Watch that 'q' change to an 'n'.

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"So back over to Tehran. Tell us, would you say that your writing would be different if you were sitting in London?", came the voice on my mobile as I paced the cold echoing hallway having nipped out from the Latin beat and salsa of a Thursday night gathering. I wondered if my anonymity was a good enough example while conducting the cosy conference call of three – plus the few hundred thousand tuning in maybe. A friend then opened the door to see where I'd gone, "Daveed?", they shouted. Damn that echo.

"Yes", was my simple answer before elaborating further, "but it's not necessarily the establishment I adapt for, I worry about antagonising with the people and their culture". I've pondered this matter for a while now and am amused at how my 'freedom of speech' is not restrained by a well placed few, but maybe by the ideology of the mass – it's chickens and eggs though. "But there are ways to present things to... you know?", I semi-smugly added in conclusion.

Also on the BBC I see much the same thing but from the other end. As the homepage repeats 'Iran' (watch that 'q' change) with greater frequency I've taken to visiting its 'Have Your Say' public comments section, a forum for all manner of sqitted mush. Of late there's been a few of the, "How should the world deal with Iran?", "What now for Iran?" and a "Here's a neutral question about Iran, how on earth can you say it's anti-American?".

"45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?"

I use these features as a measure of sorts, a measure of how much stronger the Americans are at the game. Oddly enough when 'Have Your Say' first appeared it was the measuring point that frustrated me. As the entries are monitored and were previously measured before posting, we witnessed a for, against, for against series and no indication as to what the mood was. "There are surely some matters that clearly get a weight one particular way?", I wrote to the Head of News around the time, indicating that maybe their tweaking distorts the picture. You might for example have had 8-displayed responses to, "45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?". Four of these responses might say, "let's blow those sand monkeys further down the evolutionary ladder", and four-hundred could have said, "read the receipts!".

Things changed.

Fourth in the 'most recommended', backed by 179 people to date – John, NYC, USA:
"Another question set up so this "Have Your Say" can become a US-bashing forum. Why should we fear Iran having nuclear weapons? Because they are a fundamentatlist, theocratic state which severly curtails freedoms and human rights. The US, on the other hand, is still a bastion of freedom and human rights despite what is highlighted by the foriegn press. Which do you fear?"

In first place, backed by 261 people to date – Russell, Winnipeg, Canada:
"The world should do nothing about Iran. Iran is a sovereign nation and it is entitled to have nuclear power consumption. Just because the USA is war-mongering doesn't mean the world has to listen to their made up lies. The country the world should fear is America! Their government is crazy!"

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  • As well as checking out Have Your Say, how about checking out the Comments section on The Guardian website? The Al Jazeera website (in English) ran a discussion thread about Iran too. There is also debate on youtube. I find that the liberals on the guardian website generally take a more friendly approach to international politics than the bbc website users.

    Every time my mum in Newcastle telephones aunty Mina in Tehran, aunty Mina asks if my mum knows when the bombs will come. It would be funny if it wasn't so scary.

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