Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Iran So Far

A usually handles the Tuesday Afternoon Inquisition, but she had to rescue orphans from a burning building and then vaccinate them. So I’m taking this time to point out our fancy new green Skepchick logo. Jen just whipped that up in response to Skepchick reader cycleninja, who wrote:

The people of Iran are currently in a struggle to overcome a power grab on the party of hard-liners in the wake of forged election
results from this past Friday. Many blogs and websites, including the BBC [ED: see 1st comment below], have changed their color schemes to green (the color of the opposition party) to show solidarity. Would the Skepchicks consider temporarily doing the same thing?

Yes we would consider it! So, we’re now green. We don’t delve too much into politics here, but this is a serious issue that touches on many issues that require hardcore critical thinking: government fraud (the election was called in favor of the incumbent before the votes could even begin to be counted), censorship (the government is blocking gmail and other services and requiring people to use proxies), and the spread of misinformation (as it appears the government is flooding Twitter with fake news stories).

You can follow the news on Twitter using the hashtag #IranElection and see the photos from the scene on Flickr. Here’s a CyberWar guide from BoingBoing.

Instead of a regular Afternoon Inquisition question, use this as an open thread to discuss what’s happening, if and how you’re helping, or even how this issue is highlighting the power of tools like Twitter.

Fellow Bostonians can join the protests from 5-8pm tonight in front of the State House. For other locations, check Google or event sites like Yelp or Upcoming.

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. Rebecca,

    I should hasten to point out this correction: The BBC’s site has, it turns out, always been green. Andrew Sullivan jumped to conclusions on his blog, The Daily Dish. He’s been all over the Iranian debacle this past week, and his enthusiasm got in the way of his better sense. He’s issued a retraction.

    I highly recommend his blog for coverage of the events, but there are YouTube videos of people dying in the streets. They are graphic, and disturbing. You’ve been warned, everyone.


  2. Oh, and the BBC aside, there are plenty of people showing their love on Facebook. Detail at my own blog, the entry titled, Green–It’s the new black.

  3. IMHO, for there to be any real change, there would have to be a civil war. The opposition is more liberal than MA, but still pretty conservative. I’m actually surprised that they are going through the motions of a recount. I really don’t anticipate too much difference. I think Iran is……Iran. I not sure I can express my true feelings, and keep things SFW.

  4. @infinitemonkey: I think people are people. Given the chance, I’d want to deal with someone more reasonable than a fascist clique that kills people in the streets, wouldn’t you?

  5. Eventually the “Big Lie” gets so big that it can’t sustain itself. I hope that is the case in Iran. Free Inquiry had an issue a while back that focused on the student secular movement in Iran – pretty good reading for a little background.

  6. I have heard that supporters of the current regime in Iran are trying to silence twitter accounts being used from within Iran. One thing I heard that can be done to confuse the issue and make it more difficult for them is to change our own Twitter accounts’ location and timezone information to read as Tehran. Supposedly, this makes it more difficult for them to identify the twitter feeds of dissidents trying to get information out.

    Also, be careful of twitter feeds you subscribe to, as the Iranian government has created its own feeds (and perhaps has taken over formerly legitimate ones).

    It’s a difficult situation, to be sure, and information is a primary weapon. We should do all we (safely) can to help ensure that good information keeps flowing.

  7. As much as I support the people of Iran, and the use of social media for getting information out, I think you should put your skepchickal hat on for this one, Rebecca.

    People seem to be making out Mousavi as some free-speech loving, anti-theocracy, people’s candidate. Please do some research, we are looking at two faces of a nearly one-party system under the Shah, not the democratic voice of the Iranian people.

  8. Isn’t this a bit of a flase dicotamy?

    Which conservative islamic, mysogenist, homophobic, Holocaust denying, theocrat do you prefer?

    Dont make the mistake of misunderstanding the role of the president in Iran. Ahmadinejad is more of a day-to-day manager, Khameni and the guardian council (who approve all candidate for ANY iranian election) are the real leaders, they appoint the head of, and control, the revolutionary guard.

    By backing Mousavi, you’re just backing a slightly, very slightly, different theocrat.

    Only a full blown revolution would unseat the Ayatollas from their position of power, sadly this does not seem to be going on, the protestors want a different man working underneath the Ayatollas (rather than getting rid of them).

    I suspect the Ayatollas will relent, hold a recount (or re-run) and let the people’s choice for day-to-day management do that job while they stay in power.

    Of course, I could be wrong, and the current movement might grown strong enough to overthrow the current government. But I just can’t see a man who was approved as a candidate by the gaurdian counsel overthrowing that very council. Especially when he hasn’t hinted to doing that!

  9. @CycleNinja: well, given your set of rules, the challenger is more likely to pull them off the streets before killing them, IMHO-I have nothing to back that statement up. I completely agree with @russellsugden: . What it all amounts to is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I have no faith for that country.

  10. It’s not a “Nixon or Kennedy” election. It’s a “Nixon or Jefferson Davis” election.

    Just because you have a choice between the “Offical Theocrat” and the “Protest Theocrat”, doesn’t make the latter better.

    Although in one respect it is a “Nixon or Kennedy” election, as they both were happy to work within the exsisting governmental superstructure of the US constitution, well, roughly. But that’s a wholly seperate issue

  11. I’m quite surprised at the comments saying that it doesn’t matter which bastard gets in. That really isn’t the point. The point is, people voted, and their votes were not counted. It doesn’t make any difference if we don’t like either of the people being voted for. I hate both Gordon Brown and David Campbell, but if Gordon Brown was declared the winner before the votes were even counted I would probably take up arms for the first time in my life.

    Surely we can’t expect democracy to ever have an impact in countries like Iran if, when push comes to shove, we say it doesn’t matter because we don’t like the ‘other guy’ anyway.

  12. OMG it’s late and I’m tired. Clearly I meant David Cameron, but typed David Campbell. This is because I just got back from a thing at which Neve Campbell was present, and I was just talking about her.

    Also I’m retarded. But honestly, I do know the name of the leader of the Tory party.

  13. This is the semi-official time line of the Iranian situation, as compiled by Tatsuma at

    I did not write this, I’m just reposting it, as it is one of the best summaries I’ve read.

    I apologize for the Wall of Text, but things are complicated.

    As of 18PM on the East Coast, all twitter posts about the army being involved are false. Warning, new twitter feeds are most likely government members trying to spread misinformation, ignore them! Also, there is a handful of good twitter feeds, but please do not publicize their usernames, they are in enough danger as it is and they don’t need more publiclity. Those in the know will c/p their entries. Major timeline overhaul, including what has unfolded in the last few hours.

    This seems to be helping quite a few people, so I’ll go ahead and repost it in every threads with some adjustments. Sorry, this has reached the level of TL;DR but I really am trying to cram the most relevant information and speculation only. Everything is updated as events unfold, especially the timeline and what will happen in the future.

    Suppression of Dissent – The Players

    Currently, there are either two or three groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you’ll read about throughout this thread:

    1. The Basij
    2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
    3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but highly probable. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as riot police, confirming the independent reports. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last hours other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)

    – The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d’être is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.

    They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn’t enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.

    – Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.

    – The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran’s domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran’s foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.

    (the following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.

    What will happen

    Unless the army decides to intervene in the favor of the Council and to stop the early beginnings of the new Revolution, Ansar & Hizbullah members will be the ones doing the brunt of the killing and repression with Basij as a support while also protecting government buildings and try to do crowd control. The police seems to have for the most part disbanded in centers like Tehran according to all reports, including international media. If the police decides to come back, they will focus less on protection and crowd control, so the Basij will start to crack more skulls).

    Currently, this is what is happening.

    Timeline (updated and revamped!)
    note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.

    14th of June – While the previous day had been witness to some protests, they were for the most part peaceful. However, as time grew the protests turned more and more violent. When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave of violence was unleashed. The Iranian Riot Police was called in to support the regular police officers controlling the protests, and shortly after the Basij also took the scene, moving from a passive to active role of repression. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especiallly universities.

    – As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the police started dispersing. The riot police are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij. The repressive forces concentrated their assault mostly around the main Iranian universities, while the riot police were concentrating on protecting various government buildings such as the Interior Ministry. At least two people had been killed already.

    – On the telecommunication front, this is when we started to hear more and more from twitters while videos were being freely updated to youtube (while youtube started to delete the more violent ones a few hours later). This is also the moment where the government realized what was happening, and ordered for the internet, phone lines and cellphones to be cut off, in order to avoid people communicating with the outside world.

    late 14th, early 15th of June – This is the second wave of violent repression. At this point, violent riots had spread all over the main cities of Iran. The violence against citizens was not only the fruit of the Basij anymore, but also came from Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There were reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms. It’s also around the same time that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods), which led to many speculating that lebanese Hizbullah members were now in Iran. Der Spiegel, through Voice of America, later claimed that 5000 Hizbullah fighters were passing off as Riot Police, validating the claims of many independent sources and twitter feeds.

    – Universities have been the hotbed of protests, serving as a hub of anti-government demonstrations and preparations. 120 teachers from the Sharid University resigned in protest over the election results. Perfectly away of this, the Basij, Ansar and possibly Hizbullah members concentrated their attacks on University Dorms all over the country, storming them and beating students, destroying everything, especially computers.

    – The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. the Supreme Leader authorized the plainclothes militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things were to get out of hands. By the end of the first two waves of protests, hundreds of people had been arrested.

    midday, 15th of June – This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. Plainclothes militia opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully. Possibly up to 2 million protesters took the street. Chaos erupted in the streets, with reports of fighting all over Tehran and spreading over Iran as the news circulated. Pictures of people shot, some to death, finally surfaced and were published in the mainstream media. Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people had been killed at this by the end of the 15th of June.

    – There is a major national crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Students are fighting back in some areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up. ISPs were shut down, government hackers are threatening people who twitter, and some of them have vanished in the last 24 hours.

    – Eventually, the people started to fight back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Later, a Basij shot a young man in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the policeman, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground.

    – During the night, the police entered certain neighbourhood to arrest public servants and force them to appear at tomorrow’s pro-Ahmadinejad manifestation, but the people went out in the street and forced them out of their neighbourhoods. The Basij have kept on storming dorms. So far the reports are conflicting, but it appears that the death toll could be as high as 40 for the protesters, with two dead on the side of the repressive militias. This is the end of the third wave.

    early 16th of June – Supporters of Moussavi have a manifestation planned for 5pm, Tehran time. Roughly the same number or more is expected to attend. People are dressed in black and told to protest silently.

    – The pro-Ahmadinejad crowd however are planning a counter-demonstration at the very same place the supporters are supposed to gather at 3pm. Most agree that basically they are simply going to gather for a confrontation. Rumours are that they are taking position in buildings next to the parade and in bunkers to attack. Basij from all over the country are moving to Tehran and supporters are being bused from all over the country. A major showdown is expected to unfold.

    – The crackdown on people using telecommunication is as strong as ever. Anyone with a laptop, camera or cellphone is attacked in the street by plainclothes militias. Tehran hotels are under lockdown to prevent the members of the foreign press not yet expulsed from reporting what is happening.

    – As for the Iranian Government and different branches, there are rumours that many Army Generals have been arrested for plotting a Coup d’État, but this is still speculation at this point. The Supreme Leader has also called for a 10-day inquiry into the claims of fraud, but it has been widely dismissed as cosmetic. Moussavi and his supporters have rejected this, claiming that they want new elections. Khameini is now using the armed Basij as his own bodyguards, hundreds of them are surround him and his residence to protect from attempted assassinations. Ahmadinejad himself is in Russia right now, for a planned visit, and tries to pretend that everything is good as usual.

    early 16th of June – The fourth wave of violence has started, and was expected to flare up very soon. It surprisingly was quite mild. Pro-Moussavi supporters said that there were even more people today protesting against the regime, though raw numbers are hard to get. If this is true, it means there are more than 2M protesters in the street right now. They are dressed in black and protesting silently and without violence so far. Other reports that only 250,000 were in the street, possibly scared by the Basij and propaganda.

    – The Basij, surprisingly, did not attacking the march itself but rather assaulted dorms again. It looks like they are using the march as a diversion. In Tehran proper, 2000 Basij are waiting to storm the male dorm, and they are backed by IRG helicopters, which seems to send the message that the IRG has broken from their undeclared neutrality toward tacitely supporting the Regime.

    – The crackdown on telecommunications is starting to suffocate all of Iran. As of now:

    * Gmail and GTalk are shut down
    * Yahoo is shut down
    * AIM is most likely shut down
    * Phone lines are down
    * HTTPS and other such protocols are down
    * Iranian ISPs have been shut down
    * They are trying very hard to close down the Iranian connexion to twitter and giving proxies they control in order to track down people
    * Cellphones and SMS are shut down

    People are also receiving phone calls from the government saying “We know you were in the protests”.

    Night has fallen on Iran, and the Basij are roaming, attacking passerbys at random. They have also surrounded dorms and waiting to storm them once again. There are rumors that have yet to be substantiated that hundreds, possibly thousands, of students have been arrested since the beginning of the night. This is not confirmed, but it would be surprising if it wasn’t the case.

    The Revolution lives on.

    Demands from the protesters

    1. Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader
    2. Dismissal of Ahmadinejad for his illegal acts
    3. Temporary appointment of Ayatollah Montazeri as the Supreme Leader
    4. Recognition of Mousavi as the President
    5. Forming the Cabinet by Mousavi to prepare for revising the Constitution
    6. unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners
    7. Dissolution of all organs of repression, public or secret.

    Who is Grand Ayatollah Montazeri?

    Ayatollah Montazeri is a pro-Democracy, pro-Human Rights Ayatollah who was at one point on the short list of possible successors of Khomeini, but became marginalized as he adopted what was seen as a too pro-Western, pro-Democracy stance.

    Since the beginning of the Revolution, he has been one of the fiercest critics of the Regime, and one of the biggest proponents of women and civil rights for ALL Iranians, including much-maligned minorities like the Baha’is. In fact he goes further than the protections afforded to them under Sharia.

    He is also a big critic of Ahmadinejad and has been seen for years as the best hope for Iran if he ever was to come to power, something that was unthinkable a mere week ago.

    He has also come out with a statement saying that policemen who beat on protesters and follow orders will not be forgiven under Islam, and that even if the government cuts the lines of communication with the outside world, that it was too late and the truth was getting out

  14. First, thanks to Rebecca for this thread.

    It’s not a matter of not liking one guy over the other…the Iranian “democracy” has always been a sham, with the candidates being “vetted” by the Supreme Leader (Khatemi.) How much fun would our elections be if the candidates had to be approved by the Pope or Jerry Falwell.

    The “election” being obviously stolen has given the Iranian people (2/3 of which are under 30, born AFTER the Revolution) a true reason to revolt. Mousavi has become, because of the circumstances, a much more liberal candidate than he was prior to this happening.

    As a political nut, I have to admire the beautiful subtlety that Obama is using in the situation, saying exactly enough to support the protests without giving the Islamists in power anything to grab onto. Oh, and asking the State Department to request of Twitter to halt maintenance until 1am Iranian time was brilliant as well.

  15. @sporefrog:

    As much as I support the people of Iran, and the use of social media for getting information out, I think you should put your skepchickal hat on for this one, Rebecca.

    People seem to be making out Mousavi as some free-speech loving, anti-theocracy, people’s candidate. Please do some research, we are looking at two faces of a nearly one-party system under the Shah, not the democratic voice of the Iranian people.

    Wow. You must have read a completely different blog entry from what I wrote, since I mentioned nothing of Mousavi at all, let alone go on about his platform. Maybe you’re the one who needs to do some research, and by “research” I mean taking 5 seconds to read the OP.

  16. @Tracy King: I completely agree. I’m shocked that people would suggest that because they (non-Iranians) don’t think either candidate is worthwhile, then Iranians shouldn’t care which they get. How condescending.

  17. @Rebecca: Rebecca, I’m willing to step in the line of fire to point out that Mousavi’s party is the green party that you changed the color scheme for. I think that might be what sporefrog is trying to say with foot-in-mouth disease.

    @sporefrog: Not cool.

    Look, my political leaning is “rational anarchist” so you’re preaching to the choir when you tell me my choice is either “Blue Evil” or “Red Evil”. But, you’re sadly mistaken if you think my question is going to be, “What’s the lesser of the two Evils?”

    My question is going to be, “Why is there no freakin’ Purple Evil?”

  18. @MiddleMan: I thought that at this point, it was fairly obvious that the swell of support for the Iran fighters (and all the ways people are expressing that support, the most visible being the green theme) isn’t about their political affiliation but about their fight for fair elections.

  19. @Rebecca: Agreed; but, just because it’s obvious, doesn’t mean everyone’s going to see it that way.

    The OP mentions green as the color of the Opposition Party. The people are supporting it, and want fair elections, but it’s still the color of Mousavi’s party.

    Thus you may see green as:
    Green>Opposition Party>Iran Fighters>Fair Elections

    Someone else can easily see green as:
    Green>Opposition Party>Same ol’ shite like the shite from before

    And, no, I did not misspell Shi’ite.

  20. In what way are elections “fair” if, in order to stand for election you have to be approved by the ruling theocracy (or has this changed in Iran)? Isn’t this a bit like the communist elections of the past? You can vote for our candidate, or… for our candidate.

    I may be cynical, but, did anyone expect a fair election? That does not excuse purported election rigging, but is the indignation perhaps misplaced?

  21. Random factoid: Green, in flag representations of Middle East, Africa, SE Asia, is the color of Islam. Witness Libya’s all green flag. So by using the OP’s green colored flags as a supportive decorative statement Skepchick has now chosen the color of Islam to represent the logo. I am rather amused.

  22. @Finn McR: “In what way are elections “fair” if, in order to stand for election you have to be approved by the ruling theocracy (or has this changed in Iran)?”

    Can we snap our fingers and have a perfect democracy in Iran? No. What we can do is encourage those who are fighting for their basic rights to free speech and a voice in their elections.

  23. Ironic but not surprising how Ahmadinejad has turned into the same thing he overthrew as a student radical: a dictator trying to hold onto power.

    “Here’s the new boss
    Same as the old boss…”

  24. “Can we snap our fingers and have a perfect democracy in Iran? No.”

    We don’t have one in America, either, by a long shot. But it beats the alternatives. Which is the whole point of this stuff in Iran…the alternatives involve being shot by rooftop snipers and murdered in the streets. And eventually, that type of movement reaches a critical point where everyone says, “Enough!” They’re doing that now, and they deserve encouragement.

  25. @Rebecca: Sorry but thats not what they’re fighting for. The fact that the population of Iran is ignorant of that fact is no excuse. It’s no different than Americans going at each other over Red or Blue when the real enemy is politics itself.

    IMHO the American people are even worse. We vote and then pretend like it’s enough. We have Democracy and squander it by not taking responsibility for our governments actions. We’ve been so busy pointing our fingers at each other yelling that it’s the conservatives or liberals fault, and in the meantime this country has been sold of to the lowest bidder.

    And Obama is no different, he is quietly pushing for free trade with Central American countries. And the deregulation of the music industry. More American jobs gone.

    Time to stop thinking about everyone else and start paying attention to whats going on here.

  26. Then what is it that you think they are fighting for exactly? Because the Iranian people seem to disagree with you. It seems to me that they are not only fighting for a fair election but now the right to free speech that we so thoroughly enjoy in America.

  27. @VoxMachina: The past 30 years of both republican and democrat presidents has seen widespread deregulation of every industry in this country. This will cost more American jobs.

    Yes I voted for Obama, But he is not doing a very good job. Americans need to be more focused on that.

  28. It is difficult for me to have a well-founded opinion about what’s going on in Iran, but where I see a problem is in the temporal order of the freedom-of-speech/elections relation: if Iranians were now fighting for their freedom of speech, does that mean that the campaign would have been done under no freedom of speech? If that was the case, then the current supposed “alternative” would be no such an alternative, but merely another voice authorized by the regime. So, I think Iranians must already enjoy some (more or less limited) degree of freedom of speech and they should be able to start doing things with that (remember Galileo). Being in the political opposition doesn’t mean that you cannot do something, particularly if you have such a strong popular support. The other option, a civil war solution in the Middle East, doesn’t seem a particularly bright idea to me. Plus, I take the circumstances leading to an election fraud to be complex and I think they must be fought on a daily basis. It is unrealistic to wait until the rush of the election hoping that votes will solve problems that individual actions haven’t been able to fix in four years. Actually, if you don’t solve first all problems related to corruption and state infiltration, then the election is obviously going to be biased, so I don’t see why they’re given so much importance. Democracy can only work given very specific cultural and social conditions. If unmet, what you have is usually a parody with 1) a group that hopes that their using the democracy we are so fond of will make us help them solve their internal problems, and 2) their internal problems, usually conservative. It is on the borderline between political strategy and opportunism to wait until the big day to do something because you know that’s going to give you much more exposure. It’s clever, but if you haven’t previously solved some underlying problems and obtained the support of military forces or some part of the state, you’re probably not going to go anywhere, at least not only thanks to unarmed population.

  29. Seems to me more basic freedoms for Iranians would be a good thing that would likely lead to a more rational populace, with the potential to positively impact government policy, which could lead to more reforms down the road. What’s not to like about that?

  30. They may not be saying that freedom of speech is what they’re fighting for but it seems that way in terms of what’s going on, to me anyway. The government is cracking down big time trying to control information and people who are speaking out against it are being killed, arrested and attacked. Yet the only real communication we’re getting from inside Iran is often from Iranians urging others to continue to speak out.

  31. @ Rebecca:

    I don’t think there’s any reason to get so aggressive about this, but here’s your blog post, with relevant parts highlighted:

    “The people of Iran are currently in a struggle to overcome a power grab on the party of hard-liners in the wake of forged election
    results from this past Friday. Many blogs and websites, including the BBC [ED: see 1st comment below],

    have changed their color schemes to green (the color of the opposition party) to show solidarity.

    Would the Skepchicks consider temporarily doing the same thing?”

    I don’t think it’s fair for you to say that I didn’t take 5 seconds to read your post if I read that for what the words clearly mean, support of the opposition party.

    Anyway, I specifically said I fully support the Iranian people, am extremely supportive of their bravery in standing up against oppression, and fighting for free speech and rights. So again, I think you’re being a bit too touchy when you call my position “condescending.”

    My whole point is that the people who think the election would be fair even if the people’s votes were counted correctly are narrowminded . That’s the tip of the iceberg of the corruption, and I’d like to see some people take more time to know the whole situation, which I thought was the point of being skeptical and of critical thinking.

  32. @sporefrog: Sorry, but I do find it very condescending to suggest that Iranians shouldn’t care which candidate they get. And I don’t think that you took the time to read the OP, as you were arguing that I wasn’t being skeptical enough and was assuming that Moussavi was “free-speech loving, anti-theocracy, people’s candidate.” I said nothing of the sort. The only time Moussavi is even hinted at is in the quoted paragraph, which came from a commenter, and even he doesn’t suggest that showing green be used to support the policies of Moussavi. It is to show solidarity for the men and women fighting for freedom of speech and their right to a vote.

    I’m not being touchy, I’m just very disappointed that there are people here who are unable and unwilling to understand the symbolism.

  33. Rebeccaa, we both agree. This is just silly miscommunication. I mentioned you, as you had quoted showing solidarity the opposition party, and then made a general point about a lot of people letting their own wishes (a free-speech loving, anti-theocratic candidate) be projected onto Moussavi. I never accused you of doing this, I simply said people do think this, and the situation is far more complex than that.

    To reiterate, I’m am able and willing to show solidarity for the men and women fighting for freedom of speech and their right to vote. It’s a shame that even if Moussavi gets elected, that isn’t going to solve either of those problems. Best to start somewhere though!

  34. @SicPreFix:

    So, while you seem uninterested in answering my question, perhaps I can expand upon my statement. You said:

    … how you’re helping, or even how this issue is highlighting the power of tools like Twitter.

    While I may oft-times be rather verbose, I am not usually particularly eloquent. However, I think @Some Canadian Skeptic: said it best.

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