What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Friday, January 14, 2011

No One Killed Christina Taylor Green

I recollect a day from school, when I was in the tenth grade. Our teacher was absent and we had a free period. The classroom erupted in cacophony, mischief and mayhem. Another teacher passing by stepped in and sternly shut us up asking "Is this a classroom or a fish market", alluding to the bustling, noisy fish markets of India drowned with sounds of rowdy mongers loudly advertising their catch and even louder buyers haggling over the price. "No it is the parliament in session" a wise crack student responded, in mockery of our world's largest democracy where a parliament in session means a rumble full with chair throwing, fist pumping, furniture breaking and all that jazz.

We had a hearty laugh. Now to think of it though, that wise crack was totally wrong. "No, this is American politics" is what should have been said. On the surface you might not see the chair throwing, fist pumping, furniture breaking and all that irrational mindless violence. But scratch below the surface rhetoric and words and what you find below is far worse. Beneath it all is not mere dismemberment of inanimate objects but a vile disregard for the sanctity of human life, a culture of cruel sadism full of vitriol that spews hatred, a subliminal justification of transcending dislike and distrust to violence.

On January 7th an Indian film "No One Killed Jessica" hit the theaters. The story was inspired by a true life incident, the murder of Jessica Lall. It highlights the struggle of the common man against politics and corruption to find justice. Jessica Lall was shot point blank in a crowded club in front of three hundred witnesses by the son of a wealthy politician. Surprisingly, no one saw the crime. No one killed Jessica, three hundred people did not see a person murdered before their eyes. There are no happy endings to murder, but ultimately justice was served.

Of course the powers that be played the blame game. Fingers were pointed at investigation, and everything imaginable. However, this time around someone stood up and said enough is enough. Someone had the courage to assume accountability and responsibility for justice. Someone had the good sense to realize that the only reason people can and will get away with crime is because we let them. Someone had the balls to take on the system. That became the voice of the nation. The media played a crucial part in this movement for justice. The media did not pit people against each other as two sides of a case, but served as the glue that unilaterally aligned everyone to stand behind one thing - justice. It did not matter who you were, where you came from, it did not matter if you aligned with the criminals party or not - nothing mattered but ensuring that justice was served.

One January 8th, a day after the release of 'No One Killed Jessica' a terrible tragedy took place in the United States. A gunman opened fire at a community event attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed including nine year old Christina Taylor Green. Plenty of people saw it, plenty of people will bear testimony. The gunman has been arrested and will definitely get a life sentence, preferably death sentence for his crimes. Unfortunately, even then justice may not be served. That is because people like Jared Loughner who commit such acts of violence are not the real disease, but a symptom. We continue to focus on this symptom but let the disease, the real cancer continue spreading across America. Even when facing dark times and horrific crimes like this, the American find themselves unable to stand united against the disease thats killing America. Instead of assuming the responsibility of unilaterally uniting people for what is right, the media is playing opportunistic games of further segregating the country by party lines and political beliefs.

Did no one pay attention to Jon Stewart's call for sanity? How can there be anyone out there who is not concerned the socio-political climate in the United States has become lethal and toxic? In tragic times like this we are supposed to forget our differences and realize that we need to stand together against mindless violence and hatred. These are times where we should reach out and bridge the gap, come together to heal the wounds and file solutions - not further create divide ourselves as republican-democrat, right wing-left wing, liberal-conservative, libtards-teabaggers. It is in times like this the media stops taking political sides, stops all forms of inflammatory speech and completely stops the quest for sensationalism and controversy - but speaks on behalf of the people, speaks about the necessity to make amends, and fix things. People on both sides are turning to the media for their information feed, the media has the power to stop covering divisive politics and focus on the healers and the difference makers, people who can encourage the nation to bridge the gaps.

I find it shocking and appalling that political figures like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman refuse to take responsibility and accountability for their words and actions. In fact it was disgusting to hear Sarah Palin accuse her critics of blood libel. Politicians like Sarah and Michele need to realize that no one is blaming them or saying that they are solely responsible for this. No one is denying that Jared Loughner acted completely on his own with unknown intentions. All that is being asked is that they acknowledge that the coincidences are chilling, and use it as an opportunity to reflect on their words and actions. This is the first time someone died, but politicians and civil servants have been at the receiving end of death threats and attacks for a long time now.

Words have great power and meaning. They did not say the pen is mightier than the sword for nothing. Nations have been built and destroyed on words. Those who deny what words can do have perhaps never really learned language and communications. Not surprising since some of them have been known to miraculously conjure new words and make a complete mess of existing ones. We need to realize that words can be hurtful and cut deep, the wrong words at the wrong time to the wrong people can be lethal. Everyone needs to be conscientious of what they are saying. We have the right and privilege of free speech, but we should also assume our duty and responsibility to use our rights wisely and never abuse them.

Even more shocking is how media personnel like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck and coming out all guns blazing  to defend inflammatory rhetoric. In fact they will go as far as blaming liberals and democrats of being at fault. No one is a saint or absolutely blameless here. The liberals do play the blame game many times and fail to take ownership. However, I don't recollect liberal politicians and leaders using inflammatory speech and loaded words like 'Hitler' 'baby-killer' etc. It is one thing for the average person to get irrationally swayed by passion, but it is another thing for leaders to set a dangerous precedent.

Events like this put me in a very retrospective mode. One thing about the United States that makes me a really proud citizen is the spirit of freedom. We have the opportunity to realize freedom in the truest sense here. People have the ability that say and do things, they would not be able to do in other parts of the world. It is this unadulterated freedom that we receive that makes people take it for granted. People simply don't know the value of freedom and the immense responsibility that comes with it. On the other hand back home in India, people still don't know freedom. After the British, politicians and the powerful have taken control of their lives. That is why sometimes Indians tend to know the true value of freedom and democracy. We are a nation that is communally, socially, politically, economically segregated and divided. We suffer corruption, crime, and political bureaucracy. But when crisis strikes the people come together as one and will take on the system like they did for Jessica - unlike the United States where the people have a much easier peaceful life, but when crisis strikes they divide against each other and let the system pit them against each other.

In fact there are a lot of things we do different and better in India, that often makes me wonder - is the United States really a developed nation. I went to Catholic school and learned evolution. When I first read about the Kansas school board trying to teach creation - I thought Kansas might be like some uneducated ignorant backward region which we have in India. Then I learned that creationists are like everywhere and they choose to ignore things. Abortion has been legal in India since 1971, two years before Roe. v Wade and free government run abortion clinics are everywhere and people actually vote for leaders who provide these things. We can't wrap our head around why this would be such a terrible thing for United States. There are free family planning clinics too that supply condoms and IUD. We also have universal health care, albeit a crappy corrupt one but the government runs free health clinics in many places and people actually vote for leaders who provide these things and if the official cut the red tape, avoided corruption and invested a lot of money to make a good, clean, efficient free medical clinic for people in need we consider them heroes. We just dont get whats wrong in taking care of your own people in need. Actually even private health care is actually cost effective and high quality in India - that many of you come to India for major surgeries. Even if you fly business class and get it done in India - you might save than letting your insurance providers suck you dry.

However, of all things Americans do differently the one thing that baffles us most is that many Americans feel that guns are completely harmless. When I first saw the gun display at Wal-Mart where people came up and bought guns and ammunition like they would buy burgers I was like Jesus Christ what the fuck is wrong with these people, I mean some underworld don can just walk in here and buy a gun and go out and blow his mark - no effort in locating a smuggler. Sanjay Dutt could come and build a gun showcase in his basement and it would all be kosher. This is like Bollywood villain heaven.

I understand and respect that the constitution provides citizens with the right to bear arms. However, the constitution is meant to be a living document. That clause was put in place when gun technology was pretty low-tech. The United States did not have an extensive military, intelligence and police force. The nation had to be on guard for threat. It made sense to have all citizens armed and ready to defend the nation. Times are changing though. We live in a world where weapons are deadlier than ever. We also have efficient and equipped armed forces. We really do not need guns so readily available. I'm not speaking of revoking a constitutional right. I'm not calling for curbing of our rights and freedom. I'm calling for temperance. Lets make a compromise. Stricter gun control laws is only an exercise in prudence. Most importantly, just because you have the right to bear arms does not mean you are at liberty to take it anywhere.

I'm a naturalized American citizen. I'm a tax paying, hard working, law abiding citizen in good standing. I have never failed a drug test nor ever been declared mentally unstable. Can I then as a legal law abiding citizen bring guns and ammunition to a domestic flight? Its my constitutional right, why should it be curbed? I'm sure most people feel that in light of terrorism it is irrational to allow the second amendment in these situations. Similarly, in light of assassination attempts on politicians and leaders it is irrational to allow the second amendment in these situations. We have to adapt to times. Ironically the same people up in arms about their gun rights being taken away are perfectly fine with fourth amendment being tossed in the trash. I can only assume none of them are profiled frequently to share intimate moments with TSA.

The bottom line and real message is


No one killed Christina Taylor Green, the truth is we all did. We as a nation are responsible for not keeping our leaders in check and taking a stance against hateful spiteful rhetoric by anyone. We as a nation are responsible for being so consumed and obsessed with our rights, our freedoms, our privileges, our wants, our needs that we completely lost track of our duties and responsibilities, of what we owe the nation, of what we owe each other, of what we owed Christina Taylor Green - the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. If we don't wake up now and take some accountability for the way we think and act then no one will have killed Christina Taylor Green. Justice will go unserved.

For now I as an individual take responsibility and accountability. If my words and actions have ever incited any form of hatred then I am truly sorry. If I have ever disagreed or stated my counterpoints in disrespectful and spiteful manner then I am truly sorry. From now on I will be conscientious of what I say and do and hold everyone around me to the same standards and call out when leaders cross the line irrespective of whether I support their views or not. Hopefully, everyone can do the same.

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