March 24: Today the Supreme Court of India struck down Section 66A of the IT Act, declaring it 'unconstitutional'. The law was being perversely wielded by the establishment to silence political critics on social networking sites.
The wife has been brooding ever since news broke out. She was half hoping they will book me under the Act and throw away the key one day. Now she must resign to a lifetime of cynical comments and relentless trolling on her Facebook posts. She is tired of making excuses when quizzed about my politically incorrect Meme uploads by relatives at family dinners (as if it wasn't enough being married to a man who is as incongruous at such events as a dish of pork-ribs at an Iftar feast).
A screenshot of my trolling rampage on the wife's Instagram upload. The things she has to endure ever since she signed the dotted line, "for better or for worse"...
While the court's decision comes as a relief to champions of liberalism and armchair activists such as Your's Truly, this war is far from over. For instance the judgement does not provide immunity against blasphemy. So our imaginary friend in the sky along with his entourage of side-kick shamans and their second-rate works of fiction, still have the iron clad shield of Section 295A to protect their fragile probity.
Freedom of expression has always been a sacrificial lamb at the altar of multiculturalism in my country; where 'maintaining communal harmony' and 'respecting sentiments' precedes this inconvenient canon of democracy.
Those who seek to curtail free speech need to ask themselves: What if the British had not outlawed 'sati' in 1829 out of "respect" for the beliefs of the majority of Indians? What if Behramji Malbari had not spoken out against the inhuman treatment of widows all those years ago? What if Ram Mohan Roy and Vivekanand had cowered in the face of blasphemy laws? We would probably still be burning our women on their dead husband's funeral pyre; shunning our neighbours for being on a lower rung of a casteist social ladder and marrying our pre-pubescent girls to old widowers (well some demons still haven't been exorcised completely I guess).
As UK's parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz succinctly sums it up in this stirring address at the Liberal Democrat Conference a few days ago:
“I have a right to feel offended at anything. But I have no right to demand that you do not offend me”.
Today's iconoclasts will be hailed as tomorrow's social reformers. Mocking and ridiculing beliefs is the best way to challenge the social ills and moral paradigms that stem from archaic doctrines. Even if our morals are (falsely) believed to have a transcendent source in heavens. They need periodic revision nevertheless.
Today let us celebrate this small yet significant victory. For tomorrow we must brace ourselves for another battle! Meanwhile, I must remember to order a Nine West clutch for the wife before hitting 'Publish'. I have yet to find a statute in the Indian Penal Code that can protect me from her infernal scorn.