First things first. At no point is it legitimate to tell someone that they are being assholes for expressing their points of view within the confines of the law. Especially so, when they are protesting something as vile as sexism. So, no, ASSHOLES, it is not alright… wait, it is fucking idiotic to push them or tell them that they can’t be anti-sexism because they are wearing clothes that you think are not “ok”. Also, dickheads, it is not alright to heckle or shout at them. It is reprehensible that you, after being given the privilege to get basic education think that the response to speech is violence, whether verbal or physical. Grow the fuck up and learn human decency. In case it wasn’t fucking clear, all of this is irrespective of whether or not you agree with them principally or the means they employed.
You feel pissed off, don’t you? What is it? Is it the tone of my writing? Is it the bold and underlined words? Is it the cussing? See, that’s my point. No one likes it when you employ violence in response to what you may consider your right to expression. But given that this is what some people chose to do, I felt obligated to point out the idiocy and the hypocrisy therein.
But let’s now talk about Abish Matthew and the protest his jokes caused. Here we go then –
Some of his jokes were sexist. People may have differing opinions on whether these were caricature and were meant to reflect, through humor, the inadequacies of society or whether such things should be the subject of humor at all. Either way, Abish had a right to his expression. Within the framework of said expression comes the right not to be disrupted. There are ways through which you can make your displeasure/disgust/hatred/problem or whatever feeling you are feeling be known.
- You can walk out and in doing so tell him he is being sexist.
- You can also protest him by using placards. Yes, you can.
And therein lies the beauty of expression and its freedom. It creates a dialectic. Either way, you had made your point, viz. – Some of his jokes were sexist. Sexist jokes should not be made.
Up till this point, you had not impeded on his expression. You critiqued it and it was great. But then you decided that he needed to shut up. That he must not be allowed to talk. And this is where the problem lies. Your response to his expression was to want to shut that avenue for him. Admittedly, that is not easy. You are right. He is a comedian making a large number of people laugh and you were in comparison faceless. But even so, to want to curb his expression was the problem. It makes you no different from the self-serving people whose response to the roast was to want it banned.
Please understand that there are always other and better ways to make your point. Ok, not always. But in this case, there were better ways to do the same thing that you wanted. And they would have achieved the same result. You really could have waited to protest. You could have protested differently. Basically, not question his right to express himself. You could have simply walked out and criticized him later. But you chose to do it and in doing so must understand the consequences and the implications of what you said and did.
And it really does not matter whether you succeeded or failed in achieving your desired result. The point is that is what you aimed at doing. Placing your actions under the garb of failure does not take away from what you were aiming to do. If you had just stood with the placard that read “You are a sexist pig” (Credit: Keerthana Medarametla), the message and the effect would have been very different.
And here is the clincher. Inspite of what I have just written, when you did protest, it was an exercise of your expression and while I don’t agree with it, I will go full Jeffersonian on you and tell you that I will defend your right to it. Which is what I am trying to do. You may find my tone patronizing and you may disagree with me but at the very least please consider what I just said and at least really see if there is merit to what I am saying. I really think that there is.
Clarification – I agree that a lot of the jokes were sexist. I just think that there were different ways to go about it. I agree that the protests were fine in principle. Like I’ve said above, the modalities could have been better. Of course, Pearlita, Pawani, Aarushi and Rishika are free to disagree and prioritize other things that they did. My hope through the piece is to just point the danger of a protest, however noble and sound in principle, when it seeks to curb expression.