Christina Engela's picture

The Word

Freedom is a funny thing. You probably take it for granted, until you wake up one morning and you haven't got it anymore. When Big Brother starts looking over your shoulder to tell you you can't watch certain kinds of characters in your favorite soapies anymore (because that is contrary to "nation-building"), or read about government's latest corruption scandal (because that would influence your vote come next election, duh), or walk down the street holding your partner's hand (because that promotes an "unhealthy lifestyle choice" and "threatens Christian family values") - then you will know the bite of censorship and miss it.

It's quite funny to note over the past week or so, that with all the petitions and civil organizations and personalities now speaking out against the "Protection of Information" Bill which would reintroduce censorship of the media in South Africa - all the right wing and fundamentalist Christian (aka Levitican) groups are deafeningly silent. Why, I wonder?

After all, all the standard liberal and pro-democratic political parties started protesting almost immediately when this infamous slap-in-the-face to democracy first made the news, but certain other parties have remained aloof and apparently indifferent. Have the FF+ said anything about it? What about their goose-stepping cousins, the AWB and the BWB? What about the "Boerekrygers" and the "Voortrekkerjeug"? LOL. Honestly, who cares? Have the religious right swooped in from on high to object to legislation which might very well be used to smother religious freedom in the media, by a government and ruling party which they themselves have all too often accused of being Marxist and outright communist? No?

In fact I find it strange that these same groups and their leaders have of late have abstained from making such remarks - and have instead taken to working with them in trying to "police" the "morals" of the country.
Christina Engela's picture

Plausible Inability

I was being chastised the other day, as sometimes happens - for criticizing the fundamentalist attack on democracy in one of my earlier articles - and one guy thought that proving to me that Christians "invented" the concept of democracy, he would rubbish my argument.

"The concept of democracy was founded by christians, embraced by christians and is still widely supported by christians." He said.

Right. So what about all those poor Greeks who thought they invented it around 4000 years ago? Boy don't they feel stupid now? Reminds me of that old BA ad - "We didn't invent flying - we perfected it", only in my mind it goes: "We didn't invent religion - we just hijacked it".

Last but not least, we have all those Levitican leaders who are doing their level best to get global democracy to fall on its sword for the sake of their puritan sense of morality and delusions of dominion and "right to rule" and doing a fair imitation of "Pinky and the Brain".

The way I see democracy is that there shouldn't be double standards. Everyone should be equal and everyone should be treated equally. And certain things like freedoms and civil rights that are set in the constitution should not be undermined - and above all, the electorate should not be deceived or lied to by the government. And democracy shouldn't be used against itself in a shady process to replace it with a totalitarian or fascist corruptorate (yes, I think I may have coined a new term there).
Christina Engela's picture

You, The People

One thing I learned from history is that when you want to isolate and persecute any community, country or group - the first thing you do is to remove the thinkers, leaders and strong-willed from that group. Without them, the rest of the sheep will swallow just about anything the government spoons into the funnel called the media. Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Mugabe has done it - and if the ANC has its way, history will simply have repeated itself.

The proposed new law to control the media and introduce censorship and restrictions by the government has been described as a significant step backwards for South Africa on the downward spiral to becoming like its corrupt and impoverished neighbor, Zimbabwe.

You have to give them their due - at least the ANC seems to have paid attention to how the Apartheid regime and more recently, Robert Mugabe, has got clear away with corruption and oppression for decades – by controlling the Media and the information which is disseminated to the masses - and which travels outside the borders of his domain. If the ANC can convince the masses that its actions, no matter how flawed and ill conceived they may be, are justifiable - then like the Apartheid government, they can also indulge in murder and continue to deprive those less fortunate; continue to fail to deliver on empty election promises, dispose of those who go against their leadership, and all this with the approval of South African citizens and other global communities, whom the government will ensure will not know the whole story.
Christina Engela's picture

The Minister, The Barrister & The Thought Police

Recently the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Gigaba, announced his intention to push legislation for censorship of the internet and also the mobile phone network, supposedly to block people from accessing pornography. We believe that aside from just affecting negatively the civil freedoms instilled in the Bill of Rights, this will have dire consequences for freedom of expression, and the right to access information - and the potential threat that this legislation will be made to serve a portion of society that wishes to police the morality of South Africans.

As has been documented in the media and also in newsletters of some private sector bodies, there is a concerted effort being made by certain religious extremist groups to influence Government to adopt their narrow-minded and ultra-conservative views. It would also seem by the response from the office of the Minister, (see at the end of this article) that they are succeeding.

This matter has arisen based on the supposed premise that pornography "should" be banned in the public domain - a debate which was originally about CHILD pornography and the genuine harm which this causes children affected by this dark trade. This proposal has now (predictably) been expanded to include ALL pornography - and become an excuse to act like Thought Police and to provide a convenient opportunity for the government to re-introduce censorship laws - which will allow them to apply it to ANYTHING which the government determines to be "inappropriate" or "undesirable" - and as has been made crystal clear by the response from the Department - this is rooted in a strongly religious fundamentalist motive.

I received the following response from the Democratic Alliance, whom we approached in this regard, on the matter of the proposed censorship bill:
Christina Engela's picture

The Trouble With Censorship Is XX XXXX XXXXXXX

The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced plans to ban pornography on the internet. Also mentioned prominently in the article is their partner in this affair - The Justice Alliance of South Africa, a small right-wing Christian fundamentalist organization which has in the very recent past, lobbied against abortion rights for women, and whose Honorary Director was involved in Doctors For Life, which actively opposed same-sex marriage in the courts a few years ago.

The JASA (Justice Alliance of SA) is no more than a small group of religious conservatives, whose Board consists of only one legal practitioner and several Pastors - professing to be a legal group, with an eye on determining the morality of an entire nation. They of course oppose gay civil rights among other things, such as minding other people's business and seem intent on pushing a religious fundamentalist agenda in influencing government.

This proposed law banning internet pornography uses as motivation the "protection of children" and "good morals" and "family values" - sorry I think I'm in the wrong room, pastor - is this the Values Voter Summit by any chance?
Christina Engela's picture

Ulterior Motives

So last week when I wrote an article about my girlfriend being hijacked, somebody comments and asked why SA's law enforcement agencies do not seem to be curbing or preventing these violent crime incidents?

My thoughts on your question are as follows, and two reasons come to mind:

1) Because they are unable to curb or prevent violent crime

2) Because they want the country to be or at least appear to be becoming ungovernable.

Of course, one would have to really wonder why reason 2 might apply... except if for example you would need to "justify" a crackdown on societal or democratic freedoms.

Surely I am exaggerating? I don't know, am I?

Asking myself this question, I am confronted with several interesting facts.
Olga Wolstenholme's picture

The Underbelly of Political Correctness

Let me go on the record and say that it is incredibly, torturously cold in Montreal right now. The kind of day where you don’t go outside unless it’s absolutely necessary. Unfortunately for me, I had to go buy myself some food. On my way to Provigo I went, trying not to freeze to death on the way there. I soon gave up walking and decided to take shelter inside a bus stop. Almost every person who walked by was swearing to God.

I was waiting for the bus by myself for an eternity (ten minutes at most) when an older lady joined me within our glass enclave. At the time, I was wondering when the damn bus would show up, but I did not want to expose myself to the wind and go check the schedule. The lady who was waiting with me was freaking me out a little, because she was strangely bent over behind me. I was wondering what the hell she was doing and when I took a peak, I noticed that there had been a bus schedule behind me this entire time. I also realized that this would have been useless information since I did not have a watch.

Now, while I was waiting and hoping the bus would get there as soon as possible and put me out of my cold inflicted misery, my arms where going numb from holding my scarf up around my face and I wished I had one of those full face masks with the eyes cut out. This thought, as they often do, led to another and I found myself remembering an incident that had taken place when I was in high school.

arvan's picture

Film Review: Graphic Sexual Horror

Last night, I attended a screening of "Graphic Sexual Horror", directed by Barbara Bell and Anna Lorentzon.  The venue was the Leather Museum & Archives (LAM), who also sponsored the event along with The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as part of the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  The event was presented by Dr. Jennifer Tyburczy, Ph.D. Director of Programming for the LAM and Clarisse Thorn.  Present for the showing and taking questions afterward, was Barbara Bell herself.  I was joined in the audience by blogger Rabbit White and her husband Ned.

So, the warning and disclaimer: This could easily trigger you.  I'm not even kidding.

This is a documentary about the creation of a website that produced media of women being tortured for people to watch as they masturbate.  BDSM porn...torture porn...whatever you may call it.

This is striking stuff and I found it difficult to separate my thoughts about the porn from my thoughts about what I thought of the film.  Which, I suppose is a nod toward the directors for presenting the subject without overtly interjecting themselves into the process.

The film is about 120min long and covers the story of how this website insex.com was conceived, launched, operated and finally shut down.  It starts right out off with a grainy film titled "worm" being shown.  The narrator, "pd" - is describing that this is his wife at the time, wrapped in vinyl, bound and laying on the floor.  The film then continues on through a series of interviews done recently, with staff members of insex.com relating their experiences on the site. 

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Bodies and Souls: The Century Project

Frank Cordelle had an idea. He took nude photographs of women whose ages spanned over a century. The first picture is of the head of a baby girl crowning through her mother’s vagina. Not quite making it to a hundred, the last picture is of a 94-year-old woman whose photograph is accompanied by the following message:

I posed so some old lady will not fear age, and some old men would know old women are not so strange. I loved the challenge of posing nude, such excitement! My husband would have said, “Some picture, kid!”

Most of the pictures are in fact accompanied by a message written by the women themselves and although I did not read the entire book, I did take a look at the excerpts on Frank’s website and let me tell you they are heartbreaking, but in a good way. My eyes literally welled up with tears. As did my neighbors eyes when I told her about the project and the stories these brave women have shared.

arvan's picture

Depictions of Female Orgasm Being Banned by Classification Board

Written by Australian Sex Party   

Federal government censors are directing Customs officials to confiscate depictions of the female orgasm when it is accompanied with an ejaculation.  The Classification Board is also starting to classify films that feature female ejaculation as Refused Classification rather than X. Films that show both male and female ejaculation have routinely been given an X rating since 1983.  The new ruling follows a boom in the numbers of adult films featuring female ejaculation since the pioneering research of Professor Emeritus Beverly Whipple was published in her book The G Spot.  Recent articles in the New Scientist and on Norman Swan’s Health Report on ABC radio have raised public awareness of this largely hitherto unknown aspects of female orgasm.

The films are being banned (Refused Classification) on one of two grounds:

1) That the depictions are a form of urination which is banned under the label of ‘golden showers’ in the Classification Guidelines or

2) Female ejaculation is an ‘abhorrent’ depiction

Australian Sex Party convenor, Fiona Patten, said that the decision showed a lack of intellectual rigour and a lack of understanding of female sexuality on the part of Australia’s censorship authorities.  She said it appeared that some members on the Board did not believe the science around female orgasm. 

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