If you asked most Brits, they would probably say they were against censorship. Some might show favorable views to certain forms of censorship like child pornography, violent pornography, overtly racist and grotesque racial caricaturing, etc. However, on the whole we agree that censorship is mostly bad. Yet what is it really like to live somewhere when if asked the same question (“Are you for or against censorship?”) people would overwhelmingly say: I am for censorship. I think that it’s brilliant, and I would like some more of it.
Indonesia is my second home, and the country from which my wife and daughter originate. Both of them were pushed out of vaginas or ripped from gaping abdominal openings on this firm piece of earth, and needless to say they share a connection with it. I also feel attached to it in many ways, but it will always be viewed through my pro-western-liberal-democracy-loving eyes.
Censorship is something that people really love here, and not seeing this is a part of everyday life. In many ways it is mundane or comical. For example, when watching TV, a woman’s cleavage will be blurred as if it requested to remain anonymous. It’s comical because it’s as if the cleavage has agency and specifically requested not to be shown for fear of being identified. It’s mundane because a woman’s cleavage is not something that a man of my age or experience is that disappointed about not having seen. It’s not as if I am missing out on some grandiose piece of information that would totally fuck the system were it to be revealed.
Yet there’s more to this than just tits being blurred out on TV.
A slightly less comical example is the country’s ban on pornography. Being only four years into my marriage means that I have little use for watching pornography, but like many young men, I have on many occasions derived pleasure from directing, producing, and starring in my own. This simple pleasure is denied to amateur pornographers across the Indonesian archipelago, and has even landed some of those brave enough to make it in prison. Take the famous example of Ariel Noah; a man who was sentenced to three and a half years for having the pornography from his stolen laptop distributed online. He didn’t force, coerce, or even promote his video. He simply made it for his own viewing pleasure.
Censorship often creeps in by banning only what the majority doesn’t want to see. Sometimes that seems like good intentioned virtue signaling; holocaust denial and hate speech laws being key examples. They reflect a moral consensus that is rarely unchallenged, and in some ways moral consensuses can be a good thing. However, when you have a majority whose consensus is only informed by hand-picked information, problems arise.
When you go to see films in Indonesia, you might get to see a peck on the cheek exchanged between actors. However, full on movie bumsex is not something you will be seeing. It’s no big deal, right? Yet it’s actually a big deal because the same people who won’t let you see James Bond ream some broad are the same people who disallow you from watching Schindler’s List. The ruling body on censorship deemed that it may cause people to become ‘sympathetic to the Jewish cause’. With this kind of censorship, is it any wonder that high schools cannot give students information about how to practice safe sex, but can host talks about how Jews dominate the world?
(Translation: “Jewish Domination of World Civilization” Islamic Village High School 2015)
If you want censorship, it logically follows that you want a censor: someone who you are willing to privilege with deciding what you can and cannot see or hear, to decide what thoughts and ideas are permissible for your consumption. I do not know of anyone who I would trust with that position. Only a masochist or an infantilized coward would request somebody to do this job for them, and this is not something which those of us who have matured to intellectual adulthood require. The next time you hear someone call for censorship, tell them to take a trip to Indonesia—a country where you cannot watch the movie Schindler’s List—but can host Jewish World Domination conspiracy talks at high schools.
James Thompson is a heterosexual olive-skinned male who isn’t afraid to admit that he finds Professor David Starkey quite agreeable. Given that he is married to a genuine brown Muslim woman and the father of a delightful olive/brown girl, he feels entitled to make outrageous comments regarding sexism, religion, race, and politics.