To the Lutyensites : some uncomfortable questions on “abuse”

It is now all too common: mediapersons demanding that “abusive” right wingers on Twitter and other social media platforms be crucified by the law.

For the sake of this post, I will ignore the double standards of Lutyensites on abuse, depending on who it comes from. It would be boring and uninteresting to dig through Twitter and find Congi and AAP handles  (including some sensitive celebrities) spouting the vilest abuses. That would be too easy.

No, I want to address the more difficult and fundamental issues around the legal and moral aspects of “abuse” and ask the uncomfortable questions.

First, let me say two things very clearly:

(A) I try not to use abusive language on this blog and request commenters not to use abusive language.

(B) I am a huge fan of abusive language and strongly wish to use abusive language. 

Huh? Contradiction, no?

Let me explain. I strongly believe that the so called abusive language, except in cases where it meets a very narrowly tailored definition of clear, imminent and plausible threats of violence, should totally be protected by free speech laws. In fact, abusive language and threats of violence have nothing to do with each other. One can easily make clear threats of imminent violence without any use of the so called “abusive language”. And I will go over and above supporting the right to abusive language, I will in fact go ahead and wish that everyone used it. Why? Because I believe that abusive language is a very powerful and honest form of self expression. You can see here the legendary George Carlin expose the social hypocrisy on abusive language in his famous monologue called : “Seven dirty words you can’t say on TV

The high point of this bit is when Carlin lists all the euphemisms we have for abusive language :

We have more ways to describe the dirty words that we have actual dirty words..Someone was quite interested in these words. They kept referring to them: they called them bad, dirty, filthy, foul, vile, vulgar, coarse, in poor taste, unseemly, street talk, gutter talk, locker room language, barracks talk, bawdy, naughty, saucy, raunchy, rude, crude, lewd, lascivious, indecent, profane, obscene, blue, off-color, risqué, suggestive, cursing, cussing, swearing..

So, yeah, I do not have one bit of patience nor respect for the politeness police and regard them essentially as fascists. I do not regard anyone as one bit superior for not using abusive language. I know they are thinking it. I won’t respect them for covering up their true feelings.

That said, let me come back to my point (A) where I said that I try not to use abusive language on my blog and request commenters not to use it either. Because I am scared. I am scared because I live in a nation without solid protections for free speech. I am scared that if I use abusive language, I will be dragged to jail due to some silly fascist law. And I am a common man without the contacts and resources to fight the system. This is the one and only reason I shut up. 

I don’t want to threaten anyone with violence. I just wish to express my political beliefs and opinions about certain people in the language of my choice. But every single day I am forced to bite my lip and shut up. Because I am not rich. Because I have no contacts. Because I am scared. If there is even one honest Lutyensite left, tell me how you square this with your liberal principles? No, you can’t, because you Lutyenistes are happy with the establishment. It works for you. You want people like me to shut up.

 

You Lutyensites will probably tell me that abusive language is not “essential”. That I can express myself just as well without abusive language. So what? Or as Mani Shankar Aiyar would have said, so bloody what? Why should I have to change my choice of words because YOU don’t happen to like it? I could easily argue that beef is not “essential” to survive. That you could survive just as well without eating beef, or even live on vegetarian food. But I respect YOUR choice to eat beef. Why should you not respect MY choice to talk the way I want? I have a choice not to join you in eating beef. YOU have a choice not to listen to me abusing you. Choice for everyone! Why bring in the force of law and the state?

Finally, I want to consider one specific word that a lot of Lutyensites seem to get very riled up about. The word is “presstitute”. I want to ask you some questions regarding this word and why so many of you seem to find it “abusive”. In life as on the internet, almost any word could be used as abuse: you will find words like “Indian”, “Pakistani”, “gay”, “Jew” all used for the purposes of abuse. But, whether these words actually feel like abuses to the person receiving them clearly depends on how this person perceives the group in question. For instance, a Pakistani could try to abuse me online by calling me an “Indian”. It wouldn’t bother me at all. Someone might try to abuse me by calling me a “gay” or a “Jew”. Again, these wouldn’t bother me at all, because I have no negative feelings either towards gays or Jews. On the other hand, if someone called me a “Pakistani”, I would be riled up! Similarly, I can understand that a Pakistani person might feel that the word “Indian” is an abuse.

So, let us dissect the word “Presstitute”. It seems to me an amalgamation of two words : “Press” and “Prostitute”. If you find the word “presstitute” abusive, it means that you have negative feelings either towards the “press” or towards “prostitutes”.

Now, if you feel that being called a “presswallah”  is an insult, I can understand. My sympathies are with you. No other profession in India is as lowly and disreputable as the press 🙂 🙂

But if you are enraged about the “prostitute” part, I have to ask you an uncomfortable question. What exactly is wrong with prostitutes? They are in a profession like anyone else. I thought all of you Lutyensites are progressive feminists living 2-3 centuries ahead of us. Isn’t it a patriarchal notion to think of a prostitute as a fallen woman or someone unworthy of respect? So why do you think that it is an insult to be  compared to a prostitute? I wonder…

If in the writing of this post, I have managed to offend the feelings of any person, or group of persons or community or species, whether living on Planet Earth, Planet Lutyens or any other planet, I would like to extend an unconditional apology to all, from the virgins of jannat to the demons of hell. I hope you can find it in your heart(s) to not have me dragged to jail. Thanks in advance.

Chaiwallah.

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28 thoughts on “To the Lutyensites : some uncomfortable questions on “abuse”

  1. Can you believe it. How openly the lutyensites are communicating that if you go after the Gandhi Family they will not allow any reform measures to be approved. The quotes of parties, not with congress, come with names whilst that of their own supporters are not named. To make this as something espoused by BJP they make statements like “BJP leaders admit”, “Senior NDA Leader” without giving names. God save this country

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      1. Just wondering if passing GST is going to affect BJP why congress did not approve this during the previous sessions and put BJP in dock before the other elections which happened

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        1. I dont even know if GST is a good idea. And even if it is a good idea, don’t know if it will bear fruits in 3 years. Many are saying that the effects might take 4 years minimum and someone else could run away with the credit. Like UPA-I stole credit for work of Vajpayee.

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        2. GST is a GREAT idea, but will bear fruit after ten or fifteen years. This does NOT mean that we shouldn’t pass it — we must do so for the sake of future generations, because it will transform India beyond recognition. It means only that passing the GST will not pay any electoral dividends. On the other hand, if Jhootley manages to persuade NaMo to strike a bargain with the corrupt dynasty just to pass the GST, the electoral consequences will be immediate and overwhelmingly negative. Perhaps Jhootley knows this and that is why he has been counselling NaMo on the “importance” of passing the GST.

          BTW has anyone else noticed that Dr. Swamy has apparently been muzzled? When Dr. Swamy first joined the Rajya Sabha, the Congoons were running like scared rabbits. Now that he has been muzzled, the Congoons are again wagging their tails.

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          1. Yes sir! Dr.Swamy himself says so.

            Subramanian Swamy ‏@Swamy39 Jul 25
            Ever since I became silent in Rajya Sabha, Congi has got aggressive. Any connection or accidental coincidence?
            990 retweets 1,651 likes

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          2. GST seems to be an important initiative, but personally I am suspicious of anything that concentrates power in hands of the central govt. But economists want it and I am no expert so they are probably right.

            I am not surprised that Swamy was told to shut up; I am surprised that Swamy agreed to shut up. My understanding of Swamy was that he cannot be pressurized. Seems I was wrong.

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            1. GST actually is a very good initiative. A lot of tax fraud will be prevented and the ease of doing business (one of Modi’s pet projects) will go up several notches. There are implementation hurdles and the upfront, and immediate (within 1-2 years) impact will be inflation but the long term benefits are a more competitive market and streamlined, (mostly) corruption-free tax regime (since the goods and services are taxed at the point of delivery). Forget UP and Gujarat, the near term inflation has the potential to even affect 2019 LS polls. In his desire to do the right thing, I hope Modi (and the BJP) do not lose sight of the bigger picture – mark my words, it is 2019, not 2014 that will be our watershed moment. If Modi wins in 2019, then it will give him the mandate to go after the ecosystem that Congress has nurtured over the last 70 years and completely dismantle the rot.

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    1. Haha…quite literally holding the country hostage because their Queen is being booked for her crimes. I am not even fully convinced GST is a good idea. Modi should let the ED go ahead at full steam.

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  2. CW excellent post indeed!..super argument and very well presented !!

    George Carlin  our all time favorite…. poor guy was eliminated like so many others who were openly condemning the shadow people!!

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  3. Well said Chaiwallah ji.This don’t use abusive language,don’t criticize a person from this group and the other forms of politically correct trash should be done away with.The truth is we don’t have free speach and have not pushed for it enough.

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  4. CW, my family members often complain that I expect way too much politeness or political correctness from others. I have always wondered: if something can be expressed politely, why use strong or abusive language to express it. Your post certainly helped me to view this from a different perspective.

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  5. The adjective “Presstitute” offends many media persons not for being “Presswala” Or “Prostitutes” per say, but the adjective’s combined meaning that they have sold their soul for money or perk or both. Their hatred for Narendra Modi is so much, they repeatedly go against their ‘good sense’ (I am being generous here) and make a hero out of undeserving and losers like Kejriwal or Kanahaiya Kumar and end up with ‘urine’ on their face. When that happens, they hate themselves even more.

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  6. Friends,

    Please see this tweet by Burqa:

    She is squealing like a rat caught in a trap: First the “endorsement” by Hafeez Saeed and now apparently (according to her) Arnab wants to gag and punish “journalists”. I don’t watch TV news. But what exactly did Arnab say and what was the context? If Arnab has said point blank that anti-national elements in the media should be prosecuted, then that is HUGE!

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      1. Surprising. Barkha is not challenging Arnab on any of his allegation that would apply to her, but complaining against Arnab’s call for the public to take them on.

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        1. The best part is Arnab has not named anybody ,but the reaction from burqa clearly shows that she is guilty!

          She was so flustered she has even written a mindless crap in her FB….probably could not get sleep!

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      2. Thanks Mr. Srinivas! I have watched it and have also shared it with my friends. Arnab is very clear in his references to Burqa: “Son of a Headmaster”, “compromising operations” and so on make it clear to whom he is referring. The “most unkindest cut of all” was lumping her with other “out of work journalists” like Pagalika.

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