Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Great Facebook (and YouTube, and Wikipedia) Ban.
Yesterday when the the PTA banned Facebook, I had a discussion with a friend regarding the violation of civil liberties. According to her, this ban was an infringement on our freedom of expression, a measure taken because people felt their faith was threatened by the activities FB authorities had refused to clamp down on. She felt that banning a whole social networking website just wasn't the way to go about it, and the government was acting foolishly by reacting in such a manner. Basically, what she felt was that the government's response was immature and was bound to get out of control.
I disagreed with her, because I thought that if it appeased the masses for a few days, so be it. She and I, and in fact many of us, do not represent the average Pakistani Muslim, and if their sentiments had been deeply hurt, perhaps this measure might make them feel better. Besides, we could all stay in touch through phones, messengers, Skype, etc, not to mention the fact that this ban might just make us study (I know many people who deactivate their accounts during exam time). The measure did not violate any particular human rights as to actually harm someone's life, and it was to be a short term measure, a form of organized protest by (willingly or unwillingly) the people of Pakistan.
What I was unaware of, when I woke up today, was the ban on YouTube. And Wikipedia. Really? How does that even make sense? At the very moment I write this blogpost, I can't even open my own blog, perhaps because of the words used in it. Apparently, the requested URL cannot be retrieved. So much for my freedom of expression, the violation of which, I might add, I take great offense to.
YouTube was blocked because of "Objectionable Content on the Main Page". And God knows why Wikipedia was restricted. If this is the case, then why aren't the thousands of porn sites being banned too? Do objectionable videos on the main page of YouTube really mean that we're going to watch them, and be influenced by them? I'd really like to think we're not that stupid, because it would be a shame if we were. Most of us know not to waste our time by leaving comments like "Y0U R@C!ST P!GZ, ALLAH W!LL $TR!K3 Y3WW" because we're aware that the people who post such videos are ignorant assholes who don't know the meaning of the word tolerance. Those who do comment, are equally, if not more, misinformed about the "evil culture of the West", so really, at the end of the day as it turns out it's ignoranus against ignoranus. Who are we to meddle in their enlightened arguments and cyberwars?
Quite evidently, the PTA doesn't share the same sentiments, and would very much like to meddle. And turn it into a nuisance for the rest of us, because it hurt their egos that a few hackers came up with solutions to the Facebook ban. Why not just go the whole nine yards, then?
Anyone remember the blogger ban of the not so recent past? Exactly.
Thank you PTA.