The War on Free Thought Continues

As I was lurking on Facebook today, I noticed that a member of my grad school cohort posted a link to a Yahoo! news article.  This article discusses how the Iranian government has restricted the teaching of certain social sciences and humanities in Iranian universities.  I wasn't able to find a complete list, but the targeted subjects include law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science, women's studies, and human rights.  According to Abolfazl Hassani, an official in what passes for education in Iran, these subjects were chosen because they are "not in harmony with religious fundamentals and they are based on Western schools of thought."  Huh...

So, let's speculate wildly about why these subjects were chosen.  Banning women's studies and human rights addresses some of Iran's social ills.  After all, you don't want any oppressed and subjugated people thinking that they're being oppressed and subjugated.  Political science because there's nothing scientific about Iranian politics (or ours, for that matter).  Philosophy because you don't want people thinking freely, especially not in a country with "laws" based on religion.  Law because you don't want people to accidentally discover a loophole that gives them a minor bit of legal freedom. Psychology because, well, fuck those whiny-assed oppressed people. And management because the Tehran Wal-Mart is running smoothly as is, thank you very much. 

And since when is philosophy strictly the domain of Western thinkers?  I'm guessing Iranian leaders haven't heard of Sun Tzu, Dōgen Zenji, or Siddhartha Gautama. No? Okay, let's go a bit more modern. What about D. T. Suzuki? No? Mr. Miyagi?  Nothing?  Wow.

I'm certain that this is backlash over the largely university student-led political protests of 2009.  I guess banning these subjects will help Iran keep up the appearance that everyone is happy and totally not gay.  Personally, I don't care what the Iranian government or clergy do to harm themselves or their nation in the long run.  Who I'm concerned for are the Iranian students who want to get an education and expose themselves to ideas that test their preconceived notions of life and the world.  Where are they to go?  I would say here, but this new wave of American conservatism would likely do everything in their power to prevent that.  Tough break, Iranian students.  There's always England!

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