Take a chill pill on Adult World

2014-06-02 12:00

Choice is one of the things South Africans enjoy post-apartheid.

Unlike in the past, when we were restricted in the places we could visit, where we could live or the public facilities we could use simply because of our different skin colours.

And as adults in democratic South Africa, we tend to make choices that make our daily living easier and to suit our individual lifestyles.

We choose where we live (we may not choose our direct neighbour, but the choice of neighbourhood is ours), which schools to send our children to, who to befriend, where to shop, and so on.

While we choose mostly how our lives should ideally be lived, we are bound to encounter some things that are contrary to what we want or need. And as human beings, we decide whether to ignore or entertain certain things.

If drinking beer isn’t your thing, you may choose Oros (which is my favourite). If you don’t like going to an Anglican church, you may choose one of the newer charismatic ones.

In all such choices, no one will come and attack you for the decision you have taken as an individual. It is, after all, our right to choose.

The government on the other hand – the legislature, executive and judiciary – is there to propose, develop and pass laws that will be of benefit to the republic.

They must ensure that those laws conform to the prescripts of the Constitution and that the rights of people are not harmed in the process.

Which brings me to the issue of the Adult World shop that is set to reopen its doors again opposite Parliament in Cape Town.

The ANC’s caucus in Parliament said it noted “with grave concern the re-emerging of the adult shop that trades in pornographic material in front of the buildings of Parliament on Plein Street in Cape Town”.

The party’s caucus spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said the shop’s proximity might discourage people from visiting Parliament.

“Since 1994 this Parliament has transformed into an open and accessible institution which daily welcomes scores of people from all walks of life – including schoolchildren, religious communities and tourists.

“Having stores of this nature next to Parliament may offend certain people’s moral sensibilities or belief systems and discourage them from visiting Parliament.”

The response from the Adult World owners indicate that the City of Cape Town – which runs Cape Town, including where Parliament is situated – made its assessment before granting the right for the shop to open in the area.

The owners countered the ANC’s concerns that the opposition to their store being placed opposite Parliament “was a reality that could not be taken lightly in a democratic country such as South Africa, where laws that prohibited the adult entertainment industry were repealed post-1994”.

Their spokesperson said: “It begins with a stand against adult material and then opens the door for people with a moral vendetta to begin questioning anything they may feel is unsuitable. That was in effect the censorship board of the apartheid government.”

My concern is that if the shop shouldn’t be right opposite Parliament, where should it be?

The ANC’s concern is that “stores of this nature may offend certain people’s moral sensibilities or belief systems and discourage them from visiting Parliament”.

Well, the presence of an adult shop in Melville opposite a medical facility has not deterred me from visiting my doctor in the past 12 years. I also still buy bread in my suburb at a shopping centre that hosts an adult shop. The mere presence of adult shops in the same block as other shops or malls has not discouraged me or millions of other South Africans from continuing to live their lives as they choose to.

No right-thinking person can be offended by the shop being opposite Parliament. It is the same as the corner cafe that sells fish and chips – except that this one caters for adults’ needs.

The ANC should just take a chill pill and allow the shop to open its doors and operate without hindrance. Instead, all the comrades in Parliament should focus on the work at hand – how the laws they are set to pass will improve the lives of South Africans. They would do well to remember that executive accounts serve the republic instead of individuals.

In that way, parliamentarians will have done the jobs they were elected to do, and let the people do what they always do – choose what they want to consume and not let someone else decide for them.

While at it, is the ANC caucus going to decide whether the ad hoc committee on Nkandla should continue with its work, or will it oppose such a move? Maybe that’s more important for South Africans than worries about an Adult World.

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