Commentary Magazine


Iran Outlaws Valentine’s Day

Continuing its quest to become a cartoonish stereotype of an evil empire, the Iranian government has decided to outlaw Valentine’s Day.

“Symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses, and any activities promoting this day are banned,” announced state media last month, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Melik Kaylan. “Authorities will take legal action against those who ignore the ban.”

Valentine’s Day is only the latest in a long list of benign activities criminalized by the Iranian regime:

The Iranian state has pronounced against unauthorized mingling of the sexes, rap music, rock music, Western music, women playing in bands, too-bright nail polish, laughter in hospital corridors, ancient Persian rites-of-spring celebrations (Nowrooz), and even the mention of foreign food recipes in state media. This last may sound comically implausible, but it was officially announced by a state-run website on Feb. 6. So now the true nature of pasta as an instrument of Western subversion has been revealed. …

In the end, Iran’s rulers face an impossible task. Their genesis myth of a society based on a codified schema of sacred laws looks neither codified nor sacred. It convinces no one. Instead, the regime seems dedicated above all to stamping out joy wherever it may accidentally arise—a sour, paranoid struggle against irrepressible forces of nature, change, the seasons, music, romance and laughter. The Iranian people can take comfort: No earthly authority has won that particular contest for long.

Coincidentally, February 14 is the same day the Iranian anti-government Green movement has planned a massive protest. Iran has been ramping up its crackdown on dissent after the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.