ahmadinejad is surely aware of the balance of power in Iran's ruling hierarchy and knows well that the high command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is, for now, loyal to Khamenei, even though I believe that in the long run the Guards would like to end the role of the clerics in the government. So, what is his social base of support that gives him the confidence to confront Khamenei and his supporters?

Ahmadinejad in the Crosshairs

Ahmadinejad will be tolerated for the time being if he falls back in line, obeys the Leader's wishes, and stops defying him so publicly. If he continues to resist, the Revolutionary Guards' top commander, Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned Ahmadinejad and his circle that "in defending the Islamic Revolution, Sepah [the Revolutionary Guards] will not wait for instructions."

Removing Ahmadinejad from office would be a very embarrassing step for the Supreme Leader, who has afforded the president a level of support without precedent during his two decades in absolute power. Ahmadinejad's problem is that he has overestimated the weight of that one factor. Khamenei and his extensive network are taking into account many others as they decide how to run the country given the many challenges, both domestic and international, that the regime now faces.

The Moslehi Blowback: Ahmadinejad Allies Arrested, Top Aides Targeted — a press roundup
posted by netbros at 6:09 AM on May 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Obama has a dijinn, how else does a black guy get elected president? If Ahmadinejad had one his enemies would be doing about as well as bin Laden is right now. You don't mess with wizards.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2011


The way to deal with djinn is to wish them back to where they were before you met them. I saw it in a movie.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahmadinejad should ask Sarah Palin for her exorcist's business card. Kill two birds with one stone - get rid of the witchcraft that has infected his friends, and lessen the rift between our nations.
posted by Flunkie at 6:10 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would wager $10 that no one on the Guardian Council of Iran actually believes in sorcery

Eh, I knew a Muslim guy (a Sunni from Pakistan, not a Persian Shi'ite), articulate, educated, working for a good wage in high tech, who firmly believed in magic and witches, and was convinced he'd seen evidence of their sorcery (various charms, offerings, and fetishes). He was not at all shy about asserting it, even to a Kaffir.

He came from a family which had converted from Hinduism several generations back, and he was further convinced that the various animal-headed and many-armed Hindu gods are actually evil djinn (a real distinction, as not all djinn are evil, some are in fact Muslim), and that his unconverted cousins made deals with these evil spirits (which made a bit of sense, from a Muslim perspective, as Hindus do pray to and ask intercession these gods).
posted by orthogonality at 6:45 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


even to a Kaffir

I read keffir and imagined him arguing with a yogurt, which also fits.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:55 AM on May 7, 2011


I am not a witch.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:56 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I found the best way to deal with a djinn was to just keep on adding more tonic.
posted by adamvasco at 6:59 AM on May 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


She turned me into a newt!

I got better
posted by briank at 6:59 AM on May 7, 2011


I think it's 2084.

Uh, based on your link it's 1390 in the Persian calendar.
posted by delmoi at 7:12 AM on May 7, 2011


Obviously a Steven Spielberg/SEAL Team Two co-production, with the target unable to explain why he can suddenly fly and 'scary lights' are coming out from behind his eyes,
posted by Ironmouth at 7:13 AM on May 7, 2011


HEY has anybody referenced Monty Python's--

Oh, never mind.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:18 AM on May 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


In 1994, 72% of Americans said they believed in angels; in 2004, 78% indicated belief in angels. (religionfacts.com)

But djinns? Those primitive Iranians sure are stupid!


Except our Presidential Chief of Staff isn't charged with sorcery. There is a difference, you know.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:18 AM on May 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh, Christine O'Donnell. Lol.

But seriously the fact that 78% of the U.S. public believes in angels isn't really all that relevant. Sure, lots of people might think they have a "guardian angel" or whatever but the U.S. isn't charging people with sorcery or heresy or anything like that. That's the difference between a country where people agree to some religious premise in some poll and an actual theocracy.
posted by delmoi at 7:20 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's good things you could say about Iran and the Iranians, there's good things you can say about Islam, there are no good things whatsoever you could say about Irans political and religous leadership. Defending them against charges of being backwards are ridiculous seems pretty pointless when they are quite clearly both - when they are not busy being brutal and murderous of course.
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on May 7, 2011


This isn't something to be taken lightly. It's well known that in the late 1960's, a single djinn was able to get close enough to the US space program to cause near-disasters on several manned missions. Many high-ranking officers wound up institutionalized for mental instability, claiming they were "imagining things" and "needed a rest."

Official NASA footage here.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:25 AM on May 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I guess he decided that to fight a Twitter revolution you must turn to E-Bay.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:28 AM on May 7, 2011


fourcheesemac: What else floats?

Oh, oh, I know this! Is it wood?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 AM on May 7, 2011


Except our Presidential Chief of Staff isn't charged with sorcery

Well, they're getting closer.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:34 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, they're getting closer.

Right, because two people without political power asking a question that they obviously both think is silly and then deciding that no, Obama is not the anti-christ is very close to charging someone with sorcery.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:41 AM on May 7, 2011


To be fair...can you prove they weren't using magic?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:46 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: "Defending them against charges of being backwards are ridiculous seems pretty pointless when they are quite clearly both - when they are not busy being brutal and murderous of course."

I agree with this (well I assume that by "are" you meant "or").

My qualm is that the current political situation in Iran is already a result of British and American meddling, and either country is on pretty shaky ground as far as trying to fix anything there right now. I mean it is all well and good for us to say "they would be better off with a democracy", but come on they would have had one for a few years at least as of 1950-something if it weren't for us in the first place.
posted by idiopath at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2011


This is why I am a firm supporter of wizards' rights here and abroad.
posted by The Whelk at 7:52 AM on May 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I would wager $10 that no one on the Guardian Council of Iran actually believes in sorcery, but that everyone believes in the utility of having irrefutable charges you can lay against a political enemy.

so like with u.s. congress and christianity, you mean.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


PlusDistance writes (and links) : Well, they're getting closer.

Bulgaroktonos answers : Right, because two people without political power...

Well, there's all kinds of power these days. A media personality and political commentator with an enormous fan base/viewership can be said to have a certain kind of political power, which is not inconsiderable. He influences people's ideas about politics, he influences politicians and political decisions.

...asking a question that they obviously both think is silly and then deciding that no, Obama is not the anti-christ...

Yeah, but this is America, see. The "obviously silly" bit is how you start getting the message out. The playing it all off like a half-joke. But you'll note that Beck prefaced the whole thing with "we get lots of email about this...", in order to show that, yeah, real Americans, Joe and Mary Jesus out there in Oklahoma, they think this. They're saying this. And that's an endorsement of the idea, right there. Even Beck knows you have to play something like that off (at least for now) in a jokey manner. It'd fall on its face if he came on with fire and brimstone like some Iranian cleric. But it's the American version that Beck is practicing. So PlusDistance is right: they are getting closer. Shit's moving exactly in that direction. It'll happen in an American way, though. It is happening in an American way.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:04 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


But you'll note that Beck prefaced the whole thing with "we get lots of email about this...", in order to show that, yeah, real Americans, Joe and Mary Jesus out there in Oklahoma, they think this. They're saying this.

They also think 9/11 was an inside job.
posted by delmoi at 8:09 AM on May 7, 2011


there are no good things whatsoever you could say about Irans political and religous leadership

Iran's political and religious leadership have never pooped on my floor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


They also think 9/11 was an inside job.

Uh... the right wing Christians who call Obama the antichrist also say 9/11 was an inside job? OK. I wasn't aware of that. Not so sure it's actually true, but just for the sake of argument, let's say it is. But what bearing does that have on the point I'm making? Or do you not exactly understand the point I'm making?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:13 AM on May 7, 2011


Uh... the right wing Christians who call Obama the antichrist also say 9/11 was an inside job? OK
The overlap on a Venn diagrams isn't zero.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 AM on May 7, 2011


Dear Republicans,

See what happens when you ignore these sorts of clowns rather than make them out to be super powered anti-folk heroes?

If you'd like to talk to me about my plans for the liberation of Cuba via Operation: Primal Tourist, MeFi mail me.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:25 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Iran's political and religious leadership have never pooped on my floor.

You've got carpet.
posted by spicynuts at 8:28 AM on May 7, 2011


Heh, love the title of the FPP
posted by storybored at 8:37 AM on May 7, 2011


SCRYING IN TEHRAN!
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Magi are from there.

I was getting a chuckle out of this aspect as well - nice to see that the ghost of Zoroastrianism is still kicking in the land of its birth. I'd like to see the Persians stand up and throw off the religion of the Arab invaders.

A man can dream right?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:45 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is Metafilter folks, we know USians are hyper-religious assholes too, but the Supreme Court doesn't jail people for talking to ghosts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:51 AM on May 7, 2011


Supreme Court doesn't jail people for talking to ghosts.

when would they have the time, with all the time on the ouija board talking to the founding fathers?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:53 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Iranians must marvel at American's inability to grasp metaphors.

So these folks are being charged with metaphorical crimes?
posted by steambadger at 8:59 AM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mashaei, who is launching a newspaper next month, is also believed to have tried to secure the release of three Americans detained in Iran, a move that resulted in the release of one of the prisoners, Sarah Shourd. Her friends, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, remain in Tehran after their release was believed to have been blocked by hardliners.

Suffering from PTSD, Freed U.S. Hiker Sarah Shourd Won’t Return to Iran Next Week for Espionage Trial Alongside Jailed Fiancé, Friend
posted by homunculus at 9:09 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I heard the row between achmo and the council is an ruse.
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 AM on May 7, 2011


To be fair...can you prove they weren't using magic?

Let's use science. Admittedly, science isn't in the business of definitive proofs, but it is in the business of strong evidence.
Actually, science would involve actually doing some work, screw that, let's just use thought. Right away there is a semantic case - if they used magic, and magic is something that isn't science, while the realm of science and observation is every phenomena that can be detected in any way and reproduced (including counter-intuitive phenomena such as when our brains consistently and necessarily misinterpret phenomena), then either magic evades the realm of science by having no detectable effects, and thus is not making a difference, and thus could not have effected the changes they are charged with using it to effect, or else magic has effects which cannot be predicted, and thus is not reproducible, but which consequently, cannot be used intentionally, because there is no way to align the unpredictable with an intent.

In short, the very concept of magic having physical effects that are non-scientific, is incoherent. In the same way that our language allows us to describe a square circle, it also allows us to describe a non-physical physical.

And I vote that any crime which is an incoherent concept, is no crime at all.
And Iran is a democracy right? So my international citizen vote counts, right?

(How did I do? Four out of ten? I knew I should have tied in BP's secret cover-up of oil-dowsing rods. You always gets points for the nod and wink to show that you know that magic is real but the victim of a global conspiracy, and you're doing your part to keep all secret)
posted by -harlequin- at 9:20 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The claim that the US is becoming a theocracy is as plausible as the claim that it is becoming a socialist state. I do remember a part in The Men Who Stare at Goats (the book) about the US employing psychics to combat enemy sorcerers; perhaps our magic warriors are now sowing discord in Iran.
posted by generalist at 9:21 AM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The claim that the US is becoming a theocracy is as plausible as the claim that it is becoming a socialist state.

I dunno. You should see the extended interview with David Barton that was on The Daily Show earlier this week. There are people working avidly to establish much closer ties between church and state than we have now, and they're taking the long road approach by doing things like changing textbooks to reflect their worldview so children will be brought up believing something different than what you learned in school.

Barton is a hero of those who would seek to make these changes, and hearing what he has to say and the approach he takes may be instructive.

All five parts of the interview (two were aired, three are web-exclusive) can be found here.

Approach with caution. It's also one of the most annoying interviews ever, full of really shady rhetorical tricks and diversions and obfuscation. Someone needs to get a transcript and fact-check all the stuff that guy throws around. I found he was flat-out wrong, probably deliberately, about at least three things while watching just by doing a quick google for some of his dates and concrete factoids.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Eh, I knew a Muslim guy (a Sunni from Pakistan, not a Persian Shi'ite), articulate, educated, working for a good wage in high tech, who firmly believed in magic and witches, and was convinced he'd seen evidence of their sorcery (various charms, offerings, and fetishes)

Well, what is magic and how might it manifest? For instance, how is it that we'll kill for small essentially worthless pieces of paper that have images of weird masonic icons and dead presidents on them? Or take it further. How is that we will wage wars over lines that only truly exist on man-made maps? Are those magic lines? Or just try to explain what really happened to financial markets in Autumn 2008?

The world turns on all manner of weird juju, which may not be "real", but it causes shit to happen anyway.
posted by philip-random at 9:41 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, what is magic and how might it manifest? For instance, how is it that we'll kill for small essentially worthless pieces of paper that have images of weird masonic icons and dead presidents on them?

The pieces of paper are made by governments which require the pieces of paper as taxation, on penalty of imprisonment. The political power of the government gives the paper its fundamental value.

How is that we will wage wars over lines that only truly exist on man-made maps?

The lines describe territory over which the government has de facto ability to impose laws. People fight for the lines because the government requires them to, having given them the pieces of paper mentioned previously, on penalty of imprisonment.

Neither of these things involve supernatural creatures.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:53 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

How unlike the United States, where calling someone a "Godless American" during a campaign is just another way of how we separate church and state.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neither of these things involve supernatural creatures.

The words 'taxation', 'political power', 'government', 'value', 'law' and 'territory' also describe things which are, to all intents and purposes, imaginary.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 10:02 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


malusmoriendumest: "The words 'taxation', 'political power', 'government', 'value', 'law' and 'territory' also describe things which are, to all intents and purposes, imaginary."

The words "all" "intents" "purposes" and "imaginary" also describe things that are for all intents and purposes imaginary.

This has nothing to do with the supernatural.
posted by idiopath at 10:08 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the supernatural.

Quite right. I can't speak for philip-random, from whom I took the point, but I didn't intend to postulate that abstract concepts and supernatural phenomena are identical.

Instead, it might be easier to say that many things (abstract/imaginary concepts) which do not have a physical or concrete existence, exert an influence on things which do, through the medium of human intervention.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 10:14 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of various witch-persecutions in Europe and here in the colonies. As you may remember from Arthur Miller's historical exegesis in his The Crucible, mass hysteria aside, many of the witchery complaints had their roots in mundane things like land disputes. Similarly, as this Salon article explains, witch accusations were often used to get back at ornery neighbors or explain miscarriages, and etc.

So with this strange bit of news; the real conflicts are mundane and political, cloaked in the language of the supernatural to give it that special added frisson of danger and transgression that makes humans such a fascinating species to study.
posted by kozad at 10:15 AM on May 7, 2011


Y'know, I was just watching Camelot the other night and thinking that mixing politics and sorcery often seems to go badly. Obviously, the Ayatollah is also a big Camelot fan.


Snark aside, stuff like this makes me wonder if we're really as far removed from all this stuff as we'd like to think. I get the impression that Ahmadinejad does have an interest in the occult; can you imagine what the right-wing uproar would sound like, if they found out a Democratic president was hiring expensive psychics for policy advice? The psychics wouldn't get arrested, because we don't have laws on the books about witchcraft, but they'd be fired and basically disowned, and the other effects would probably look very similar.

That being said, I will wager that these allies of Ahmadinejad didn't exactly jump in to oppose their Supreme Leader when it was just students protesting and the status quo was benefiting them. Maybe you should've tried harder to put somebody sane and mentally balanced in power, before the crazy guy started coming after you, hey fellas? 'Course if they really had magic powers, they should've seen that coming!
posted by mstokes650 at 10:20 AM on May 7, 2011


The US is inarguably a religious country wherein myriad sinister actors work to cleave church and state and one's (Christian) piety or lack thereof is, shamefully, fodder for attack ads if one chooses to run for office, which if you're an atheist pretty much forget it, but those qualities don't make a theocracy, or even an incipience, and to compare the US to Iran in that way is laughable at best. This is a derail so I will stop now, but feel free to link to polls indicating america's fervent religiosity and articles about the Family controlling congress and incidences of atheists being "persecuted"-maybe this time it will click.
posted by generalist at 10:21 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This has nothing to do with the supernatural.

Well, as I initially inquired: "what is magic and how might it manifest?" You seem to define it as something driven by supernatural forces. Meanwhile, I'm suggesting that many aspects of how our chosen model of reality works seem rather "magical" when viewed from far enough outside the box or as malusmoriendumest just pointed out:

The words 'taxation', 'political power', 'government', 'value', 'law' and 'territory' also describe things which are, to all intents and purposes, imaginary.

So yeah, that ground that you fall on when you get drunk -- that's always going to be there whether you believe in it or not. That hundred grand in unmarked twenties you've got stashed away in your basement -- it may not be going anywhere but if the world financial markets finally do crash and burn, it will have more value as wallpaper than currency.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on May 7, 2011


incidences of atheists being "persecuted"

I don't see how this is relevant to the articles in the OP, which have nothing to do with the persecution of atheists. If you're going to rag on people for what you think is setting up false equivalencies, try to avoid setting up "This bit of political theater in Iran is similar to how political theater in the USA could play out" and "Iran's theocracy is similar to the USA's theocracy" as being equivalent. One can suggest the former without suggesting the latter.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:35 AM on May 7, 2011


Right, because two people without political power asking a question that they obviously both think is silly and then deciding that no, Obama is not the anti-christ is very close to charging someone with sorcery.

1. Remember when one or two people with no political power were saying saying crazy shit about how Obama wasn't born in the United States? Those idiots with the stupid tricornered hats? Remember how we called them "teabaggers" and made fun of them and we never heard from them again? Good times, good times...

2. I said "getting closer," not "very close." I didn't make the argument that "we're just as bad." But...well, I saw the parallels* pretty quickly.

* Parallel lines, you should remember, never meet.
posted by PlusDistance at 10:36 AM on May 7, 2011


2. I said "getting closer," not "very close." I didn't make the argument that "we're just as bad." But...well, I saw the parallels* pretty quickly.

That's a cop out; the obvious implication of what you, and a bunch of other people in this thread have said is "look out, this is coming to the US" and that's patently nonsense. We might be having fights over the exact parameters of the separation between church and state, but we're light years away from sorcery trials. The only reason to deny this is because you believe you can score points on the opposition by tying them to something crazy.

The fact that we're so far away from being like Iran is pretty obvious if you actually watch the clip you linked to: it's a three year old clip of Glenn Beck(whose show got cancelled) and John Hagee(whose not even that influential in contemporary evangelical politics) having a laugh at the expense of people who believe something even crazier than they do. You can draw precisely ZERO conclusions from that about the direction the United States is moving in.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:50 AM on May 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"This bit of political theater in Iran is similar to how political theater in the USA could play out" and "Iran's theocracy is similar to the USA's theocracy" as being equivalent. One can suggest the former without suggesting the latter.

What incidents in recent American history involve one unelected government agent removing another unelected government agent because of supernatural actions?

None, it's an American bashing derail. As I said before, we all know about American religiosity, but we do have strong protection for religious belief here as well.

A closer comparison might be made to European countries which have laws that actively supress religious expression, such as the Minaret and Burqa bans. The fact that America is religious does not mean our government is on that same path.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:52 AM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


those qualities don't make a theocracy, or even an incipience

I'm all for watching dictators like Ahmadinejad and his bosses get shown the door, but it seems weird to be all rah-rah about it when the United States adds "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, generally portrays atheists as Others and otherwise bases social legislation on what Republicans think Rambo Jesus would do. I guess I see less as a derail and more of a, "Doctor, heal thyself" prescription. Time for djinn and tonics, perhaps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2011


The difference for America is the general trend is towards social liberalism, which reflects the changing attitudes of the country. Our system of government allows for this, an Ayatollah with thugs makes it a bit harder.

In other words, the Doctor is working on it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:03 AM on May 7, 2011


Fascinating Fact: There is one openly atheist member of Congress - Pete Stark.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:16 AM on May 7, 2011


Not so long ago
posted by adamvasco at 11:24 AM on May 7, 2011


The difference for America is the general trend is towards social liberalism

The trend is really towards economic liberalism, with a narrow set of social aspects following for specific groups of marginalized people who can afford to move to cities and buy freedom-plus. In addition to Elizabeth Dole's campaign ad and the Pledge of Allegiance, more recent examples of religion clawing its way into the affairs of state include the gradual death-by-thousand-paper-cuts to rights to reproductive healthcare choice, the redefinition of rape, the state-sanctioned Othering of Muslim-Americans through surveillance, threats of violence against atheists, generals running the country's wars for Christ, and so on. While the US is certainly not a theocracy on the level of Iran, to suggest Christianity hasn't significantly manipulated decision-making at various levels in our country is just not a reality-based position.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 AM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


None, it's an American bashing derail. As I said before, we all know about American religiosity, but we do have strong protection for religious belief here as well.

I think what maybe didn't come across in my post is the emphasis I'm placing on the word theater. As other posters have pointed out, this is not about witchcraft, ultimately; without getting into whether or not the Ayatollah really believes in magic, it seems pretty safe to say that if Ahmadinejad and Khomeini were getting along fine right now, these guys would not be getting arrested even if they were flying around on carpets during rush hour.

The basic story here, as I see it, is that a belief in magic by one guy is being used as a political attack point by his opponent; I am suggesting, not as an American-bashing derail but as a contrast to the people in this thread wondering what year it is, that it is isn't as unlikely to find powerful, influential people believing in magic here in the USA in 2011 as it seems those folks would like to think; the fact that it then becomes a point of political theater in a power struggle is likewise not a sign that Iran is some backwards, unenlightened land full of savages, stuck in the Middle Ages. The closest equivalent we generally have in the USA to this kind of nakedly obvious power struggle is an election, which is why comparing this struggle to elected candidates slinging mud at each other seemed reasonable to be, even if it's not an exact 1-for-1 match.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:38 AM on May 7, 2011


Ah, right on cue BP. What happened to those djinn aand tonics? Don't know if you noticed that the "forcible" language has been removed from the bill discussed in your rape link, but the point stands I guess, and certainly the effort to limit reproductive rights is damnable, but even taking that and the surveillance of Muslims and religiosity of military brass etc etc into account does not show that the US is a theocracy on any level, and I would submit that christianity influencing policy is wholly appropriate for a country which is mostly christian.
posted by generalist at 11:46 AM on May 7, 2011


The closest equivalent we generally have in the USA to this kind of nakedly obvious power struggle is an election

No, this is not an election or theatre. It's a theocratic dictator using a ridiculous charge because he doesn't need a real one since he is a theocratic dictator.

In addition to Elizabeth Dole's campaign ad and the Pledge of Allegiance...

Yes, I am still aware of the extreme religiosity of America. Powerful forces fight against this type of abuse, which is why we don't have Burqa or Minaret bans like other nations that do not value religious expression to the same degree as we do.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:47 AM on May 7, 2011


we don't have Burqa or Minaret bans like other nations

Except on driver's licenses in Florida.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 AM on May 7, 2011


I would submit that christianity influencing policy is wholly appropriate for a country which is mostly christian.

That's not what I think. That kind of thing is what kept people like me committed against their will and subjected to electroshock therapy for a good portion of the 20th century.
posted by hippybear at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


(I should add that it is also wholly appropriate for unchristian and even, were it possible, antichristian beliefs to influence policy).
posted by generalist at 11:55 AM on May 7, 2011


even taking [a lot of examples] into account does not show that the US is a theocracy on any level

In the real world, it is possible to describe the US as having troubling theocratic aspects, without calling it a dictionary-level theocracy on the level of Iran. Certainly the two countries' respective democracies are organized and operate quite differently.

I don't subscribe to the notion that the US is entirely a democracy, because the examples I cited indicate clearly that the exercise of some political powers derives from religious belief and shared ideology within religious sects, and not from the will of all voters (including minorities).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2011


No, this is not an election or theatre. It's a theocratic dictator using a ridiculous charge because he doesn't need a real one since he is a theocratic dictator.

First off, when I say, "an election is the closest equivalent we have to X" and you say, "No, this is not X", I start to wonder if I am wasting my time.

Secondly, I wonder how you define "theater". If he doesn't need a real charge, why bother with a fake one? Why not just declare "Today we are rounding up and arresting the following Ahmadinejad supporters, because...well, just because." The trumped-up ridiculous charge (witchcraft? really?) is nothing if not theatrical.

It works because Ahmadinejad was employing Abbas Ghaffari supposedly as an exorcist, and when you're keeping an exorcist on staff you open yourself up to having it used as an attack against you, in a way reasonably analogous to the way an elected official in the USA consulting with psychics would open his/herself up to political attacks*, particularly attacks from the religious right around here.


*the way political attacks are conducted in the US, which, given that the USA is a democracy and not a theocracy, IS DIFFERENT. Since apparently the phrase "the closest equivalent we have is [something different]" is not enough to make clear that I think they are different.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2011


Except on driver's licenses in Florida.

Which is entirely reasonable.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2011


even taking [a lot of examples] into account does not show that the US is a theocracy on any level
So this Nation Prayer Breakfast you have is just theatre? and the peple who live at C Street are the clowns?
posted by adamvasco at 12:10 PM on May 7, 2011


First off, when I say, "an election is the closest equivalent we have to X" and you say, "No, this is not X", I start to wonder if I am wasting my time.

I can say with full confidence that you are wasting your time if you think you can convince me a dictator firing his stooge for silly reasons is similar to a democratic election in any meaningful way.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:11 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which is entirely reasonable.

I'm sure France thinks its own ban on religious expression is entirely reasonable, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on May 7, 2011


I'm sure France thinks its own ban on religious expression is entirely reasonable, too.

To those without agenda, there is a massive difference between, "You need to take it off for half a second so we can identify you for legal reasons if ever necessary." and "You can't fucking wear it ever."

It's a stupid and meaningless comparison and you know better.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:18 PM on May 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


a dictator firing his stooge for silly reasons is similar to a democratic election

Ahh, so when all three of those articles talk about "power struggle", "row between leaders", "clash" "public confrontation", they really mean "dictator firing his stooge".

And yeah, "silly reasons" never have an effect on democratic elections, as we all know.

...Yeah, I think we're done here. I'm not sure what you're on about, but it sure isn't the text of those articles, or the text of my posts.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:22 PM on May 7, 2011


To those without agenda, there is a massive difference between, "You need to take it off for half a second so we can identify you for legal reasons if ever necessary." and "You can't fucking wear it ever."

The premise is that the restriction on the driver's license is for identity purposes and not because of general anti-Muslim sentiment. In a state where its officials already have a long and storied reputation for being assholes towards minorities of all stripes. So, while there's an abstract argument for putting restrictions on religious dress on a driver's license, I'm not sure I agree entirely with that premise as it applies to this particular use case.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on May 7, 2011


So maybe one state in the US had bad intentions when it did something vastly less theocratic than nations like France and Switzerland have done.

Fair enough.

Ahh, so when all three of those articles talk about "power struggle", "row between leaders", "clash" "public confrontation", they really mean "dictator firing his stooge".

Yes, the ultimate power is in religious hands. It isn't with Ahmadinejad or the people of Iran, which is why they can do things like make up accusations Iranians don't take seriously to remove a President they didn't even vote for anyway.

I may have been to strident in objecting to the word "theatre", my objection is closer to comparing this to American political theatre.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:33 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So maybe one state in the US had bad intentions when it did something vastly less theocratic than nations like France and Switzerland have done.

I'm just questioning what you said originally, your original reasoning, that what Florida did was entirely reasonable. No room for doubt. Virtually no one who does something like this would call themselves unreasonable. France wouldn't call what they are doing unreasonable, even while having a shitty history of religious persecution from the Crusades, up to Dreyfus and WWII, and today. France has no room for doubt and reflection, nonetheless.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:44 PM on May 7, 2011


And if Florida isn't enough for you, here's an example of anti-Muslim sentiment codified into law in Oklahoma. A state where there are "30,000 [Muslims] out of a population of 3.7 million" and where Sharia law could never, ever be democratically legislated. Is religious persecution the act of a healthy and true democracy?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:50 PM on May 7, 2011


ITS A PLOT GEORGE!
Things are shaky in the region and this split, everyone could gain.
i don't trust that. IMO, it is a diversion and carrot/bone to the people, so theatre applies.
posted by clavdivs at 12:52 PM on May 7, 2011


The Oklahoma ban bans nothing that isn't already banned. It is explicitly anti-theocratic, if over specific. All I said about Florida was that it was entirely reasonable, and it is, regardless of intentions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:54 PM on May 7, 2011


Oh, and the Oklahoma bill was blocked by a federal judge. That is precisely my point about all this, there are counters to the American nutballs that make comparisons with places like Iran or France or Switzerland not ring true.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:59 PM on May 7, 2011


All I said about Florida was that it was entirely reasonable, and it is, regardless of intentions.

So you would find nothing unreasonable with bans on religious dress of all forms in all states, or it's okay just in Florida?

No room for doubt or questioning, against the larger background of what is and has been increasingly happening across the United States over the last few decades?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:03 PM on May 7, 2011


So you would find nothing unreasonable with bans on religious dress of all forms in all states, or it's okay just in Florida?

I think a requirement of picture ID is entirely reasonable, and only works if you can see a face. I think calling it a ban on religious dress is disingenuous.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:11 PM on May 7, 2011


I think calling it a ban on religious dress is disingenuous.

The ACLU would probably disagree, strenuously enough to take a case to the Supreme Court. If you read that link, you might also find it interesting that exceptions for driver's license photo restrictions were made for Christians who objected to their pictures being taken.

While the US might look like a democracy on the surface, advertising itself to the world as such whenever it can (and wherever it starts wars), its officials behave publicly in ways that betray more complex and, perhaps, uglier truths.

Few could say seriously that the United States is functionally a theocracy in the same way that Iran is functionally a theocracy. I haven't said that. We don't have an Ayatollah who put Obama in charge, for example, no matter what FOX News says. But in many troubling respects, at various levels, both countries seem to share the habit of putting leaders in place, removing them, and setting up policy on the basis of superstitious ideologies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:23 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This whole situation from the FPP somehow reminds me of this 30-odd second segment from Swimming To Cambodia about Lao Noel (Noel Lao).

Obviously the comparison isn't exact, but we do have a lengthy history of regarding people in other countries who have a different frame of reference from ours as somehow psychiatrically... um... difficult.
posted by hippybear at 1:25 PM on May 7, 2011


Yes, the ultimate power is in religious hands. It isn't with Ahmadinejad or the people of Iran, which is why they can do things like make up accusations Iranians don't take seriously to remove a President they didn't even vote for anyway.

Ahmadinejad has not been fired/impeached/removed from power. When you say that this is "a dictator firing his stooge", and I suggest to you that maybe it's not, it's not that we have different understandings of Iranian politics (though I think we do), it's that you are factually incorrect. This is not a dictator firing his stooge; nobody's been fired. This is theater; political posturing dressed up in outlandish costumes.

And while you appear to have a kneejerk hate reaction to anyone using "USA" and "Iran" in the same post, the fact of the matter is that we pull similar sorts of crap (within the constraints of our different political system) around here too. That is not an anti-American point I am making; I am just trying to avoid the "othering" of Iran that is all to easy when headlines like this come up.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:26 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I say we should ban swimwear and shorts that cover men's thighs while we ban the burqa. It may make you feel uncomfortable at first....but forcing men to hide their ding dong is slavery.
posted by humanfont at 1:35 PM on May 7, 2011


I know the ACLU disagrees on the legal grounds, it's one of few cases I disagree with them on. Some states require the picture, some make the exceptions. I find either point of view reasonable.

It's a question that balances religious freedom with other legal concerns, a balance that is present in a lot of cases since religious freedom is not absolute. I would love for Rastas to be allowed to smoke pot, for example, but I can see the reasonable position against it with has nothing to do with intention to oppress them.

But in many troubling respects, at various levels, both countries seem to share the habit of putting leaders in place, removing them, and setting up policy on the basis of superstitious ideologies.

Hitler v. OJ. Yes, OJ killed people. The scale for the comparison is wrong. You pick on the US because you live here (IIRC) and we are imperialist assholes who can't mind our own business, but there are so many countries in between Iran and the US on the theocracy scale that it makes no sense for the US to be the point of comparison. The US has fundamental flaws, but religious freedom is something we do pretty well. Yes, even in comparison to some Western industrialized nations that I generally look up to.

And while you appear to have a kneejerk hate reaction to anyone using "USA" and "Iran" in the same post, the fact of the matter is that we pull similar sorts of crap (within the constraints of our different political system) around here too.

Sure, in the sense France and Switzerland do the same things or any nation on Earth does, this is why the comparison is meaningless. It's like comparing other nations to the US when it comes to being war mongering dicks. We are the fucking kings, I don't care if Estonia does a little bit of it too, they aren't in our ballpark.

Ahmadinejad has not been fired/impeached/removed from power. When you say that this is "a dictator firing his stooge", and I suggest to you that maybe it's not, it's not that we have different understandings of Iranian politics (though I think we do), it's that you are factually incorrect. This is not a dictator firing his stooge; nobody's been fired.

You seem to have misread "firing" as "fired".

I am just trying to avoid the "othering" of Iran that is all to easy when headlines like this come up.

And I'm trying to avoid the America bashing that always comes up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know the ACLU disagrees on the legal grounds, it's one of few cases I disagree with them on. Some states require the picture, some make the exceptions. I find either point of view reasonable.

From the ACLU's overview:

"The State's purpose in issuing a driver's license under Florida law, as set out in the statute itself, is not for purposes of identification. Rather, it is a certification that the individual has met all requirements necessary to drive in Florida and a mechanism to keep unqualified drivers off the roads. A driver's license is not an ID card."

What is your basis for your disagreement with the ACLU's analysis? They claim that Florida's own laws indicate that their driver's license isn't an ID card. You seem to claim that the ACLU is wrong (or that you disagree with them, at least).

Assuming for a moment that the ACLU is correct, that the functionality of the driver's license is not for identification, by what other means should Florida be allowed to discriminate on what appears to be the basis of Sultaana Freeman's religious affiliation?

Assuming that the ACLU is incorrect, that a Florida driver's license is, in fact, a form of identification, why and how is the ACLU factually incorrect?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2011


Sure, in the sense France and Switzerland do the same things or any nation on Earth does, this is why the comparison is meaningless.

You're right, France and Switzerland and every nation on earth does these things; that is exactly the point I am trying to make here. It's not a "comparison", it's drawing a connection between us and them. It's saying that we are, in important ways, just the same as these people, so to heap scorn on them for being silly and superstitious and backwards is the wrong response. If that's "not meaningful" to you, so be it; I'm not sure why it seems to be so offensive to you, though.

You seem to have misread "firing" as "fired".

Ah, you can see the future! Don't suppose you give out stock tips? Doesn't change the fact that this is theater. Maybe it's theater to pave the way for a firing, but this is not an instrumental part of the actual firing, unless you really believe that Ahmadinejad's on-call exorcist is instrumental in keeping him in power.

It's like comparing other nations to the US when it comes to being war mongering dicks. We are the fucking kings
...
And I'm trying to avoid the America bashing that always comes up.

...'kay.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:50 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


. The way to avoid "the othering of Iran" is not by making patently false equivalencies. And the leaders of Iran have done an adequate job of othering themselves. (Of course, those arguing that the US is also a theocracy, just different in kind and, grudgingly, scale, are incapable of acknowledging that Iranians or anyone else are independent agents; all that they do is determined by the monstrous imperialist puppetmaster; their actions can only be relevant insofar as they relate to the US).
posted by generalist at 1:52 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess the reason this thread has derailed completely is that no one really knows what they are talking about. That said, from the outside, it makes sense to compare American "Christianity" with the official Iranian version of Islam. I mean, I always have difficulty believing American politicians who claim to be "Christian" in the American sense of the word, because it's patently absurd, even for people with conservative view-points. It's not the same as believing in magic, but it is equally absurd. (Yes, I know the European way is absurd too, I'm not saying anyone is smarter here).
So maybe the Iranian leadership believes this, and then maybe not. What matters is there is a huge power-struggle among a flock of authoritarian thugs, who disagree about how best to prevent a secular democracy.
I don't have any idea, either, of how this struggle will effect the future of Iran. I did notice something in the first link that might be relevant, though. When I was in Iran, I noticed a huge amount of popular nationalist and Zoroastrian imagery everywhere we went. Apart from the fact that I met far more actual Zoroastrians than I'd thought from the official statistics, I also met several ordinary people who were nominally Muslims, but who defended Iranian nationalism and Zoroastrianism fervently. I have no idea wether this is some subtle sign of resistance or a real religious movement or something entirely different. The question I felt rose from the first link was: is "magic" some sort of code for "paganism"? Is Ahmedinejad and his friends who are populists, if not popular, getting too far off the Islamic order for his own good?
Also, what is clear in Iran is that with every regime-change since the coup in 1953, more unresolved complexities have been shoved under the carpet. The Iranian carpet now hides a mountain range of stuff that doesn't fit into the image of a Shiite theocracy. Even opponents of the regime agree that the purpose of the Supreme Leader is to somehow direct a common way for all these fragments. Which is probably a fundamentally wrong solution. (But not essentially different from the west supporting military dictatorships in order to preserve status quo in fractured societies).
posted by mumimor at 1:55 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the leaders of Iran have done an adequate job of othering themselves.

At the risk of Godwinning this thread, the people who denigrate others into sub- or non-human status never blame themselves. It's an entirely reasonable thing to do, after all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2011


This is not just a dictator firing a stooge. Iranian politics are much more complicated. This is like Kremlinology in the old days with different factions fighting it out, and occasional blood baths.
posted by humanfont at 2:01 PM on May 7, 2011


Wow this thread got weird. People arguing over the epistemological basis whether or not magic is "real"? Seriously?

Also, this struck out at me:
it may not be going anywhere but if the world financial markets finally do crash and burn, it will have more value as wallpaper than currency.
So first of all: Just because something is potentially ephemeral doesn't mean it's not 'real'. Volcanic eruptions are short lived, but very real. It seems like people in this thread are suffering from a kind of category error where they are confusing things that exist in people's minds with things that exist, or don't, in the real world.

Secondly the article claims that inflation lead to the rise of Hitler, but actually Krugman points out that the timing is wrong on that: Inflation was over way before Hitler took power.

---

Also, the FL ID card thing, there's obviously no reason to require a photograph on a driver's license. Either you can drive or you can't, and a photo ID isn't useful for identifying someone in a burqua anyway (think about it). If you have to actually take someone in and arrest them you can use fingerprints as an ID.

---

The interesting thing about Ahmadinejad is that he actually tried to find common ground with the Green Movement after the election but the supreme leadership actually told him not to do it.
posted by delmoi at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2011



You're right, France and Switzerland and every nation on earth does these things; that is exactly the point I am trying to make here. It's not a "comparison", it's drawing a connection between us and them.


That's fine. Connection established.

We have also established there are significant differences and that using humanity in general or other more theocratic nations as your examples might be a better way to make the case.

just the same as these people, so to heap scorn on them for being silly and superstitious and backwards is the wrong response.

*faceplam* No, we aren't just the same.

I don't think Iranians are silly or superstitious, I think they are not convinced remotely that the falling out is a result of djinn.

Assuming that the ACLU is incorrect, that a Florida driver's license is, in fact, a form of identification, why and how is the ACLU factually incorrect?


BP, I'm not a lawyer. If you want to work out the details of the case here is the decision, you can let us know where they went wrong.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:09 PM on May 7, 2011


BP, I'm not a lawyer.

I'm just questioning your unequivocal claim that Florida refused Freeman her right to wear religious dress, because a driver's license is a form of identification:

"You need to take it off for half a second so we can identify you for legal reasons if ever necessary."

Florida law apparently says a driver's license is not a form of identification.

I'm not a lawyer, either, but it seems, rationally, that both of you cannot be simultaneously right: Either the ACLU is wrong about the purpose or function of the driver's license in the state of Florida, or you are. So which is it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2011


Florida law apparently says a driver's license is not a form of identification.

It is interesting that the department which issues ID cards accepts driver's licenses as a form of proof of identification suitable for obtaining an ID card.

So no matter what the law says, the fact of the matter is that a driver's license is regarded as a form of ID by the very body which should know the laws.
posted by hippybear at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2011


And next, FXG, prove the French law literally says, "You can't fucking wear it ever."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:25 PM on May 7, 2011


i'm genuinely curious if we had a poll in the US, how many americans would want to make witchcraft, satanism and sorcery a crime. I'm betting about 30%
posted by empath at 2:36 PM on May 7, 2011


Iran's political and religious leadership have never pooped on my floor.

You've got carpet.


My cat is a djinn?

This explains a lot...
posted by jrochest at 2:39 PM on May 7, 2011


i'm genuinely curious if we had a poll in the US, how many americans would want to make witchcraft, satanism and sorcery a crime. I'm betting about 30%

Apparently it was on the books in England until 1951, and still on the books in Israel (by what sounds to me like a technicality showing the problems of excessive copy&pasting when you set up your legal code).
posted by mstokes650 at 2:45 PM on May 7, 2011


Apparently it was on the books in England until 1951

If you read the article, since 1735 the law actually banned pretending to be a witch, rather then actually being a witch. Clearly a violation of freedom of religion, but not something indicating that people actually believed in witchcraft.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on May 7, 2011


If you read the article, since 1735 the law actually banned pretending to be a witch, rather then actually being a witch. Clearly a violation of freedom of religion, but not something indicating that people actually believed in witchcraft.

Well... unless the law was to prevent pretenders, but allowed actual witches.... :)
posted by hippybear at 3:43 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the risk of conflating two fave Mefi themes - the Western world puts drugs in the same compartment as the one in which witchcraft is filed elsewhere. A very useful, popularly accepted shorthand for evil, that you can use to short-circuit all that Enlightenment nonsense of actually determining the harm done by people you don't much like.

Witchcraft qua witchcraft went off the books here in the UK a while ago because the lawyers said that it was essentially untestable in a court of law. As soon as you invoke the supernatural you can't apply empiricism, and without empiricism you can't use dispassionate, disinterested tests to determine what actually happened. And if you want to be fair to all-comers - and for all its manifold failures, the law gets its authority from an appeal to fairness - you can't abandon empiricism.

So yes, a judicial system where witchcraft is extant is broken. But motes and beams apply.
posted by Devonian at 6:30 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is akin to the Great Purges in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. It is internal, elite politics by other means.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:34 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


...prove the French law literally says, "You can't fucking wear it ever."

Oh, that's what it says, alright. But it's more like "You cahn't facKING wheh-ya eet, EH-VEHR!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is akin to the Great Purges in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

Akin to the Great Purges is more than a bit of a stretch.
posted by blucevalo at 1:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think he meant in death toll, but in regards to the politics of it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:12 PM on May 8, 2011


Except our Presidential Chief of Staff isn't charged with sorcery. There is a difference, you know.

Give the House Republicans another year.
posted by EarBucket at 6:34 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


This isn't a purge it is deck chairs on the Titanic. Iran is very broken. The clerics wont survive.
posted by humanfont at 7:42 PM on May 8, 2011


Angels Among Us? Tornado Survivors Say Yes
posted by Legomancer at 10:22 AM on May 9, 2011


Ahmadinejad says West to blame for drought in Iran
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on May 23, 2011


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