See No Evil

By Ali Aftab Saeed:

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocks access to porn sites in Pakistan. The central theme of this piece is not porn per se, but the pros and cons of the decision to ban it. In principle of course, if we decide as a nation that we shouldn’t have porn only a click away, then we should have the right to ban it. What is unacceptable is for some agency to control the flow and content of information. Because when authorities decide the content people should have access to, it is usually not for the sake of providing quality information. The concern shown by people about the potential misuse of SOPA and PIPA is a valid one. Porn may be very few Pakistanis’ cup of tea (or is it?), but authorities getting a free hand to ban it will certainly raise similar issues. This is of course a land where sane, reasonable things are routinely labeled as blasphemous. There’s very little doubt, as far as I am concerned, that a lot of babies will be deliberately thrown with the bath water. Even as it is, two Gazans killed by Israeli helicopters somehow get more attention by us than twenty Baloch killed much closer to home.

Let’s leave terrorism, freedom fights, and religious fanaticism aside for a moment, and come back to the issue at hand, that is, porn – or the banning of it to be precise. I think the ball of the PTA ban was set rolling by the report published back in 2010 claiming that among all nations of the world, Pakistan was numero uno on the porn search list. The report appeared in all our leading newspapers. The interesting thing is that nobody found it hard to believe, although we predictably got to hear the usual western-conspiracy-to-defame-us comments, in addition to the self-righteous outrage on Fox News’s multiple orgasms via the Pornistan taunt.

From the report it seems the spirited Pakistanis absolutely blew away the rival nations in all categories, including the bestiality searches. I don’t want to believe the explanation put forward by ‘The young Turks’, namely: the Pakistanis believe that sex with animals is less sinful than with fellow humans. Rape and child sex searches are of course two other disturbing categories we topped in, which would negate TYT hypothesis, but then, these could easily be distinct user groups.

I recently watched an audience-based TV program on the issue. Two of the four panelists in the program were convinced that internet was the root cause of all evil, and that the PTA should ban internet if banning porn sites was a difficult task. The audience seemed to agree with them. Understandable, in a country where having reservations about legislation can be seen as being in favour of the crime, as Salman Taseer found out.

Personally I don’t buy the different arguments presented from time to time in favour of pornography. I am however convinced that just like we couldn’t eliminate prostitution, alcohol and gambling from the society by prohibiting them nationwide, we won’t be able to stop people from watching porn by banning websites. A lot of people are killed every year by ill-prepared, unregulated alcohol; and a lot of horror takes place in underground, non-accredited, unmonitored gambling houses, where the gamblers play on credit and pay with their life or limb. Now I am certainly not for giving legal cover to porn or prostitution because that will be adopting the worst of the western culture. However, since economics determine most everything, the Hall Road DVD shops are sure to again enjoy the old patronage from the porn customer – if they haven’t already – as the ban becomes more and more extensive. That will likely provide the lurking crazies with more motivation to bomb such markets, where a majority of buyers will have nothing to do with porn. And even if a porn buyer or seller is killed, should death be the penalty for this immorality? These simple-in-principle matters are not very simple when it comes to application, are they?

Another particular search that got me (and many others, I should assume) thinking is ‘camel sex’. It’s obvious that ordinary mortals can’t do it with a camel (well I guess nothing is impossible if one shows enough motivation and determination; but as far as animals go, having sex with a camel has to be the most amazing feat, with the probable exception of a giraffe). My curiosity has been aroused but unfortunately I have no way to find out now that the relevant sites have been banned. Assuming that the search had nothing to do with bestiality (as is likely in view of the above), hats off to the geniuses who think that watching two camels making out would be sexually arousing or even aesthetically gratifying (whichever comes first; pun not intended)! I mean, if indulging in this type of activity happens to be one’s thing, why camels, of all things? Could it be yet another way on the part of our wannabe Arabs of associating, and showing solidarity, with the ‘ship of the desert’, which features so prominently in the Arabic holy folklore? TYT may have a point after all.

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