Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Of Liberals and Bullshittery

Swami Gulagulaananda quoted his Kannada teacher:
"Swaatantryakku swechchegu bahaLa vyatyaasa ide"
[There is a great difference between freedom and doing as one wishes]

What separates human beings from animals? What separates a civilisation from jungle? The answer, is rule of law. Rule of law is a set of artificial rules we have come to establish over ourselves in a bid to control our natural urges. Well, animals have rules to a certain extent - Like pack leader is above others, etc. But none that are as evolved as human beings. The rule of law has been the reason for the evolution of humans from yet another animal to one that dominates the world.

The rule of law is a set of rules created by people for themselves. Why? Why would humans need rules and regulations? Why can't we just be like the animals? Animals are free to do as they want. Don't you think by imposing rules on ourselves, we are unnecessarily complicating lives? The answer is efficiency. If we did not have a set of rules, we would be wasting a lot of time and energy on unwanted things, rather than focussing on better things - Think about it - If, instead of building a fancy gadget that can harness 100% solar energy, I had to be worried that my neighbour is breaking down my door to take my TV because he liked it, I'd have to waste time fighting him. He might be stronger than me or have many friends and they might end up killing me. The gadget will never get done. The rule of law prevents these things from happening.

Alright, we understand why the rule of law is created and why it's important - But who decides which rules should be present and which should not be? This is where things get interesting. Now let's start asking ourselves some questions. If a man kills another man, should the murderer be punished? The answer is - It is dependent on the reason for killing. If he killed in self defence, then it's probably pardonable. But if he killed to show who is stronger, then he is guilty. This is something I am sure most of you agree - You feel that it is a waste of life - to lose a life just to show who is stronger. It appears like common sense. This is because of the time in which you are born. However, in the medieval ages where knights jousted, there were those who did it for fun and entertainment. Or even made to do it for that. At that time, it was natural - Yes, he lost his life in that fight. Too bad he was weak. Today, we call those ages as a period of barbarism because their views don't align with ours. It's not barbaric in the absolute sense, but is barbaric from our perspective. From their perspective, it was a common occurrence.

We value life a lot, or so we claim. And you know where this arguments leads to - Vegetarianism and Non vegetarianism. If you hold life so sacred, why is animal slaughter legal? You are killing not because you have to - It is avoidable. You might want to counter this argument and say, well, killing plants is bad too because plants have life too - So then, why is killing humans not bad? At some point, we have decided that human life is more valuable than other lives - And we have all implicitly accepted it.

Rules are just a set of opinions that have been formally accepted by a sufficiently large number of people. It doesn't mean that a rule is absolutely correct nor does it mean that rules are absolutely wrong. But before we continue talking about rule of law, let's take a deviation and talk about decency. What is considered decent and what is not? Decency is very much along the lines of rule of law - In the sense that they are arbitrary and person dependent. There might be one person who believes that there is nothing wrong in walking naked on the road - After all, that's the way God intended us to be. And there might be another who believes that her children might get traumatised by his display of family jewels. Who is right? It's again perspective, just like how murder used to be acceptable at a certain point of time.

This becomes interesting in the sense that virtually all behaviour can become debatable if you have a sufficiently large number of people arguing for or against it. Rules of law get amended if sufficiently large number of people argue against a certain law. Similarly, the idea of public decency gets altered if a sufficiently large number of people begin accepting certain behaviour. Notice that at no point am I saying that the behaviour is necessarily good or bad (not only from personal opinion but even from a larger viewpoint)

While we understand how that might make people simply say that all rules are arbitrary and malleable, it makes us wonder what rules should be present and what shouldn't. The reason why you probably didn't blink when you read that murder is a punishable offence is because it seems obvious that he who causes harm to someone else needs to be punished. But what about things I do which doesn't hurt anyone? I ask 'hurt' specifically because that is the standard response by people who want to defend certain behaviour. If a couple is making out in public, is it hurting you? If no, then it is acceptable behaviour. Murder on the other hand causes hurt. The problem with this argument is that the definition of hurt seems to be limited to physical hurt. However, we are aware from our reading of newspapers that hurt need not be just physical but also mental - This is the reason that abetment of suicide is grounds for punishment. A man was called "impotent" by his wife, and the court granted him divorce on grounds of cruelty. Hurt therefore need not be physical.

However, a lot of these ideas are lost to a bunch of idiots who call themselves "Liberals" - Now, this is a group of people who irritate me to such a great extent that I want to go back to the medieval ages so that I could pound them with a club with pointy rusty nails jutting out... take deep breath...

Alright, let us pause for a moment - Imagine you were walking down the street with your mother, minding your own business when suddenly a drunk man comes in front of you and calls your mother a whore. Would that offend you? Or would you just shrug it off saying, "I expect only such crass behaviour from a sozzled brute. Begone sir, for your very presence upsets me"

With that example, let us begin discussing one of the biggest banes of semi-intellectual people - "Freedom Of Expression"

I believe that Freedom of Expression is one of the most misunderstood things in modern society. A large number of people feel victimised the moment someone objects to what they believe is right - And victimised people do one thing extremely well - voice concerns in high decibels. All hell breaks loose when, ironically, someone else opines differently from them - They feel like their fundamental freedom is being stifled. Common quips include 'going back to the middle ages' or 'middle ages'.

The problem with most people is that they look at things in a very technical manner - The perfect example for this is the "Kiss of Love" campaign (a huge flop for those who are interested). Now, apparently there was a group of people who beat up some people in an act of moral policing. So, another group of people decided to protest by locking lips - Which for some reason is considered an apt and appropriate response... "Where is the love, the love?" quipped one fanatical moron. On questioning whether public displays of affection such as shoving one's tongue down another's throat in broad daylight in public spaces is alright, a group of "Freedom Fighters" (read idiots) decided to support it saying "It's their way of protesting" and that "they have the freedom to express themselves however they want" and that "If you are offended, look away" - Which are all the dumbest of responses. You see, these are the same people who believe that their freedom to express is being stifled by raising a question - Oh yes, let's all participate in indecent behaviour in public so as to teach those moral policemen a lesson.

Why is this wrong? First of all - They believed that the acts are not indecent behaviour - which is very interesting for multiple reasons. Since decency and indecency are subjective, where do we draw the line to determine what is decent and what isn't? For example, Mahesh Bhatt didn't find anything wrong in kissing his daughter Pooja Bhatt (lip lock) - because, you know, ART... Similarly, recently there was a news item where a Chinese painter painted his nubile daughter in her birthday suit and his wife and daughter didn't find anything wrong in it... again, you know, ART (However, it drew ire from others) One cannot simply keep letting all behaviour pass under the umbrella of Freedom Of Expression. If I am making lewd gestures to a woman, will that be allowed under "Freedom Of Expression" - "I am not hurting anyone" and "if it doesn't please you, look away" cannot be given as reasons. I cannot flash someone and give the same excuses. What is okay with you need not be ok with everyone  (and don't you dare say "who the hell cares about others")

Then there are the "modern people with a scientific temper" who believe that anything with the word culture is pre-historic, medieval and superstitious. Try going up to these people and saying "This isn't our culture" and you'll know what I mean. This is a huge problem in India - A lot of people have no clue about India - Their views are greatly moulded by American TV Series - And you know I am right. I have seen several people trying to imitate characters from Friends in their daily lives - speaking like them "That is SO not true" and wanting to get married in the christian style because THAT is considered romantic, or saying Awwwwww for anything remotely cute (and some times even if the baby is ugly... Admit it, there are ugly babies). Now please understand that I am not saying that getting married in the christian way is wrong or saying awww is wrong - I am saying that it is stupid to do it BECAUSE you think they are cool :P Now somewhere around this place, people lose the plot and think that this is an anti-west idea or a bigoted rant of sorts... Try reading it again with a relaxed mind.

"Imitation is the best form of flattery" - Yes, I get that. Our problem is that we are not leaders but mere followers - We want to follow everything that happens in the US. Recently I read an article that was titled something like "20 things that you can do in the US but not in India" with the cover photo having a couple kissing on the road.

Alright, let us move away from this obsession of PDAs and go towards something different - Like comedy. Now, one would think that there is nothing wrong with comedy, because everyone loves comedy - From Seinfeld to Friends to Tarak Mehta ka Ulta Chashma... But, again, it is not as simple. To start off with, Indian comedy also wants to ape American comedy with Indian stand up comedians mimicking western guys to the T - In fact, recently I watched AIB's roast of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh... I have always been a fan of Comedy Central Roasts (I especially love Charlie Sheen) and found the Indian version a carbon copy of the original (Some of the jokes were also the same) - While I found the Indian version good (and I don't deny that), I just get annoyed when I see a complete lack of originality.

This complete lack of originality and wanting to copy has become so deep that we feel that what happens in America is the global standard and if we do not adhere to those standards, we are behind. Hey, kissing is allowed in the US man - PDAs are cool there. People walk around in their underwear there - Now THAT's the freedom I am talking about. Meanwhile, in India, there is so much taboo. There, people talk about sex all the time, but in India, sex is a taboo subject. Let's start showing boobs everywhere (Yes, Times of India, I am talking about you)

Then there are these comedians who make jokes about a lot of things - and then get offended when people get offended saying "Indians don't know to laugh at themselves" - That's only partially true. There are jokes and there are provocations. Take the example of Charlie Hebdo. Drawing a satirical cartoon of the prophet was a completely unnecessary act - There is no joke in that. You KNOW that there are people who get offended by that because it is sacred to them. And yet, in this false sense of Freedom Of Expression, you want to do it... Freedom of expression allows you to do certain things - but I believe that we need to exercise restraint and not offend people. Knowing where to draw the line is very important. Yes, everything offends at least one guy - But knowing where to draw the line is, I reiterate, very important. I say this because it is obviously a slippery slope otherwise. Similarly, Indian comedians make too many unnecessary jokes about Indians and say - We don't know to laugh at ourselves. There are a million jokes to crack - Why court controversy when you can avoid it and do something constructive? To do something to prove a point and entering into a huge altercation as a consequence is, in my opinion, foolish when it is an unnecessary act. And if people express outrage, they are exercising their freedom of expression too, aren't they? Why do you get offended when the express it?

This is precisely why I feel that "liberals" are full of it.  Yes, we should be progressive and we should be able to talk about topics freely. But we should also develop our own sense of identity and have our sense of originality. If people are walking in their underpants in the US, good for them, and if people are walking in Burkhas in Saudi, good for them... We don't have to ape either of them, but rather, we should be sitting and thinking originally as to what is right and what is wrong. I get especially irritated when I hear people say "Why talk about PDAs when we should be discussing more important topics like rape" because these people do absolutely nothing about anything but only like to talk big. Also, talking about some topics does not mean that talking about another topic first is a requirement.

More importantly, we should do sufficient research before bullshitting - For example, there are many censors in the US too. Many cartoons and episodes have been pulled off air. I am mentioning this because several people feel India censors everything unlike America, the land of freedom. Every country has problems. Stop BS-ing. We should judge things as per natural law, not by some technicalities.

To summarise, nobody can absolutely say anything is right or wrong - but one needs to exercise discretion. We should have our own sense of identity and not blindly ape others. We should be progressive and original and creative and wise... Freedom of expression is extremely important, but not something that we should use to offend others - even if it means you can. Know where to draw the line. Be mature...

Just out of curiosity - "Taking pics of a girl without her consent is grossly wrong..." - I am sure everyone agrees with this. Now, taking a video of a man without his consent is wrong too, would you agree? What if the man molested someone as in this video? Would you think this is right or wrong (from privacy point of view)

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Where do you draw the line?