Lonely Planet, Iran Edition

What’s it like being a harmless tourist in Iran? Judging by this post at the Lowy Interpreter, it sounds like a weird cross between a police state and Footloose. I’ve always felt that the fatal flaw of theocracy is that, by criminalizing human nature, it subverts the legitimacy of its own authority. Most people want to follow the rules. The two sure ways of keeping them from doing that is to make the rules so cumbersome that it pays to break them (e.g. French labor laws), or else by defining infractions so broadly as to include people in the criminal pool against their will (e.g. jaywalking in NY, or desire in Tehran). But once breaking the rules becomes inseparable from the mundane urgencies of daily life, disrespect for authority becomes ambient, with serious consequences for government.

I liked the post, also, for the way it adds color to a place that we’re increasingly seeing through the black and white lens of news analysis. So consider this an open call to WPR’s readership in the farflung corners of the globe. If you’ve got an illustrative anecdote that you feel captures the essence of a far off (or nearby) place or culture or government, send it in. It would be great if it could turn into a regular feature, but I’d settle for one or two to begin with.

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