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.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Hypocritical Pacifist

 He was only 25 years old. Barely a year older than my little sister. He could have had a whole life ahead of him. He was just a baby faced kid. And he was executed by hanging on 21st November 2012. Such was the brief short life of Ajmal Kasab. However, I feel no regret or remorse over his death. He had it coming. Many people celebrated his death. I empathize with their emotions. To be perfectly honest, there was a sense of gladness.

To the stranger, this might sound extremely hypocritical coming from a pacifist. Especially one who tends to lean against capital punishment. Many might deem me to be a flip flop of sorts. Indeed capital punishment is one of those conundrums that puts pacifists like me in quite a moral quandary.

Pacifism stems from humanitarian beliefs in the sanctity of human life. On one hand even the most hardened criminal is still a human being. Humanitarianism deems that justice also be compassionate and cause no harm. On the other hand some of the most hardened criminals have no value for human life. They are often cold blooded sociopaths devoid of any sense of morality or human emotion. They pose a risk to the safety and well being of society in general. So you see the difficulty of processing death sentence from a humanitarian perspective? A purely utilitarian or a purely right to life perspective makes the decision easy in a black or white yes or no matter. But it is the darned humanitarianism that makes such choices so circumstantial.

There are other practical reasons why I oppose the death sentence as well. Across the world several people were convicted for rape and/or murder, but later found innocent after DNA evidence was discovered years later. In many parts of the world the odds are still stacked against minorities of all sorts. Investigators are biased against them, popular media does not paint an objective picture, and juries have stereotypes in mind. Many cannot afford good defense that could acquit them. Every year hundreds of innocent people do get convicted due to biases and circumstantial evidence. In light of these scenarios. I find it better to sustain life rather than face the burden of sentencing a potentially innocent person to death.

Finally the act of taking a life causes irreparable psychological damage. Soldiers suffer post traumatic stress disorders on account of horrors of war. People in innocent no fault car accidents that took a life suffer nightmares over causing death. The human psyche is not designed to take human life. No matter how wretched the person killed, human psychology is designed to feel remorse and guilt. The death sentence not only condemns a criminal to death, but condemns the executioner to bear the remorse and guilt of society.  

On the flip side there is only so much our criminal justice system can handle. Prisons have limited room. The legal system has a limited number of staff to serve as correctional officers and wardens. There are also limited resources of psychologists and sociologists who can help rehabilitate criminals. Most importantly the criminal justice system is expensive. It takes a humongous amount of investment to have prisons and hire staff. Even more investment is needed to feed, clothe and care for the prisoners. A lot more investment is needed to educate, train and rehabilitate criminals into becoming members of society again. That is why even if not desirable the criminal justice system has to make difficult choices. Society does not want to invest in people who have minimal hope.  

That is why I am not explicitly against capital punishment but lean against it. I believe society would be much better off if we rehabilitated and trained criminals to become contributing members of society. Capital punishment should be the last recourse. Only in clear cut cases like Timothy McVeigh or Ajmal Kasab does it seem appropriate.

While I have explained my stance on capital punishment, the question still remains how one can empathize with celebrating death. One take on a similar conundrum a long time ago was in This Post. Personally, I don't condone such celebrations. I would encourage people to take time and solemnly reflect upon what happened. One cannot help to feel relief or joy in death, it is an impulsive emotion we cannot control. It is a completely different thing to celebrate death. If I found myself celebrating death in such a brazen manner, I probably would never be able to live with myself.

There was a time I would have condemned people for doing so. I would have painted them as heartless, soulless and pure evil to have such blatant disregard for life and celebrating death. But I see things differently now. Different people have different ways of gaining closure. This was a national tragedy that affected many lives. It was India's 09/11. The event was a catalyst that changed the world for many people. Four years of delayed action on part of the government, VIP treatment of the terrorist had caused many people to lose hope in the system. So the execution finally came as relief to many people. Celebrating was their way of gaining closure. Moving on from the event. Spare them a few moments to express their emotions.

That being said I strongly support and favor the perspective of Aashis Chaudhary. He lost his sister and brother in law in the terror attacks. He could have easily celebrated. In fact his celebration would have been acceptable given his loss. But he refused to celebrate. He had things in perspective.

He said "Why should I rejoice Kasab's death? I will rejoice when little innocent children will stop being taught to kill in the name of God and religion. Ignorance gave different faces to God, who in my view is one. Hence, religion too is one and that religion is humanity. Kasab was not taught that. I sympathise with Kasab. He also was once a small innocent baby, like my son. But unfortunately born around wrong people and wrong teachings. I'm sure as a little baby, Kasab didn't plan his outcome. He was brainwashed, driven to kill in the name of God. He didn't know he was wrong. I will not teach my children to rejoice anyone's death - be it Kasab. They will learn to be non-vindictive, non-fanatical and will love all. I'm not saying that I defend the consequence he faced. I just feel that rejoicing, or feeling completion doesn't make sense. There's more to it.In these four years of awaiting and looking upon Kasab's sentence, I can bet lakhs of new Kasab's were born. Problem lies there. Rejoice when that stops"

I don't just empathize with his view. I highly respect and admire such courage and conviction. It is a rare human quality to be able to reflect, put things in perspective and focus on the real problem. One  thing I really hope for in life is that should I ever be put in a difficult place of losing loved ones, that I should not fall prey to vengeance and vindication, I want to preserve my innocence and humanitarianism.

Kasab was merely 21 when he carried out those murders. An age when I myself was still finding my place in the world. His death made him a martyr, and there are many more innocent children with guns in hands and blood lust in their minds. Moreover, his death didn't undo or repair any damage that was done. The world did not become safer or better upon his execution.

Terrorism is a cancer upon society. Perhaps we saved society but cutting of one cancerous growth. But if we have to keep cutting every part that succumbs to this cancer - eventually we wont be left with any society at all. It is high time we focused on the cure, rather than callously hacking of bits and pieces of society.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm ecstatic he is dead

Yes, I said it, I expressed my joy over the death of Bal Thackeray. What I really do mourn is that it was not slow and painful. What I really do mourn is that his life was celebrated and his loss lamented. What I really do mourn is that throngs of loving followers gave him an honorable state farewell. I cannot think of a human less deserving of such love and honor.

My loathing for him stems at a tender young age. While all around people adored and respected him, my heart learned to hate him. It is quite surprising how much darkness even a young child's heart can gather. I was born and raised in Bombay, a city I will forever be in love with. The true beauty of Bombay is its hodge podge melting pot. Cultures, languages, religions from all over India come in here and melt into a different culture of its own. Bombay is that city where old Victorian legacy of the Raj seamlessly melds with the distinctly traditional Indian heritage.

Bal Thackeray was everything that Bombay is not. He wanted Bombay to be distinctly Maharashtrian, Hindu Maharashtrian. He wanted to erase the multicultural influences from all around. He wanted to subdue the other languages and religions. He wanted to erase the legacy of the Raj. He wanted to rebuild a Bombay or rather rebuild a Mumbai and the entire state of Maharashtra for the sons of the soils - native Hindu Maharashtrians.

Although historically from Goa, my family has been in Bombay for eons. We are counted amidst the ethnic Hindu Maharashtrians, a typical Marathi Brahmin 'kar' family. Bal Thackeray is supposed to have been our champion. I should have loved him and been grateful. I should have been thankful for him trying to preserve my culture, protecting our rights to the land, its bounty and its jobs. I should have been part of the throngs of followers. But it is something I could never do. To me he was this terrifying monster, a Godzilla of sorts hell bent on destroying the city I loved. A monster of terrible nightmares and frightful futures.

I'm usually a pacifist. I rarely dislike people, let alone loathe them. No matter how hurt or upset I am, I have a hard time wishing ill of people, let alone death. I'm one of those children who had a lively imagination of rainbows and ponies and all sorts of pleasant thoughts. But if there has been anything violent, twisted or demented in my childhood is that I have fantasized of Bal Thackeray's death several times.

Living in the United States has given me a lot more perspective. I'm much more tempered and thoughtful now. I'm no longer a foolish child loathing a terrible monster and dreaming of slaying it. I've grown up and developed a moral core that human beings should have. I have a sense of ethics, compassion and humanity. And it is this moral fiber within me that prevents me from mourning his death.

As an immigrant I have been very fortunate not to face racism or discrimination. The path to citizenship was easy, and I've assimilated as an American citizen. However, the hateful rhetoric against immigrants and minorities hurts and cuts to the core. It hurts when right wing tea party extremists spew their venom. It hurts when you are considered and outside intrusion in a country you have sworn allegiance to. It hurts when they say our people are destroying the culture and values of America. It hurts when they accuse us of stealing jobs and livelihood. It hurts when you are blamed for everything that is wrong in a country you love so much. That is why immigrant and minority rights is something near and dear to me. These values of liberty, equality and justice for all human beings is at the very core of my being. And you cannot stand for immigrant and minority rights in one country, and mourn the loss of an oppressor of immigrants and minorities in another.

The brutal truth is that there is no difference between the ideals of 'Marathi Manoos' 'Hindutva' and the ideals of white supremacists like Neo Nazis and the KKK. Extreme right wing white Christians are anti-immigration and minority. They want to erase the multicultural influences and create a white Christian America. Bal Thackeray's desire to create a Maharashtra for the Hindu Marathi people is no different. When people back home celebrate him as a hero of our people, I cannot help but hang my head in shame and remorse.

I realize that I may come across as a heartless soulless beast to some people, but it is against my moral fabric to have any sort of sadness over Bal Thackeray's death. I understand the whole sentiment of respecting the dead and resting in peace, but there are certain exceptions. I cannot bring myself to compromise with the ethics, morals and ideals that define me. And while it may come across as rude and unsympathetic to be glad someone is dead, please try to see it from the eyes of the victims, the immigrants and minorities. To expect sympathy in this case is viler and crueler, it is like asking black people to sympathize with the KKK or for homosexuals to sympathize with the Westboro Baptist church. Sometimes hating and loathing is the ethical thing to do.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Online Opinion Poll

I'm not sure how many people read this blog. I usually just use it as a venting station, a word vomit, a place to pour my thoughts into. That is why I've never been as concerned about feedback. However, in this case I am actually hoping for comments. I'm trying to gather opinions.

So recently a bunch of friends and me online were being quite juvenile and silly. I don't know how it came up. Something to do with Big Boss India's live feed. For some reason 'morning wood' came up in the waking up footage. It became the goal to find model Niketan Madhok's morning wood. Just some immature fun. Then in one of the footage someone saw it. Me being the juvenile delinquent that I am took some screen caps. That apparently got me in trouble. According to some people with higher moral standings, my screen caps are sexually explicit. I feel like Larry Flynt, and I didn't even attempt to do what Larry Flynt did. I feel like I went to create a LOLCat but got accused of producing porn instead.

Below are the two screen caps I posted. I'm curious to know how many find it sexually explicit and how many find it to be just something silly and juvenile, and of course why.