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What Connects Flatulence, Jesus Christ and Crotch Monkey?

What Connects Flatulence, Jesus Christ and Crotch Monkey?

 

Pakistan, that’s what. Or, to be more exact: Pakistan’s Telecom Authority (PTA) who, in a supposed effort to combat the issue of spam text messages, recently released a list of some 1,600+ “offensive” or “obscene” words and phrases it would like mobile phone companies to block from being used in SMS messaging.

Among the contingent of English words those “offensive” phrases include:

  • flogging the dolphin
  • crotch monkey
  • fondle
  • flatulence
  • deeper
  • MaryJane
  • quickie
  • love pistol
  • deposit
  • butt
  • virgin
  • snot

I could go on but the breadth of the list is truly impressive and the above are some of the more amusing words rather than the more explicit choices. Should you want to, you can read the list of 148 or so English words that the regulator would like to ban by clicking here. Needless to say it is not safe for work, children or those wanting to keep themselves pure of mind.

However, this issue gets more serious when one considers that on that list are phrases related to the Christian religion such as “Jesus Christ” and words relating to sexual minorities like “gay” and “lesbian.” Censorship has been the accusation.

The regulator has defended itself, saying that freedom of speech is not unlimited and it is necessary to ban words that might be offensive in order to prevent harmful material from circulating in Pakistan.

From the Hindustan Times:

The lists of offensive words and terms and a letter written on November 14 by PTA’s Director General (Services) Muhammad Talib Doger, instructing mobile phone operators to start filtering SMS messages, have been posted on numerous internet forums after they were leaked to the media last week.

Doger’s letter indicated that the lists were drawn up after consultations with mobile phone operators over the past few months.

It described the filtering scheme as part of larger efforts to halt spam messages.

“The right of free speech extends to all subjects which affects way of life without limitation of any particular fact.

“However, right of freedom of speech and expression is not unfettered and unbridled,” the letter said.

The filtering of SMSs is required [...] under the Protection from Spam, Unsolicited, Fraudulent and Obnoxious Communication Regulations of 2009, it said.

Journalists have pointed out there are several words on that list that are used in everyday language, including words like “idiot” and “virgin” which makes the list problematic.

The list has also provoked members of Pakistan’s minority party to speak out, saying the idea of combating spam messaging is a cloak for censors to make a direct assault on religious freedom of expression.

From The News.com:

A Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) minority MPA on Monday protested vociferously against the inclusion of Jesus Christ in a list of banned words by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and said it was an attempt to undermine religious freedom in the country.

[...]

The PPP minority MPA’s resolution, which was deferred for another day, reads: “The Sindh Assembly condemns the act of the PTA to block the sacred words of the Christian community ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Christ Jesus’. And recommends to the federal government to kindly take action and conduct an inquiry against the PTA and remove these words from the banned list.”

Others have pointed out the excessive reach of the list, saying that if the regulator merely wished to combat spam, the list would be much smaller.

From MSNBC:

Fahad Rehman, a 30-year old event planner in Lahore who often uses text messages to advertise his events, sees it as an attempt by “out-of-touch” officials to placate the more conservative sections of Pakistan’s highly-polarized society, by dictating what is and is not appropriate.

“The word ‘sexy’ is on the list? It’s ridiculous!” says Rehman. “There is, unfortunately, a large number of people who think like this. But this is a complete waste of time. It just diverts attention away from the real problems in Pakistan.”

[...]

Zoha Waseem, a 24-year old blogger from Karachi, says the agency’s priorities are “completely misplaced,” and that their actions show that Pakistan is “still a pretty backwards country.” “We talk about a democratic Pakistan, a progressive Pakistan, ” says Waseem. “And we’re focusing on words like this? When we have so many better things to do? This is not something a progressive country would be worrying about.”

After an international outcry, the PTA has stressed that it has not, as yet, enforced any ban and that the list is open to revision during a forthcoming consultation period. However, this is not the first time the regulator has been accused of heavy-handed tactics to enforce its religious views of propriety.

The PTA has repeatedly blocked access to YouTube over what it has called “non-Islamic, objectionable videos.” Subsequent bans have been slapped on Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr and many more sites, and earlier this year the authority sent an order to Internet service providers that in the interests of content monitoring, they must block access to encrypted private networks.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to veesees.

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40 comments

+ add your own
7:38AM PST on Feb 17, 2013

Oh, well.

6:43PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

They added John Boner's (Boehner's) famous saying about Obama care #500 "Hell No." I found one of my favorite TV show characters Butthead and gee, I didn't know there were that many words that were offensive. Could be that living in the same house almost 40 years where a city park ends on the back side of the block at my house and the park is about 20 feet away from my back door - OMG, I just said "back door" and abbr. "God", oh oh. I have heard just about everything out of the mouths of kids as young as 3 so maybe I have learned to tune it out, but I do believe they have worked overtime on this list. Must have a lot of free time on their hands.

We never were able to make a list this long in my human sexuality class in college in the 70's. I really learned a lot of "new terms" that some people use for put downs or insults

11:00AM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Pakistan may be even more moral than Saudi Arabia. This causes them grief when they find themselves in our immoral midst where people like Hugh Hefner have the gall to create a personal Muslim paradise. {Well, maybe not exactly virgins} and where people shamelessly drink alcohol in public. Just wait til Sharia law comes in. They included Jesus Christ. Was Mohammed on the list too ?.

7:57AM PST on Dec 6, 2011

I can think of better things to worry about in that county. They should heed the sayn Stick and Stones.

9:12PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

They didn't add Magna and Summa Cum Loudly. Also, no Hitler or Nazi? What gives?

7:27PM PST on Nov 27, 2011

To even concoct a list like this is to see it flouted and routed, by everyone, with nothing more than daily use. It's doubtful anyone outside the censors' office is going to memorize the list and not use those words. I think the list's extinction is hanging in the air of ten million conversations right now, even as I write this...

5:23PM PST on Nov 26, 2011

What this article fails to mention (but Rachael Maddow does), is that one of the gents overseeing this censorship - his last name - is "Butt". LOL! So weird.

10:41PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:44AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

I suppose the silver lining is that it encourages people to come up with new, colorful euphemisms for the banned terms; in the arms race between creative people inventing circumlocutions and censors scrambling to ban them, the censors are always going to be a couple of steps behind. Like this: "When I was 12 I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one eyed snake; I skinned my sausage; I made the bald man cry! Into the turtle stew, which I do believe my sister ate (at least I hope she did)." (See Tyrion Lannister's confession at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmSGmGbX9BA/.)

11:42AM PST on Nov 24, 2011

Sounds like the wackos in this country who forced the renumbering of Highway 666 on the theory that it was the mark of Satan.

If "dome" is a bad word, I'm really doomed. I'm a train nut, and in my youth the biggest treat of all was a ride in the Vista Dome, the glass domed rooftop observation deck.

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