It’s astonishing to see the lengths some people will go to prevent others from engaging in activities that don’t affect them or anyone else. By protesting against “The Naked and the Nude” art exhibition in Delhi, the VHP has shown once again that they don’t care about the Constitution of India while at the same time paying lip service to “Bharat”. What value does Bharat have without the principles that form the bedrock of India?
We had a freedom struggle. Freedom from what? The British? No! Freedom from tyranny. Whether those tyrants be the British or those with our own skin color makes zero difference. India means nothing without the Constitution. And these groups that are using political muscle to try and stifle freedom of expression are the biggest enemies of this country.
But it’s also an attitude problem on the part of the average Indian. Their inability to live and let live. One of the most common phrases you hear is “Freedom doesn’t mean you can…” This is used with distressing frequency regardless of whether it actually affects them or not. Take Kamal Hassan’s movie or this “Naked and the Nude” art exhibition. Both require a choice to see them. In the case of the latter, it’s a private exhibition by invite only. So no one can “stumble across them” accidentally either with their children or alone. Every single person has chosen to see either the paintings or the movie.
So what gives? If only those who want to see nude paintings see them, how does it affect you? How long is your nose?
Some overly enthusiastic VHP activists are misusing the Nirbhaya episode to say that this degrades women. That’s bullshit and we all know it. Art is empowering and a powerful challenge to old and backward ways of thinking. But let’s assume it’s true. Let’s say that it degrades women. What are they objecting to? That the works of art exist in the first place? What if they were kept in the painter’s bedroom would they have an objection? Do they object that he’s showing them to his or her friends? A painting is merely an expression of what an artist has in their mind. Do they object to an artist even thinking such things? It’s absurd and a very slippery slope.
The same logic applies to any “offensive” content on the Internet. No one visits a website accidentally. You either have to manually click a link or type it into the address bar. Most of the time you have a pretty good idea about the content. And if you don’t like it, the solution is easy! Press the back button.
It’s just another example of the infantalization of the Indian people. It’s not just women who are treated as children by the government and the people. Everyone is treated like a kid who can’t be trusted to steer clear of what they don’t like and what they’re not supposed to see. It’s enough to make real adults like myself see red.
As Mark Twain once said: “Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.”