Tag Archives: violence

Permissible

A comment on IMDb:

I watched Death Sentence while it was playing on TV on the channel FX. I found it almost hilariously disturbing that people were getting shot and dying bloody deaths on screen, but in the meantime mofos were being edited to mother sucker and freaking. And the f word was being changed to heck, and s*** was being changed to shoot. So show as much violence on television as you want, just God forbid you drop an F bomb or show nudity, because you know, THAT will screw kids up. Not people having their brains blown out rather graphically. Then the rest of us get to watch badly dubbed gang members running around with guns screaming “What the ‘heck’ is going on!” Thank you MPAA for keeping America’s children safe from breasts and bad words, but exposing them to more wholesome things like machetes and gang wars.

Self-righteous lunacy

While Lal Krishna Advani is the master of the foot-in-the-mouth maneuver, the BJP has done one up on him – it has managed to perform the anatomically impossible task of shoving its head up its own arse. And I am not talking about its position on the nuclear deal. BJP president Rajnath Singh has blamed the violence against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka on “Hindu anger”

“Hindu anger and resentment against large-scale forcible conversions is the root cause of anti-Christian riots in both the states,” he said. He was convinced it could end only if strong measures were put in place to “stop forcible, or by allurement, conversions of Hindus by Christian missionaries”.

He said every conversion should be verified to ensure that missionaries have not forced a person or offered any sort of allurement to convert a Hindu to Christianity.

“The government should look into finding a way to verify this. Whenever a Hindu converts to Christianity, there should be verification by district authorities to the state that the conversion is not by force or after extension of any allurement such as promise of money or food.

“There should be a verification document with the person who has been converted. If such a system is put in place, there will be no opportunity for this sort of violence.”

Should the police also start a daily door to door verification campaign to see if women have not been raped or beaten, property has not been stolen etc instead of letting the affected people come and register a complaint? This is fascism, pure and simple, and Singh is treading on dangerous territory here. If attacks on Christians are justified on the basis of “Hindu anger”, is Islamic terrorism justifiable on the basis of “Muslim anger”, Naxalism on the basis of “class conflict”? Such stupid statements were to be expected from the BJP though.

The Congress-led UPA on the other hand is trying to see what political benefits it can gain from incidents of murder, rape and church burning. Should the Bajrang Dal be banned or not? In pondering this question, it has let murderous goons and arsonists run amok and failed to protect the citizens. The flareup in Assam and the attitude of Assam’s Nero only goes to show that when it comes to protecting the life and property of citizens, both political formations follow similar lines of thought.

In another development, megalomaniac Ramadoss is now planning to start a campaign against alcohol, and he is waving the Indian Constitution to make his point-

“The Constitution mandates all states to exercise prohibition but except J&K and Gujarat none of the states follow it. Prohibition is a state subject, I would urge all state governments to enforce to (sic) total prohibition.”

“Don’t encourage these despots”, Sauvik Chakraverti writes. He blames India’s reich wing press for having encouraged Anbumani Ramadoss by endorsing his perverse smoking ban. Regarding the Hindutva wackos, he says -“The country will become a Living Hell is (sic) these rascals who exploit faith are not put down by the mainstream press.” Read his whole post.

Further, the VHP and some organization that calls itself the “Global Human Rights Council” (the VHP and a human rights organization? Partners?) have together filed a complaint against Harbhajan Singh and Mona Singh for having danced in a reality show dressed up as Ravana and Sita. And the crazy part is a magistrate has admitted the criminal complaint.

The 5000 year old “rich Hindu civilization” is hurt when someone spoofs mythological characters; the Indian government cannot tolerate videos that show a performer dressed up as Gandhi doing a pole dance; and by failing to protect freedom of expression, the Indian constitution allows the Indian State to unleash a reign of terror on the flimsiest of reasons.

If India has to survive, it needs to be saved from two of its biggest enemies – its people, and its constitution.

Bombay, Bambai and Mumbai

India does not value the life of its citizens. If it did, the Maharashtra government would have put a summary end to the hooliganism on display in its major cities by members of Raj Thackeray’s MNS, which was a direct result of his statements on a North Indian threat to the Maharashtrian way of life. And an innocent person would probably have not lost his life.

There are two sides to the story. One, should Raj Thackeray be allowed to get away with making inflammatory statements? It might come as a surprise to some (or maybe not), but I would say yes. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to say anything short of issuing a direct threat. Saying inflammatory things about UP and Bihari migrants, calling them bhaiyyas is hardly something to lose sleep over. You may not like it. But that is that. Two, what should be done with the ‘spontaneous’ venting of outrage by MNS workers. As soon as Raj Thackeray’s message got out, like clockwork, workers of his party descended onto Bombay roads and beat up hawkers and taxi men. The Samajwadi Party and their national and local leaders like Amar Singh and Abu Azmi, and various other leaders poured oil into the fire and things got out of control. And the government and police watched on. It is here that they should have acted. If they thrown all rioters behind bars, things would not have gotten out of control. But Indian politics is known more for its malevolent streak and fumblings than for a commonsensical approach to important matters. The politicians will set the police on writers and painters and anyone who says something they don’t agree with, but will allows mobs to go on a rampage without doing anything about it.

After twiddling its thumbs for the better part of the week and plotting ways of gaining the upper hand on the political front, various factions that make up the government finally decided that enough was enough. And then followed the drama of Thackeray and Azmi being arrested and being let out on bail within hours. In all this, the ‘original’ sons of the soil party – the Shiv Sena – found that Raj had pulled the carpet from under their feet. And so Uddhav Thackeray threw in a few choice sentences of his own.

There was a lot of talk on constitutional guarantees on right to seek employment anywhere in India, and how Raj Thackeray’s comments were anti constitutional and designed to incite violence and all that. But when you cannot guarantee the right to free speech for most people and cannot protect them from coercion, intimidation and bodily harm, what is the point going on about how constitutional guarantees?

Till the government stops intimidating its citizens, and stops fiddling while mobs beat up people making a mockery of the law, such incidents will keep on repeating themselves. And I will find myself writing the same thing on the same topic again and again and again….

Freedom of speech, violence and India

News channels had a lot on their plate today as a protest against Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen in Kolkata by some outfit named All India Minority Forum turned into a riot when extremists joined in bringing the Nandigram issue with them. Stone pelting and torching of vehicles followed, which is a normal progression as far as these events go. What is not normal, however, is the army being summoned to control the situation.

India is not a stranger to violence. It is an everyday phenomenon in most parts of the country. However, threats and violence have been used too often as a weapon to suppress freedom of speech and expression. And, unfortunately, this phenomenon is religion-agnostic. This time, the protestors are predominantly Muslim and their target, Nasreen, who has become the next Muslim author after Salman Rushdie to court the ire of intolerant people from her own religion. In fact, she was attacked a few weeks ago in Hyderabad by another group who had more serious intentions.

The fact that incidents such as these happen so frequently only goes to show that people are free to speak only if their views are in tune with those of a violent group who hide behind their religion or some favourite cause. It was just over a year ago when a few Christian groups (Catholic Social Forum in particular) protested over the exhibition of the film ‘The Da Vinci Code’ because it hurt their sentiments as it dealt with the subject of Jesus being a mortal and him being married. The Tamil Nadu and Punjab governments immediately banned the exhibition (till the Supreme Court of India intervened in the matter). So did other countries in the neighbourhood such as Pakistan and Iran (India does have esteemed company in matters such as these). As for hurting Hindu sentiments, M.F. Hussain is the person who regularly finds himself in the eye of the storm.

The Government of India does not consider such matters to be very significant. Neither do courts in the country (their decisions on ‘hurting sentiments’ and censorship of the legal kind have not been very inspiring). Other worrying demonstrations of intolerance include the fact that any state in which the BJP comes to power on its own tries to pass laws making religious conversions extremely difficult.

Films, books and plays are regular targets of organised as well as unorganised protests, which turn violent too often. And laws do not help victims of such actions. In fact, successive governments have been very active in the censorship game themselves.

The right to unbridled freedom of expression is one of the most important rights that any human being can have. Any curtailment of that right should only occur after it has gone through a rigorous process. Even then, such a thing should not be done too often and if done, should only be for a limited period of time.

Communities, nations and their people should have thick skins that can take any criticism of their theories and actions. If every pinprick results in a violent backlash, what is the difference then between living in a democracy and living under an authoritarian ruler?