Friday, September 09, 2005

So every time I have complained about copyright issues in Iran people have said to me, Look, it’s all legal; Iran has not signed the copyright act.’ Of course not having copyright laws is great for the average Iranian who is not an artist of some kind. And most people are quite proud of the Islamic republic for not having signed the International copyright laws or whatever and see it as a kind of ‘Zerangy’ (being clever) as the Crazy Chef (aka Roya) pointed out in a comment on my last post.
Nevertheless if you ask these exact same people how they feel about the law that says people could be stoned to death for adultery, even though most of them have never committed adultery and are not planning to do so either, they will no doubt tell you that they are completely appalled by it. Or if one of these same people is complaining about being whipped seventy times for having drunk alcohol and I say, ‘Well that’s the law, isn’t it?’ they will no doubt look at me like I am a completely crazy person who has escaped from the loonybin just that morning and needs to be put back there as soon as possible.
But exactly how are we to know which laws are good and which ones are bad and which ones to follow and which ones not to?
As a child growing up in Iran it was sometimes very hard for me know exactly what was right and what was wrong. For example one day people were going out to bars drinking shots of Vodka and munching on assuages, the next day consuming alcohol was illegal and people would be punished for it. Or when we got older and started going to school, we were told over and over again by grownups not to ever tell anyone at school that we went to gatherings where we heard music and danced.
We got used to seeing weird things like my grandfather one day sitting down with my grandmother’s nail file and to my little cousin’s horror, filing down the willy off the statue of a little boy peeing, ‘Was it even a crime to have a peepee now days?’ I remember thinking whilst giving my horrified cousin a sympathetic look. Or when my grandmother brought out all the pictures one day and sat there with a pair of scissors, cutting out all the women in swimwear or revealing dresses or anyone holding a drink.
The way I saw it either everyone around me was a criminal or a lot of the laws could be broken and it didn’t matter as long as you weren’t found out. But how was I to know which laws could be broken and which ones could not?
After thinking long and hard about this, I came up with my own rule that I found helped me get through life without always worrying about what was wrong and what was right.
My rule said that just before doing anything, I always needed to ask myself two little questions. If the answer to the first question was ‘yes’ and the answer to the second question was ‘no’ it was ok to do that thing regardless of what the law said. And those two little questions are:
1- Would I like it if this was done to me?
2- Am I hurting anyone by doing this?
In short my whole life philosophy is simply, in the words of Samuel L Jackson (Jules) in Pulp fiction, ‘Don’t do shit, unless-’
Harvey Keitel (The Wolf), ‘-unless what?’
Shirin, ‘Unless the answer to the first question is ‘Yes’ and the second one ‘No’
The best thing I find about this way of thinking is that suddenly everything in life is not so black and white anymore. For example even though I would never in a million years think about taking the life of another human being, if I come across a group men raping and torturing a girl and I have a gun in my hands, I will shoot those bastards down one by one regardless of what the law says.
Or for example even though drugs are illegal, I don’t see anything wrong with smoking a bit of something and taking a bit of other every now and then. However by my rules, if I become addicted to say Heroin then that’s wrong because that will surely hurt the people around me.
So the reason that I do not steal or lie or cheat or blow myself up or use someone’s artwork without telling them, or flirt with someone else’s boyfriend or pee in people’s drinks when they are not looking, is not because I will or will not be punished by law if I do these things, it’s simply because I do not like any of these things to be done to me and also I know that by doing those things I will be hurting other people.

12 comments:

me said...

I have never sat down and though which are the "rules" that I apply to what I decide is right or wrong or if U prfer what would I do and what I won't.
But I guess those two questions are the shortest "codification" of all the thoughts and inner discusions.
This was a nice post :) [not taht the others weren't, but this one was really nice]

Behrooz said...

Shirin I can understand how this issue might have upset you, but like this you do not seem to really building up towards a very favourable argument. I have posted a new piece regarding this post of yours.

Anonymous said...

Can't you all write about something else?

Anonymous said...

please write about comical stories as per the usual business here. i know all i care to know about muslims/islam from cnn :P

Roya said...

Let's NOT forget that although Iran is NOT among the Int'l copyright covention, there is something called ethic and moral rights of an artist which should, must and "bayad"(must) and "il faut" (should) be considered. By the way, Shirin darling, I am not crazy but creative!!!! Hahaha... just kidding ...

The crazy Chef said...

On first thought – after reading your last post off line – I agree with your life philosophy (Yes & No) 100%.

On second thought, I like the name that you baptized me with: “Crazy Chef” So I will stick to it.

On third thought, sprinkle some of those exotic spices that your dear mother in law has sent you on any white rice and serve it with drumsticks and name it “a dish from Bora Bora”!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the third comment and I must add this:
My fellow bloggers before answering to each other think for at least for a day, that is when you want to say semi unpleasant things.Writing stays there it's not like talking.Don't loose friends cheaply, be more tolerant, be friends.This is mostly for making friends after all not losing them!

Shirin said...

And I agree with you agreeing with the third comment :-)
The thing is I started this blog not just because I wanted to make friends, but also because I love writing. And I have always enjoyed writing my funny stories and everything but writing about something you feel passionately about is something else. And I must say that although a lot of you are poopooing my last three posts and saying go back to funny stories, I find that since I’ve started this whole thing, my readers suddenly have more than tripled! So maybe some of you don’t like what I am writing but for some reason you are coming back for more!
Anyway it was all a lot of fun for me but I am not at all proud of the fact that I have upset some people and so I have apologised and now I am moving on as this chapter of my blog has definitely come to an end.

Crazy chef, I’m glad you like your nickname. It’s funny you saying that about the rice thing as my mother in law was giving me that exact same recipe on the phone the other day!

Behrooz said...

Hey Shirin, I really did not get the point about Griggs. I do not really fancy the paste or jelly things inside, esp. when they are cold. Today is not so bad, though a little cloudy as usual, enjoy it then and have fun.

Bibi said...

Interesting point of view. I think its good to see you have ur own standards to live by. However, I don't know if I agree w/taking the law into my own hands. I remember when I got my CCW (carrying concealed weapon permit) I was told: "If you see five guys chasing a skinny guy, catching him and beating the living thing out of him, don't use the gun to protect what seems to u to be the victim- It could be a fleeing felon who just shot someone w/5 undercover cops trying to catch him.
(but I do see your point!). BTW- you stories from Iran were very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

Shirin said...

Hi Sanazi, I know exactly what you are saying. I think the only reason for that example I gave was that after reading back all the things I had written up to that point, I thought it made me sound like a real goody-two-shoes that would just be nice to everyone all the time and since that is definitely not true, I thought how can I in just one example show my other side as well when my way of thinking may get me into trouble and may be the cause of me doing something seriously wrong. Please note that (as I have said to some other people as well) I have never ever said that I think everyone should do the things that I do or think in the same way as I, I was merely saying this is how I live my life just like me saying I like the taste of a certain fruit or I like a certain way of dressing.
Still I have to apologise because I’m starting to realise that writing this piece was a bad idea.
Despite what others might have thought, when I started writing this, in my own head at least, believe it or not, I was trying to convey a message of love and peace and all that but obviously somewhere along the line I went badly wrong and now it probably looks like I’m preaching to everyone or something.
Anyway about that example, I think I should have explained it better and said something like if I'm walking alone in the middle of a forest, three hours away from the nearest telephone, and I see a bunch of men raping and torturing a girl and I am certain that if I go to get help by the time I get back the girl will be the dead and the men gone, and I have a gun in my hand I will kill the men.
Of course I too know that there are a lot of problems with this way of reasoning: for example how can I ever possibly know that they will not still be there doing what they are doing by the time I go and come back with the police? Or what if the whole thing is a set and they are making a film? :-|
Ahhh, too many flaws, too little time to discuss them
;-) Sorry about all this. I do realize that my examples were really quite stupid.
Thanks for visiting anyway. I hope I didn’t put off coming back by my rambling-ons. It’s funny because I think about the same time that you were reading my blog last night I was reading yours too! Spooky, ey? Give Sooky a big kiss from me please.

Bibi said...

Don't you EVER EVER apologize. Seriously. You say what u think/how you feel. For sure some may not read it the way you intended on writing it, or not get the message u are trying to convey...but to apologize. NO.

The problem w/writing in general is that people don't get to see the writers expressions/ or have their Q' answered. Anyhow- take care, and don't let people make u feel bad or whatever you felt.

Funny that we were reading each other's blog at the same tiMe! ;-)