what real censorship looks like
July 12, 2003 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Further Iranian Oppression. The "government" of Iran has evidently teamed up with Cuba in efforts to further suppress the growing democratic movement in Iran by jamming pro-democracy satellite broadcasts. Two un-elected governments combining forces to make sure that their will is enforced, not that of their citizens.
posted by jsonic (62 comments total)
 
World stunned as dictatorship prevents media access.

Oh, wait! They're not our allies! Outrage!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:40 AM on July 12, 2003


World stunned as "liberals" ignore this because there's no way to blame the US.

Oh, wait! I'm being sarcastic! Outrage!

(Now, wasn't Cuba, with Syria and Libya part of the axis of not quite as evil?)
posted by swerdloff at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2003


Why are governments that are not created by the will of their citizens allowed to exist? People that have no method of forming the country in which they live are slaves. Does the free world have an obligation to help change this situation? Or does the soverignty of a country trump the freedom of its people?
posted by jsonic at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2003


sovereignty, that is.
posted by jsonic at 11:46 AM on July 12, 2003


I'm not saying this is acceptable. I'm saying that all our dictator buddies in China and Saudi Arabia have been doing this for years without many news stories.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2003


World stunned as dictatorship prevents media access.

Actually, Iran is a theocratic republic.
posted by jsonic at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2003


There are more links on this in this WarFilter thread.
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2003


Why are governments that are not created by the will of their citizens allowed to exist?

obviously they have the guns, stupid.
posted by angry modem at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2003


obviously they have the guns, stupid.

That might stop their citizens, but if you read my comment, I was asking why the free world allows them to exist. The free world has guns too, not that fighting is the only solution.
posted by jsonic at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2003


Sure, and North Korea is a Democratic People's Republic. If a political leader is unelected, that's a dictatorship pure and simple, even if his underlings are elected.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2003


Sure, and North Korea is a Democratic People's Republic

Actually, North Korea is classified as authoritarian socialist; one-man dictatorship. I think you're confusing NK's conventional name with their actual form of government.
posted by jsonic at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2003


No, I was kidding.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:39 PM on July 12, 2003


I know. You were trying to equate calling Iran a theocratic republic with calling NK a Democratic People's Republic. You are confusing government type with country name.

theocratic republic = actual form of government in Iran
Democratic People's Republic = conventional name for NK
posted by jsonic at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2003


I can't get the link to work, but I heard about this on the news last night. It may be in the link, but I have a question. How does a third world country jam an American satellite?
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2003


Why are governments that are not created by the will of their citizens allowed to exist?

1. Because removing such governments requires killing a lot of people, most of whom don't deserve it.

2. Because removing such governments creates not good governments, but chaos, which kills even more innocents.

3. Because "good government," however you choose to define it, cannot be imposed by force. It can only come from within the country itself.

4. Because the citizens of other countries aren't children, waiting for someone to come rescue them. When they've decided that enough is enough, revolution will come. It's their country, after all.
posted by SPrintF at 1:43 PM on July 12, 2003


Why are governments that are not created by the will of their citizens allowed to exist?

Humans lived under the rulership of kings and emperors for how many millenium?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2003


Because the citizens of other countries aren't children, waiting for someone to come rescue them. When they've decided that enough is enough, revolution will come. It's their country, after all.


Yeah, why didn't the Jews do more to stop Hitler?
posted by Mick at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2003


The Iranian government is actually pretty complex and multi-layered. It's not entirely proper to say that it's undemocratic; you might refer to the structure of the Iranian government as a "revolutionary republic". There's a dual executive consisting of the Leader of the Revolution (the Ayatollah) and the President. The Leader of the Revolution is appointed (for life?) by an Islamic council. The President is democratically elected. There's also a unicameral legislature, elected by popular vote. Suffrage is universal in Iran above the age of 15 (so you might say that Iran is more democratic than the U.S., if you happen to be 16 years old). A popular majority of Iranian citizens voted for the current president (another contrast with the U.S.!).

Of course, in real terms, the unelected Leader of the Revolution has a great deal of power. This power is in tension, however, with the populist power that backs the elected government. It's certainly not an ideal democracy by any means, but the people do exercise some authority through the elected government. They're not "slaves". I think that, by any measure, Iran is more democratic than, say, Saudi Arabia.

How does a third world country jam an American satellite?

It's just radio, man. It's not like we have advanced psionic-projection technology or something.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2003


3. Because "good government," however you choose to define it, cannot be imposed by force. It can only come from within the country itself.

This essay about the British in India argues otherwise, but it also admits that imposing "good government" takes a long time. The British were enthusiastic and patient about it, but the US is arguably an empire in denial.
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2003


Yeah, why didn't the Jews do more to stop Hitler?

more to the point, why didn't the Germans (Jewish or otherwise) do more? I think we in the US are finding that out right now, and the next few years are going to be very interesting and no doubt very tragic.

also, considering how technically simple it is to do these jamming tricks, I wouldn't make any assumptions just yet about who was responsible.
posted by dorian at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2003


4. Because the citizens of other countries aren't children, waiting for someone to come rescue them. When they've decided that enough is enough, revolution will come. It's their country, after all.

There's a little room for compromise. There ought to be a well defined mechanism by which revolting citizens, if they can somehow demonstrate that they represent the will of the majority, can petition the UN for assistance. It'd still be extremely difficult to gather such proof under a brutal government stamping out free speech and public gatherings, but still, the mechanism ought to be there.
posted by badstone at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2003


1. Because removing such governments requires killing a lot of people, most of whom don't deserve it.

Un-elected rulers kill many people who don't deserve it too.

2. Because removing such governments creates not good governments, but chaos, which kills even more innocents.

Not true in the case of Germany and Japan.

Because "good government," however you choose to define it, cannot be imposed by force. It can only come from within the country itself.

Not if the ruler has sufficient military power to quell rebellions.

4. Because the citizens of other countries aren't children, waiting

What Mick said.
posted by jsonic at 2:11 PM on July 12, 2003


There ought to be a well defined mechanism by which revolting citizens, if they can somehow demonstrate that they represent the will of the majority, can petition the UN for assistance. It'd still be extremely difficult to gather such proof under a brutal government stamping out free speech and public gatherings, but still, the mechanism ought to be there.

sounds kinda like the ICC. oh wait, we don't support the ICC 'round hyah, do we?
posted by dorian at 2:15 PM on July 12, 2003


Humans lived under the rulership of kings and emperors for how many millenium?

That's no reason to continue to allow un-elected governments to exist. I'm not necessarily claiming that force is the only way to remove them. Just not sure why the free-world isn't doing more to assist those under un-democratic governments.
posted by jsonic at 2:16 PM on July 12, 2003


jsonic, the 'real world' (fantastic program btw) doesn't operate within the black and white morals that you're trying to attach to it. i admire your good will and it would be awesome if we could make all the bad guys go away but it ain't gonna happen. i wish i could do something about all the millions of starving people in the world, etc. etc...

i was watching animal planet today and witnessed a lion hunt down and kill two helpless cheetah cubs and i was devastated (still am thinking about it...ugggh!). however, the world is what it is. we do what we can but it will never be the garden of eden. maybe in the next life.
posted by poopy at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2003


La-la-la-la! I'm not listening!

I'm off to cuba on my honeymoon in 3 months. don't scare me...
posted by twine42 at 2:53 PM on July 12, 2003


How does a third world country jam an American satellite?

Glad you asked. It's actually a very simple process. See, while most of the satellite transmission is encrypted/scrambled, the satellite itself is just a dumb chorus, echoing whatever is sent to it (called a transponder), then beaming back whatever is sent down to Earth. In other words, the content of the transmission is irrelevant: it doesn't matter whether the signal is scrambled or not. Most TV stations use simple (as in small) dishes to send (relatively) low power transmissions to these satellites.

If you happen to direct a transmission to one of these satellites, and your signal is of higher power than the TV station's signal, the other signal gets swamped out, and thus ignored by the satellite. All you need is a dish with some juice, the exact location of the satellite in space, the frequency it listens to, and the proper code for the signal to be accepted. This technique has been used in several books (Tom Clancy comes to mind), and movies (The Running Man, for instance). A hacker actually pirated HBO in 1986 (discussed in depth in a Phrack issue -- go Google it) when the channel started scrambling their signal and forcing viewers to pay subscriptions for their service. More recently (last year) a Chinese satellite broadcast was taken over for a few days by the Falun Gong (sp?).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:55 PM on July 12, 2003


also, considering how technically simple it is to do these jamming tricks, I wouldn't make any assumptions just yet about who was responsible.

Well, according to the article:
One of the sources said that Loral, working with transmitter location expert TLS Inc. of Chantilly, Va., had further fixed the location as “20 miles outside of Havana.” Cuba’s main electronic eavesdropping base, at Bejucal, is about 20 miles outside of the Cuban capital. The base, built for Cuba by the Russians in the early 1990’s, monitors and intercepts satellite communications.

and...
“There are ways of determining the location of the interference,” he added. “It is complex and time-consuming. Basically, you look at minimal interference other nearby satellites are experiencing and then you triangulate.”
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2003


"That's no reason to continue to allow un-elected governments to exist."

So what was the reason for the US to support the Shah of Iran?
posted by raaka at 4:15 PM on July 12, 2003


There seems to have been this huge flip-flop from Liberals and Conservatives. In the past, conservatives worried about this country and our own problems, and then the outside world. Liberals are now taking that role, and conservatives seem to be taking the role of rescuing the world, whether it be for good and noble reasons, or imperialistic virtue, of which is subjective at this point and can not really be defined.

Fact is, when the French were tired of King Louis XVI, and his mistreatment of the poor, they revolted and brought about the French Revolution. You can not force democracy onto people, they have to want it. And if they want it bad enough, they will do something about it.

"Your Highness, the people, they are revolting." "You said it, they stink on ice."
posted by benjh at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2003


You can not force democracy onto people, they have to want it.

I could see people not wanting capitalism and western morals forced on them, but not democracy.

Is it even possible to force democracy on someone? Democracy, at its most basic level, is simply the right to help form the government and laws of your country. Does there exist some population that strongly believes that they, personally, should have no say in the government of their country?
posted by jsonic at 4:48 PM on July 12, 2003


So what was the reason for the US to support the Shah of Iran?

The cold war. Remember the Soviets? and MAD? Yeah. That. It was a "proxy war" down in the middle east.

People seem to forget that most of the enemies that the US has right now (N.K., Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, and the Palestinians) are all Protege of the Soviets.

Just because the Berlin Wall came down and Russia is nominally not communist anymore doesn't mean that those groups automatically forget what they learned _or_ agree to take down their walls.
posted by swerdloff at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2003


Two un-elected governments combining forces to make sure that their will is enforced, not that of their citizens.

I know the feeling.
posted by the fire you left me at 5:16 PM on July 12, 2003


Is it even possible to force democracy on someone?

fucking christ jsonic, that is really scary.
posted by poopy at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2003


twine42, I just got back from Cuba (was there during the protests against Spain right before Cuba took over their Embassy). I found it a very safe place to travel (no one even gave me any shit from coming from the US ;-) ), and found that most people were willing to speak their mind on current events at home and abroad - plenty of these opinions were moderate criticism of certain policies or officials, including el Jefe himself. Make sure to get out of Havana or the tourist enclave of Varadero to actually see Cuba, and have a good honeymoon.
posted by whatzit at 6:03 PM on July 12, 2003


that is really scary.

Why?
posted by jsonic at 6:09 PM on July 12, 2003


jsonic... the current situation in iraq might lead one to believe that there are some people in the world who don't want to be ruled over, invaded, ordered, etc...

what if i - a health nut - walked into your home and forced you to drink water instead of pepsi?
posted by poopy at 6:17 PM on July 12, 2003


some people in the world who don't want to be ruled over, invaded, ordered, etc...

I totally agree. What I'm talking about is removing (or helping to remove) un-elected dictatorships and allowing the citizens of these nations to form their own governments.

what if i - a health nut - walked into your home and forced you to drink water instead of pepsi?

I am not promoting forcing Western values or culture on these countries. I simply want them to have the chance to form their own governments, rather than be ruled over by military or religious dictatorships.

No inhabitant of the earth should be forced to live under a government that they have no say in.
posted by jsonic at 6:26 PM on July 12, 2003


The Bush Administration is getting into some hot water about its rationale for invading Iraq--but wait!

The 'government' of Iran has evidently teamed up with Cuba in efforts to further suppress the growing democratic movement in Iran by jamming pro-democracy satellite broadcasts.

Coming up next on our Axis of Evil Invasion Tour! Soon we'll find out they put people into giant shredders and have mass graves, and whaddaya know, weapons of mass destruction!

(Mustn't...quote...Orwell.)
posted by kirkaracha at 6:33 PM on July 12, 2003


Two un-elected governments combining forces to make sure that their will is enforced, not that of their citizens.

So what was the reason for the US to support the Shah of Iran?

The cold war....


Oh. I think I've bent my mind sufficiently to finally get this.

Because of "the cold war" it was OK for the United States to "jam" Iranian citizen's aversion to the Shah, so to speak, Our Interests and all that, don't you know.

Although you say Cuba is still in the horrible grips of "the cold war" (no doubt a veritable Ice Cuba) it is NOT OK for Cuba to supposedly "jam" Iranian aversion to the current leadership.

OK. NOT OK.

I think I've got it now. Oceania is at war with Eurasia, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.....(sorry kirkaracha!)

Gad. Imagine what a miserable excuse for a country we'd be if, like those horrible Cubans, the United States had propped up other dictatorships in the middle east that oppressed their people....purely for our Own Interests.

Oh, wait....

The hypocrisy and doublethink of Neocon apologists never, ever fails to amuse....
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:51 PM on July 12, 2003


jsonic: I was asking why the free world allows them to exist.

Because the "free" world has many, many, many times over the past century actively supported and even created these very same governments?

Because as long as they don't affect their interests, the "free" world doesn't give a fuck?
posted by signal at 7:17 PM on July 12, 2003


"allows them to exist"-- as if the "free" world has the ability to NOT allow them to exist. Geez jsonic, everything is so simple to you.
posted by jojo at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2003


You think the combined forces of the free world wouldn't have the ability to remove an un-elected government from power? Even recent history invalidates your argument. Nice ad hominem, though.
posted by jsonic at 7:34 PM on July 12, 2003


Just not sure why the free-world isn't doing more to assist those under un-democratic governments.

you think highly of the "free-world", i'd ask what motivation it would have for helping them? profit? more power?

I actually do agree with you though that democracy is something that we should assume people want, regardless of their current governmental systems. It is a matter of human rights. People should have the right to help determine the decisions of their government.
posted by rhyax at 7:39 PM on July 12, 2003


rhyax, your mention of human rights reminded me of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A quick search of the document reveals the following:

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
posted by jsonic at 8:00 PM on July 12, 2003


jsonic, does it say anything in there about the right to moderate your own threads?
posted by signal at 9:03 PM on July 12, 2003


Why are governments that are not created by the will of their citizens allowed to exist?

Man, and standard right-wing rhetoric claims that liberals are naive...

Just joining the pile on here, but really, jsonic, you've asked, nay begged, for it.
posted by jokeefe at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2003


(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

We're in violation. To pick an issue almost at random, Michael Powell, an unelected appointee, was at liberty to ignore overwhelming public response in his courtship of the media. I'm sure it would not be difficult to find a couple of million other examples. Let's see, Dick Cheney and his energy policy meetings...

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

Everyone who can put his hands on millions of campaign dollars, one way or another.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Ha ha. I don't need to touch this one. Look no further than Greg Palast Or just google "florida voter purge". And let's not even bring up lovely new unauditable voting machines...
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:33 PM on July 12, 2003


(cough)
Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:42 PM on July 12, 2003


why the quotes around "government"?
posted by websavvy at 9:55 PM on July 12, 2003


angry modem:

Uh..... the "Nuge" bagged that elk on a preserve. Spam in a can. Fish in a barrel. "Wack 'em and stack 'em". Fair chase I'm sure.

Shoefly don't bother me.
posted by flatlander at 11:08 PM on July 12, 2003


F & M: Must be a nice world you live in where the cold war didn't happen, and the people who were trained there simply forgot what they were taught.

Yes indeedy-doo, the US (including the infamous rumsfeld handshake!) supported Saddam. We created the monster. Just after our embassies were attacked, our diplomats taken hostage and so forth across the way by Soviet trained Mullahs. And that's BAD! Because there are no instances where the United States should ever make a choice where they're between a rock and a hard place.

Never mind that, because the Cold War didn't matter, it's all part of the collective Neocon hypocrisy.

During "the cold war" we made choices to stop the Soviets that would later turn out to have been mistakes. The Shah. Saddam. Vietnam. Of course, at the time, we had a large block of countries hell bent on dominating the world just like we were, and these proxy wars were how we fought them.

Didn't say it was right, so don't misconstrue what i say while making your "argument." I just said that you have to have an awareness of where the enemy comes from (and if you're an american, the governments I listed are, for the moment, your enemy) and what the reasons for that are.

The logic of those who would dispel historical narrative as "neocon conspiracy" never ceases to dumbfound me.

Cold war - never happened. Or, in the alternative, if it did happen, no matter what the opponent, we shouldn't have made certain choices that now, in hindsight, were wrong. And even if we made those choices, We've got a PHOTO.

Feh.
posted by swerdloff at 12:11 AM on July 13, 2003


Jesus, all of you shut the fuck up.
posted by solistrato at 12:20 AM on July 13, 2003


Sorry to derail the derailment of the actual post, but why in the world would you expect a country to let propaganda stream in to their borders? Is it really a symptom of oppressive government, as the wording of the post suggests, to block a hostile country's radio broadcast aimed at your citizens?
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:24 AM on July 13, 2003


...and is it really any different than the stop-gaps put on communist materials in the 50s in the US? Was that justifiable?

We're talking about a country that is really an religious ran country. (No, not the US, silly goose, we're a religious run, and I use this word loosely, democracy.) Are the people receptive to this? And who is to say that they won't elect a similar nutjob as soon as they have their first chance?
posted by benjh at 5:13 AM on July 13, 2003


...but why in the world would you expect a country to let propaganda stream in to their borders?

I had a tough time with this, trying to think of words to express something that, to me, is so basic that it doesn't really need to be articulated at all. I don't (and wouldn't if I were a citizen of Cuba) want my government to tell me what to read or view. The government, by jamming the signal, has removed the option from the citizens of deciding whether or not it has value. If a government is based on truth and honesty, then propaganda wouldn't do any lasting harm. If it is based on lies and oppression, then of course any signal from outside will of course disrupt the status quo.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:49 AM on July 13, 2003




but why in the world would you expect a country to let propaganda stream in to their borders?

In a free country, the citizens are not the property of the government, and it isn't the government's right or responsibility to control what messages the citizens may or may not hear.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:07 AM on July 13, 2003


Which brings up a good point, George: is the federal govt's efforts to aid US media consolidation tantamount to censorship?
posted by squirrel at 11:29 AM on July 13, 2003


Squirrel, I've heard it suggested that there's a relationship between deregulation plans and the relatively uncritical coverage the administration has enjoyed in the press, but I'm not aware of any smoking gun.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 AM on July 13, 2003


Also from the Universal declaration of human rights, which should be indeed a guide to enlightened foreign policy among democracies:

Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
...
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
...
Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


jsonic your fervour for democracy is commendable. However Iran is probably the least undemocratic sate in the region (a real democratic heaven compared to such US allies as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan). See Mr. Roboto's comment above for more information.
Also bear in mind that the people of Iran have already overthrown a despotic tyrannical government (even worse than this one): the Shah's regime. There is good reason to believe that they are on their way to depose the gang of hypocritical religious fanatics that is currently ruling their country. However the chances of a pro-american regime resulting from such an insurrection are nil.
Oh and guess who toppled the last democratic regime (Mohammad Mossadeq's) in Iran to install a bloody dictatorship?
posted by talos at 3:24 AM on July 14, 2003


I had a tough time with this, trying to think of words to express something that, to me, is so basic that it doesn't really need to be articulated at all. I don't (and wouldn't if I were a citizen of Cuba) want my government to tell me what to read or view. The government, by jamming the signal, has removed the option from the citizens of deciding whether or not it has value. If a government is based on truth and honesty, then propaganda wouldn't do any lasting harm. If it is based on lies and oppression, then of course any signal from outside will of course disrupt the status quo.

I guess the US should quit the whole Radio Marte jamming of Cuban signals then, but of course those signals work both ways you see, blast the Cubans from watching their own TV signals, while at the same time blast the wavelengths from leaking into South Florida.

Thank you talos, you took the words out of my mouth, I'm not sure what undemocratic dictatorships jsonic keeps talking about, surely he doesn't mean Iran, I mean they did overthrow a bloody despot and all we did was try and stop them, no wonder they're pissed at us hypocrites!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:37 AM on July 14, 2003


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