The Silence of the Pigs
November 2011. The suspense was finally at an end. Team Jacob had lost. A fairy tale dance in the woods leaving him doe-eyed, worse for wear; wounds blistering beneath a statuesque surface. Bella and Edward, forever and for eternity. For better or for worse.
Isle Esme. A honeymoon long in the waiting. I sit watching, popcorn in hand, as Edward carries his brown-haired bride into a suite only suited for ill-fated lovers; a canopy bed frame and cinema-goers (myself included) holding a collective, anticipatory breath. Foreplay and soft moody music. And then: blackness. Cut to the next morning.
Given the heavy religious influence in matters of governmental policy, it’s no wonder a frolic in the sack is deemed unfit for public viewing. This runs the gamut: from a peck on the cheek to full-on nudity. And you know what, I fully understand the decision to stifle sexualisation. Being a father of a little girl, I would welcome a little less emphasis on promiscuity, skin and insinuations of flirtations. But to my eye, censorship is a slippery slope – one that must be traversed with great caution.
Take, for instance, the Pig Problem. While it’s well known that Muslims abstain from eating pork and deem swine filthy, I’ve never quite grasped why the word “pig” not even be uttered. And why must any photograph or picture of the animal be removed from school textbooks? Is there not a distinction between the animal and the meat product?
While seemingly benign, the Pig Problem has far-reaching implications. It is merely one example of what happens when better judgement takes a backseat to wide-sweeping censorship. And it isn’t limited to schools or cinemas but also effects social media, perhaps this generation’s greatest communication platform.
Taken from neobservatory.org: Three years ago “Ayyad al-Harbi, a journalist at the news website Sabr, was charged with tweeting remarks which were considered offensive to the nation’s emir. On Sunday, Kuwaiti media said a social media activist also has received a two-year prison term for Twitter posts that allegedly insulted the emir.”
And this is where the waterslide effect begins. A drip become a leak becomes a geyser in the blink of an eye. And before you know it, the Holocaust is stricken from the history books. Poof, abracadabra, it’s disappeared from the collective consciousness.
The intention here is not the cause controversy or wag a reproachful finger at any one person, country, religion, or government in particular. What I’m trying to hint at is the unintended harm caused by systematically restricting what people can say, see, hear or do. To put it another way, as a teacher I’m less concerned by a student who doesn’t know as compared with a student who doesn’t know what (s)he doesn’t know.
I guess the crux of it is the Western ideal of freedom (not just of speech) and its implicit renunciation of so-called “moral policing.” If everything deemed offensive or illicit is restricted what we’re left with is the worst calamity of all: silence.
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