Catching Boners: The Cost of Banning 6 Porn Sites in Lebanon

Child sex abuse is a terrible evil that we should devote countless resources and strategies to tackling, but the issue raised by the Telecom Ministry’s decision to ban six porn sites this past week after a Lebanese man was arrested by Interpol in the UK for molesting a child, is tied to much wider implications than access to lurid material online and “protecting” our children from it*. This is an issue that expounds on the continued abuse of power by a government which indiscriminately enforces the law, and has demonstrated time and again a reckless disregard for its citizen’s rights, liberties and basic human needs.

These are the same people – part of an elite plutocracy which runs the country – who, despite clear and repeated objections from citizens, have given the ok to bulldoze through a residential neighborhood and pave over 10,000 square meters of gardens to make way for a four-lane highway. These are the same people who have proven so daft at managing the water crisis, many residents are forced to pay private water companies to get it. These are the same people who have no qualms about selling off Beirut’s last public beach to make a quick buck. These are the same people who cannot build an infrastructure to ensure every citizen has access to electricity all the time, and as much of it as they need. It’s 2014. The civil war ended nearly a quarter century ago, and yet government after government has refused to address the fundamental problems that hinder the proper functioning of this society.

These are the same people who – in a move entirely against the fabric of the constitution – have re-elected themselves to parliament, and are now considering extending it for a second term. I can think of no graver signal of the political leadership’s reckless disregard for its own laws than this.

The porn ban issue is being spun as a means to protect children from unsavory sexual content, but it’s clear the ministry is merely acting under the guise of wanting to combat and monitor an issue officials have absolutely no interest in actually pursuing. If the government truly cared about the well-being of the vulnerable members of Lebanese society, it would embark on a concerted campaign to educate the Lebanese, children especially, about sex abuse. Instead of issuing a blanket decision to ban sites deemed morally indecent, it should give individuals and parents the tools and education to use the web with personal discretion and safety. In Lebanon, a child’s safety is too often compromised to protect the family’s pride. Sex (whether forced or mutual) is taboo; a private matter weaved into the constructs of a family’s honor and reputation, something not to be discussed in public.

In a laughable example of the state’s sub-standard understanding of technology, it was leaked that the request to ban the six sites was offered up in the form of a fax. It’s clear policymakers don’t even really know how the Internet works – they’re just simply swinging blows in the dark. Aren’t most kids smart enough to circumvent firewalls anyway?

But an even more problematic question is this: should the government have a blank check to block any website it deems inappropriate? Countries that devote time to blocking the content its citizens can access on the Internet – countries like China and North Korea – are bastions of oppressive rule. We’ve seen the abuse of policies like this, by governments big and small. We’ve seen Internet blackouts in Syria, and other blackouts during the so-called Arab Spring protests. How is this any different? The government should not have the right to limit what we can and cannot see on the Internet.

Policies should protect the people, not serve as platforms of convenience for the elites and their corporate backers. Policies should be based on far-reaching and comprehensive study, instead of being doled out as superficial solutions to ease the concerns of whatever plump money-handler of the moment is aggravated. It has become egregiously clear the government only enforces rules and regulations that benefit its own interests and those of its partners, the wealthy elite, who hold a financial stake in the success of whatever policies the state wants to enact. This perfectly describes what Ogero, the government-owned operator of Lebanon’s mobile network, is: a corporate entity with booming profits and dismal customer satisfaction ratings that nonetheless gets to determine Internet capacity and how much citizens should pay for it.

So here’s what it all comes down to: Lebanon is trapped in a vicious cycle of false cultures founded and maintained by the plutocracy. The greatest false culture of them all is the need for sectarian equality in every facet of our lives. We are duped into worrying about superficial concerns like whether the Christians are threatened by Muslims or whether Sunnis are threatened by Shiite, or whether the Druze are threatened by both instead of whether or not every citizen (and refugee) has access to basic human needs like electricity, shelter, water, food, clothing and an education. It is a perverted social system of implanted values that have grown from seeds fed by corrupt individuals who live and thrive off the docile, obedient masses.

If the safety (real and imagined) of Lebanon was once and for all sorted, the elite would be forced to deal with the real threat that surrounds us: poverty –  of an economic, political and moral nature. If the issues that serve an immediate threat to the country’s livelihood were magically resolved once and for all, do you think the leaders would simply turn their focus to bettering the state? Absolutely not. New problems will always arise to further convolute the real issues at hand. If we are always being threatened by forces, either from within or outside the country, the government has an excuse to delay progress on bettering it. The people of this country have been brainwashed into believing the status quo isn’t that bad and are happy to go about regurgitating the opinions provided to them by their respective sectarian affiliation’s media arm, because they truly believe their leaders are doing everything they can to help them survive. It’s the elite, though, who are surviving – year after year after year.

Instead of sitting around trying to police whether or not boys are getting a boner off salacious images on the web, we should be pushing for real change: the kind of change that bans the government’s monopoly over our collective future.

*For those unfamiliar with the story – the accused individual apparently told police he frequented those six specific websites which were banned. Also, I’m not willing to visit the blocked sites from my IP address (even for the sake of research), but someone noted elsewhere on a Lebanese blog that not all of the sites banned are directly related to child porn. I can’t remember where I read this. If anyone has the link, please add in the comment section.

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33 thoughts on “Catching Boners: The Cost of Banning 6 Porn Sites in Lebanon

  1. Congrats on being pressed. It’s so cool. It’s just another joke of a bored minister. Not being able to handle the important issues nor take any decision about anything, he decided he’ll do something he can and that is ban porn sites. These men are the pedophiles who raped our childhood and now are raping our kids’ childhood.

  2. Child sex abuse has existed long before the internet so to suggest that banning a half dozen web sites will prevent it is silly. Empowering children is the way to end it but that’s a lot more work.

  3. These bastards are amazing. How can they feel so secure in their positions when governments around them have been under attack and have fallen? Maybe it’s because the Lebanese government is so naturally fractured that the MPs and the government trust that they’ll always be balanced against each other – that people in Lebanon will never have any other choice than the hypocritical and corrupt families who rule the country.

  4. Pornography is addictive and destructive not just to the children but to the addicts and their families/friends, Its a multimillion trade involved with other vices such as drugs, violence and sex enhancing tools/drugs and any efforts to curtail it is good enough. It corrupts morals leading to destruction of individuals and communities. A government safeguarding its peoples against such should be commended

  5. It seems to me that the biggest ‘missing’ element of all this is education. Perhaps fear of the unknown is behind such strange decisions, but an increased awareness of all related topics can only help, not hinder, the essential need to keep our children safe, wherever they may be. A very interesting post, I enjoyed reading it.

  6. Fantastic post. Though I am new at WordPress it’s posts like these that inspire me to write more. I hope you can take some time and go through my blog. It’s new but your critique can help me hone my art too. 🙂 PS: Rules and bans are meant to be broken. What is actually needed is proper education and an effective judicial and legislative structure for swift dissemination of justice. What we however get are morally corrupt and inept governments who can titillate themselves by taking actions that merely serve as eyewash while they can continue to suck away from the honest taxpayers funds.

  7. porn sites and north korean sites are also blocked here in south korea. the government deems them ‘unwholesome influences’. er… 22nd century dystopia coming right up !!

  8. I’m a medical student .

    Porn industry is the most cursed industry. They make money by selling their bodies I don’t know what satisfaction they will get after selling their own bodies. Some say that it’s because of their poverty they turn into such industry ” are there any other options available ” then why porn, I don’t know.  Watching porn is similar to prostitution. I’m a Christian I have read Bible several times and sacred books of other religions None supports prostitution or porn. Genitals r created for reproduction and not for abusing. Abusing one’s own body is a sin. Porn sites should be banned and prostitution should also be banned. Some famous movies including movies that have got Oscar awards there are soft core or hard core sex scenes in it. Now a days movies can’t be watched with family so much of abusive words sex scenes

    Porn stars r respected and worshipped by our society  shame

    What do you think abt

    1 banning porn sites

    2 banning prostitution

    3 banning of mini skirts in schools and colleges

    4 banning of cheer girls in cricket and football

    5 banning of adult porn magazines

    Plz share your ideas

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