There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam.”


Ayatollah Khomeini famously proclaimed: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” His own son said he had seen Khomeini laugh only once. It happened when Oriana Fallaci, the celebrated Italian journalist, was interviewing him, and asked him about the chador, the full-body garment that Iranian women were forced to wear in the new Islamic Republic. In fact, she had to wear one for the interview.

“How do you swim in a chador?” Fallaci asked. “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it,” Khomeini replied. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She removed her chador. The interview was called off.

After a day had passed, Khomeini apparently had reconsidered, and Fallaci came back to interview Khomeini; his son Ahmed had asked her not to mention the word “chador” again. But Fallaci did. And Khomeini laughed. After the interview was over, Ahmed told her that it was the only time in his life that he had seen his father laugh.

Last year the Iranian government showed that there is indeed no humor in Islam and no fun in Islam. It shut down a leading newspaper, Sedayeh Eslahat, because in one line of one article, the teeny-tiniest of little jokes was made. Almost a year later, the paper remains closed; there is apparently no sufficient penance for humor.

Here’s the story:

Reports say Sedayeh Eslahat ordered shut by top prosecutor for ‘desecrating’ family of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

Iran’s top prosecutor has ordered the closure of a reformist newspaper on charges of “insulting” Shia Islam, according to media reports.

Mohammad Jafar Montazeri ordered the shutting down of Sedayeh Eslahat for “desecrating” the family of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, the Fars news agency reported on Friday.

The article that caused offence was about a female-to-male gender reassignment surgery, according to The Associated Press, which cited Iranian media reports.

It was published on the newspaper’s front page on Thursday and carried the headline: “Ruqayyah became Mahdi after 22 years.”

Ruqayyah was the daughter of Hussein and the article was published during Muharram, a holiday in which Shia Muslims mourn the Imam’s death.

‘According to Shia Islam, Mahdi is the name of the 12th Shia Imam who has lived since the 9th century.

In a letter published by Fars, Montazeri said the article caused “protest during these days of sorrow”, and ordered the editor of Sedayeh Eslahat be punished over its publication.

Iran is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) press freedom index.

In August, Iranian courts jailed seven journalists and ordered them to be flogged publicly over their coverage of protests by the Dervish minority.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said the “horrifying sentences laid bare Iranian authorities’ depraved attitude toward journalists.”

The Islamic Republic clearly does not believe in a free press. It is ranked 164th out of 180 countries in press freedom. Also last year, it shut down a news outlet focusing on Iran’s Gonabadi Dervish minority, which had reported on protests by the dervishes, Sufi Muslims long mistreated by a Shi’a establishment that disapproves of their ways. Two of the outlet’s editors received long sentences. A Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced news editor Reza Entesari to seven years in prison, 74 lashes, two years of exile in the northeastern city of Khaf, a two-year ban on leaving the country, and a two-year ban on political and media activity.

Another editor, Mostafa Abdi, received an even more severe punishment. Abdi was sentenced to 26 years and three months in prison and 148 lashes, in addition to two years of exile in the southeastern province of Sistan Baluchistan and two-year bans on leaving the country and engaging in political and media acts.

In the summer of 2018, there were large anti-government protests in many Iranian cities. Angry crowds shouted “Death to Khamenei” and “Reza Shah,” as well as “Death to Palestine” and “Leave Syria Alone and Deal With Iran.” No newspaper in Iran dared to cover these protests, but of course, videos of the crowds, posted to social media, could not be stopped.

But what was being objected to in the Sedayah Eslahat case was not the contents of the story, but merely a little joke by the editors that apparently was deemed sufficiently “sacrilegious” to warrant not a fine, or a temporary closure, or the firing of an editor, but rather, the shutting down of the whole newspaper. The article was about gender reassignment surgery. It reported; it did not endorse. But the editors thought it would be mildly funny to describe the female-to-male change, in an allusion all Shi’a would instantly recognize, as being one where a female humorously called “Ruqayyah” (the daughter of Imam Hussein, grandson of Muhammad), having waited 22 years for the operation (the girl in the story was apparently 22), changed — remember, it was a joke, just a joke, for god’s sake — into the male “Mahdi” (the Mahdi is the name of the 12th Shia Imam who, the Shi’a believe, has been living, though hidden, since the 9th century). It was not meant to be disrespectful — the editors would have had to be madmen to try that — but rather, an affectionate allusion that all Shi’a would instantly recognize.

This is something the Iranian regime’s dour masters have a hard time comprehending. It’s what sane people of a normally humorous bent call “a joke,” or, if you prefer, une blague, uno scherzo, ein Witz, un chiste, shutka. The Iranian editors, their newspaper now closed for almost a year (with no indication that it will ever reopen), and awaiting their own personal punishment, showed they have a sense of humor. Those in the regime who shut them down, for a single sentence clearly not meant disrespectfully, following the example of their Glorious Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, on the other hand, clearly do not.

Open Borders: The Final Stage of Insanity

Having an open border combined with a welfare state is crazy. It’s like having a really nice house with really nice things inside, and then telling people, “It’s all yours. Come on in any time you want. Take whatever you wish”. What do you think would happen?

It’s stupid not to have locks on your doors. But it’s even more stupid to treat all your things as if they all belong to others. Yet that’s pretty much what we’re doing now in America, or at least we WILL be doing if the leftists, Democrats and RINO types get their way.

It has nothing to do with immigration. Immigration is a great thing — for a free country. In a free country, people are responsible for themselves and themselves only. They can take on whatever responsibilities they wish, but not as an obligation. Only if they choose to do so. The most obvious example of a chosen obligation is to have a child, or a family.

In a welfare state, everyone is responsible for everyone else — under the law. It’s not benevolence. It’s not kindness. It’s coercion. Coercion and kindness do NOT mix.

The problems are so much deeper than the border wall, illegal aliens, and all the rest. The problems go to the core of our society.

We repeatedly elect people into high office who say, “Hey, the more you produce, the more the results of your efforts belong to others”. People who created NOTHING — these 25 or so Democrats running for President — are given the right to treat the products of others’ efforts as their own, and exploit giving them away for political gain. “Look at me! I’m so generous with other people’s money!”

This is sick, wrong, twisted and deranged. It never should have started, and now it’s out of control. You know it’s out of control when these twisted politicians come out and say it’s time for 90 percent tax rates, totally open borders, and a total welfare state.

America is poised to go the way of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cuba and Venezuela. The level of ignorance for this to happen is almost too much to contemplate. For a country like Russia, Nicaragua or Venezuela to fall for Communism is one thing. It’s like falling from a second or third floor window. For a country like America to do it, it’s like falling from the top of the world’s highest skyscraper. It’s incredibly stupid and horrifically wrong. I can’t believe it’s happening to the extent it has.

Yet it’s where we are: One of our two political parties saying, in effect, “The doors are open. It’s all yours. Nothing belongs to anyone — except to us, the politicians, of course”.

Madness. Will a majority of voters seriously allow it? We will know in a little over a year. The stakes have been very high for America in the past: The Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II. We are at a similar point now.

Our freedom is ours to save. If we don’t act to keep it, we will lose it. And freedom will have perished from the earth. It can’t happen.

by Michael J. Hurd.


The Abyss of Liberal Ignorance


It is hard to judge the race between the presumptuousness and the abysmal ignorance of liberals. Back in the 1950s, for example, Arthur Schlesinger once included among leading conservative thinkers McGeorge Bundy, Wayne Morse, and Jacob Javits. Seriously?! (I can add my own vignette to these “Scenes from Inside the Liberal Bubble,” in the form of the UC Berkeley administrator who said to me once, “It would be great if you could help bring some conservative speakers to campus. Like Olympia Snowe!”)

But Harvard’s Laurence Tribe takes the cake with this Tweet:

I have been meaning for a long time to point out that if racism is the core value of conservatives, they would be massively in favor of abortion, and for having the federal government pay for it instead of backing the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion. We’d be for Planned Parenthood clinics on every corner in big cities, instead of trying to shut off their “indirect” federal funding.

Is Tribe really ignorant of the fact that the majority of abortions are procured by minorities? (Stephen Green runs through the numbers here, reminding us along the way that actual white supremacists such as Richard Spencer do support abortion explicitly because of its racial effects. Who knew that Spencer and Tribe think alike!)

Meanwhile, Scott has already noted how Elizabeth Warren (also Kamala Harris) has repeated the lie that Michael Brown was “murdered” by police in Ferguson, Missouri, and her claim is even generating a raised eyebrow from the liberals at Vox:

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris marked the five-year anniversary of the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting of Michael Brown last week with tweets claiming that the cop who shot Brown “murdered” the 18-year-old black man.

But the evidence, including a report released by President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice, says otherwise. . . the Justice Department’s 2015 report contradicted many of the protesters’ claims, finding that Wilson likely did have reason to fear for his life and didn’t violate the law in shooting Brown.

Here’s the key passage of the Justice Dept. report:

Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101 [Brown’s friend]there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brownas he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat. Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law. The same is true even if Wilson could be said to have acted with poor judgment in the manner in which he first interacted with Brown, or in pursuing Brown after the incident at the SUV. These are matters of policy and procedure that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation and thus cannot support a criminal prosecution.

Vox concludes: “In other words, this wasn’t a murder or a federal civil rights violation, based on the evidence we have. . . Five years after the shooting, though, major presidential campaigns are still getting the details wrong.”

But as Joe Biden helpfully reminds, for liberals, the “truth” is more important than facts.

Please please liberals: do follow Tribe and the rest in making the 2020 election about “white supremacy.” The Trump campaign thanks you, as it prepares to win 40 states.

Why Young People Turn Socialist

Here’s how a young person turns socialist.

One, envy. Envy is the view, “Others have a lot. I can never have a lot. That’s not fair”. A non-envious person sees success or achievement and thinks, “Wow, if he did that, I can do that too”. An envious person thinks, “He can do/have all that. But I can’t. That’s not fair”. All the young socialists I know are envious.

Two, low self-confidence. “I don’t know how to use my mind. I have no clue.” That’s because of Common Core/public education, in most cases. Such schooling is based not just on leftist dogma, but also on the idea that individual minds cannot think objectively, rationally or independently. Conventional education emphasizes group think and group membership, not the individual achievement of objective, independent thought. That’s a recipe for fear and low self-confidence. Fearful people don’t like freedom. Socialism is the drug for the fear.

Three, false confidence. “My favorite music, sports and other celebrities like socialism and leftism. So it must be true.” Heroes are important, especially to young people. Yet their heroes got where they are by the opposite of leftism — through capitalism, self-interest, drive, determination, ambition and the like. Nevertheless, the false leftist views are validated by a sense that because people of importance — “cool” people — think a certain way, it must be valid. Also, teachers tell them throughout their school years that they’re great, no matter how well they achieve or fail to achieve. Most of them believe it, on the surface level. They relate and “think” with superficial confidence and, not so far beneath the surface, have profound anxiety.

Four, false ideology. Both old fashioned religion/traditional values AND modern leftism say the same thing: Man is his brother’s keeper. Your life does not belong to you. There has GOT to be something bigger than yourself. This can only mean: Your life is not the most important thing to you. Your life belongs to others. It may be OK to care for yourself to a point, but the only valid or moral approach to life is to live for others. This fits with socialism. It’s all the socialists talk about.

That’s pretty much it. Try out this theory with young people you know. See where it fits, where it doesn’t fit or what it does or doesn’t leave out.


—Michael J. Hurd

Medicare for All: What Could Possibly Go Wrong ?

Medicare for All”. Who can argue with that? No more struggles with medical care. No more worries about cost or insurance. You simply go to the doctor … and it’s free.

Why SHOULD you have to worry about money?

There are so many fallacies here. One you will hear little about in the coming presidential campaign: the rights of doctors. Also the rights of nurses, and all the allied health care professionals.

Kamala Harris — the last I checked — was the new front runner for the Democratic Party, at least according to the media. A few weeks back, Harris said we simply have to get rid of private health insurance. Her comrades say the same thing. HOW we will do that remains unclear. Will she issue an edict on 1/21/21, demanding that health insurance companies be immediately disbanded? Will the government simply nationalize private insurance companies, invading their offices and seizing their assets, as in a banana republic?

But there’s another factor, regardless of how private insurance is handled. Will doctors be permitted to contract with patients on a private basis? Will hospitals be able to do the same? What if doctors and/or patients don’t want to deal with the government? Or will the federal government MANDATE that all doctors must receive their payment through the government, following all the government’s rules and procedures?

That’s the key. Because once you violate the rights of doctors to make mutually agreeable deals with patients, then you violate the rights of patients at the same time.

Perhaps you’re callous and stupid enough not to care about the doctors. “I’m entitled to my medical care. It’s my right. I couldn’t care less about the people providing it”. Through their evasiveness and non-thinking, I’m guessing that’s about where half the American population is, appallingly. I would place all serious leftist Democrats in this category, because that’s the reasoning they imply when they scream, “Medicare for all”.

But even if we forget the doctors and their rights, as if they were inanimate objects, what about yourself? What does it mean for YOU if you want to take an offer negotiated by a particular hospital or health care provider? What if your life depended on it? What if you don’t have AOC’s, Bernie Sanders’ or Elizabeth Warren’s connections, and you need surgery NOW? You and a hospital negotiate a loan. But the federal government says you must wait your turn, perhaps many months as in Canada or Britain, where they have Medicare for all. What then?

Imagine if the government passed a law saying nobody can home school. Or nobody can go to a private school. EVERYBODY must go to a government-run, government-run school. Would you call it Communism then? And if you would, is Communism what you want for your body, mind and overall well-being? Are you willing to stake your life on the word of politicians who routinely lie every moment of their public lives?

Do you SERIOUSLY think accountable people considered worthy and competent by the likes of our politicians will ensure you live the long, healthy life to which you feel you’re entitled?

If you ARE that stupid, then I suppose you deserve what you get.

I sincerely hope people don’t fall for it when they’re served up the idea of “Medicare for all” in the coming year. So much is at stake here. Our lives literally depend on it.

—Michael J. Hurd


Send Her Back

“Send her back” is not an affirmation of racism. It’s an affirmation of “I love my country — and if you don’t love it, get out.”

When your country is a free country, to love your country is to love your freedom. Properly and rationally, you see people who hate your country as a threat to your freedom. Of course you want them out!

And if these toxic members of Congress now known as “The Squad” hate freedom so much, why on earth would they want to stay here? For only one reason: To use their power in Congress and government to curtail or eliminate that freedom.

That’s an objective threat. It has nothing to do with the race of the person who hates freedom. It’s the fact the person hates freedom.

Why is this even an issue? What kind of rational, freedom-loving person could be remotely disturbed by the phrase “Send her back”, when used in this context?

Apologize, they demand. Apologize–for what? You have nothing to apologize for if you express this at a rally in defense of American values. American values refer to FREEDOM. If you hate freedom and the Bill of Rights that make it possible, you DO NOT BELONG HERE.

It’s that simple.


—Michael J. Hurd

Privatizing Public Lands Doesn’t Mean Turning Them Into Shopping Centers

Privatizing Public Lands Doesn’t Mean Turning Them Into Shopping Centers

TAGS The Environment


Protected public lands in the United States — including national forests, national parks, and similar areas — cover nearly 500,000 square miles, or 14 percent of the land area of the United States. The existence of these government-controlled lands gives the federal government immense power over much of the United States, and in some US states, the federal government controls a majorityof the land area.


Thanks to the popularity of some public lands, known for their natural beauty, federal control of so much land nonetheless remains popular, and the idea of privatizing these lands is considered a radical idea, to say the least.

But what if these lands were somehow removed from federal control. What exactly would happen?

It is often assumed that public lands would be immediately strip mined or turned into housing developments.

The economic realities, however, suggest otherwise.

After all, because national parks, for instance, have economic value as nature preserves, privatization would not mean bulldozing over every last leaf, tree, and twig in the parks.

But, to the extent that people will turn portions of these parks from their current use as nature recreation areas to other purposes, it will be to address truly urgent economic needs.

Valuable Tourist Attractions

A potential intermediate step toward outright privatization, the case has been made to transfer control of federal lands to state and local government control. To address concerns with such proposals, Ryan McMaken explains :

Contrary to the myth that public lands would immediately be sold to rapacious developers and oil drillers were the lands to fall into the hands of state or local governments, the reality is that public lands such as those in national parks are usually viewed very favorably by surrounding communities and by the voters in the states in which they are located.

As tourist attractions, and as giant recreational areas for locals, public lands are quite valuable as indirect sources of revenue for both private- and government-sector institutions in the area.

This line of argument for decentralizing public lands from federal to local government control also applies to outright privatization. If popular opinion now heavily favors the national parks, “America’s best idea” — and is repelled by the prospect of diminishing them — would not these opinions be reflected in the marketplace as well?

Consider how markets would respond. Considering the role of social media, any developer who tried to build a shopping mall in the middle of Yellowstone would seriously risk supplier and consumer boycotts, shame campaigns from environmental organizations, and the general ire of American society. Additional pressure would come from businesses that currently exist just outside these parks and depend upon them to attract customers into the area from around the world.

In part for this reason, if these parks were privatized, their new owners would likely to a large extent direct their use in ways that preserved their natural beauty, following consumer demand. For example, large portions of the parks would simply continue to be recreational areas for hiking, camping and visiting, but under private owners and land conservation trusts with their own money at risk, not taxpayers’. Given the state’s abysmal environmental record, the shift from government to voluntary management is overdue.

There’s no need to rely on speculation to see the voluntary sphere’s immense provision of nature recreation and preservation. The evidence already exists. Americans spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, the largest categories being trail sports, camping, and water sports. Americans willingly pay more to enjoy the outdoors “than they do on pharmaceuticals and fuel, combined” with $117 billion in change.

Beyond outdoor recreation, the market stewards nature in more direct ways as well.

In 2015, private land conservation trusts in the U.S. protected fifty-six million acres, double the acreage of the national parks in the continental U.S. These trusts demonstrate that the public is willing and able to support the environment out of an appreciation of nature, and doesn’t need to be forced to contribute through taxation. These trusts have “Nearly $2.2 billion in endowments and funding,” over 4.6 million active financial supporters, and received 6.2 million visitors in 2015.

At an even larger scale than voluntary land trusts, 441 million acres (the majority) of the country’s woods and forests are privately owned, “Of those, 95 percent are classified as ‘Family and Individual’ ownerships, 4 percent are classified as ‘Corporate’ ownerships, and 1 percent is classified as ‘Other Private’ ownerships.”

Private owners of ten or more acres rank the top five reasons for their ownership as, “Beauty and scenery,” “Part of home,” “Wildlife habitat,” “Pass onto children/heirs,” and “Privacy” in descending order. The number one “issue or concern” among owners of any amount above one acre is “high property taxes.” If the goal is to foster more woods and forests, one step would be eliminating property taxes such that people aren’t punished for maintaining or expanding value-adding forests.

Thankfully, as nations develop and disposable incomes grow, we can expect the market for beauty to blossom further. People enjoy living in the shade of oaks and going hiking, if they can afford to. Once basic necessities are met, people can increasingly turn their incomes to aesthetic, recreational, and charitable pursuits, which in turn fuels enterprises like residential landscaping, camping, conservation trusts, etc.

Might some privatized areas allow drilling and resources exploitation? Yes. But that happens already:

In some national parks, the federal government owns the surface lands and private companies own some of the mineral rights below the surface. This situation is called a “split estate,” . . . There are currently 534 active oil and gas wells across 12 units of the National Park System. There are 30 additional national parks with some “split estate” lands, but no active drilling at this point. 1

Land Use that Serves Humanity

If the public lands were privatized, some of it would likely be used for purposes that don’t necessarily preserve the wilderness such as drilling, mining, etc. This prospect is alarming to many, but shouldn’t be. This is because there’s no reason to assume that untouched land is necessarily the best use of land when human beings still need housing, food, and other goods that require land to produce.

Fortunately, the marketplace can help human beings strike a balance between nature preservation and other undertakings in a way that proportionately serves human needs.

How much of the country’s wilderness should remain untouched? Certainly not all of it. After all, preventing any human development whatsoever would require vacating the country of humans. The question is, what mechanism should decide how much and which land should be kept wild, and how much and which land should not for the sake of development, balancing the demand for wildlife preserves with the demand for all other goods?

If these decisions concerning tradeoffs are left to people acting voluntarily based upon private property, the question would be decided using prices and the information about supply and demand contained within them. In deciding whether to use any given allotment of land as a park, or whether to use it for something else, business owners calculate the anticipated revenues minus the anticipated costs, or profits, of each potential option.

When people anticipate the profitability of the projects available to them to decide which to pursue, they’re not engaged in something per se nefarious, as is often the connotation of the word “profit.” Close inspection of profit-seeking reveals two useful processes at work.

First, entrepreneurs strive to maximize revenue by finding the way to most satisfy the wants that consumers will demonstrate through what they choose to buy. The higher the price consumers are willing to pay for the entrepreneur’s good or service, the more that consumers demonstrate that they expect to benefit from whatever it is they purchase.

Second, entrepreneurs attempt to minimize costs by using up the least dear (urgently needed elsewhere) combination of resources as inputs in providing the consumers’ desired outputs. The more urgently a particular input is needed elsewhere in another application, the higher its price will be. As a result, when entrepreneurs seek to minimize their costs, they, consciously or not, are seeking to accomplish their goals while least inhibiting the resource needs of others.

That is: they’re maximizing revenue and minimizing costs to maximize profits. If a plot of land is more profitable as a drilling operation than as a piece of a recreational park, that means people express greater demand on the margin for additional fuel than for one more camping spot.

Using the government thumb to tip the scale in favor of nature recreation over fuel provision by limiting drilling on public lands prioritizes giving wealthy Americans marginally more camping spots at the expense of raising fuel prices globally for the less privileged.

A balance must be struck in the use of resources between nature preservation and all other potential uses. The market has assigned to nature an enormous, multifaceted lot. Privatizing public lands while removing taxes on property and outdoor recreation will further boost the voluntary stewardship of natural preserves. Meanwhile, market freedom will also grant the flexibility to utilize portions of these parks to serve the consumers’ most pressing economic needs outside of nature preservation.

  • 1.Nicholas Lund, “The Facts on Oil and Gas Drilling in National Parks,” National Parks Conservation Association,, 2017.
Note: The views expressed on are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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