Saturday, February 12

BLOGGER FAROUZ FARZAMI, AN IRANIAN JOURNALIST, IMPRISONED FOR BLOGGING

We -- we bloggers in America (particularly we polibloggers, Left, Right and Center) -- sit in front of our desktop PCs at home or the office, or balancing a laptop, while in an overstuffed chair or confining coach seat; some of us in suits, some in business casual, some, like me, in well-worn gym shorts and faded sweatshirt (my blogging "uni"); and others, no doubt, regaled in cotton pajamas, as the MSN likes to aver; and we write and we post, and open our minds and hearts freely, oftentimes without equivocation, as we pontificate on politics, and current events, and issues near and dear to us. Some, the more gifted and prescient among us, sieze on issues like a bloodhound to a scent, and build huge readerships on the basis of real jounalism and precocious punditry, rivaling (even sometimes exceeding) the best the MSN has to offer. Others, most caught up in the long, broad, often uneventful sweep of the blogosphere's tail, simply write for their own pleasure, uninterested in Sitemeter "hits" or impacting the viewpoints or politics of others.

Whatever their motivation to do so, whatever the level of refinement of their craft, they write -- rank amateurs and polished pros alike -- and without nary a fear that Big Brother is watching, or ever a concern that they'll be whisked away in the night by broad-shouldered men in black jackets for having presumed to be free to express themselves. In this age of unsurpassed freedom, in which technology's ineluctable force beguiles us into thinking that it has become more impactful than men and their political philosophies, one has only to read this chilling account to be disabused of the notion that, armed with a computer, a keyboard, and an Internet connection, all of us -- anywhere in the world -- are free (and equal) to reveal what is on our minds and to add our own contributions to the world of ideas, politics, and current events.

Farouz Farzami (the pseudonym for an Iranian journalist and blogger) spent 36 days in a jail cell in Iran for writing her ideas and opinions in a Web log. Now Farzami awaits trial. Polibloggers in this country just toppled Eason Jordan of CNN; Farzami has been accused of and jailed for purportedly trying to "topple the system" in Iran. Jordan was caught in a blog storm; Farzami is ensnared by a repressive government.

I've poured myself a third cup of coffee. I've sat back down in a comfortable, high-backed leather chair, facing a computer screen in my bookshelves' lined study of dark wood and forest green carpeting, and now turn to gaze out at the lake view. The lake's surface, glinting in dappled light, is ruffled by a barely perceptible crosswind. The occasional gull or cormorant lifts off, rising into the sky like a new idea or fresh thought. Farzami awaits trial; I await my next inspiration.

President Bush is so right; his detractors so wrong.

We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny -- prone to idealogies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.