A New Species?

Last year BBC’s Open Book show had Salman Rushdie as a guest and something he said on the show struck me. “We are increasingly becoming defined by what offends us”, he says on the show.

The proof of the statement is all around us.

Year after year cities all around the country spend hundreds of thousands of the tax payers’ money renaming cities because “supposedly” the existing name is demeaning to its inhabitants. I lived in Bombay and Madras and never felt demeaned. However, I did feel cheated when my tax money was spent on such a useless activity.

Some people are offended when a muslim woman wears a burka. Other people are offended because a woman is not covered enough.

The right-wing threatens to marry off couple who walk together on Valentine’s day. Other right-wingers heap insult or injury or murder couples who fall in love and tie the knot.

Maharashtrians dont like it when Biharis come to Mumbai for employment.

Tamilians dont like it that the name of railway stations and bus stands in their state have Hindi on it. The DMK, who started this movement, however, don’t have any problem amassing hundreds of thousands of rupees in kickbacks, all of which have the Hindi script on it.

Some are offended that a cartoonist poked fun at their prophet or drew their goddess in the nude. We are also proud that the Kamasutra was written here and our temples are full of women in the nude.

It is okay that case after case of murder of innocents lie to rot in our court system but we cannot stomach the fact that a king demolished a temple and built a mosque 2000 years ago.

The most recent case being that a professor of English is releasing a version of Huckleberry Finn which does not contain the words “negro” or “injun”. The classic has been falling out of theĀ curriculumĀ is schools all over America because teachers do not want to have to explain the use of these terms and how America was divided over issues like equal rights for everybody.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned debate?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    I really like this post! Offensive language used to mean simply curse words and trash talk. Now, in our PC world, almost any word can be deemed offensive to a particular audience. Everyone needs to get a backbone and not hestitate to use our volumonous vocabularies. Everyone who is “offended” by anything but trash talk needs to “get over it.”

  2. Ironic Mom says:

    What a fantastic quotation by Rushdie. And you furnish it with relevant examples. I also think that people have lost the sense that you can critique an idea without critiquing a person: that is the hallmark of good debate.

    Looking forward to your next post.

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