Obscene words or minds?

It is a norm for the authorities in Pakistan to reach the pinnacle of ludicrousness time and again, but sometimes they can outshine even themselves. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has recently ordered cell phone companies to block text messages containing around 1,500 words, which it perceives to be “indecent” or “offensive”. The part of this move that defies logic is that these “obscene” words include “taxi”, “headlights”, “gay”, “tongue”, “fart”, “idiot” and the most preposterously “Jesus Christ”. Just makes you think what the officials at the PTA have been smoking. It is understandable that they felt the urge to block words that are actually indecent, but blocking “Jesus Christ”??? That is outright ridiculous.
And if the PTA officials believe that the words “taxi” and “headlights” are indecent, it is perhaps their own minds that need to be cleansed instead of the text messages. It is true that these words are sometimes used as slang terms, but then again, any word could be for that matter. It does not mean that they should be banned altogether. The majority of the people use them for what they actually mean and filtering text messages that contain them would only cause inconvenience to the public. The people using these words “indecently” can always find other words to substitute them for their slang terminology. What would the PTA do then? Ban text messages altogether.
Another “feather in the cap” of the telecom watchdog was its complete ban on Facebook for a brief period last year when somebody had created a page on the social networking website containing sacrilegious content. The PTA’s current move is somewhat similar to the Sindh government’s ban on pillion-riding in Karachi as far as absurdity is concerned. The public were made to suffer while target killers went on with their killing spree with impunity and the only beneficiaries were the people running public transport. The ban on “obscene” words only goes on to show the obscenity that is ingrained in the mindset of those running the affairs in the country. The step is against freedom of expression, and the addition of the word “Jesus Christ” in the list also means it is an attack on the rights of minorities.

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One Comment;

  1. scallywagy said:

    Which is tantamount to saying you are free to express yourselves as long as we approve it first. Or can we really argue that the PTA have a point in saying that in certain instances the copious use of certain words goes overboard and all it wants to do is spare us? Or is it a subtle attempt by authorities to steer public discourse which with the advent of twitter has multiplied a thousand times in a way that authorities can still monitor and affect the public’s discourse? But then again how does the censoring of engagement of topics still come within the ambit of the right to freely express ourselves and can we really argue here in the Western world we have it so good when we are being continuously clipped and watched by authorities when we choose to express ourselves in a public forum?

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