“Demand death penalty for the rapists. Give a missed call to **************. It’s free!”
This is the approximate wording of several versions of a text message going around these days, in the great Republic of India, The reference is to the gang rape of a still-unnamed young woman in a bus in Delhi. I’ve written about it here, but that was while she was still alive. She died on the 28th December after being flown off to Singapore, allegedly because her doctors wanted it. According to everyone who spent five minutes thinking about the facts, it was the politicians who were responsible. They wanted her out of the country for two reasons:
First, so that they could tell everyone that they were doing everything for her that could have been done and if she died, she’d die abroad, out of the public eye.
Second, so that she’d be out of the country and hopefully passions might die down a little.
Well, she did die, and abroad, even though the doctors were allegedly “divided” in their opinion on whether she should have been sent out at all, and even though the surgeons in Singapore said it was a “miracle” that she survived the flight there at all. But as for the rest of it – did the people forget?
Of course, they didn’t – the media made sure of that, going into paroxysms of indignation and playing up her funeral for all it was worth. And just today I saw one TV channel bemoaning the fact that one rapist might “escape hanging” because he is a minor.
Let’s just repeat that – the media is worried that one rapist might escape hanging because he is a minor, even though the six accused have not been put on trial yet and are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. And that is also even though death is not (as of this writing) a penalty for rape, and is not a penalty even for murder except in the “rarest of rare” cases (which cases fit this description is up to the courts’ tender mercies to judge, but that’s a rant for another time).
Can you see a situation where one or more of the rapists is acquitted because there’s a reasonable doubt about what role each of them played in the gang rape, or sentenced to something less than death? Hanging is what the Great Indian Muddle Class mob is demanding, at least according to the media, which is letting nobody forget it. As I said earlier, and as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Altamas Kabir, observed, it’s a “lynch mob mentality”. The Muddle Class wants its way, and it will not be denied. So what happens if one or more of the rapists “gets away with it” – released as a minor, or after a few years in prison? Can you see the media cheering on howling mobs of murderous “protestors” – like those who beat a Delhi policeman to death?
Of course you can.
Now, naturally, I deleted those text messages demanding the death penalty without passing them on or calling the number given, nor will I sign any online petition to ask for the rapists to be put to death. It’s not because of my opposition to the death penalty that I’m doing this, though; it’s because I refuse to take part in any trial by media, let alone in any mob rule.
And demanding that people who are yet to be tried, let alone convicted, be executed is nothing but the worst kind of mob rule. As I’ve said, these “protestors” aren’t protesting against rape, but against the uppity underclass. The underclass doesn’t have access to the internet and can’t sign online petitions; even if they have cellphones, they aren’t fluently English-speaking and they don’t pass on text messages they don’t understand. Nobody cares what they think; they never get invited to the TV studios, the ever-eager TV cameramen and women don’t focus on them instead of the trendy young people “protesting”. They might as well not exist. Those online petitions only reflect the wishes of the Muddle Class, apart from subverting the justice system.
|These two are so representative of all Indian women|
Yesterday, 3rd January, for reasons best known to themselves, these “protestors” called an all-India strike, thus shutting down markets and offices, which hurt the salaried Muddle Class not at all, but created great difficulties for the poor. By and large, the poor have to earn their daily sustenance. If they don’t work, they don’t eat. And they had to go without eating because of the “outrage” of the Muddle Class – or, rather, of the “protestors” among the Muddle Class. The rest of it just enjoyed a nice little holiday.
Again, I ask: how many rapes, gang rapes, and gang-rapes-cum-murders have occurred in the last three weeks during which the media have been obsessing on this one episode? Plenty; I could enumerate, but I won’t bother; it’s a familiar and dreary tale of men assaulting and brutalising women, and killing them or forcing them to kill themselves. It’s the familiar tale of police ignoring complaints unless the victim is well-connected, or local politicians forcing victims like this thirteen-year-old girl to “compromise” with their abusers. It’s the same old, same old.
Well, but: how many of these rape/murders were even mentioned in the “mainstream” media, let alone set off a storm of “protests”?
Zero. Nada. Nothing, None.
But, of course, the media is very, very active when it comes to those tales that affect the Great Indian Muddle Class; because news is now a product, meant for consumption, and the same Muddle Class is the prime consumer of news. I refer primarily to the electronic media, since the Muddle Class no longer reads the dying print media and has no time or patience for nuance or detailed analysis, let alone soul searching.
This is the same thing which actuated media outrage over an anti-Hindu speech made by fundamentalist Muslim politician Akbaruddin Owaisi some days ago in the South Indian city of Hyderabad. Owaisi happens to be a well-known rabble-rouser with a long history of making anti-Hindu hate speeches, none of which actually resulted in anyone getting hurt or killed.
You know what’s the best way of stopping a kid from throwing tantrums? Ignore the tantrums. You know what’s the best way of defusing foaming-mouthed abusive politicians? Ignore them.
But... ignoring tantrum-throwing attention-seekers isn’t part of a media which is desperate for TRPs, or, in the inelegant phrase they used to use, “grabbing eyeballs”. So now, all of a sudden, Owaisi is a “public hate figure” and people who have never heard of him are being forced to take cognisance of the fact that he exists.
Can anything be more self-defeating, if one really believes the that the likes of Mr Owaisi are a danger to anything except good taste? According to one opinion piece, Owaisi wants to be arrested because that will make him a “martyr” and garner support from ignorant Muslims (though the author carefully avoids using the word “Muslims”).
“For, in their uneducated, illiterate avatar, they are tailor made for such morons to exploit.”
Can you just feel the contempt for the people who are the “uneducated, illiterate avatar” mentioned?
Of course Owaisi made the speech for personal benefit; but isn’t the media making sure of this by blowing him up for all it’s worth? Equally of course it is.
The hypocrisy goes much deeper than just playing up a fifth rate rabble-rouser for short-term TRPs. Owaisi is far from the only politician to make speeches demonising the members of another religion. Hindunazi politicians (like the Quackeray clan of Bombay or Narendra Modi of Gujarat) have routinely made anti-Muslim and anti-Christian speeches; and the media have never gone after them in like fashion, because they are Hindus and the Great Indian Muddle Class is even more overwhelmingly Hindu than Indian society as a whole. The media knows its market, and is aware what sells.
The same piece I mentioned – the one which talks about “uneducated illiterate” people – continues:
“Keeping people uneducated, low on awareness level, deprived is what makes them fodder for their nonsensical rant.”
But is the Great Indian Muddle Class, for all its “education”, any better? Is it more humane? More able to think for itself?
The way the media treat it, like a captive market to be milked, and the way it allows itself to be played, proves it’s not so.
Let’s imagine a situation where the Muddle Class decided to take a good look at itself – and realised that it’s being used by the media on one side and the politicians on the other. What would its response be? Could it manage to deal with the self-doubt? It could not. Its only response is denial.
Again, to quote from that article:
“They realize (sic) that the time for their nation to be there at the top has come...”
If by being at the top, it means a deepening rich-poor divide, a collapsing infrastructure, mass hunger in the villages, and rising frustration among the have-not section of the populace, then the Muddle Class is correct. Of course, it isn’t correct, but it has to pretend to itself that it is.
This is why the media will always be able to batten on it – because its hypocrisy feeds their greed.