A Guest at the Ministry of the Hidden Imam


A year ago, a journalist friend of mine here in Istanbul, Iason Athanasiadis, was detained on espionage charges during Iran’s post-election unrest. He’s written a fascinating account of his weeks in solitary confinement in Evin Prison. His friends here were all extremely worried about him, as you can imagine.

Some of us, however, were a bit taken aback by the willingness of our colleagues to say, “He knew the risks going in, so there’s a limit to our sympathy.” My favorite Istanbul blogger thus helpfully provided a personal guide to risk assessment based on the question, “If something happens to me, are my friends going to mock me and say I deserved it?”

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor

    I guess I have to be the spoilsport. I was actually waiting for all the “vulgar language” to disappear, but now I gather you are referring only to the “F” word. There are many, many people, especially people like me with a child with Down syndrome, who are pained by the use of the “R” word.

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  2. Profile Photo Editor

    Ursula, on reflection I agree–that’s just not polite. I have improved it.

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  3. Profile Photo Contributor

    Wow, Claire, you really do have all-hours powers. Heeeeeyyyyy. Wait a minute. Maybe you’re the logo!

    Thanks, by the way.

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  4. Profile Photo Editor

    I am not the Logo.

    But that’s what I would say, isn’t it.

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  5. Profile Photo Member

    First my apologies to editors and any late night readers’ finer sensibilities – I won’t repeat the mistake. My apologies also to Ursula. I do not use the word “retard” in any context that does not relate to squelching flames, but my sensibility is still not finely tuned enough to recognize it as offensive in other people’s writings and I’m sorry. I’m a big fan and it pains me to think that I may have offended you.

    The issue does raise interesting questions about Internet journalism however. For example I suspect the line between printing the quote and linking to the quote is only meaningful to those over 40 (Rob).

    I learned a new bad word from Claire through her post, as I did in reading about James’ friend Dave Weigel’s resignation from WaPo. Interestingly in the Weigel story, Daily Caller felt no compunction about repeating his rude language verbatim, whereas the Post, in reporting the story refrained from repeating the four-letter-word-derivative, but did feel it was OK to reprint another rude derivative of retard that he also employed.

    If only they had The Logo. All hail!

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  6. Profile Photo Contributor

    Oh, Trace, no worries! To be honest, I debated writing anything. I am far from the PC-police brand of linguistics/semantics. I’m a meek little thing. I keep my mouth closed too often. But I do feel a little sting when I read or hear that word, because of my child. It’s almost impossible to adopt that sensibility unless an example lives in your home or in your blood. It’s sort of the same internal cringe we’d all feel if we were at a party and someone started off a joke with, “So a Jewish guy, a Hispanic guy, and a black guy walk into a bar …” You know that some people will laugh at the punch lines — no matter how clever or subtle — and your stomach drops a notch knowing you really should tell the person that the joke is inappropriate … even if people will think you’re a shrill stick-in-the-mud. I’d rather fold laundry for 10 straight hours than be in that situation. I’m not a stander-upper by nature. Truly, no worries! I’m a fan of *yours*, too, Trace!

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  7. Profile Photo Member

    The post from Carpetblogger is priceless and makes me wish that we could staff the White House press corps with a bunch of hard-core, flea-bitten, half-drunk, half-hungover, incredibly harsh and brutally honest foreign correspondents. Then we’d get some honest coverage. Having clicked on the link, I felt obliged to share this quote which really sums up the attitude quite well:

    We rate the story about the hiking Americans as follows: Traveling to Northern Iraq barely merits a shrug. There are a few tourists and lots and lots of people work and move around freely in Erbil and Suleymaniye. For now, it’s not unpredictably violent like Baghdad. But hiking anywhere near the Iranian border without a local guide, especially given the current environment? That’s exactly the type of activity that would make your friends in Erbil accuse you of [ed.: monumental stupidity], especially since it was an elective activity. Sneaking into North Korea on behalf of an online TV station no one watches? Unfathomingly [ed: blockheaded, boneheaded, duncical].

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  8. Profile Photo Editor

    I guess for us, it’s sort of all or nothing. We decided a while ago to get really tough on language and diction, mostly because what we’re going for here is a national, center/right conversation. I mean, ideally we’ll have thousands of people on this thing, and dozens of conversations going on at once. And it just makes it nicer and more fun if you know there are some ground rules going in. Everything else on the web is so swampy and nasty — check out the HuffPo comments, if you don’t believe me — that it seemed like an interesting and refreshing change to have a place with a real dress code for language.

    That said, in my day-to-day life, I curse like a sailor. Not proud of it, but it’s so.

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  9. Profile Photo Editor

    I was going to post that too, but I decided it was disqualified on “vulgar language” grounds. I think technically we may have to delete your comment on those grounds, too. Editors, can I lobby for letting it stand on the grounds that it’s actually relevant to his point?

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  10. Profile Photo Member

    Oops… my bad. maybe f—-tardery would do just as well. I figure if Paules can drunk-live-blog the podcast then some discreet asteriks should be allowed…

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  11. Profile Photo Editor

    Given that you’re arguing in favor of staffing the White House press corps with flea-bitten, half-drunk, half-hungover, incredibly harsh and brutally honest foreign correspondents, wouldn’t the euphemism look prissy and effete? It seems one of the rare times when the point can’t really be made without the profanity. I say let it stand, on literary grounds.

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  12. Profile Photo Editor

    Thanks, Logo. Trace, we have standards.

    Not many, but we have some.

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  13. Profile Photo Editor


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