Freedom at the 69th Hour
In June 2000, the Indian Parliament created the Information Technology Act to provide a legal framework to regulate internet use. This act criminalises the publishing of obscene information electronically and grants police powers to search any premises and arrest individuals in case of any violations of the act. An amendment to the same act in 2008 reinforced their power to block sites and content that were deemed as offensive.
There have been several instances when the government has used this act to block certain websites for indefinite periods of time. The recent controversy regarding the Indian government banning 857 pornographic websites has grown to such great heights because of two reasons. Firstly, the decision was in complete violation of a Supreme Court verdict that declined a previous request. Furthermore, the sharp increase in the number of bans being imposed by the Modi government has caused an outrage.
The status of the ban got even more questionable after all connected authorities refused to comment on the matter and only the lawyer activitist, who had filed the petition in the Supreme Court a few days ago, thanked the government for being instrumental in this action. However, owing to the media outrage and violent shaming on facebook, the ban was finally lifted. As the plot thickens and people start taking sides, Team MM brings to you a bird’s eye view of the whole scenario, as it is.
NAUGHTY INDIA? NOBODY DOES IT BETTER!
MM View: The recent ban on pornographic sites by the Indian government looks like just another failed attempt at forceful moral policing. One cannot help but wonder, if India the land of Kama Sutra and erotic sculptures, is truly uncomfortable in its own skin? Sure India cringes at PDA, tries to regulate what meat people are consuming, looks aghast at the thought of anything even remotely liberal – but this is outright ridiculous! In the words of India’s chief justice H.L. Dattu (the only man who seems to be making any sense right now) :
Adults have a fundamental right to watch pornography within the privacy of their own homes.
Many supporters of the ban claimed that pornography had a role to play in perverting an individual’s thoughts. They went so far as extending that thought process to cases of rape and sexual harassment. A simple counter argument to that would be that pornography leads to sexual release and the lack of it leads to sexual frustration which can consequently lead to instances of sexual violence. If an individual can comfortably sit in the privacy of his room and masturbate to free porn downloaded from the internet, why would he take the trouble of going out of his way to cause another individual harm for the same sexual release? Our government fails to understand that the category of porn viewers is not a niche, but a widely growing populace! Who said only men watch porn? An Indian woman despite losing out on a global scale to many other countries on many other grounds has a whooping majority of 32% porn viewership.
Another viewpoint suggests that the activities shown in pornography lead to perversion of the mind and people either end up facing disappointment or else hurting themselves or their partners. The perversity of the human mind cannot be shut down by banning porn, because pornographic content is also conceptualized by individuals. If imagination cannot be banned, how can we ban its visualization? The other accusation regarding sexual disappointment can easily be brushed away as foolish, since the average IQ of the Indian porn viewer allows him to distinguish between camera effects and reality.
In conclusion, what would the shy, awkward and gawky teenager do in college if the love of his life didn’t know he existed? What would the love of his life do, if she wasn’t comfortable about getting physical with another individual? What would the lonely housewife do when her husband was away on a weekly tour? What would the estranged husband do at the end of a long day in office? As the youth of the nation, we implore the government to stop acting like a nagging grandmother and to treat us as mature individuals, who have a right to censor internet content as appropriate or otherwise. So instead of worrying about the number of people masturbating, it would perhaps be effective to worry about more pressing issues such as poverty, safety and development.
A MUCH DESIRED RELIEF (?)
The Counterview: One order banning a list of 857 websites with sexually explicit content and the whole nation goes crazy. From accusing the government of a Talibanese mindset to allegations of moral policing, the cosmopolitan and progressive young populace of the country, have done everything in the past few days to revert the ban. Many believe and argue that the ban violates the right to freedom. After all the outrage in the media and people questioning the government’s sanity, surprisingly, the Supreme Court has gone ahead and limited the ban only to pornographic content featuring children. Marking the new development in the issue, the government wants the Supreme Court to appoint an ombudsman that will regulate such websites. Being stamped as conservative or old-school because of one’s support to the ban, isn’t something which should force anyone to shy away and cry down this truly bold move on the part of the government.
The contemporary internet has such a large domain of audience of varying age-groups that access to something as disruptive as pornography definitely needs monitoring. There is of course the age-confirmation window which pops up usually while trying to access these websites, which is a feeble attempt by the administrators as one can always, sign in with a fake account, with bogus details. With the above description it is clear that who we are talking about here are the children and adolescents. What has to be emphasized here is that these young minds have a tough time understanding their changing bodies. They would naturally be attracted to any source that can feed the curiosity. It may be peer pressure, and one kid with porn on his phone is enough to corrupt a majority of the class. This early exposure to something as sensitive as porn, would distort their views about adulthood and intimacy. Statistics say that pornography is watched online by a whopping 63% of the present adolescents crushing down the age limit barriers imposed on these online sites to a mere farce.
The Liberalist view of ‘The government cannot impose restrictions on my bedroom’ is based on a very cunning and careful ignorance and neglect of the fact that these sites showcase an array of revenge porn clips which are secretly recorded and put on a public domain for the whole world to watch, simply because a relationship fell out with one party just a little bit too bitter about it. Do such channels thus not count as aiding and abetting these debauched doings of the culprit? The realization that dawns upon us as we get a bit deeper into the debate, is the infectious correlation between porn and crime. The restriction or even the ban imposed on such sites, depending on its efficacy, also has the potential to act as a means for curbing the crime rate in the territory of adult-content platforms, one good example being the filming of sexual assaults and passing them off as porn.
Porn is an illusion. One which defines the unrealistic fantastical constraints of intimacy thus creating inferiority complex and disappointment, when whatever humbug that is featured in these movies fails to transpire in the course of bedroom action. As stated by any porn star, some or all of the pornographic content is mere sham and far from anything that normal human beings can attempt to execute on a normal day.
The ban in question is thus something that is truly commendable and highly desirable at this hour. The large scale degeneration of the ethical and moral values of the present society has been one of the consequences of disruptive distribution of porn in the past three-four decades and has subsequently led to spiraling crime rates thanks to a generation of twenty somethings who have grown up on a handsome dose of women being subjected to the cruelest forms of sexual action and their apparent derivation of pleasure from it.