Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yes, let’s be Liberal – to the Point of Nudity on Public Roads.

I remember, at school, I was once asked to prepare a speech on ‘Enlightened Moderation’. At that point in time, the term was newly ‘imported’ from the West, as informed to me by a grand-uncle. He had asked me to stay away from it for behind the unperceivable veil of a term as innocent as ‘Moderation’ lay a whole new ideology that attempted to change the perceptions, ideas, beliefs and actions of the upcoming generations of Pakistan.

Almost a decade later, the term no more sounds strange to me. I have read, heard and seen quite a lot on the media about the seemingly never-ending debate about ‘Extremism’ versus ‘Moderation’, ‘Liberalism’ versus ‘Conservatism’ and ‘Freedom-of-Expression’ versus ‘Oppression’. These terms have been dwelt upon by minds disproportionately than far more important ideas have been such as justice, morality and economic progress has, specifically talking about Pakistan. Now, the result today can be clearly seen.

The generation I belong to has mentally defined these terms for itself (after being inspired by certain ideological campaigns by certain people within and outside the Pakistani border), the definition being that

“ ‘Moderation’, ‘Freedom-of-Expression’ and ‘Liberalism’ are ideas that collectively seek to borrow and adapt (actually the worst of the and rarely a few good) social and cultural values of the West and to strengthen a few degraded traditions from within our own culture. ”

This, I think is the ‘Net Effect’ of the term an adolescent heard years ago,  a term that grew into a whole belief in the fact that whatever a person feels like doing and however, he has all the right to do it and should be encouraged to go ahead with it even if it is as shameful as…

photo by the author

… posting a larger-than-life-sized-billboard degrading a woman! . . .
Today, in Pakistan that was ‘created in the name of Islam’, a fast-food franchise’s billboard ad uses not only the picture of a model who seemingly is wearing nothing to sell something as irrelevant and mundane as cheese-sticks but also captions it as ‘Kya Cheese Hai’.  It translates into English [Kya = What, Cheese = Thing, Hai = is] as ‘What a Thing!’… Speaking about the connotation of the phrase, it is so derogatory and disrespectful for a woman in Pakistani culture that the least a woman would do would be to slap a man who would pass such a remark on her, if she has the strength to.

This example very well illustrates the definition I mentioned above of ‘Liberalism’, and the terms of its like, for what was done in Pakistan by this franchise seems clearly inspired by one of the worst practices of the West –capitalising on feminine beauty. Here have a look…

I have censored the picture because I believe that I don't have to
post nude photos of my fellow sisters in order to prove my freedom of expression.

Right in the middle of the road a 40 feet high billboard ad features a naked woman again, to sell something as mundane as trainers!– and the only concerns the Western media shows about it is that it might cause road accidents!!!

At this point when the society fails to call bad as bad as it is, and the few voices that rise are lost in the continuous noise being made in the name of ‘Freedom-of-Expression’, I wonder if I make any sense at all to anyone out there.