Tip Sheet: Facts don’t justify violence

It’s a ‘liberal’ thing to argue ourselves into a corner. And to not get that in life, there are some absolutes. Saying no to violence — to the use of violence to suppress something a section of people dislikes — is one of those absolutes. See this @nilanjanaroy thread on the attack on Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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PS: The head of the ‘Karni Seva’, the outfit behind the attacks, justifies it on the grounds that Bhansali is distorting history (not to mention gunshots no one heard). The argument is not what history says or does not say. It is not ‘How do you know, have you read the script?’ The argument is a simple ‘so what?’ It is a feature film, not a documentary; that it is fiction is implicit. There is no law against reinterpreting — or even reinventing — history; there is, however, a law against assault. And in this controversy, there is only one side unequivocally in the wrong.

Which brings me to this: In the aftermath of the attack, events followed a template. Media headlines. Talk shows. Outrage on Twitter at this newest manifestation of intolerance, and the predictable whataboutery in response.

What did not happen? This: the law and order machinery in Rajasthan was not questioned; the state government did not feel the heat. Therefore the government is under no compulsion to take action against the thugs. Which in turn licenses them to continue their thuggery with impunity — and also signals to similar thugs elsewhere that as long as they cloak their acts with the fig leaf of ‘justifiable outrage’, they can do as they please with no consequences beyond some passing breeze on social media.

Democracy redefined

I found this interesting passage in the midst of a piece on Raghuram Rajan’s exit (Emphasis mine):

It is not just that it is beyond the remit of a central bank governor to speak outside the narrow topic of monetary and financial economics, and that too only as it concerns RBI business—it is that Rajan more or less directly criticized the government for which he was working. No democratically elected government will stand for such criticism from a technocrat within the bastion, as it were, beyond a certain point.

The piece says that Rajan’s stewardship of the RBI has been able, and he therefore deserved an extension of tenure — thus reducing the entire argument to this one central fact: Rajan spoke up for his beliefs, and therefore he had to go.

I’ll leave you to ponder this question: How do you reconcile the notion of democracy with intolerance to criticism?

Just another U-turn

More, from his website from when he was CM:

The decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi brand retail sector by the Congress-led UPA has been strongly opposed by Shri Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister has termed this move as anti-people.

Shri Modi said that allowing FDI in multi brand retail would mean immense harm to small shopkeepers, hit the domestic manufacturing sector and create joblessness. The Chief Minister added that this would also mean cheap good produced outside being dumped into our nation.

Since yesterday, Shri Modi has strongly opposed the diesel price hike and the decision to rationalize LPG cylinders per household. Infact, on the same day the UPA announced these regressive decisions, Shri Modi announced 100% relief on loans and 50% relief on electricity bills for farmers. This decision by Shri Modi has been hailed all over.

We all know how the diesel price thing is working out; here’s the latest on FDI.

PS: This is not to suggest that FDI is necessarily a bad thing, but merely to underline the point that so much of what the BJP opposed (even to the extent of disrupting Parliament and forcing a vote) is exactly what it stands for now. Makes you think a bit about propaganda, obstructionism, all of that…

‘Ban us, you big baby’

“Donald Trump misunderstands — or, more likely, simply opposes — the role a free press plays in a democratic society. Reporters are supposed to hold public figures accountable. Any American political candidate who attacks the press for doing its job is campaigning in the wrong country. In the United States, under our Constitution, a free press is a check on politicians of all parties.”

 This brilliant rant by the editors of The York Dispatch is worth reading for its own sake — and because the central message is equally true of our times, our world.

The Swamy strategery

Subramanian Swamy has been accused of many things, but ‘grace’ has never made that list, so his valedictory post (and related snark that peppers his timeline, sandwiched between humble-brag retweets of laudatory messages from his fan club, and of news reports crediting him with having added ‘another scalp’ to his bag, is only par for his course.

Here’s what comes next: Continue reading

Cut!

Censors, yet again, confusing the role of movie-maker with that of the propagandist.

The lunatics appear to have taken full control of the asylum

The Dummy’s Guide to Giving Talks

This parody of a TED talk (or of most talks, most of the time) is brilliant. Watch, laugh, and maybe, learn.