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The South Asian country is banning a list of 1,600 “obscene” words—including “Kmart.”
Planning to text your friend in Pakistan about the hobo you just saw outside Kmart gathering milk jugs? Make it fast. Thanks to a move by the Pakistani government to ban “obscene” words from text messages, such language may be off the Net.
Among the banned words are “hobo,” “Kmart” and “jugs,” as well as 1,600 others that the government is asking cell phone carriers to censor. The list can be found online. It’s full of words that if they weren”t part of your daily vocabulary before, they will be soon.
In fact, the government list may have done the opposite of what they hoped, by creating new obscene words and phrases: When was the last time you said “mother love bone”? And don’t you kind of want to now?
The list was released on Nov. 14 by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and requested that mobile phone providers censor all messages featuring banned words, from “tit” to “Jesus Christ,” by Nov. 21.
On the eve of that deadline, mobile providers said they wanted clarification of the new policy and until then they wouldn’t censor words. According to a story by Newsweek Pakistan, some mobile providers were concerned about service disruptions if the ban were to go in affect. Along with the list of banned words and phrases, the government cited the Pakistan Telecommunication Act of 1996, which bans people from transferring obscene messages, as legal backing.
This isn’t the first time Pakistan has tried to censor its people. In February 2008, the government infamously took down YouTube around the world for a few hours when they tried to ban citizens from viewing the site following the release of a movie trailer they deemed inappropriate. A clumsily executed block on the site propagated beyond Pakistan’s borders and knocked the site offline.
It didn’t take long for the list of banned words to hit Twitter, where #PTAbannedlist was a popular hashtag inspiring creative commentary.
“They banned ‘KY Jelly’ too. Now sexting is going to be painful,” wrote Furhan Hussain.
Justin Franz is a Montana-based reporter and photographer who wrote about web culture for the Daily Dot. His work has more recently appeared in Flathead Living Magazine, Trains Magazine, and Travel + Leisure.