Atanu Dey On India's Development

Some things are Non-negotiable

| 19 Comments

Sorry people I have not been in touch. A bit of traveling and a lot of reading is taking up time. I will be back soon, just in case you were wondering. Until then, remember that tomorrow, May 20th, is the big day for supporting the right to free expression — which as Bill Maher puts it, is non-negotiable. The video embedded below the fold reminds us that some cultures are not only different but are better than one that makes death threats to cartoonists.

A few quotes from the video:

Sarah Palin is an evil dingbat who thinks god opens doors but she never tried to poison gas a girls’ school as the taliban did this week in Afghanistan. . . Speaking of Muslims, it must be said in all fairness that the vast majority are law-abiding loving people who just want to be left alone to subjugate their women in peace. But I gotta tell you that civilized people don’t threaten each other; we sue each other. Threatening — that’s some old school desert shit. And I’m sorry you can’t bring that to the big city.

. . . The Western world needs to make it clear that some things about our culture are not negotiable, and can’t change. One of them is freedom of speech. Separation of church and state is another. Not negotiable. Women are allowed to work here and you can’t beat them. Not negotiable. . . This is why our system is better. And if you don’t get that, if you still want to kill someone over a stupid cartoon, please make it Garfield.

  • Sundried Atheist

    I am not so certain about Bill Maher. He sounds like a bleeding heart liberal sometimes.

  • http://honestlynagpur.blogspot.com kautilya

    @Sundried Atheist : Bill Maher is a bleeding heart liberal. He is super bad ass and a jerk as far as conservatives are concerned. I am not a fan but i do watch him sometimes. I think he is intelligent.
    He has the red-necks by their balls.

  • Chanakya P

    India needs its own Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens or at least a genteel Richard Dawkins. Then maybe TV will be worth watching for a few minutes.

  • Kaffir

    Chanakya, before that^ happens, freedom of speech needs to be elevated as sacrosanct. Currently, it’s not.

  • larissa

    India needs its own Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens or at least a genteel Richard Dawkins. Then maybe TV will be worth watching for a few minutes.

    I don’t think so. Bill Maher is just ugly and obnoxious and disgusting to watch. Chris Hitchens and Dawkins are also unbearable–The first is an entertainer (India has got enough of these). Dawkins should stick to what he knows, i.e. evolutionary biology–he’s started some atheist brigage that seems as intolerant and annoying as the religious crackpots he tries to mock.

  • pc

    Dawkins intolerant !!! as the religious crackpots !!!

    Are you speaking English ? Do you know the meaning of intolerant ? Maybe your dictionary was written in a different universe.

    India has no one who comes anywhere near Hitchens. How I wish we had someone like Maher or Hitchens in India. Just hear this Indian joker who tried to take on Hitchens. How vacuous and verbose are his arguments in front of Hitchens.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is71zKEiMdk

  • Chanakya P

    @Larissa.
    I am sure they are a bit too much for your refined sensibilities.
    But then I strongly suspect you have never lived in India. We need such people precisely because of how they deride established idiocy which masquerades as age-old wisdom. It is not how they do it but what they do. They might be lacking in depth but then so does every other person walking the street.

  • larissa

    What you call “established idiocy” does not masquerade as “old age wisdom” it masquerades as new age acquired wisdom trying to correct the problemmatic “old age” institutions and culture , just as liberals typically do. The last thing Hindus need is a bunch of Hitchens and Dawkins “teaching” them about religion–if Dawkins wants to teach evolutionary biology fine, but don’t go into areas about which je obviously does’nt know much….

  • larissa

    What you call “established idiocy” does not masquerade as “old age wisdom” it masquerades as new-age acquired wisdom trying to correct the problemmatic “old age” institutions and culture , just as shallow liberals typically do. The last thing Hindus need is a bunch of Hitchens and Dawkins “teaching” them about religion–if Dawkins wants to teach evolutionary biology fine, but don’t go into areas about which he obviously does’nt know much….
    Caricatures such as Maher are not required to teach Hindus what is wrong…he’s just so grotesque and makes $$ by being annoying and grotesque…Just painful and irritating to watch…

  • Chanakya P

    “…“established idiocy” does not masquerade as “old age wisdom” it masquerades as new age acquired wisdom…”

    Thank you for the correction. Although it does try to pass itself off as eternal wisdom whenever it’s profitable. Gandhism anyone???
    BTW religion is not the only point at stake here.

    “The last thing Hindus need is a bunch of Hitchens and Dawkins “teaching” them about religion…”

    Yes, most of them do. Much better than watching mind-numbing soapy drivel on t.v. If they don’t want well-reasoned arguments, if such “boring” stuff doesn’t appeal to them, what better vehicle than the same trash they so like to watch.

    “…if Dawkins wants to teach evolutionary biology fine, but don’t go into areas about which he obviously does’nt know much…”

    It’s not about how little they know. Obviously Dawkins can hardly be called an authority on comparative religious studies or a philosopher of any standing. But people don’t need more than that now. They need to learn the abc’s first. I can’t even tell you how pathetic it is. The level of self-loathing is simply unbelievable. A self-hating Hindu ranks above a self-hating Jew any day. That needs to change. If cheap laughs and sanctimonious kitsch helps then so be it. The surface needs to be scratched first. The drilling can happen later.

  • Chanakya P

    Having said all that, Chris Hitchens is any day a sharp debater who has taken the mickey out of almost all the people he has debated. His conspicuous consumption of alcohol doesn’t seem to dull his wit one bit. He is hugely entertaining and worth a watch.

  • larissa

    Yes he is entertaining and certainly not to be taken seriously as an intellect, somone once called him a whiskey soaked popinjay. However, he can be obnoxious and irritating at times…He is also quite an opportunist and changes positions whenever it suits him…I guess thats why I don’t really like such people–they can be funny sometimes but they don’t stand on firm ground themselves–they are rabble rousers.
    Do you seriously think Hindus are self-hating? I don’t. Well I can only speak for myself and Hindus are a diverse lot that cannot be pigeoned holed into one mindset–I think it’s not so much self-hatred but lack of awareness of their own history and culture apart from what is taught in the family that holds true for many–and this is largely because they are taught nothing except whitewashed versions of their history at schools and universities…I think the Hindus’ greatest fault is passivity and general apathy and lack of a united front not self-loathing…
    Also I get irritated when Hindus are compared to Jews. Hindus have nothing in common with them. And I mean absolutely nothing.

  • http://ketanpanchal.blogspot.com/ Ketan

    I agree with Chanakya P, Indians need to learn at least the basics of argumentation, logic & epistemology, if not the complete details.

    How people lap up weasel words like “top sources” is appalling. It’s also shocking to see people accept rhetorics as good arguments in shows like “We the people”.

    And for all that, we do need people like Dawkins.

    Ideally, basic philosophy should be offered/taught as a subject at school level. Instead, what we have moral ‘science’!

  • ProSense

    Everything in the affairs of human societies is negotiable. Only the physical laws of the universe are non-negotiable. Freedom of speech and gender and class equality were absent from many societies all over history, not all of them were snuffed out. Some did fine, and were in fact the foundations of modern Europe. But stick your hand in fire and it will burn now as badly as in 500BC.

    Cretins peddling “the American way of life” as “not negotiable” fail to note that before 1990 Americans did not have much frisking at airports, full-body scanners, or Guantanamo. Every swarthy neighbor was not a potential terrorist. So what has not been negotiated again?

    The erudite and acceptable way for liberals to say this is to “sure, you can suppress free speech, but there is a heavy price for that — trace the degeneration of the following societies to understand why.”

  • Chanakya P

    @Larissa

    “He is also quite an opportunist and changes positions whenever it suits him…”

    I certainly don’t applaud his support of the Iraq war. But you have to understand that whenever you take an unpopular view on most issues, unless you suck up to someone your very position and sometimes even life is threatened(that’s how it is in India). I don’t know if that is the reason why CH supported the Iraq war, but I won’t be surprised if it is.

    “Do you seriously think Hindus are self-hating?”

    Come to India and see for yourself. Have you even lived in India or were you just a tourist to Rajasthan. Everyone from the school curriculum to the mainstream media blames everything on Hindus. The level of institutionalized dislike for everything Hindu is simply nauseating. It’s not very different in the West either. As if Hindus are to blame for everything that is wrong with India. The economy’s got a slow growth rate – call it the Hindu rate of growth(not Nehruvian). The Muslims are a backward lot because of their lack of education(of the non-Madrassah variety) – blame it on the Hindu brahmins for keeping them ignorant. Riots happen – blame it on the Hindus, never mind the provocation, never mind the facts. It is a fashionable thing to deride Hinduism as a backward, animistic cult. And the funny thing is you will find “progressive” Hindus at the forefront of such vilification campaigns.

    “Also I get irritated when Hindus are compared to Jews. Hindus have nothing in common with them. And I mean absolutely nothing.”

    Yes we do. We have a common enemy. We both have to constantly wage a war just to survive. We are both hated for just being who we are. We both just want to get on with our lives in peace. If you think the Nazis were the most evil, the holocaust was the biggest tragedy; maybe you should read Indian history.
    The only thing we don’t have in common with the Jews is how they reacted to persecution. They decided to fight back while we still drudge on in pathetic submission.

  • Chanakya P

    @Ketan

    “…Indians need to learn at least the basics of argumentation, logic & epistemology, if not the complete details.”
    “Ideally, basic philosophy should be offered/taught as a subject at school level. Instead, what we have moral ’science’!”

    Very true. But only in our dreams. Even the few schools that have “debates”, have students arguing on supporting the fashionable media manufactured gunk. Deviance from the script is not encouraged and can have disastrous consequences. Free thought and rational enquiry are strangers to them. In fact free thought is equated to licentiousness. Conformity to the hand me down ideologies that denigrate everything good about India is “good behaviour” and worthy of emulation. All the children have to go through this insidious bonsaification. It is not an accident that India is still a third-world country decades after overt foreign rule ceased to be. Macaulay must be delirious wherever he is.

  • Anonymous

    Hitchens, Dawkins, Sam Harris (watch them on youtube) etc have all along acknowledged the yeoman services rendered by Carvakas and Nastiks from time immemorial. However, their current ongoing war against the crusaders and Jihadis are very much needed to reorient the contemporary feuding religionists. So be kind and applaud these atheists who have unleashed a war against mainly abrahamic faiths which clearly are the intolerant, proselytizing and the organized ones and only partly against the tolerant dharmic faiths. The most serious complaint they have is that religion forbids free inquiry and indoctrinates innocent children threatening them with serious consequences demandin them to be subjugated and baptised.Ther is no corresponding word to Jihad and crusade in Sanskrit or any other eastern language.cheers..

  • surya

    Hitchens, Dawkins, Sam Harris (watch them on youtube) etc have all along acknowledged the yeoman services rendered by Carvakas and Nastiks from time immemorial. However, their current ongoing war against the crusaders and Jihadis are very much needed to reorient the contemporary feuding religionists. So be kind and applaud these atheists who have unleashed a war against mainly abrahamic faiths which clearly are the intolerant, proselytizing and the organized ones and only partly against the tolerant dharmic faiths. The most serious complaint they have is that religion forbids free inquiry and indoctrinates innocent children threatening them with serious consequences if not subjugated and baptised.Ther is no corresponding word to Jihad and crusade in Sanskrit or any other eastern language.cheers..

  • http://www.yayaver.blogspot.com/ yayaver

    Bill Maher, Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are more attacking Abhrahmic religion. I respect their courage to speak freely. This attitude shows tolerance level present in the society. The plea that nobody should offend the sensibilities of conservative elements should be thoroughly discussed. If all religions are free to criticize each other, why could not a secular person do the same. One will be charged with blasphemous assault but never an action is taken against use of such religious verses. The same rationalism with which people debate other religions sublimes as a matter of faith in own’s religion criticism. As one of my friends put this as : Whenever we think we are stopping someone from hurting our sentiments by curtailing their freedom of expression (right or wrong), we also empower someone (e.g. the government, extremists, or even religious leaders) to shut our own mouths.