Children should not watch pornography. They shouldn't witness beheadings, torture (both physical and emotional), murder, rape, assaults of all kinds, the glorification of wealth, the celebration of aberrant sexual fantasies, (cigarette, pipe, cigar) smoking, alcohol consumption...the list of things that children should be protected from is long and the younger a child is the greater the protection should be.
The Constitution places the principal responsibility for the protection of children on their parents, but, for sure, the Government has interest in the protection of children as do their other relatives and other social institutions such as their schools and places of worship. Anyone who wants to harm children must be stopped. Anyone who harms children must be punished.
This seems plain enough. Yet, if the campaign by the chief executive officer of the Kenya Film Classification Board, Kenya's onetime film censorship board, is anything to go by, the protection of children seems to have taken a quite a turn into the unknown.
Kenya's constitutional order attempts a delicate balancing act between individual rights and the needs of the many. Those charged with the protection of our fundamental rights and freedoms have more often than not erred in favour of the needs of the many — as determined by the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful State. The eponymous CEO of the KFCB is but just one manifestation of the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful State, a throwback to the days when Kenya was a single-party "democracy", what you read, watched, listened to, said, published or filmed was severely circumscribed and where any threat against the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful State always — ALWAYS — ended up in the State's favour.
The KFCB, through its CEO, will brook no challenges in its campaign to protect our children and if it means that it will stretch its understanding of its mandate to the limits of intellectual and statutory elasticity, step on toes big and small, push the constitutional envelop way beyond the edge of reason or reasonableness, then that is what the KFCB's eponymous CEO will do and he will wear it as a badge of honour every time the atheists and pornographers and lesbians and homosexuals rail and cavil against his crusade. After all, he is doing it for the sake of the children, isn't he? It hasn't occurred to him yet that his attitude towards us treats us all like children. And that is the foundation of our problems with him.
The adults who exercised their suffrage to endorse a constitution in August 2010 did so knowing and believing that they were making a complete break with the past, a past in which the rights of the individual had been utterly at the mercy of the State — there were no collective rights. The State was mighty and it was always right; the individual was only fit for labour, taxation and in certain extreme situations, torture and execution. Individuals didn't have the right to read what they wanted, to educate their children as they saw fit, to access information at their own will or to propagate both information and knowledge to all those willing to listen. If the State and its system of eavesdroppers and censors deemed it "unsafe" there was little n individual could do but bend their knee and slink away in shame or invite the Nyati House boys with their electrodes and water hoses. The adults who voted in 2010 wanted to be free.
The KFCB and its boosters live in a world in which benevolent dictatorships always do what is in the best interest of the individual, including raising and educating the individual's children. The individual is a fool, easily swayed by different ideas, easily captured by malign proposals, easily tempted by the aberrant. The individual, in the name of the children, must be shielded from harm. Always. Forever. The individual must be protected from himself. If you believe — nay, know — that the KFCB and its CEO have your interests at heat, then your mind is already lost.