Like with everything else in India, we have a way with our own style of discourse with regards to journalism and free speech, something that is as unique as a BJP supporter’s unrequited love for Narendra Modi which turns into multiple orgasms instantly (especially if he were to appear on the cover of a Time Magazine, you know) or Viveik Oberoi having to claim in an interview that his wife is simple and down-to-earth, and doesn’t behave like a star’s wife. Because she probably isn’t one. But maybe that just skipped Oberoi’s mind.
Following Mint Candyman Aakar Patel’s outrageous diatribe attempting to Draw Something (I used that app and I guess the answer here is ‘Dividing Line’) between the North and South of India, the internet (and by internet, I mean Twitter and Facebook) erupted into fury with several Facebookers calling for petrol purchased from the state of Goa to be unleashed on Patel’s house in (where does he live?). Twitter, in particular, was gracious in awarding Patel the title of the World’s Most Annoying Troll given that he has written provocative pieces before too. They’d awarded him Most Annoying Troll before, but this North-South article just nudged them to add the word ‘World’s’ to the award. Also, nobody noticed that he would’ve got much more fame if the URL of the article was smart enough to incorporate the word ‘South’ in it. For that, Mint owners should probably just take the newspaper’s IT guy to a Roadies audition.
Not long then, before Mint Editor-in-Chief stepped in and tweeted something so pathbreaking-ly predictable that this changed the blood flow of humans and the retweets flow of everything else (including bots in bikinis). Because this is when India’s ‘Free Speech Cycle’ came a full circle. This is generally what happens, all the time. A provocative piece is published which people read and outrage between themselves. Soon, somebody steps up to quote what Voltaire (or Evelyn Beatrice Hall) once said thereby making him shudder in his grave yet one more time. Soon, there is a complete change of the flow and people will start waking up and agreeing that YES YES THERE EXISTS A RIGHT TO PUBLISH! That tweet gets torn to shreds with people either +1-ing it, or adding “TRUE!” or “This ->” before it.
Towards the end of the Free Speech Cycle, all that remains is for those who haven’t read the article in question yet to do so, like turning up late at a Suhel Seth party and having to do with the leftovers. The rest of us live to die another day, and will all get back to washing-rinsing-repeating before we even know it, because that’s what we do best. Soon, it’s sunset and everybody looks forward to alcohol, football on TV or sex (the general rule is that you only get to have two of the three, not all three at once).
The Free Speech Cycle is India’s greatest contributing factor to all the free time in the world that her people have (and no, Pratibha Patil spending 205 crores on foreign tours or the Indian military’s lack of preparedness to fighting even Sri Lanka in a non-nuclear war are not real problems), and is now a part of our national ethos. Like Kamaal R Khan’s kiss-tweets and Kapil Sibal waking up in the middle of the night at any mention of the words ‘Let’s censor’. So coming to the really important part – The question this article (this one, that you’re reading right now) poses is that the Free Speech Cycle notwithstanding, how does one get to have all three of alcohol, football on TV and sex on the same night?
Asking for a friend.