Iran: death penalty for “corrupt weblogs”

New legislation has been proposed in Iran that could make blogging a crime punishable by death. Cyrus Farivar has a story on today's edition of the PRI radio show The World: Iran considers harsh penalty for some bloggers (3:30).

Over at Global Voices, Hamid Tehrani writes:

On Wednesday, Iranian members of parliament voted to discuss a draft bill that seeks to “toughen punishment for disturbing mental security in society.” The text of the bill would add, “establishing websites and weblogs promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy,” to the list of crimes punishable by death.

In recent years, some Iranian bloggers have been sent to jail and many have had their sites filtered. If the Iranian parliament approves this draft bill, bloggers fear they could be legally executed as criminals. No one has defined what it means to “disturb mental security in society”.

Such discussion concerning blogs has not been unique to Iran. It shows that many authorities do not only wish to filter blogs, but also to eliminate bloggers!

A translated English copy of the proposed legislation is here. [International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran]

Image: "Women In Black," by Matthew Winterburn, who has some really neat photos of Iran in his Flickr stream.


  1. I really wish I knew more about Iranian society.

    If disturbing “mental security in society” was a crime here in the U.S., the TSA and various other agencies would be SO guilty.

  2. Jake0748:

    If you’re interested, check out Stephen Kinzer’s “All the Shah’s Men”, it gives a good insight into Iranian society through discussion of its political evolution. While I don’t agree with all his conclusions, the book is an excellent read.

  3. Jake

    Way to go with the stupid moral equivalence. In Iran, if you criticized the Iranian government in the same way as you criticized the U.S. government in these comments you could be imprisoned, tortured and executed.

    On the other hand, neither the TSA nor any agency “overseeing” the Internet are trying to kill U.S. citizens for speaking their mind.

  4. @#5, Sparkzilla: You seem to be replying to a post from Jack which says something along the lines of “The US government is just as oppressive as the Iranian one”, but I can’t find it.

    Could you point it out to me?

  5. @ #5 – you missed his point, and then you put a strawman up in front of him. Fail. I encourage you to try again, with more comprehension.

  6. “No God But God” Reza Aslan ( is on point. Islam is just beginning its own reformation; there is a huge creative class in Iran handicapped by their own rabid, conservative, opposing political forces (sound familiar)?!.

    If Israel or the US bomb, the progressive force in Iran will all naturally rally around the State to defend itself, destroying any chance for these, progressive societal forces to ascend.

    Wow, that really sounds familiar, huh!

  7. Hey,

    No war is necessary. If their policy is that much disgusting, don’t trade with them directly or indirectly. Don’t send people there. Don’t accept immigrants or refugees from there. Don’t accept investments neither let them deal with your banks. On the contrary, invest in the neighbors. In no time they’ll be in worse shape than North Korea and will have either to propose a deal or to start drinking oil or sand.

  8. I honestly don’t understand why people act so shocked when they hear this kind of news out of Iran.
    I think it might be because so many people try to draw absurd equivalencies between Iran and everyone else, that it ends up putting them in the mindset to be upset about this type of news.

    For example “Duh, if America can have nuclear weapons, why can’t Iran?”.
    That’s like saying “If an upstanding citizen can own a gun, why can’t a sociopath with a history of violent outbursts own a gun?”
    “If an adult can drive a car, why can’t a five year old drive a car?”

    Anyway, mouth breathing useful idiots are so used to saying things like that that they actually start to think of Iran as a civilized county, and then get upset when they hear about a teenage girl being executed for being disrespectful to a judge.

    Iran is a violent sociopath of a country that openly threatens not just western countries, but western culture itself, and they don’t have a right to nuclear technology, or even nuclear power.
    So that’s why, while I am saddened to read this kind of news, I am not in the least bit surprised.

    @ #9 Ah, ok. So let’s just give Islam however long it needs to drag it’s ass out of it’s dark age.
    I am sure all of the gays who are beheaded will understand that their sacrifice was worth it to bring about a reformation in 800 years.

  9. @ #12 Ah, ok. So let’s just give Islam however long it needs to drag it’s ass out of it’s dark age.

    Letting the Iranian mullahs inform your understanding of Islam is like letting President Bush inform your understanding of Christianity.

    Go ahead, but don’t expect any backup.

  10. @ #12 Agreed. But I think that best thing is blocking them and blocking people who trade with them. If China sells them reactors, well put 50% tax over Chinese imported goods and stop exporting key items like Intel processors and memories to China (fictitious example). If Iran builds a nuclear reactor, bomb the reactor but avoid bombing cities and/or civilians. Don’t let Iranian citizens to study in your universities. Don’t let them live in your cities. In no time the fundamentalist government will be cast away.

    In time: Castro was not thrown away because it was allowed to send refugees to Miami. Without this escape valve, Cuba would be democratic around 1989 or even earlier.

  11. How about they do something worse to their neighbors than we do/have done to Iran, first.

    Supporting the Shia opposition in Iraq isn’t much different from what the CIA has been doing in Iran For 30+ years. We have no high horse to ride here, unless your horse is named “Jingo”.

    The USA has earned Iran’s enmity.

  12. Embargoes don’t work because trade restrictions only harm regular people; government leadership always finds a way to smuggle in anything they want.

    As for a “sociopathic government”, take a look in the mirror USA. All “gangs with flags” tend to be sociopathic; it’s those very qualities that put themselves in power in the first place.

    Government aside, Iran is a modern nation with a modern economy. Iranians on the whole are no more fanatical than Americans (bearing in mind that a sizable demographic of people in the USA regard George W. Bush as a demigod). The problem with all revolutionary governments (China, Iran, etc.) is that they learned that revolutions work, so they slam the door shut behind them once they’re in power — assuring that what they did to the previous regime will never be done to their regime.

    Iran seeks nuclear capacity both because they don’t want to be reliant on oil for energy (which is smarter than the USA has managed so far), and because the nuclear deterrent would preclude invasion and occupation, just as neighboring Iraq was invaded and occupied. (Or, to a lesser extent, as Lebanon and Syria have partially been by US-sponsored Israel.)

    However, cultural change is the same as it ever was, in the USA, in Europe, or even Iran. It cannot be commanded with top-down authority; it’s an emergent bottom-up phenomenon such as language, market economies, and biological evolution. If you want to help liberate the people of Iran, it will require the same tools and ways of thinking as liberating ourselves from our current culture of fear.

  13. Design question: why would an article about a potential government action in a Muslim country come with a picture of a mosque instead of, say, a picture of their parliament?

  14. Can I create (or recreate) a Hobbesian style moral societal rule?

    If the civilization imposes the death penalty when there isn’t murder involved, then it is no longer a civilization. One of the reasons we agree to be ‘civilized’ is to avoid people with sharp sticks killing us at will.

    (And murder can be broadly or narrowly defined, that is for a future corollary)

    I have only one comment pertaining to what other civilized societies should do with those that don’t meet this moral rule – that is, the rule itself is formulated to restrain behavior rather than suggest it. A full consideration and list of currently non-civilized societies is left as an exercise to the reader.

  15. If the civilization imposes the death penalty when there isn’t murder involved, then it is no longer a civilization.

    If it’s that black and white than I, as an American, have an awful lot of Iraqi civillian blood on my uncivilized hands. Thanks Blackwater!

  16. #12 dequeued

    I’d completely agree if the USA would have that soap box to preach on – as it currently stands it doesn’t , no matter how much you complain about the unfairness of it all.

    If an upstanding citizen can own a gun, why can’t a sociopath with a history of violent outbursts own a gun?

    Good to see that there are ‘upstanding citizen’ tests held now…I thought you’d give a gun to any moron who’d ask for it. Which would be in line with the foreign policy, except that it’s a bit more considered in regards to usefulness.

    Iran seems to be a country with quite a progressive majority held hostage by some lunatic fundamentalist crowd, topped with an embarrassment as head of state. It’s not unheard of…

  17. Politics aside, is this photo some form of ‘please Escher, fuck with my dimensions’? Whatever, it’s gorgeous.

  18. @#5 – As you’ve already been alerted, Jake0748 is right: my mental security has been disturbed mightily. I really find it interesting North Americans are allowing this to happen.

    @#8 – The machine never sleeps.

    @#9 – This is generally the result one gets whenever a country is attacked. Yes, it does sound familiar, after witnessing our own brief coming together after 9-11. Boy did that backfire or what?

    @#12 & 16 – No one is saying there isn’t the potential for a long dark night in Iran with people waking up missing. I just don’t believe bombing is going to provide them any relief; bombing is going to disproportionably hurt the same people who would be hurt by a less destructive embargo that would leave our hands relatively clean. I am tired of the US having to wash blood from its hands and egg from its face. Besides whom are we going to trust to tell us who needs to be bombed? Bombing is like the death penalty, it can’t be undone. Embargoes can be lifted at any time. Embargoes also are more democratic, because for them to work each government or corporation that joins the effort is really voting on whether they feel the target of the embargo deserves a place at the table. Besides the cold calculating bean counters should be reminding us we can’t afford more bombs. Embargoes can work; South Africa is a good example of the ability of world opinion to affect change. Murder sucks, murder as a foreign policy tool

    @#13 – I tend to believe the Mullahs and Bush have both given us a very clear picture of their respective religions. I wholeheartedly agree with Sam Harris on this point.

    I hope this is the link I wanted to provide.

  19. @#13 – I tend to believe the Mullahs and Bush have both given us a very clear picture of their respective religions. I wholeheartedly agree with Sam Harris on this point.

    a clear picture of the fringes, or of the middle? I say fringes.

  20. the result one gets whenever a country is attacked. Yes, it does sound familiar, after witnessing our own brief coming together after 9-11. Boy did that backfire or what?

    I guess that depends on your perspective. Don Rumsfeld was probably psyched when he realized he didn’t need Viagra anymore.

  21. I believe it is a mistake to attempt to seperate the two. Fringes do not exist without the middle. Due to the unassailable nature of religious belief, moderate versions of these cults are the foundation upon which extremism is built and the bulwark behind which it hides. Every extremist grows from the seed stock of moderates.

  22. foetusnail, from your comments above:

    I tend to believe the Mullahs and Bush have both…

    What is that sentence about if it’s not about the fringes? It may be useful to paint all Iranians as blind loyalists to the mullahs, but it would be the same as saying all Americans are blind loyalists to Bush.

    Granted, we may as well be for all the good our disagreement has done, but acting like it’s true (rather than just another rhetorical device) is the sort of stuff that both the mullahs and the Bush admin say all the time – about each other – and they are very very wrong.

    It’s a shame Gallup doesn’t poll in Iran. Yet.

  23. This is difficult to explain, that is why the link to Sam Harris’ clip from his 2005 appearance at Idea City was provided. Obviously both countries are diverse in their own ways. However, the extremists of the three Semitic religions represent the unmasked, unvarnished truth of these religions. While moderates may represent a numerical majority they don’t accurately reflect the theological truths of these religions. That moderates attempt to downplay the truths found in the scriptures of these religions is dangerous, because it creates an environment that enables extremism.

    To quote Sam:

    “Another problem with religious moderation is that it is not only intellectually bankrupt, it is theologically bankrupt; because the fundamentalists have actually read the books and they are right about them. These books are every bit as intolerant, every bit as divisive as the Osama Bin Ladens of the world, or the Jerry Falwells of the world suggest, and I’m not necessarily equating the two of them in moral terms.”

    You are probably just as busy as most of us, but unless you are already familiar with Harris and just don’t want to listen to another word, or did listen and completely disagree, please find the time to listen. Your opinion would be appreciated.

  24. I believe moderate religions of either flavor would by necessity no longer be Christian or Islamic. To be theologically honest, would require the moderates rewrite their scripture, closing off the connection, the route to extremism, which ain’t happening. For instance as a show of good faith they could delete passages that allow for hatred of GLBT’s or the death sentence for blasphemers and apostates.

  25. Sorry to keep adding comments, but it is important to understand these scriptures and their derivative works are considered the literal and inerrant word of God. They are not something from which the believer can pick and choose like some theological smörgÃ¥sbord. This is why the fundamentalists get so pissed, this picking and choosing first dilutes, then ultimately discredits the entire house of cards. This is why they fight evolution so hard in this country. God’s word indicates the universe is about six thousand years old, if God is wrong about something this simple what then?

  26. @31 Foetusnail –
    I believe moderate religions of either flavor would by necessity no longer be Christian or Islamic.

    I’m a Unitarian (well, I was raised to be one anyhow), and I get that ALL THE TIME from the holier than thous, so I see where you are coming from.

    I’ll make some time for Sam’s vids, may be tomorrow though. Thanks for the clarifications.

  27. We have have been attending a Unitarian Church in our area for about a year.

    Take Care

  28. If another excuse was needed for intellectuals to escape from Iran, that ought to provide a good one.

  29. i really hope a bloodless revolution comes to pass in Iran …. and the present rulers and there 13th century ideas of a modern society pass with them…

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