“I Can’t Comprehend” ≠ “Lacks Comprehension”

PSA in response to the Muslim homophobes on my Facebook dissing non-homophobic Islam

You are free to choose your deen. Okay, so you’re not really free as in if you’re born in a Muslim country/Muslim family you can’t really choose to leave Islam without being killed or subjected to violence. BUT you are free to choose your deen within Islam. Okay, so maybe that’s not quite true either, since most of you can’t really choose to change from one major sect to another (Sunni to Shia, Shia to Sunni for eg) without a violent backlash even if the govt permits it. BUT within whatever major sect you happened to be born in, you are TOTALLY free to choose the school of thought you wish to follow.

This means some of you choose to live in compassion for all humankind, following a school of thought that the behavior most in line with Islam in any situation is the one with the lowest body count. This is generally the group that gave us people like Michael Muhammad Knight.

This also means that another group amongst you chooses to believe it is their Allah-bestowed responsibility to ADD to that body count by slaying non-believers, heretics, and other assorted “wajib-ul-qatal” types. This is generally the group that gave us ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban. (You’re in great company!)

One way or another, each of you shall arrive at the end of the path you’ve chosen for yourself. (Granted, the more murderous type will probably arrive at it a bit earlier than the rest, since people really don’t like it when you try to kill them.) In light of this freedom, and despite your self-obsessed persecution-complexed worldview, most of the world doesn’t give two bits for your two-bit opinion. (More bits may be given for more valuable opinions.) In the isolation of such irrelevance, you are free to decide you disagree with whoever you wish to disagree with regardless of whether they may possess the finest intellect in the world or, you know, something more familiar to you.

This is, in its simplest form, what freedom of thought looks like–you are not compelled to agree with something just because somebody smarter than you and more well-versed in the subject than you (and probably a lot more popular and influential than you) said it. You may choose to look at the words, not the grandness of who uttered them, and decide whether they resonate with YOU. This may be a novel concept for some of you, and that’s fine. You’ll get used to it with a little effort.

HOWEVER, what you can’t do is pretend you have the intellect to diss their intellect. (Since a lot of you seem to derive a sense of validation by association–no, your favorite telemullah or Islamic Facebook Page admin doesn’t have that intellect or scholarly training either. Sorry not sorry.) The works of scholars like Dr. Amina Wadud and Dr. Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle don’t “lack comprehension”, any more than the works of Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson “lack comprehension” just because YOU don’t have two brain cells to rub together.

Originally written as really long, annoyed Facebook post attached to this post by a friend:

Desi momin logic –

‘Oh, someone was raped as a child? Buss, hota hae, bhool jao, muaaf ker doh, sulah ker loh, chup raho, jaaney doh…’

‘Oh, someone raped a woman? She must be asking for it. Boys will be boys, ghalti hojaati hae, khud khyal kiya kero, chup raho abb…’

‘Someone murdered someone? Chalo, Allah muaaf karney waalah hae, blood money ley loh…’

‘Someone has left Islam? HARAAAAAM MAAR DOH KAAT DOH, GHALAAZAT, SOCIETY WILL FALL APART, ASTAGHFIRULLAAAAWWWHHHHHHH!’

‘Someone is gay? HARAAAAAM MAAR DOH KAAT DOH, GHALAAZAT, SOCIETY WILL FALL APART, ASTAGHFIRULLAAAAWWWHHHHHHH!’

Mythbusting the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015

If you’re an Internet user in Pakistan (We have so much in common! We should totes do coffee sometime!) or if you have access to a newspaper, chances are you’ve heard about the Cybercrime Bill of the Apocalpyse that will eat your lunch, take all your money, smash your petunias, and destroy everything you have ever loved. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Or maybe go on vacation, perhaps to La La land (tickets 50% off) because your loving and nurturing Government will protect you from all the bad things in the world. Maybe even yourself—you do get so naughty sometimes, you know, maybe it would be best if you just let someone else take charge of all your thinking.

Feeling dazed?

Have no fear, The Barefooted Bookworm is here. Here to tell you I feel ya, bro. Because I was starting to get pretty dazed ourselves, I decided to trust my own senses and get to the bottom of this mystery.

Mystery solving kit:

  1. A copy of The One True Bill
  2. Social media research (Facebook pages, Facebook posts, cat memes…)
  3. A brain
  4. Some more social media research
  5. Might need a new brain after this

Now to boldly go where no media circus has gone before. Presenting: The Truth or Something Like It.

“The Cybercrimes bill has already been passed, there’s no use protesting about it now!”

No, that was a draft. But thanks for playing.

Status: False

“The Cybercrimes act will make it illegal to post Facebook comments!”

No, unless you routinely post death threats to religious minorities and/or make unwanted sexual suggestions towards women you come across on Facebook. In which case: yes–but I doubt you’ll be missed.

Status: False.

“The proposed spam law is so broad, I could go to jail for Facebook messaging a friend about today’s college assignment!”

Yes. That is exactly what the government wants: prevent you from doing your homework. Try telling that to your professor. Keep in mind the clause requires “illegal marketing” and the expressed wish of the receiver to “unsubscribe” in order to count something as spam. So make sure you also offer to sell your friend smuggled AK-47s, but only after they tell you to quit asking them how many columns the prof wanted all the info sorted into because they already told you, like, three times during college.

Note “intelligence”. Breathe sigh of relief.
Note “intelligence”. Breathe sigh of relief.

Status: False.

“My hobby is street photography. Under this bill, I could be charged for posting photos of people without their permission!”

Rest assured, your Diane Arbus and Humans of New York inspired dreams are safe. If you intend to harass and/or blackmail the people photographed in your streetscapes, however, then we might have a problem.

Doesn’t get any clearer than “INTENT TO COERCE OR INTIMIDATE OR HARASS ANY PERSON”, does it?
Doesn’t get any clearer than “INTENT TO COERCE OR INTIMIDATE OR HARASS ANY PERSON”, does it?

Status: False.

“All I want to do is read some news, maybe blog something while having a nice lunch and this Bill orders my favorite restaurant to keep tabs on my browsing activity!”

The PEC expands the definition of “service provider” to include anyone who owns and operates a publicly accessible wifi network. It also orders them, under penalty of law, to keep records of all traffic data for up to one year. In case you were wondering, it defines “traffic data” as absolutely any data your restaurant can keep related to your Internet usage. But hey, look on the bright side—this could be the start of a long and beautiful friendship…with whoever is assigned to monitor you all. It’s like the NSA but so much closer to your home. Maybe with tastier cookies. You like cookies, don’t you?

You might want to put a stronger password on your home wifi now. FYI: the whole neighborhood knows your cat’s name.
You might want to put a stronger password on your home wifi now. FYI: the whole neighborhood knows your cat’s name.

Status: True.

“This Bill steps all over my constitutional rights and allows the government to block whatever it wants, whenever it wants, without being accountable to anyone but itself!”

What, you mean you didn’t want to live in an Orwellian nightmare nanny state where your every move online is watched and the government decides it’s better suited to being your moral conscience than your actual moral conscience, especially when its own interests are at stake? Then you shouldn’t have signed up to be born in Pakistan.

Censorship_BoloBhi
Govt: “Lolz.”

 

Status: True.

“Hey wait! There are NO such clauses about harassment or spamming or even censorship in the draft approved by the National Assembly!”

Well who would’ve thought that? You’re right. There are multiple versions of the “final” draft in circulation on the Internet. The version on the NA website, that Minister of IT Anusha Rehman insists she has and that she can confirm was tabled in front of the National Assembly, contains no clauses whatsoever regarding spam or harassment. (Yay? Boo?) On the other hand, noted industry representatives such as P@SHA have access to another “final” version of the draft that includes all these clauses and more. Which witch is which?

Click for Dramatic Evil Twin version.
Click for Dramatic Evil Twin version.

Status: True-ish.

So…there are different versions of the draft being used by each side of the debate, there’s an “official” version on the National Assembly’s website and a different “official” version on the websites of the organizations protesting this, and there many competing interests and conflicting sources, and there are potentially some VERY important rights hanging in the balance. This article is by no means an exhaustive analysis of the bill(s) and I will keep following this issue, including reaching out to all parties concerned for comment as the story develops , but at this point it’s anyone’s guess what the best way forward is. I don’t know where this will end up or whether we’ll be better off or not. But one thing is for sure: no number of sleazy social media teams or scumbag politicians can take away from the fact that this issue has managed to get more of the public actively interested in digital rights and the future of the Internet than we’ve seen in a long time.

Hey, it’s called a silver lining, you ingrates.

Notes:-

WordPress.com Banned

BoloBhi Poster

64k websites stand blocked in #Pakistan. YouTube for over 2 years. #WordPress today. Will you sit by and let the government empower #PTA to block? National security, religion, sensitivities used as excuses to censor Internet. Now Article 19 being used by the government. Everyone who is affected by the #Wordpress ban, whether directly or indirectly needs to write to PTA & MOITT. They need to hear you on this. See our original stay order against #IMCEW & #PTA http://bolobhi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Order-1.-15-12-14.pdf & modified due to MOITT’s insistence that ‘terrorist’ websites need to be blocked: http://bolobhi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Order-3.-20-01-15.pdf … #Pakistan

(Source)

WordPress.com is now banned in Pakistan.
Yay, more censorship in the name of religion and dubious “national interests”. That’s exactly what this country needs.