Some really offensive events took place in India and the world in the last month. To begin with, some religious extremists could not tolerate some cartoons about their God and killed them. Charlie Hebdo, whose intention was to question the nature of this irrationality called religion went too far with their offensive cartoons. They made demeaning cartoons of Jesus, cartoons of Pope using condoms and then attacked Prophet for which their place were firebombed. Any other “strictly meaning business” organization would have taken the safe logical route of not trifling with religion but not Charlie Hebdo. They increased their attack on the ones who were insecure enough to retaliate and tried to beat the irrationality by being irrational in fighting a hopeless battle. The world knows how it ended on January the 7th. That didn’t stop them, they came up with another sarcastic cartoon saying “Prophet forgives everyone,” nor did it stop the world, it sparked a movement, an outrage which makes me wonder, was it worthwhile, was it more than a lost cause? It seems like it but it’s not, there are so many religious liberals afraid of religious extremism, they will let Charlie Hebdos do all the dirty work with passive support and will only show outrage in events like these only for a very limited time. Do I blame them? Not really, we all know, we have one life and so much we can do with it. If we can ignore the daily fiasco related to religion which we read in the newspapers globally to stay alive, why shouldn’t we? It’s the rational thing to do when there is so much talk about rationality.
Moving on to India, someone influential in India took on religion and spread the message of atheism in the form of a movie called PK. The medium was again humor to instigate logic and insinuate the underlying irrationality. They subtly pressed questions like how irrational is it to impose a certain religious tag on a child based on your beliefs, based on birth, based on a biological accident. I really appreciated the idea and so did many, although in the end, the movie tried to be politically correct in asking the viewers to have faith in god without being religious. I really don’t mind that, but the problem is, can it be done? If people start realizing that they don’t need religious institutions as a means of connection with god, wouldn’t they go one step further in realizing that they don’t need god? They can just be patient with the randomness in their lives. Once again, the movie attacked all religions, but the religion in majority in the country which has been spreading a false sense of insecurity and siege mentality among it’s followers retaliated. One religion couldn’t tolerate the mockery of their Gods and retaliated by demanding bans and vandalizing movie theaters running the movie. They became outspoken and demanded boycott of the lead actor of the movie who belonged to a different religion even though the movie director, producer, script writer and most of the other actors belonged to their own religion. Such is the insecurity that it was seen as a battle for religious dominion. How did the liberals react? They watched the movie and made it the highest earning movie in Bollywood history. It’s a good answer but once again without any lasting impact, once again we are being rational, allowing someone else to do the dirty work.
Then came the humor group called AIB (All India Bakchod) with some Bollywood stars with the Indian version of ‘Comedy Central’s Roast.’ AIB, who have risen from Youtube fame to set a benchmark in Indian comedy, have received a lot of accolades from liberal and intellectual people as being a quantum leap in the standard of Indian comedy. They have raised the level from politically correct and immature humor to brutally honest, crass, direct and offensive humor which mirrors the Indian society’s hypocrisy beautifully. Although, it was known that their humor can only appeal a few liberals in the country and is not for mass appeal, but when they tied up with famous bollywood stars, things had to reach the masses. They were audacious in their use of expletives which everybody uses and somehow everybody needs to hide the usage in public domain. They attacked people directly, subtle attack on everything nonsensical and hypocritical. I had just read an article that Baba Ramdev is selling products in Haryana to help women bear male child, was reading about right wing extremism and moral policing and I came across this and I kept on wondering, which India is real? They both are but how can they co-exist? If the former India finds out about the latter, wouldn’t they just mute them? My question was answered the next day. Every right-wing believer had taken offense in the indecency of the show. They displayed their hypocrisy by using the same expletives for AIB which they so blatantly opposed. People have filed official complaint and threatened ban on movies of the actors involved unless they apologize. AIB had catered to a very limited tolerant audience till now but this time the intolerant ones heard them and for the first time I heard their mass criticism because of a change in masses. That’s a good sign for me, that’s a growth, that’s a success in their right to offend. But, once again, all we can do is laugh at the humor and the hypocrisy which is opposing it.
In all the three scenarios, the reason was humor and the retaliation was insecurity. So, if you are so insecure about something, it further questions the need of that particular thing in your life and indicates that the people questioning it have made a vital breakthrough. I sincerely believe after these three occurrences that we need to have a right to offend as an extension of freedom of speech. I believe that people are taking something whose very identity needs to be discussed way too seriously and in their insecurity of losing their sacred belief which is under scrutiny they are counter attacking the ones who are trying to reason