Why some of us choose to face the cave wall.
The Paleolithic age:
Six people went to hunt down the mammoth so that the tribe could eat, three people discovered fire, four invented language and hearing the first few words, two people immediately turned their backs and sat facing the cave wall because they were offended. Not much has changed.
A great man that fought for the freedom of this country said: ‘Civilization is the encouragement of differences.’ And I wonder how from a race of tolerant people who even won their freedom in a non-reactive manner, we have changed to a country that has decided to be offended by arbitrary things; but being Indian, let me also join my fellow men for a minute, in listing down what may or may not offend me.
We have passed a proposal for building a 182-metre-tall Statue of Unity project that will cost Rs 2,979 crore, and are now trying to construct yet another statue in the Arabian Sea which is budgeted at around Rs 1,900 crore even though only 10% of our children have access to education beyond higher secondary schooling. Instead of spending money on education, that these are our priorities offends me a bit.
In my heart my city will always be Bombay because that is what I have known it as, and it does not antagonize me that a political party decided that it needs to be changed to Mumbai because according to them it was a legacy of the British rule, but a few weeks ago even the word Bombay was bleeped from poor Mihir Joshi’s song and I have not been able to wrap my head around that.
In the last few months, we have been offended by Obama’s chewing gum, Modi’s suit, Kiran Bedi for various reasons and, of course, by the infamous roast.
If I had to be offended by a live show I would rather be offended by Arnab who invites people on his show and then doesn’t let them speak. I saw an episode where he is asking the education minister a question and then screaming over her answers.
Now that’s just bad manners, at least in the AIB roast they called guests over, let them say their bit, people laughed and went home. But we still have to get outraged even though they had made it clear that the show is for adults only.
We now also have an assortment of people up in arms about the gags made on a person’s sexuality but shouldn’t we be more offended by the fact that homosexuality is considered illegal in India and that Section 377 still exists?
The jokes about dark skin offend us because deep down, some of us idiotically think that having dark skin is a shortcoming. Would we be as offended if jokes were made about having fair skin like, ‘You are so fair that you were thrown out of the Nirma washing powder commercial for being whiter than the washed shirt.’?
Yes, I wish the AIB had made astute, layered gags and jibes but to be so offended as to lynch them over a bunch of wisecracks?
Shouldn’t we save our strength to protest against things that really matter — like gangs of men still killing and raping women as they did again in Rohtak; that we spend $38.35 billion on warfare but are slashing our health care budget by 20% despite being a country whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world; that a bunch of us have been called ‘haramzade’ on a political platform from a member of the party that governs us and not from a standup comedian but no FIR is filed against the politician but is filed against the AIB comedians instead.
So, should we sullenly keep staring at the cave wall or spend our time productively hunting down the big woolly mammoths because freedom of choice is also about choosing which battles are worth fighting after all.