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Indecency, Indonesian-style JAKARTA - I do not have any official role within the Indonesian judicial system. But I do feel like I can provide an important advisory service in the trial of Erwin Arnada, editor of the new Indonesian edition of Playboy, who faces up to 32 months in prison for putting out a magazine with indecent pictures. I may not know much about the law or Islam, but I do know an awful lot about indecency.

Indonesia -- the largest Muslim nation, with more than 245 million people -- is pretty moderate. The press is somewhat free, women wear jeans, and we haven't declared war on it. Still, the publication of Playboy freaked the country out. When the first issue hit the newsstands in April, the Islamic Defenders Front attacked the offices of the editors who produced this "moral terrorism." This act of suppression proved so successful that the issue sold out and was soon selling on the black market for four times the cover price.

Although I was unable to obtain the premiere issue of Playboy Indonesia -- the cover of which shows a woman's face and the enticing headline, "Always Happy Early" -- I got the two latest issues. November's cover line is "Justify Beauty." December announces that model Isyane Angelita is "Against All Odds." At the very least, Indonesian Playboy is slowly teaching Arnada English.

The first thing I noticed inside Indonesian Playboy is that there is absolutely no nudity -- not even women in lingerie. All the models are wearing gowns, long dresses or skirt-jacket combos. Despite these setbacks, I was determined to give this legal matter a fair shake.

After half an hour with Indonesian Playboy, I cannot in clear conscience fully recommend that Arnada be acquitted. Sure, these photos were no more intense than Prada ads, but, in a way, Prada ads -- with their submissive poses and glorified promiscuity -- are a form of "moral terrorism." The history of sexual social progress, after all, could reasonably be described that way, from the Garden of Eden to the printing of "Ulysses" to the career of Britney Spears.

There are plenty of real porn movies sold in Indonesia, but they're relegated to seedy stores in Jakarta. The challenge Playboy presents is that it's sold in presentable bookstores and mixes journalism with sexuality.

So this trial means a lot in the global war between fundamentalism and liberalism, but Arnada might have to be a casualty for showing Miss November in a long red dress with a butterfly print. If Indonesian prisoners are anything like American ones, I'm guessing the inmates beat him up just for that.

Joel Stein, writes for The Los Angeles Times



Posted in General @ 19 December 2006 11:07 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





Yerun
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Yeah, that's life in Indonesia, but not only here is my feeling. It's funny however how easy it is to get something that is illegal or at least seen as 'improper'.



sidia
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The Dutch have also a Zedelijkheids wet .
En many other countries have their own laws .



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