Is Iran Evil?

Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister, thinks so.  From the Toronto Star:

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board, Harper criticized Iran, which the West accuses of covertly seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

“It concerns me that we have a regime with both an ideology that is obviously evil, combined with a desire to procure technology to act on that ideology,” Harper said, as reported in the newspaper’s online edition late Friday.

“My government is a very strong supporter of the state of Israel and considers the Iranian threats to be absolutely unacceptable and beyond the pale.”

During a metaphysics course I took during my B.Sc., the topic of evil came up a few times (namely, as an argument for the presence/absence of a omnibenevolent god).   A loose definition for evil that we adhered to was simple: evil is something that causes suffering.  I’m not talking about, “I’m suffering because my dad canceled my iPhone,”, or even, “God, is nothing but Gilmore Girls on television right now?”.  No, the suffering I refer to is the kind of suffering you don’t want to speak about with others.  You have to be certain that, when refering to something or someone as evil, you should be sure that you mean it.

I know that human rights have been trampled on in Iran, and students, journalists, and scientists have been subject to persucution, jailtime, and occasionally murder (see Human Rights Watch).  Arguably, this is evil.  However, this certianly isn’t a new phenomenon, is it?  Indeed, the Human Rights Watch has released official statements on Iran back to 1998 (source).  I don’t remember Harper ever labeling a country or group of people as evil before, so what has changed?  Why hasn’t Harper been calling Iran evil while GWB has touted the “axis of evil” schtick for the past 7 years?

Granted, perhaps Harper saw this as his time to woo the wealthy conservative types that most people associated with Wall Street, and those that read the WSJ.  Perhaps it’s all political rhetoric.  I certainly hope so.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: