A while back, the bus stop in my neighbourhood had its advertising boards changed. Not at all an unusual occurrence.
But, what was unusual – this time – was the advert that went up.
The advert was for a strip club, and one of the sides of the advert featured a woman’s backside (she’s not wearing much), and between her legs you can see a man, grinning at what’s in front of him.
While advertising like this may be more appropriate for the many sleazy tabloids and magazines that are – unfortunately – widespread in this city, putting it on a busy bus stop – where many, many people wait for their transport at all times of the day and night – was outrageous to me.
Fortunately, others shared this outrage, and the Advertising Standards Authority received a number of complaints about the offending posters. (Complaints can be lodged at http://www.asasa.org.za/Complaint.aspx)
After submitting my complaint, it took a few weeks until a final response was received – being that there is an investigation and ruling process, which takes time.
Alhamdulillah, I’m pleased to say that the outcome was positive :) .
The advertiser was ordered to withdraw the offensive parts of the ad with immediate effect, which has since been done.
For those interested in the legal ruling, please see the attached picture (asa-ruling.JPG), which is a copy of the full report. (I’ve edited out names of the complainants and left only the text of the report.)
When the posters had gone up initially, it had bothered me, and I just could not see how something so blatantly offensive could be posted in such a public place.
I immediately avoided looking at the bus stop, turning my eyes away every time I passed it. But after a few weeks, I realised that that was not enough. I mean, I made the choice to look away, and avoid it – which protects me.
But, what about the others who are subjected to it? What about the kids, what about the elderly, what about every person of good, decent values who doesn’t want to see their world deteriorate into a cesspool of filth, pornography and open promotion of the lowest desires of mankind?
We are ordered to enjoin the good and forbid the evil; and if we see something wrong, we should try to stop it with our hands; failing that, with our tounge, and failing that, with our heart (i.e. dua).
We can rightly be disgusted with the things that are considered ‘acceptable’ in today’s society. We can be deeply saddened by the moral degenration of the last few decades. But we must go beyond just thinking these things. We need to take action; speak out against it; and take a stand for what we believe in.
It’s been said that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men (and women) to do nothing.
Freedom is good – freedom of choice, freedom of action…all good things.
But there has to be some kind of limit – or else everyone would be free to do what they want, and there would be chaos.
In today’s society, “freedoms” are so widely touted – seen to be ‘progressive’, ‘modern’, etc. But how often do we hear about the responsibilities that come with those freedoms?
With every freedom comes a corresponding responsibility.
If you just have the freedom, with no conscience, with no idea that you also have a responsibility – then you can very easily faill into the mindset that you live in a free-for-all, where you can do whatever you want.
When morals decline, society declines. You have crime, sexual assaults, murder, theft, corruption…many, many things – which can be seen even in the ‘highest’ levels of society: government.
For those who think this life is their final destination, the mindset of free for all, do what you please – can be very prevalent.
But, as Muslims, we don’t subscribe to that principle. We know that this life is a station of tests – its our preparation for our Final, Eternal Destination. Our actions in this life – in these 60, 70 years we have on earth – are the criteria by which we will be judged; the evidence in deciding where we will spend Eternity.
We may not be able to truly comprehend just what “Eternity” means – because we don’t live in a world free of time.
But we have enough intelligence to distinguish between a minute and an hour; a day and a decade.
And we know that, once we reach that grave, thats when our eyes are truly opened. That’s when the reality of our existence will be clear for us to see.
So, while we’re alive and have time and opportunity, lets try to see through the façades of the world we live in in the 21st century.
Regarding all the corruption and vice that’s out there – it can bring us down, yes – make us feel sad at what’s happening. But its also an opportunity for us to speak out; a chance for us to take a stand against the evils that threaten us in 2007, and our children to come in future years.
We may not think that one person can make a difference – but one person CAN make a difference. And when like-minded people unite in a common cause, insha-Allah, things can change for the better.
Even something as simple as complaining about an advert – a small effort on our part, but the result can be amazing.
By the permission of Allah, we CAN make a difference: all we have to do is try.