Khomeini
Khomeini

   I usually have an opening line in mind when I sit down to write.  This morning I wondered about the people who have influenced me and I lit upon the Ayatollah Khomeini.  The line I wanted to start with was: You just can't look like this and not be evil.  I Googled him for an image.  I clicked on one I like, the one you see here, and was redirected to a site that listed the most evil men in world history.  (At least one other denizen of the web agrees with me.)  Other men on the site included Stalin and Hitler, of course, and Pol Pot, King Leopold, Idi Amin, Vlad the Impaler, and Ivan the Terrible.  Pretty stiff competition.  The web writer threw in Hirohito as a bonus eleventh demon.  I know it's hard to choose sometimes, but I would have been tempted to strike old Vlad, who got a bug up his ass because emissaries from another soveriegn refused to remove their hats in his presence so he had their hats nailed to their heads, in favor of any pope.  Anger management classes are indicated.  What gathers all of these men - sorry, women, you just can't compete in this department - is a preference for an idea over people.  These men killed thousands, millions, of human beings rather than accept that one of his ideas might be the teensiest bit off.  Here's how evil this man is: I am not speaking my mind fully for fear that one of his devotees will read this and kill me for speaking the truth.  Killing to silence the truth is probably the highest expression of evil.
    The Ayatollah taught me that shame and fear are the principal weapons tyrants use against their victims.  Fear is a reasonable indicator of danger; tyrants kill deviation of any kind.  It's a threat.  It's real.  But shame I have to participate in and I'm not interested.