This story from Mumbai Mirror made me realise that yes, we are increasingly submitting to more and more of self-censorship. The eventual result may be just for less damages (physical largely) but the subliminal effect on our psyches is damaging. We are, by default, not wont to even court debate, lest something dangerous were to be unleashed.
Last month, at the opening lecture at the literature festival at the Kala Ghoda Festival, Urvashi Butalia spoke about this very issue. I didn’t think about it much but one of her sentences stayed with me. “Today no publisher will even think of publishing the Satanic Verses,” she said. She was talking of about the fatwa that completed 20 years. She delved a bit into how publishing was slowly steeping in self-censorship.
It struck me that we are slowly reaching a point where we are getting averse to any criticism, especially the kind we cannot defend. This piece published last month and a follow-up done because of the ‘affected sentiment’ made me wonder if that’s the kind of society we are heading to becoming. Where someone who dares to disagree is thrashed or arrested or even killed. Which part of democracy allows for this kind of anarchy?
Religion and our now-infamous ‘culture’ are fast becoming favourite subjects. Muddled in all this are election agendas. Muddled in this half-informed but educated people who think ‘yes my local culture is disappearing so let’s thrash everyone who doesn’t agree to what I say’. Muddled in this are people who think technology and ‘IT’ brought this into India.What is ‘this’ I don’t know.
I saw Billu (Barber) some days ago and one entire sequence was ruined (ruined may be a strong word because the movie is strictly average) because every third work has been silenced because it was hajaam. I understand that in a nation of over a billion people, there will almost always be a group that does not like something but do we honestly have to cater to all and bend over backwards in doing so?
Such censorship is completely at odds with freedom of speech, which is a right our Constitution gives us. Art, opinion, cinema, speech all should be voiced — even if it is some one like Mutalik who says what he says.