Dear faceless bureaucrats, elected and/or appointed government officials, and other sundry idiots,
Firstly, I hope you’re getting an adult to read this to you, so they can explain what I’m trying to say in whatever ancient language you speak. And by adult, I don’t mean any random person over the age of eighteen, but an actual human person who (a) does not giggle/get angry when they see human reproductive parts and (b) does not-when faced with an opinion contrary to their own-throw a tantrum like a child of a double income household who just discovered that parents on a guilt trip will literally buy you anything. However, as past experience shows, there is unlikely to be any such individual present in any one of your ‘august organizations,’ so we’ll make do with whatever we have.
Now, you must be wondering, because I presume you have the worldview of a new born gnat, why anyone would write you a letter, much less an open letter? I get that the word ‘open’ scares you because you’ve neither opened your mind nor the files on your desk. So don’t worry. Open letters are not really for the person they’re addressed to. They’re for the author of the letter and other like-minded individuals. Writing an open letter is like farting into the wind: it might add to all the noise, but at least it makes you feel a whole lot better.
When I first heard that someone in the I&B ministry banned Comedy Central’s humour intolerant Indian channel for ten days, I was relieved. Finally someone who shares our comic sensibilities, I said to myself. How long could all the channels broadcasting English language teevee shows in India pretend that it was still the 90’s and no one had access to things like the internet or ‘Indian Netflix.’ Personally, I thought it the punishment was a bit harsh for the petty (but blasphemous) crime of claiming that Dharma & Greg was comedy. But, you have to start somewhere and I figured that people of your age really believe in tough love. However, I was in for a rude shock. Turns out, the reason you banned the channel was because they violated some arbitrary standard of morality.
This is not the first time you’ve banned a channel for offending you. Every few months we hear someone in your ministry banning FTV because of some perceived slight or the other. Like when some pretty ladyee shows her woomabachumbas, or a fine looking gentleman shows his ‘Manmohan Singh.’ (What? It was small, docile and had an uncircumcised head.)
We get it. You're Indian. Someone gave you power to lord over somebody else and you’ll be damned if you don’t use that. Show ‘em who’s the boss. We all know that if you really started to ban content to protect ‘public morality and decency,’ they’d be nothing to watch on teevee. And now that you’ve banned a low rated channel-whose primary purpose is to run in the background in the sort of espresso bar where the barista thinks that ‘macchiato’ is an abusive word-public decency has been restored. And if there were any remaining thoughts of indecency festering inside anybody’s mind, they were erased by the proposed ban on lingerie store mannequins introduced by members of Mumbai’s municipal corporation.
You must have loved common sense a lot because it seems like you set it free a long time ago and it never came back. You guys still don’t get it, do you? You think doing these things is going to have any effect on society at large, whatsoever? Did you ever stop to think that maybe you’re the problem? That you’re so obsessed with what other people get aroused by that you’re the weirdo you want to protect people from?
Banning something to positively change society is perhaps even worse than writing an open letter and expecting things to change.
At least I have the decency to couch my stupidity in self-awareness.
(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)