Controversies are tedious. They succeed in boring people out of their minds; especially those needless controversies espoused by radical elements for cheap publicity with a despicable agenda of suppressing the citizen's voice.The proponents of moral policing blatantly vitiate social peace by disrupting public property and curbing everlasting values of freedom of thought and expression bestowed upon us by our Constitution.
The recent controversy over the AIB Roast is indeed baffling. Many groups desperate to make themselves relevant; took a moral high ground by unnecessarily dragging the organisers, producers directors and actors of AIB Roast to the court alleging an attack on India's cultural and traditional values.
Comedy is an avenue for creative expression. We are a young country that wants to celebrate humour. Why must we always take ourselves so seriously?
Yes, the jokes at the AIB Roast were filthy and excessively obscene. I am not justifying roast sessions where expletives are spouted every five seconds in front of a large audience. Nevertheless, with the spirit of provoking laughter, the organisers and the participants of the AIB Roast should be entitled to express their sense of humour in the manner they creatively choose to.
None of the celebrities who happily derived pleasure from being roasted with élan or the thousands of people who purchased tickets to attend the show; were offended by the vulgar jokes. The men and women present there equally endorsed the roast and were able to take the indecent jokes in their stride.
On the other hand, millions of people who watched the AIB Roast on YouTube expressed their opinions ranging from amusement to utter disgust. Viewers' discretion was advised by AIB through a disclaimer at the start of the video. We did have the option to either watch or entirely ignore the content.
I am tempted to draw a parallel between the AIB Roast and various problems faced by women in the country. The hypocrisy and double standards of moral policing are evident in the country. The silence of moral police when atrocities are committed against women and children all over the country on a daily basis is contemptible.
Loony elements quickly spring into action when they don't agree with something. Demanding a ban on books, articles, comedy shows; filing an FIR; sending a legal notice; targeting individuals by physical attacks and vandalizing their homes, etc. are among the typical reactions to moral policing that endangers creative expression.
However, we don't find them coming out in support of citizens demanding a safer environment that allows women to exercise their freedom of choice. We never see them expressing solidarity with citizens who were outraged by reprehensible acts of sexual violence against women and children.
We should roast those people whose primitive mindset is preventing women's empowerment and progress. We should roast those people who blatantly disrespect women. We should literally roast rapists, criminals and misogynists whose existence makes our streets unsafe for women and children. We should roast those law enforcement officials who fail to offer adequate protection to women and are insensitive to their concerns.
We should roast those people who do not guarantee freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. We should roast those people who disallow blooming of creative expression and ideas.
Citizens are furious by the whims and fancies of the moral police and their attempts at curtailing freedom of speech (and laughter) in the country. The squeamishness of the moral police is lamentable and it is time that society reins in the misplaced sense of righteousness and sanctimony exhibited by them. Moral policing is a grave threat to our society and must be eliminated to safeguard various freedoms – including the freedom to laugh – enjoyed by the people of India.
Freedom of thought and expression is an immensely valuable gift that must be preserved and protected from lunatic fringe at any cost.
AIB is using humour as a rubber sword which allows them to make a point without drawing blood. AIB might be legally roasted by people who do not agree with their style of comedy. But it will not discourage them from conducting roast sessions, make us laugh heartily and help us develop a great sense of humour that our country desperately needs. After all, laughter is a powerful stress-relief medicine.
I have great faith in the judiciary and the Constitution of my land. I do not endorse AIB Roast, but I do endorse freedom of speech that must be safeguarded and upheld at all times.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.