“Conservative” has been carelessly appropriated by the media to mean no more than the side you’re not meant to like. Attorney general John Ashcroft is a hardline conservative, but so, according to the press, is the Taliban and half the Chinese politburo and the crankier ayatollahs.
Canada is calling for the arrest of an Iranian prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, be arrested if he sets foot in a civilized nation. The cleric is charged by Canadian officials for the 2003 torture death of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, in an Iranian jail.
I was listening to this story on Morning Edition today (audio here), and got the subjective impression that they were being tougher on Iran than usual. The victim in this case was a woman, a Canadian, and a journalist--so to a male American news-consuming cynic, that might account for the heat.
Then, I caught a snippet wherein the NPR reporter said that Mortazavi is widely considered one of the most "conservative" Iranian officials. Uh-huh. Not "radical", as in radically transgressing the norms of civilized jurisprudence by imposing medieval tortures on innocent victims. But "conservative", as in "'conservative' is just another synonym for 'bad dog!' in the news media."
Well, I guess that shows they were really angry about Iran's dictatorship, and that's something, at least.