Pornography is one of the worst social ills in any society. It demeans the
men and women who participate in it and it undermines decency and morality
for those who consume it. It attacks the very fabric of society, erodes the
sanctity of marriage and makes a mockery of sex within marriage.
We condemn all forms of pornography, regardless of where it appears or how
it is delivered. It is correct for society as a whole to be bold and
assertive in curtailing the availability of and access to pornography. We
must refuse to tolerate the dissemination of pornography and we should
stress that message to our young people. Indeed, if we were to err on any
side with regard to pornography, we would want to be tougher than
But unfortunately, the anti pornography bill passed late last year by the
House of Representatives is a cure that may be worse than the disease.
Pushed by a coalition of Islamic parties, it is overly broad and intolerant
of cultural differences. It was opposed by people in Bali, Yogyakarta and
Papua for being insensitive to the nation's traditions. It could undermine
public order by giving rise to vigilantism.
This message was underscored on Thursday by prosecutors, judges, police and
experts from the Constitutional Court who agreed that poor public
acceptance, unclear terminology and contradictory articles are hindering
enforcement of the law, and that government intervention was needed to
clarify exactly what this messy piece of legislation means.
" We cannot implement the law with its contradictory content," said Nicolas
A. Lilipaly, who heads the Jakarta Police detectives unit charged with
combating pornography, on Thursday. "We would prefer to wait until the
government issues regulations to clarify the legislation. " Police officers
at the forum said that enforcing the new pornography law would undermine
We have long opposed this bill and condemned those who tried to use the very
real issue of pornography to push a political agenda of intolerance. The
bill is loaded with the wrong kind of politics and its impact could be
disastrous. We are glad that cooler heads seem to be prevailing within the
police and the courts — at least so far — because we cannot justify this
means to an end we all seek. We fear the use of the bill to steamroll an
agenda that would harm the nation.
This is an area that needs much more thoughtful deliberation than was given
to a piece of legislation that even the police say is impossible to enforce
and which leaves open the door to vigilantism by self-appointed guardians of
decency. We are wary of mobs smashing up nightclubs, damaging property or
trampling on human rights in the name of the bill.
It is time for President Susilo Bambang Yud h oyono to take a leadership
role in this. He must have the courage to review this bill and take steps to
roll it back. If this is not done, it could become a factor in creating
disharmony and eroding the unity of our nation.