This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The National Obscenity

July 2007

Living in an uptight country where anyone and everyone is willing to be offended at the drop of a tickler, we kind of hear the word "obscene" every day. Everything is "obscene".

I wonder just what obscene means?

A girl and a boy, both above the age of consent, make love with each other and this is photographed for the pleasure of those who consent to watch this sort of thing and get pleasure out of it. Obscene?


A nation where half the people do not go to school, do not earn enough to keep a decent meal in their bellies or a roof above their heads, and this same nation spends most of its money on weapons that cannot be used. Obscene?


A girl and a boy meet and talk together, holding hands. Obscene? Obscene enough to get them both legitimately killed?

Why, yes...

A nation where farmers kill themselves by drinking pesticide every day because they cannot possibly pay off their debts, yet the media are busy praising the stock market's alleged strength and buoyancy. Obscene?

What are you, crazy?

All right, I'll stop now, before I go on to talk about destroyed forests and submerged homes, of ancient erotic sculptures and contemporary art, of women raped and men thrown off trains, - and of new definitions of old words.

The Indian constitution describes "obscenity" as something that tends to "deprave and corrupt the mind of the viewer", or words to that effect. Well, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be depraved or corrupted by a bare nipple on TV. I certainly would be depraved and corrupted, though, by the sight of people grown rich on bribes buying their way out of the purview of the rule of law.

Recently, there was a woman who was tortured and harrassed by her husband and in-laws for, among other things, bearing a female child. The police refused to register her complaints, so she ultimately staged a public protest by stripping down to her underwear in the street. She just about avoided getting jugged for obscenity, while her act got her criticised by all and sundry - including the sneering middle class matrons who said the very least she could have done was wear matching underwear.

I agree, the episode was obscene. It was not obscene that she had to strip down to bra and panties to draw attention to her grievances. It was obscene that she was tortured for not bringing enough dowry and for birthing a daughter. It was obscene that the police refused to register a case when she complained. And it was beyond obscene that the Great Indian Middle Class chose to laugh at her.

But then I detest and despise the Great Indian Middle Class.

I rather think that makes me obscene myself.

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