Maziar Bahari was imprisoned in Iran for 118 days on charges of espionage. What did he do? He gave an interview to The Daily Show's Jason Jones, who was pretending to be a spy. Clearly the Ayatollah didn't get the joke.
What follows is a snippet from his Daily Show interview with Jon Stewart last night.
Maziar Bahari: I thought that maybe they'd cancel my press card or maybe they put me in prison for 2-3 days, maybe a week, and then they let me go, but charging me with espionage because of an interview with Jason, it was beyond my wildest dreams.
Jon Stewart: You know, we hear so much about the banality of evil, but so little about the stupidity of evil.
MB: It's--evil is stupid, you know. Whenever you take anything to the extremes, you see the humor in it and you see the stupidity in it. And I think what the Iranian government did, and what my interrogator as the representative of the Iranian government was doing to me, it was stupid and it was funny at the same time. It was not funny while I was in the interrogation room, blindfolded, in a dark room, and being beaten, you know, that was not funny. But when I was going back to my cell, I had to laugh. I mean, that was my defense mechanism.
JS: Well they say comedy is imprisonment plus time.
MB: Exactly, yeah. And you know, my interrogator, for some reason after a while he became my muse. And I never told him, but he gave me ideas. You know, he was so exaggerated in whatever he did, that he just gave me ideas. And I just, I just laughed at him.
JS: It's all so Dostoevsky--or this crazy existentialist nightmare that you entered into, but--he was obsessed with the idea that you had been to New Jersey.
JS: This is--this is true!
MB: You know, to him, New Jersey sounded like the most American place that you could be. And he thought that New Jersey is paradise on Earth. And, you know, he thought that New Jersey is a place where people drink all the time, they have sex all the time, and where there are no Jews.
JS: I'm apparently the exception to the rule, I didn't get to do any of that stuff.
MB: I never told him about you, yes.
JS: It's funny and tragic and horrible because this is a man invested with a great deal of power. He is in the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.
MB: He was a Revolutionary Guard and he was in charge of my life, you know. I had to be very respectful of him, I had to be very deferential, you know, I always had to call him "Sir," and whenever I wanted to answer back I was always saying that, "I beg to differ, but you're stupid." I never said that, but you know, I always had to respect him. And he had a lot of power. I mean, he--you know, one thing that was very smart was that I was not confronting the system, I was not confronting the government. They made him in charge of my life. So it was as if that he had a personal grudge against me, not that I was, you know, tried or imprisoned by the Iranian government. They made it more personal. He came to arrest me. He was my interrogator. And on the last day, just the night before I left Iran, he told me that "We can arrest you wherever you are, we can always bring you back in a bag."