The Ban Psychosis
This post was originally posted on my previous blog The Bored Engineer on May 31, 2016. The current version has been reproduced here with minor edits . However, if you wish to read the original version, the same is still present on The Bored Engineer in an unedited form.
What is the one thing that defines most of us Indians and yet is devoid of any logic?
You may well be tempted to mention our crazy and soul crushing quest to get our children enrolled in an Engineering/Medical college, but no.
The one thing that connects us all, that one trait fostering our unity in diversity is our inability to not get offended or simply ignore things that really don’t matter to us. As a consequence we have a tendency ban things.
Take for example the recent controversy surrounding a snapchat video by comedian Tanmay Bhat, impersonating Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. Now the video may seem a bit derogatory and in bad humor to many (including me) but why can’t we simply ignore a comedian who is just doing his job.
He may not be up to our expected standards (although I doubt if any exist et al.) but does that mean our politicians should issue threats like “We will beat him in public”.
Now I know that you might argue that you don’t support such political parties so why should you be answerable, but in maintaining our killer silence are we not emboldening these goons-turned-policy-makers?
What gives them a right to issue threats to people on national television while we sit around watching like zombies, doing nothing. Aren’t these Netas a threat to the rule of law that they dream of being in charge?
Why not simply ignore the guy, just like you ignored him and his friends when they were talking about other things that had nothing to do with our lives (like lack of awareness about Fire Safety, Whistle Blowers Protection Act, Comprehensive Sex-Ed etc.).
If these topics did not materialize into some ‘Twitter trend’ or a ‘Facebook Trending Now’ topic then why now. We, at least some of us, watched of all that, laughed on their jokes and went on with our lives like nothing need to be done.
If we really are this sensitive and our banning instinct are so charged up, why do we shut up when someone makes deplorable comments about women or LGBT rights? Why don’t we feel like banning them?
Our MPs & MLAs can’t push amendments to correct known issues like these, but the bill for increasing their salaries get passed in a single go!
India still follows the Police Act of 1861, framed by British to crush dissent and no government has the time to take up police reforms while Reservation Bills are constantly updated to include more and more electorate to boost vote banks.
Crime in our cities and states is on the rise and human rights abuses are rampant but our media channels (yes media channels not news channels, they don’t deserve to be called news) are busy showing us how some random Bahu in some random daily soap transformed into a fly to save her ‘Sasural’ from an evil spirit. Is this really a 21st century country hoping to become a super-power?
But then all of these issues don’t disturb us. We are more concerned with authors writing books narratives that contradict our popular beliefs, or comedians making stupid jokes, or even Bollywood making movies about topics that we don’t feel comfortable about.
Rather than discussing these issues we let our politicians ban these things so that they don’t concern us anymore. We let them dig the sand for us to bury our heads in.
Now that all these issues are out our way, we can ease up, watch a stupid daily soap or let comedians like Kapil or Krushna cross dress and make cheap double meaning joke while we laugh and forget after a tiresome day at work. A day spent working to earn a salary only to be taxed by the Government which most probably will be composed of the same politicians who have taken great care of shielding us by freeing us of these trivialities of democracy.
So don’t stand up for anyone’s rights. Don’t stop people from issuing death threats, why should you? Tomorrow if these goons do beat up that comedian, we will take out a candle vigil, talking about the rising intolerance and deteriorating law and order.
We can take out a candle march or discuss it over a round of drinks but what more can we do? Is it our fault that he thought that India was a free country where mature people resided?
Things Banned in India:
- Books (at least 52 books including Satanic Verses, Da Vinci Code, The Price of Power: Kissinger & Nixon in the White House — for reasons ranging from ‘containing blasphemous remarks’ to ‘for alleging Morarji Desai to be a CIA informant’)
- Movies (72 movies banned nationally or regionally or both)
- Food (Beef, Foie Gras etc.)
- Misc. (Public Display of Affection (PDA), Porn, Homosexuality, Sex-ed, Advertising Alcohol (ahem ahem), Alcohol, Marijuana etc.)
Things not Banned in India:
- Stereotypical (and mindless) daily soaps and channels broadcasting them,
- Racist jokes/movies,
- Sexual Abuse,
- Marital Rape,
- Human Rights abuse,
- ‘News’ channels that air partisan/biased news and are frequently exposed,
- Politicians who have been involved in most of the above.
The lists are not at attempt to steer the banning in a certain direction. In a mature society, art and/or speech are not banned, they are protected. Governments are entrusted to be the bad guys who keep the citizens safe from bad actors, ie. the ones threatening or causing violence, but in our nation, we seem to have adopted a different definition perhaps.