Keeping law and order — a pretext for smothering speech, freedom

Problem: Women in India go out at night, get assaulted.

Solution: Women shouldn’t go out at night, shouldn’t wear lipstick, shouldn’t wear revealing clothes — where the observer decides whether it is revealing or not. Reminds me of Justice Potter’s remark “I know it when I see it” regarding pornography.

Problem: A bunch of hooligans threaten to cause havoc: throw stones, burn buses, disrupt traffic and commerce

Solution: Appease the hooligans and remove the irritant that is incensing them. For e.g. this could be the chief minister of the State of West Bengal (sorry Paschimbanga) indirectly informing Salman Rushdie that if he comes to Kolkota — to promote a movie based on his award-winning novel Midnight’s Children — that he will be put on the next flight back.

Problem: Some fringe elements — a very small number in a country with over 100 million Muslims — have decided that a movie, that has got censor board certificate, shows Islam in bad light. So they want significant cuts in the movie to remove the ‘offending scenes’ or an outright ban. Otherwise there will be protests, stone throwing, bus burning — you get the picture. It is like “I am offended by the movie and so no one should see it”. This, for a movie that (at that time) had not been publicly released.

Solution: The chief minister, who used to be a movie star herself, says “This is a law and order problem. I will not let this movie disrupt religious harmony” and effectively bans the movie in her State. Meanwhile, the movie is being shown in many other States.

You can go on and on.

This is India. Our wise leaders have solutions to all problems.

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