Thursday, January 3, 2013

Banning Honey Singh concert??? This won’t help anybody..….

Newly chastised men and ultra-upset women got the Honey Singh New Year’s eve concert in Gurgaon scrapped. There is a move afoot to have the singer himself banned. The reason for this is that the lyrics of his songs are considered anti-women. The poor singer (and yes, I am defending him here) has apologized (why????) and clarified that he wasn’t the one who penned the lyrics (as if that matters). This is the typical pendulum-like yoyo movement that we often see in our country after a major issue has exploded on the scene.

Just look at what all has been going on since the Delhi rape case:

Protesters have been demanding the death penalty in rape cases, forgetting that though its a heinous crime, rape is much lower than pre-meditated murder in the hierarchy of crimes. Not every crime can be punished by death. When poor Ram Jethmalani tried to argue that at least in the first instance, a rapist should not be given the death sentence, women panelists on the TV show taunted him by asking if he was giving a free pass to first-time rapists. Hello….he was not giving any rapist a free pass; he was only suggesting that punishment should be calibrated. Even the CJI of India lamented yesterday that the public seems to want nothing but the death sentence. Hope such public frenzy doesn’t decide how laws are made.

When I wrote about lowering the age to define a juvenile to 15 years, my point was that a boy of 15 is physically strong enough to rape a woman and hence should be treated as an adult. I never suggested that there should be no special treatment of juveniles. The debate on TV last night was typically immature. The point that was discussed was not whether 15 was better than 18; but whether the concept of juveniles itself was right or wrong. Come on….any half-intelligent person knows that juveniles need special treatment. If one went by the mood on the show, juveniles (even if they are 5 years old) should be treated like an adult and hanged. Guys….let’s not belittle important issues….there is a need for a little intelligence in public debates.

Then there was an attempt to show Bollywood as a corrupting influence on our youngsters. Apparently Bollywood portrays women in a poor light. Why? Because our actresses are made to dress prettily and look sexy? Because they sometimes seduce their men on screen? Because we have item numbers? But we also have tapori numbers from men – why is that acceptable, but item numbers not? Bollywood merely makes films that sell; it has no ideology. Some of these films show women in a certain way. That does not mean that Bollywood is anti-women.

Then this completely inane statement by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that rapes happen in “India” and not in “Bharat”, essentially blaming Western culture for the rapes. Such bafoons should never be allowed a public platform to speak from. If anything should be banned, it should be speeches by such 17th century so called “leaders”.

Then this other thing about showing every crime involving a woman as a hate crime against women. A friend of mine wrote in a Facebook update “2.5 million crimes were committed against in India out of which a staggering 10% were against women”. If there are 50% women in the population, and if only 10% of the crimes are against women, that’s a statistic to be happy with, not upset about. 10% is not staggering, its an abnormally low number.

But the most outrageous of all is the banning of the Honey Singh concert. C’mon guys….he’s a rapper….and rappers worldwide use lewd lyrics to communicate a mood. In fact, way before rap became popular, rock music was the manifestation of a certain angst in the youth. When Pink Floyd wrote “Brick in the wall”, it was an attack on the conventional education system (“hey teachers, leave us kids alone”). Likewise Eminem’s lyrics are unprintable, but that doesn’t stop him from winning the Grammy’s. Or make him a misogynist! When it comes to art, a certain latitude is given to the artist. That’s freedom of speech. Not everything is to be taken literally. Don’t forget just a few months back, the whole country was up in arms when the artist Aseem Trivedi was arrested for his cartoons (showing the Indian Parliament to be a toilet). To many, those cartoons were blasphemous too, but we all protested that the cartoons should not be banned.

Here’s the danger with all this. We shouldn’t be surprised if the following happens in the days to come:

Dating becomes officially outlawed (like ragging). Because when a boy dates a girl, he looks at her in ways that may be obscene to some (and definitely against Indian culture!). All relations between boys and girls should be strictly brotherly-sisterly!

Only arranged marriages should be allowed. This is a corollary from the point above. If boys don’t date girls, how can they select their own wives!

Saying four letter words should make a person a moral pervert who should be arrested. After all, all such words offend women!

Giving flowers to a woman will be considered as a sign of stereotyping women. After all, we hardly give flowers to men. Therefore we must also not give flowers to women!

The real truth is that public debate is become more and more extreme and inane. This typically happens after any dramatic incident as the public sentiment swings to the opposite extreme. Our sensationalist TV channels amplify such swings. But if anything, we should be extra careful at such times…..that in our attempts to do good, we don’t end up harming the cause. The anti-dowry clause in the IPC (498-A) did just that. It was meant to protect newly married women from getting battered by their in-laws, but the SC recently ruled that 80% of all cases were actually of daughters-in-law who were abusing their parents-in-law. We could cause the same harm if we don’t stop such inane talk. If we are not careful, we could end up giving the moral police of the country – most notably the RSS, the Shiv Senas, even the BJPs – a larger presence in our society. And soon, they will be teaching us “Bharatiya sanskriti”!

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