I may not behave in a civilized manner all of the time, but I live in a modern country- one where I can say and write nearly anything that is on my mind with relative impunity. With rare exceptions (like advocating genocide, for example) I am not only free to express in my own words what is going on in Darfur or Indiana, but give you my opinion on how I feel about each circumstance and potential ways to rectify problems. Most of you are like me; granted with the right to state facts, criticize court decisions, and disagree with and even lampoon politicians and religious leaders. We have it damn lucky here, about the worst thing that can happen to a blogger is getting the stinkeye at work.
However, in a number of other places, citizens are not so lucky. In many places where fundamentalism reigns, even joking about the bushiness of a leader's eyebrows can get you tossed in jail for a very long time. If you go so far as to insult the religious or political philosophy of the often-appointed leader, you could pay with your life. In places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, the simple act of reading this relatively insignificant blog is considered such a dangerous insult to Islam that most of my readers from such countries use proxies to avoid governmental interference. If an individual's blog is their voice, totalitarianism is sword severing the communications line, cutting essential speech off from the people who call this planet home.
One of those who has been denied his right to an opinion is Navid Mohebbi. He is 18 years old and shares a prison cell with a convicted murderer and has been denied visits from not only his parents, but attorney. Navid had been stalked, interrogated, and summoned endlessly from age 16 by Iran's religious police until his attack and arrest this past September. He has been charged with Acting Against National Security and Insulting Islam, among other things, but I'll let you read exactly what Iran considers so heinous that this kid will spend his college and family years behind bars.