Wednesday, November 25, 2015

#NaBloPoMo Day 25 - Are we intolerant?

NaBloPoMo November 2015


Going by the debates on social media for the last few weeks, it seems so! But aren't we against Aamir Khan because we think we are tolerant? So, are we tolerant? This is so confusing! I'll need to take this argument apart to make sense of it.

I am not a political or social commentator, I don't follow the news and do not want to read up on every controversy. And no, I am not going to run you through the whole Aamir Khan episode again. But using the word 'intolerant' even in the right context makes me conscious. The word has been used a million times in the recent past that it seems to have acquired a different meaning altogether.

According to Google, intolerance means:

unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one's own.

Let's look at a few things in the light of this definition. Please bear with me since my memory isn't very sharp either. I remember writing an article in college about the furore over the film, Fire - the first Indian film to portray lesbian love. The theatres screening it were attacked and all shows were stopped. The debate was something about this being against Indian culture. The film wasn't filmed anymore due to these protests. This means we Are intolerant.

Another wave of protest that I remember was Shiv Sainiks bashing up couples on Valentine's Day. The argument here also was that such festivals were not a part of our culture. Later, the improvised threat was that if any people of the male and female species were found together on 14th February, they would be forced to tie Rakhi. I don't know if this was actually enforced. But all people were doing was to just sit down by the sea or amidst nature in a park for a peaceful chat. This means we Are intolerant.

Pardon my lapse in memory when I jump to recent times. Pornography was banned for about a month or so. 50 Shades of Grey never got released in India, thanks to the censor board. You can't see kissing onscreen. Or hear the cuss words in films anymore. Not just that, that state decides what you are permitted to eat. Beef and Maggi are out of the menu. (Maggi, after political motives were fulfilled, has been allowed to make a come back). This means we Are intolerant.

Our morality is protected. Our health and nutrition in monitored. Now, watch out for what you say. Oh! But this time it's not the government. The people of this country have learnt to sit in judgement of other people. We decide whether what someone said was in tune with our beliefs or not. And if it wasn't, how dare someone say it? Only we have the right to lash out at people and make an issue where none existed to begin with. Only we have the freedom of speech. And only we can use it. Criticism is unwelcome. And arguments won't be tolerated. Just stick to cliches about the country and you are good. You cannot feel or perceive on your own. Let alone talk about it. Even if it is about your own country which is as much yours as the next person on the street. This means we Are intolerant.

If we go back to the definition on top, I think we are highly intolerant of what we feel people should not feel. As a woman, if I feel unsafe on the streets of this country, I should be able to say it. That's how I feel and perceive my country's safety standards. Someone else cannot tell me what I should feel. And if I am not allowed to do that, this means we Are intolerant.

But then what's wrong when Aamir Khan said it. Our reaction to his statement proved him right.

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