Thursday, August 23, 2012


“Iraq has WMDs. AMURRRICA!” – George W. Bush
“They took our jobs” – Literally Hitler
“No Twitter for you, enemy of state!” – Government of India

Yes, these quotes are roughly paraphrased. But they all play upon one thing: Fear.
Fear that unless someone is allowed to have his way with certain free world guarantees, unless someone drops a taxpayer funded smart bomb on a soft target; terrible things will happen to the unsuspecting average person. Children will suffer, food will have too little salt and downloads will be throttled.
Of course, proof and humanity's vestiges of humanity are necessary casualties.

There’s a good chance you’ve not been blocked on Twitter or Facebook. And that the Indian government is still letting people see your adorable kiddy videos on YouTube from when you were six and didn’t realize that people would start to notice if you wore superhero underwear atop your clothes regularly.
However, certain people think that an important part of preventing violence against minorities is blocking Facebook hate pages, Twitter profiles – also ones that mock the PMO (and hopefully that Rick Astley video I’ve seen way too many times).

The world is a lot more connected than it used to be. The actions of any form of government are scrutinized and televised. So I guess the ancient powers that be have to be seen doing something. And the first thing to do when tackling with a problem is to lay blame somewhere – in this case, on the spread of ostensible anti-India sentiment via social networking platforms.

Now the question you want to ask is probably: Isn’t the government doing the right thing by stopping the spread of hate speech and possibly region based violence?
Well, derp, you’re wrong. The question is this: When you suppress freedom of expression and things still don’t come under control, where do you go next?
ecause, you see, things won’t come under control. Not as long as depraved assholes who don’t accept the sanctity of life are actually held accountable. The only thing left to do then will be a further curtailment of whatever behavior that comes up as unfavourable.

There's also the fact that censorship is an inherently flawed concept. The notion of a great big nanny state which decides what’s you can or cannot see starts to have less appeal when you think about the following:
  • The Streisand effect
    Any attempt to hide something has the effect of publicizing that very information and getting it to a much larger audience. 
  • Gaps in the fence
    There’s very little that can be done to suppress that flow of information on the internet. There are ways to circumvent blocks. And ways to circumvent blocks of those blocks. In fact, the only thing you can’t get around anymore is Yo’ mama.
  • Assuming herd mentality
    Mouth-breathers who can get influenced by a non-confirmed piece of information sourced from the Internet can just as easily be influenced by a newspaper or people shouting loudly enough. And by the way, please stop watching those Salman Khan movies. It makes this argument look weak.
  • Controversial efficacy
    Case in point, our respective mothers have been deciding what's good for us for the longest time in an effort to make us better people. Yeah, that *totally* worked.
So finally, it comes down to the relatively benign “Sanjeevani Booti, AMIRITE GUYS?” or the whole “STOP RESISTING, CITIZEN! THIS KICK TO YOUR GROIN WILL SERVE THE GLORY OF CHINA!” way of doing things. I would argue that the former can easily lead to the latter once you start calling the destruction of constitutionally protected statuettes by other names like “National security”.

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
- Thomas Jefferson, celebrated bad tempered person.

P.s. Yes, there’s a Godwin in the second sentence of this post. I’ll take that congratulatory plaque now.