I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
Everyone thinks Voltaire is the person who said this. Actually, it is Evelyn Beatrice Hall who paraphrased Voltaire’s beliefs with that simple quote. This quote is quite relevant as I discuss a Saamna editorial, as reported in the Times of India.
The editorial draws a parallel with the Palghar Facebook girls case and derides those who had supported the two girls for not supporting Mr. Mukherjee now. I would like to point out a few fallacies in that argument.
- The support for the two girls from Palghar was not for their comments on Facebook but for their right to say that comment without fear of persecution. In particular, it was also a protest against the local police who threw nearly every police procedure out of the window to book those girls. Even in Mr. Mukherjee’s case, nobody is trying to shut him up. No one is damaging personal property belonging to him or his relatives. No one is dragging him to a police lockup at 11 in the night. They are dis-agreeing with his comments and calling him out on it.
- The two girls were essentially nobodies. If the Shiv Sena had not taken umbrage, their comments would have sunk like stones in water and no one would have know about it. Mr. Mukherjee, however, is our President’s son, a member of India‘s First Family. He is a Congress MP. Both titles endow him with power and dignity in Indian society and with that, comes the responsibility to watch what he says in public, at least.
Finally I would say this – sneering at the candlewallahs and the “lipstick brigade” is all well and good. The protesters who are braving the North Indian chill now are hardly “painted and dented”. They include migrant girls who have come to Delhi from outlying towns and villages and just want to better their lives. Do not belittle them or their anger by lumping them with socialites who plan protests over evening tea and games of bridge.
- Abhijit kicks up controversy with insensitive comments, later apologises (thehindu.com)
- Indian Women Celebrate ‘Dented and Painted’ Moniker (india.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Indian Algorithm (randomisedinfusions.wordpress.com)
- It’s all your fault, women! Sexist outbursts from India’s political leaders reflect the country’s deeply ingrained prejudice (dailymail.co.uk)