Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Encounter Orders: The Final Frontier for many

The Sri Lanka Police are keeping very busy these days. With the number of grenades they are dodging and the grenade throwers successfully shot in the process, the guardian angels must be happy.

I for one, am not too unhappy about the recipients of the street justice (or underworld rules) that the Police are doling out these days. Due to the culture of impunity, the delays in the courts and the corruption in the prison’s one can easily tell themselves that these are ‘justifiable encounters’, ordered or not.

I do however take issue with the fact that it is a slippery slope the powers that be are on (or forever has been). A few months ago, it was LTTE Cadres. Now it is the Underworld figures. Tomorrow might be druggies. Day after tomorrow, it could quite well be political dissidents.

The power and effectiveness of these ‘encounters’ will be an irresistible seduction to the powers that be. But at what cost does this take place? Policemen and Citizens who expect to deal swift (irreversible) justice on top of which, 25 years of indifference to all manner of mindless violence, will never raise a voice against it.

The Sri Lankan armed forces was once classified as the most obedient armed forces in South Asia. In India, the forces have a lot of political clout given the situation with Pakistan. Pakistan itself has a history where the country’s leadership and military leadership has been one and the same. Given all this, it is a small wonder that no single member of our armed forces has executed a coup d’etat or successfully navigated the murky waters of democratic political leadership (except Ranjan Wijeratne, may he rest in peace).

In the current climate of fear, uncertainty, corruption and familial loyalties building monarchical dynasties, thumbing of the nose to good practices and law, the complete and utter lack of respect to fellow human beings and their fundamental rights. The time has come for a new kind of leader. A visionary. A man with a mission.

A leader with a vision, accomplishments to their name, the love and admiration of the people regardless of present treatment and position. Someone who has demonstrated the ability to do a job no one else has been able to do. Who commands respect and does the necessary thing in the face of rabid opposition. A person who is capable of bringing the best out of people and exhorting them to higher endeavors through sheer courage and bravery.

Do you know anyone who fits that bill? I think I do.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Draconian Censorship: NO MORE PORN!!!

So, the recently outed tactics to censor all manner of pornography seems to be causing a low intensity debate. Low intensity, because we Sri Lankan’s cannot be bothered about a lot of abstract things until they prevent you from either earning money, or doing what you like to do.

Porn has been around since man learned how to draw. To quote a British show, “Coupling”; “when man invented fire, he didn’t say ‘oooh look, we can cook food’. He Said ‘Ooooh look, we can now look at naked bottoms in the dark’”.

One thing I have learned over these many years with access to the internet (about 15 years) is that for the ardent surfer, porn is available if they know where to look. Now, lest I be judged on giving a discourse on Porn (pleasant though it may be), the bottom line is, it has always been there and will continue to be there for as long as horny people inhabit the earth.

The effort to censor this particular vice/media can be categorized into a few categories.

1.) Infringement on freedom of speech/expression.

A person (in a democracy) is/should be free to say what they want and share their thoughts without fear of persecution from the state. EVEN in the case where the subject matter is porn (in all its forms – including “classy” art). If it is defence news yesterday, porn today what will it be tomorrow? Resonance to the movie “1984” anyone?

2.) A good idea badly implemented

All children are precious. All children grow up. That is a fact of life. Having no children of my own, I still feel that when I do, I would rather he/she steps into the world fully informed of its wonder’s and perils. Sheltering children is one thing, but telling them the world outside of home and mom and dad is utopia is outright cruel. I have seen the results of such actions and they are not pretty.

However, I think strengthening parenting is key and a blanket ban on smut will only boost the black market trade in the material and cause children to be even more curious about this ‘blue films’.

3.) Pandering… to whom exactly?

Is the government trying to pander to someone? I cannot imagine who it would be. If there is one thing that links all communities, it’s sex. Gay, straight, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sinhala, Tamil, burgher we all have sex. Its what keeps the world going around for crying out loud. If they are trying to pander to the clergy (most of whom are (supposed to be) unaware of the pleasures of the flesh, reflect on this;

I was reading how the Police are trying to identify the characters in certain ‘movies’ or ‘clips’. A colleague of mine sent me a link which he thought was very funny. It directed me to a website which had a cellphone video clip and the caption was “Sri Lankan monk with a girl”. I thought it might be a mistake (as in it’s a bald Indian dude wearing an orange lungi) and played it. Oh the shame. It was a Sinhala monk alright and he knew what he wanted, if you know what I mean.

So, beware what you wish for ye clergy, for the skeletons in thou closets will be found.

On a final note, a rather amusing observation MUST be made. When I found out, it was startling to say the least. All South Asians in New York (the Northeast in fact) are quite aware of the fact that almost all the adult video stores (the kind with private booths), adult toy stores and a few porn production companies are owned and operated by Sri Lankan’s. Who knew?