NYT celebrates tonsorial freedom in Iran

In an article on Iran in today's New York Times, Michael Slackman portrays a picture of a society and culture that is sharply at variance with the views and testimony of others.

Instead of a nation harshly enforcing the domination of women, that routinely executes men and women for the slightest of reasons, that imprisons and tortures human rights activists and labor leaders, that is ruled by a nefarious and apocalyptic seeking President and the cultish and corrupt Iran Revolutionary Guards, that enforces hair and dress codes for men and women,  we find a Slackman vision that shows a nation that emphasis sexual pleasure, sensitive sex education, and areas in Tehran where women can push back their head scarves and men can spike their hare with gel. The thrust of his article is that Iran is sharply different than the negative reports in Western media.

Men can spike their hair with gel?

Well, that is something, I suppose. As long as they keep to certain neighborhoods, and don't make too big an issue of it, the regime allows some tiny zone of grooming freedom. But so what? The fact that it is too much trouble to crack down on everything everywhere all at once does not really change the nature of the regime.  There are a myirad of stories that have noted that Iran is cracking down on Western hair styles and other Western-oreinted lifestyle choices.

Does Slackman even read his own newspaper? The New York Times a few months ago ran an article, "In Iran, Tactics of Fashion Police Raise Concerns"   which covered Iran's brutal crackdown of those "deviating" from its dress, hair and gender rules.

Or how about this New York Times article, "Iran Cracks Down on Dissent"?

Two possible explanations come to mind, given the Times' own history of journalistic practice:
  • 1) Either he is another Jayson Blair, filing reports from afar; or (much more likely)
  • 2) The editors, fearing that President Bush will take military action against Iran's nuclear program, wasn't to paint as positive a picture as possible of Iran, so as to portray any such action as unjustified.
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