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A righteous Iranian hardliner in 2015

A New York Times newsman, Thomas Erdbrink, assigned to Iran has written about Hamid-Reza Ahmadabadia, a man in some respects ordinayr but who thinks of himself on the side of right. His nickname is "Big Mouth."

Let's just call him Hamid.

He is one of Iran's hard-liners. He supports Iran's 1979 revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution. And asked what people should do who disagree with his "ideology" he says they have three options: Shut up, or get the hell out of the country, or go to prison." He adds, "That is how we deal with people who oppose us."

It could be said that his authoritarianism is human nature, primitive, an impulse common to people in areas of the world where belief in freedom of expression, toleraction of dissent and a respect for democracy had not developed until modern times.

Hamid knows courtesy and tolerance. He says he hates America, but he welcomed Erdbrink to his home, sounding sincere when telling him "Please come in. I am at your service." Hamid's righteousness stems not from an inability to apply humility where he wants. His humility doesn't extend to his intellectuality. A scientist is supposed to leave himself open to alternative points of view. Hamid, a man of faith, admits to no possibility of a mistaken idea. He sees his faith as something outside of historical development. He sees his faith and its scripture as above historical context and inviolable, not to be questioned or dishonored.

Most of us live daily with our own certainties. This includes my certainty that Hamid is faulty ideologically. But I don't want to put people in jail or have them kicked out of the country for expressing ideas that are contrary to mine. I favor prison for only for those who assault or infringe on the rights of others. This makes my righteousness less toxic than his. Hamid is still in the Middle Ages.