When news reports started coming out that Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists in the horrific December 2012 Delhi gang-rape case had been interviewed, social media started to outrage.
Twitter went berserk even before the full details of the story came out and many started calling for a ban on the interview.
Then it came to known that it wasn’t a one-off interview but actually something part of a documentary called India’s Daughter. Then curiously the outrage shifted to those asking for a ban. Why didn’t we have a right to hear those views? Why didn’t we want to look in the mirror?
Then a new outrage took place over the permission given. How could the Narendra Modi government give anyone permission for such an interview? How could they allow the interview of a rapist facing the gallows?
Congress leaders and the Opposition jumped into the fray and blasted the Home Ministry for doing such a thing. Then it slowly came to light that it was actually UPA2 which gave permission to shoot. So it was but natural that the outrage would morph into something else.
When the government finally went ahead and banned the documentary there was further outrage. Imagine being an official in power and see your people demanding the ban of a rapist interview and you do that within hours only to be blasted because public opinion had changed in those few hours!
In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the ruling government can change its entire policy in a fraction of a second. In Twenty Fifteen, it is the people who can do that.
While people outraged over “freedom of speech” and “right to look at ourselves in the mirror”, officials pointed out that it was banned over a technicality. Permission was taken for research purposes and footage had to be shown before anything was aired.
Tihar Jail officials pointed to the fact a notice had already been sent to that effect even before the whole controversy erupted. In fact when Delhi Police filed an FIR saying the “modesty of a woman had been outraged”, it ended up outraging the modesty of Twitter.
Then it was the turn of the Rajya Sabha to outrage. Now instead of being happy, social media outraged over the fact that the Rajya Sabha was outraging. Confused? No need to be. It’s just a usual day in the life of social media.
Since politicians themselves go around making misogynist statements at the drop of the hat, who were they to outrage when a rapist made misogynist remarks. At least that was the perceived logic.
Soon the outrage reached gigantic proportions. The beef ban was invoked. The diminishing freedom of speech and expression in India was fretted against. The censor board was beeping out swear words and even that was sworn at. In fact ace cricketer Virat Kohli swearing at a journalist even seemed to get support in this climate.
One gets the feeling that millions of people get up and go to the computer and wait to outrage at the drop of the hat. Anything could trigger the outrage avalanche. It could be a small spark or even a falsehood.
India has many political parties. How would you react if some random party Vice President went on a long leave? You wouldn’t care right? The BJP Vice President can take long leave today.
The CPM Vice President can take long leave today. The AAP Vice President can take long leave today.
So why not Rahul Gandhi who is not part of any the many governments of India and who’s going will not affect any government functioning in any way? In fact when the sitting Chief Minister of New Delhi took a 10-day vacation just three odd weeks after being sworn in, there was hardly any outrage.
Most people simply read the headline that Modi wore a Rs 10 lakh suit and simply went ballistic. There was no need to read the report and see that it was a zero proof conjecture story. The media house’s apology and correction didn’t make any difference.
If a reason has been found to outrage, the outrage must follow no matter how many contrary facts come to light.
Till the next outrage then!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here