The Temptation of Exemption
The Temptation of Exemption
Following the Balinese’s loud rejection toward the ludicrous bill, a growing number of politicians, particularly from the Islamic parties, have tried to convinced the public that the bill would not in any way be harmful to the cultural heritage and religious belief. They eagerly cited Article 36 of the bill, claiming that it exempt religious ritual, art performance and sport activity from the snoopy moral police of the bill.
Well, to those who are being tempted by the exemption, I believe, a brutal word-by-word examination of the article is being called for.
Lets start with Article 36 (section 1, clause a), which provide exemption to:
“Costume and/or behavior in accordance with the traditional ethnic custom and/or culture, as long as the costume and/or behavior are related to a religious ritual”
It means that the exemption does not cover:
- Traditional costume and manner that do not have any relation to a religious ritual.
- Other important aspects of the religious ritual, such as language, sacred objects, offerings and sacred performances.
It means that the display of pretima (sacred effigy), such as Lingga Yoni, is not covered by the exemption. It means that the display of a bare-breasted statue of Goddess Durgha inside a temple would still be considered by the bill as a crime
Article 36 (section 1, clause b) gives an exemption to art performances. However, in the similar article (section 2), the bill explicitly stated that the exemption was extended only to art performances that are being held in “places/building set aside specifically to hold art performances ”.
Later on, the Article 37 (clause 1) specifically dictates that those “specific places” must acquire a license/ a permit from the government beforehand.
It means that the exemption does not cover art performances in the temple, private houses, road intersections and cemetery---the common occurrences in
Yet, the most dangerous trap of this exemption lies in the fact that by accepting such exemption, we, actually, have consciously acknowledge and affirm the right of the state to intrude on, influence upon and impose its values on the most private and personal domain of its citizen; the freedom of aesthetic expression and the freedom of religious belief.
If you want to open the door widely for the state’s snoopy moral police, if you want the state to dictate the terms and ways of your relationship with God then, by all means, you should support the exemption, embrace the bill.
For those, who want to keep religion and arts as a matter of personal taste and private choice then, by all means, let’s close the door, lock it tight and swallow the key!
Marlowe and Jun