Your Sentiments Can Go Bleep Themselves

Penis. Vagina. Sex. Crap. Ass. Breast. Beef.

These are just a few of the words that you cannot say on Indian television because they’ve been deemed “obscene” by a bunch of people who can’t even spell the word. We’re constantly told that this is for “protecting sentiments”, which is India’s third favourite pastime after making babies and killing off the female ones.

So yes, with Western programming, words you’d normally find in a Class VI biology textbook are censored, the burnt half of Harvey Dent’s face in ‘The Dark Knight’ is blotted out, while Indian content is mostly just a bunch of ugly, annoying characters going over the top (and that’s just the Lok Sabha channel)

So, if you use TV content and the level of censorship as indicators of progress, it becomes clear that we, as a society, possess all the finesse and erudition of a monkey flinging around its own feces. But hey, at least the sentiments are ok, right?

Well, not really. Our sentiments are like Sania Mirza’s joints – it doesn’t take much to hurt them. You like beef chilli? Nope, you can’t have it, because there are more of us and we’ll beat you to death with lathis – once we’ve dislodged them from our bottoms, that is. You’re gay? Well then, we must raid your private parties because, c’mon, no one ever won an election thanks to the LGBT vote bank. Oh, and what’s that you say? Salman Rushdie is coming to India? Excellent. Here’s my Minority Outrage card. Your move, Congress.

And we all know how that farce played out. Rushdie, one of the biggest draws at the Jaipur Literary Festival, was asked to stay away because of “security concerns”, much to the disappointment of fans who were looking forward to watching him mud-wrestle Chetan Bhagat. (Ok so I haven’t been to many literary fests, but I imagine this is what happens there.)

At the time of writing, Rushdie’s visit was very much on, although both the organisers and the government seemed to be in a tizzy over security arrangements. Last I heard, they had decided to scare away attackers by having Shobhaa De stand at the entrance, minus make-up.

Our leaders know it’s a good idea to hedge their bets on jingoistic non-issues, because it gets results without having to do real work. Consider Madhya Pradesh, a place that boasts of having nothing to boast about. In M.P, the punishment for cow slaughter (and this includes consumption as well) was recently upped to seven years, which incidentally, is the same as the minimum sentence for rape.

See, I didn’t know that eating beef was as bad as raping someone. I never saw a film in which Gulshan Grover sneaks up on a woman, and then commits the heinous crime of eating a steak in front of her.

We’re the ones to blame for this. Of course, when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean myself. I’m talking about people with stupid sentiments.

If your sentiments are based on Magic Overlords In The Sky who will get angry because someone, somewhere might be seen as going against the teachings of books that are clearly the work of generations of shroom-addled storytellers, then yes, your sentiments are stupid.

(Don’t get me wrong – you’re still entitled to believe in magic elephants, winged horses, prophetic teddy bears and what not, but I’m also entitled to call it insane, without the fear of being turned into human seekh kabab. That is how free speech works.)

Before I end, I’d like to apologise if this column has hurt your sentiments in any way. Now stop flinging around your poop. You want a banana?

(Note: This is my HT column dated 22nd Jan 2012. E-paper link here.)

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27 responses to “Your Sentiments Can Go Bleep Themselves

  1. You have this way of tickling my funny bone that nobody else can ever really understand or follow up on.
    This one is just too good!

  2. Irrespective of the imaginary sky/earth/water/fire/cow-urine friends that people have and speak highly of (a powerful omnipresent omnipotent being who is surprisingly sensitive to what someone says about him … wonder how he put with teasing in school) the fact remains that no one can offend you without you willing to be offended. Solution: Don’t fuckin’ pay attention!

  3. Awesome….. very nice.

  4. “Our leaders know it’s a good idea to hedge their bets on jingoistic non-issues, because it gets results without having to do real work” .

    …and now its time to speak up instead of somehow leading yourself to believe that you’re wrong for wanting something different than you do ( because someone else who knows no better say so), and in turn talking yourself into being okay with what’s going on.

  5. A more readable (or unreadable. Depends on the way one looks at it) version of this same issue is here – http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/article2818871.ece

    Personally, I enjoyed reading both. But I especially love the last line in Praveen Swami’s article where he says,

    Russell observed that theist arguments boiled down to a single vain claim, “Look at me: I am such a splendid product that there must have been design in the universe.”

  6. Ashish. I’m like waiting for your book to release 🙂

  7. Exactly my sentiments. Why should I be unable to do what I want to do? I am a closet homophobe. But it doesn’t mean the LGBT community should descend upon me in all their glittering, spandexed glory to convince me otherwise. And I hate killing animals for their meat doesn’t mean that every non-vegitarian and his KFC fuelled anger should be laid at my doorstep.

    The true essence of democracy is freedom of speech and freedom from persecution. Now if only our ‘leaders’ could understand English. Or Hindi. Or any language other than whats written inside their behinds.

  8. I have tears of laughter reading this – your funniest column yet! I can’t decide which of the one-liners I like best, the one about the three pastimes, SHobhaa De without make-up or the Gulshan Grover one!

  9. “ugly, annoying characters going over the top (and that’s just the Lok Sabha channel). ”

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but that comment was incredible!

  10. Hi Ashish,

    Sorry i ran out of patience and could not read the whole thing, But i am up for television censorship.

    I would not want my kids to watch obscenity in my absence, and although it is my duty to not let them watch it, Censor board definitely helps.

    I believe flammable material should be allowed after hours for those of us who enjoy it.

    Also i would ask you to check out who sits on the censor board before claiming them to be a bunch of guys who can not even spell the words…

    Food For thought i hope…

    Chetan

  11. hehehehe…this one’s sure to start some heated debates in here.
    As usual a humorous article by Ashish.

  12. Terrible article. You just rehash old jokes from Western comedians.

  13. There is so much in this article that I agree with. Keep up the good work.

  14. Nice!

    The libertarian view holds that we’re all capable of curating our own experiences and don’t need to be spoon-fed, by government authorities or anyone else for that matter. Your post presumably pertains to adults, who should be capable of formulating their own likes and dislikes, and more importantly, keeping them to themselves.

    Praveen Swamy makes a great point about limiting the state’s intervention in protecting the religious sensibilities of its citizens but you’re right in implying that such intervention is politically motivated.

    Then, what of our own hair-trigger reactions? Do we really need to self-police ourselves or can there be a mutually agreed set of limits which society as a whole will not allow anyone to violate?

    This is a tough one.

  15. Awesome article ..as ever..
    my laughing fit moment in this one .. the one with Shobha De..
    I am gonna sound like for Rainbow -vomitting people you mentioned in your earlier blog,
    But you are destined for bigger, much bigger… don’t become a sellout, and maintain this quality… don’t mind missing a blogpost instead reading a shitty one…

  16. Hahaha! Love your blog. This is one of your best yet. I usually draw the line at giggling at my laptop like a love-struck teenager, but I made an exception today! 🙂

  17. Shakya saab one of your finest……..maybe coz i detest religion so much I have a soft sport towards comedy that flings poop towards it…..lolzzz

  18. fun fun fun! loved the article! 😀

  19. damn good! 🙂 i always wait for your column 🙂
    lots of wishes! 🙂

  20. Siddhesh Deshpande

    You are awesome man!!!! Do keep us posted about your upcoming shows at The Comedy Store at the Palladium……missed last week

  21. Reminds me of George Calin’s “Religion is bullshit” act .. lol

  22. You fukin’ moron, ripping off jokes from American comedians and passing them of as yours and like a jingoist going about bashing people who wouldn’t have access to your blog is downright immature. Say it on their face if you really care about freedom of speech. Learn some useful shit jackass !!

    (Also if you were offended one bit by this, you will realize free speech with unnecessary invectives is not as justified as you think it is.)

  23. Bitch becoming witch (watch two and a half men) is the funniest if you ask me. Wicaans should really take offense. Lets add religion to the mix!

  24. You funny man!

  25. I so agree with you.

  26. Nice read…and to all those fools who are so willing to hand over their own rights of censoring what is right and what is not to some unknown stranger…does anything in India actually work…all that would be censored is ur right to state ur mind & not chikini chameli!!!

  27. Ahemm…marry me?

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