Sunday, August 26, 2012

Really, People...Part V: Do Your Research!

Much annoyance & frustration has built up inside me following this Sunday's 'We The People' (NDTV), which for better or for worse is one of few shows on news TV that doesn't try to shriek you into submission. That doesn't however mean that the level of discourse is in anyway elevated. 
Sometimes it's amusing. Other times like this week when it's a question of free speech and the damage it may or may not cause to society, it's disturbing. At least to me. (Because why can't they just say the shit I want them to say?....haha)

Remember when you were growing up and your elders taught you manners? Or didn't? And then you took your little bundle of good behaviours/ bad behaviours out into the world? Maybe your teachers whooped your little butt for saying a bad word, maybe you made your best friend cry by calling her fat. Maybe you decided to be nice to that shy guy in class, who no one ever spoke to and he turned out to be your best friend for life?
Then, when you became an adult, you decided once and for all who you wanted to be. You'd done the hard work, you'd made the faux pas', been politically correct, pushed on like a bulldozer, been sensitive to the pain of others. You'd figured out your balance. You'd figured out what worked for you. It was partly based on who you were in your gut, how you'd like to treat the world and how you'd like the world to treat you. 
Point is, who you are today is a consequence of research.

So when you talk to me about Free Speech vs. Censorship and ask me which one I think is dangerous, let's not debate decency okay? 
Let's not make grand generalizations about 'sentiments' or presume who can handle them and who can't. Let's not base the all-important decision of what to censor and what not to on what we kinda, sorta, assume or 'feel in our gut' will be the mass reaction. Let's be very sure if someone's words/art/expression are capable of intimidation, suppression or destruction of life & property.
Before we decide to be a 'hip & liberal' free speech advocate or a 'responsible & conservative' supporter of government censorship, I do hope we'll demand data.

Frankly, my research right now is shit. 
I don't know if social media is capable of inciting communal violence or not. I don't have hard facts or analysis to support either side. And when I turn to the the best of Indian news TV to help sort it out for me, I realize I don't even have someone to help me ask the right questions. No one is curious: How does dissemination of information through the internet cause mayhem? How does mob mentality work? And really, how many innocent lives has a parody Twitter account taken till date?

Help me do my research, people, and then we'll talk about decency.

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