By Ripun Chhabra:
A very thin line exists in the virtual space, which divides the ‘funny’ from the ‘offensive’. Cartoonists and comedians toe it intelligently. Politicians have always been the butt of all jokes. Intelligence lies in not directly calling them crooks. In India, the problem with the humour is that you will find 893 different levels of what people find offensive. If you make a joke on an animal, then someone from the Animal Protection group would get offended! As comedian Sorabh Pant puts it, “As soon as a joke transgresses into enough people’s moral set-up, then its offensive. Sadly in India, the hypocrisy of their moral compass is so skewed, you can’t tell!”
Aseem Trivedi — a cartoonist by profession, is famous for his political caricatures. He was arrested because his caricatures were found to be offensive by the political bigwigs. What’s not commendable here is that within a few months’ time, this is the second or third time that political parties have shown interest towards such ‘trivial’ matters whilst leaving the bigger issues on hold, to be looked into another day. As far as Aseem Trivedi is concerned, he played on the metaphor but our politicians prefer turning it into a nationwide issue to secure their vote bank.
Political humour is something that we need to learn from the United States. Though they are quite lenient with the ‘Freedom of Speech’ Act, but they have been benefitted a lot compared to what they have lost due to it. Something that news channels could also learn is to highlight the word ‘metaphor’ instead of the word ‘sedition’. We are a democracy, not a theocratic or communist nation. Whether it is Mamata Banerjee flaring her nostrils over an ‘almost accurate’ caricature or NCERT’s faux-pas-worthy rejig of the graphical representation in their textbooks, all of it alarms into the situation and signifies just one thing — Develop a Funny Bone Indians!!