I am an extremely staunch advocate of free speech and expression, and a radical fundamentalist when it comes to anti-censorship. No one on the face of this earth or the imaginary gods they believe in has the right to tell me what I can write, read, act, watch, make or listen to. Who the fuck are you? A general? A priest? A sheikh? A politician?
You are a nobody, just like me. You have absolutely no right to tell anyone what they can and cannot do. You don’t like it? Criticize it. Call for its boycott. But don’t you ever dare to ban or censor it. Ever. People have the right to say and listen to whatever they want. Period.
Unfortunately, with the inept, corrupt, childish, naive, bigoted, egotistical clowns we have in uniform and black robes and the vague, archaic laws that they can abuse to crush free thought and expression, we need to go the extra mile to get our way.
Time and again, I feature work that has been censored in Lebanon on these pages. Whether it’s paintings, websites, ebooks, everything except movies. Why? Because I don’t want to rob the makers of the movie from the payday they deserve after the work they put in. However, my desire to make them accessible hasn’t been quenched, and I feel we’ve found a very viable solution to this Dark Ages dilemma the old men in black robes and uniform and cheap suits enforce on us, and here it is:
The censorship bureau and the government have no jurisdiction on university campuses. That’s why military and police personnel are not allowed on campuses unless given express permission by the administration and only in extreme circumstances. Universities across the world have always been breeding grounds and incubators for free thought and revolution, where the educated, driven youth gather themselves and go froward. Lebanon is no different, and campuses like AUB, my alma mater, and USJ, have churned out Lebanon and the region’s most forward-thinking leaders, activists, intellectuals and executives. So, we need to capitalize on that.
- Reach out to the makers of the movie and ask their permission to showcase their film/play/album, etc.
- Get permission from the university administration (I recommend AUB, their Student Affairs Office will respond positively) and if permission isn’t granted, pressure the administration and make them say OK.
- Make it very public online
- If you cannot get a physical copy (since it’s banned), ask if the makers can set up a secure link so you can stream it online. No hard copy, no foul.
- Do not charge people. If money-making is involved, the government can cause trouble. So, instead, set up a “donation” box where people who want to can put a small amount of money. Use that for your club/NGO that is organizing the showcase, or send it to the makers to reimburse them for their trouble.
- Start clubs to consolidate your efforts, build awareness and put pressure to abolish censorship
- Show people that freedom isn’t something to be afraid from, it’s something you should be afraid for.
Good luck university peeps, and I am at your disposal if you need any kind of help, and so is the entire MARCH team and advisory committee, who I am proud to be part of with all my awesome peers. Also, here’s a directory of all the banned things in Lebanon.