Saturday, September 30, 2006

Can you write such things?

I read The Economic Times more out of 'having to' rather than 'wanting to'. Occasionally during the daily story scan I come across prime examples of language abuse. But these words in Thursday's edition scared me, and I quote...

"LIBERALS , who display flippant approach towards internal security , and pusillanimous social workers on Wednesday came out in defence of Mohamamd Afzal."

Afzal is a terrorist, and he has been punished. However, Nandita Haskar has saved one innocent man (SAR Geelani) from going to the gallows before. This time, I don't think she is pleading for Afzal's release she is just protesting against the death penalty. I've mixed thoughts on the death penalty. Just because Mehbooba Mufti is saying that he should be spared doesn't mean we do a IC-814 again. I do not usually agree with the death penalty, even though I do have problems when it comes to child rapists. However, keeping Afzal alive can lead to another Azhar mahmood type of situation, and I agree with Greatbong here, Afzal's being alive is more dangerous to India than Afzal dying.
However, that does not stop the right of anyone to protest the death penalty. And more importantly it does not give a paper as mainstream as ET the right to write words like these because some misguided RSS-nik writes there. I'm no leftist in capatilist garb, I'm fairly liberal but for gods sake, that doesn't mean I'm not nationalistic or that I don't support our troops fighting a proxy-war against Pakistan, this line makes it seem that just because I have liberal social values, I'm anti-national. How could they let such a line pass! Even more proof in my eyes of ET's nose-dive to mediocrity and beyond. By the way, I guess most of the younger readership that Rahul and his team are targeting at ET is also 'liberal'.
I know people in Times House both in Delhi and Bombay read this blog. If someone could explain to me what such a writer is doing in a BCCL publication and is allowed to give copy unedited, it would help.
EDIT : It seems that now ToI is also entitling other people to silly, animated opinions opinions, and not just their advertisers. But, as I pointed out above, its not that Indian newspapers have a through editorial process running, Honey! I mean other than one or two places. This bloggers are bad will get you so much publicity its not funny and thank god you used a byline, because now I know who to send that letterbomb to. (Hey, she does say the blogosphere is being by half-wits and sociopaths.. how did she ever figure out?)


Anonymous said...

K, such language has often been used against BJP and hindutva activists. Why cry when the shoe is on the other foot ?


thalassa_mikra said...

Haksar and others are well within their rights to protest, and it shouldn't be construed as a flippant attitude to national security (I find this constant call to patriotism immensely tiresome).

However, I guess there's nothing in using editorial space in criticising them, as long as the same editorial space can be made available to them for rejoinders and clarifications - a civilized debate if you will.

Though I must say that I am absolutely against the idea of using political expediency to determine the punishment for a convicted criminal.

If someone feels that due process has been violated, it's a different matter (and I have no reason to believe that the Supreme Court of India would not interpret the law fairly). But commuting someone's sentence simply because of how the Kashmiris feel about the matter is unacceptable.

Now a debate on death penalty is another matter. Personally, I'm ambivalent about the death penalty.

K said...

Sudeep, its not that, I'm no Congressi I'm just surprised that such a line was written in a paper because someone protests the death penalty!

Apollo said...

The answer to the title of the post can you write such things? is a resounding yes. Everyone has a right to free speech isn't it? or maybe not in case u feel like aiming ur free speech missile at liberals or islamic fundamentalists.

Nandita haskar herself is guilty of name calling. she has called all those who are opposed to her views as "chauvinists". This is a major problem with liberals. they are so self-righteous that they simply do not want to listen to other's opinion infact they will gladly muzzle all opposition if they have power.

And when someone calls them names in retaliation they again get self-rigteous and claim that "we were only expressing our opinion" and then say "chauvinists" are critising them. I think liberals should go get a life first. the world is not going to spin to their wishes as much as it is going to spin for mine.

And yes the death penalty is justified. U can go right ahead and call me a "chauvinist" and tear ur hear and burst ur brain cells it won't make any difference to me ;)

K said...

No, I do think Afzal should die because he will act as a lightening rod for more IC-814 sort of event. But to call Haskar a liberal is wrong firstly and secondly, I'm complaining about the journalistic integrity of the sentence, but not arguing against free speech, a mainstream paper which projects itself as a thinking mans paper should not have a sentence like that making such a statement - just like Mid-Day in Bombay recently went on a misguided and pointless campaign against Narendra Modi, which ended up with them with egg on their face. This is too much editorilising. It just doesn't seem right in a large paper.
Apollo you are also right that very often loony-lefties (and not liberals, which insults people like me who are centre-right voters and economic and social liberals) consider themselves above the law. They complain "How dare the RSS have shakhas here" while it is perfecetly fine to deify Marx and Che at the same place, little knowing that by the time they usually get their money-raising drives to counter tragedies, the RSS has already gone in. I don't disagree with you there.
I think I should write a post on what is 'liberal'? I don't think too many people have a clue!

thalassa_mikra said...

Haksar, Haksar, people. As in, the daughter of PN Haksar. (Yes, I"m in the mood to nitpick)

There's a big difference between name calling by an individual and a paper's editorial space being used for name calling. I guess that's really what you're saying K, no?

The Outsider said...

I reckon giving death to a criminal is actually absolving him of his crime... I would rather see him imprisoned for life (where life means LIFE and not 14 years

Anonymous said...

K, Thallasa, when I said "such language has often been used against BJP and hindutva activists" I meant, newspapers and news-magazines have been doing it for ages, only, the vitriol has been directed towards "loony right wing nuts". I did not mean individuals, I meant newspapers and news organizations.

Why complain if some one dishes out more of the same, only in the other direction ? Perhaps you notice it so strongly because you are seeing it for the first time ?


thalassa_mikra said...

Sudeep, I think you're kind of going off on your own trip without stopping to ponder what's actually being discussed here. The points of contention are -

a) The misuse of the idea of "the liberal". As K pointed out, and as I can assure, Nandita is not a liberal. She's as old school leftist as they come.

b) Excessive editoralizig by a newspaper. It's always unacceptable, no matter what the agenda in question may be.

And I think you do great disservice to the past of the Indian media by making sweeping generalizations about what the editorial direction of Indian newspapers has been. I'm sure the late Girilal Jain and the very much alive Aveek Sarkar would love to disabuse you on this.

K, Shobhan Saxena seems like a man's name.

thalassa_mikra said...

Ok, what the fuck was I thinking. Of course I meant Ramnath Goenka, not Girilal Jain, who was as Indira Gandhi chamcha as can be. Yes, the late Ramnath Goenka if you please.

Anonymous said...

mikra madam,

Girilal Jain and Goenka were then, I am talking about relatively recent happenings. Surely you would not place Shekar Gupa, Vinod Mehta, Varadrajan, N Ram et al in the same category as the former two gentlemen ? I have no wish to argue endlessly about "the idea of the liberal" and so on.

As far as I can understand, what piqued Ks ire was the blunderbuss vitriol directed towards everything left of the political divide. Now the article in question is not a news piece, its an opinion piece (without a byline). As far as I can understand, a newpaper is free to do whatever editoralizig (sic) it wants to in its opinion pieces. I am sure, such a basic point is not missed by K and you, so what remains objectionable ? Allow me to quote from the post.

>> "it does not give a paper as mainstream as ET the right to write words like these because some misguided RSS-nik writes there. "

An attack against "LIBERALS .. and pusillanimous social workers", holding them responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve, and everything since then, a pretty broad attack, thats what remains objectionable.

But then, these kind of anonymous, motivated hit and run jobs have been par for the course for the Indian media, so why cry about it now ? Because the shoe is on the other foot ?


thalassa_mikra said...

Sudeep Ji,

You generalize too much. You make it seem as if the Indian media was driven by a single agenda in the past, which is simply not true.

But in any case, I'm just too bored and busy to argue this out with you, so have a nice day!

K said...

Sudeep, the article was a news piece NOT an opinion piece it was on page 2, not page 10! Thats my problem, and just like I do not like saner elements in the Indian right wing being called chaddhi wallahs by The Hindu and its ilk, don't paint liberals with the same brush! But I guess that PR Ramesh, 'liberals' is a safer word to use than loony-leftie, because Nandita Haskar is a loony-leftie not a liberal.
TM : OK I bungled the sex, but he is crying like a little girl, so who cares.

chakkare said...

I have been rather late on this, but just wanted ask one simple question - have you come across any article that puts the controversy in full perspective?


Anonymous said...

Link House liberals getting offended by a RSS nik's vitriol definitely makes frontpage news! Ah, I forget you dont get to see the waltzing (or is it prancing??)cheetal in Bombay, do you? I'm sure you have better use for your internet time than reading the online edition....