The meme posted (although retweeted with some literature added) by a Delhi -based freelance journalist (by name Prashant Kanojia) is highly objectionable. It’s tantamount to character assassination. In a vast and highly populated country like India people of all sorts say different kinds of things. The girl in the video expressed certain feelings on the CM out of her own choice, which the private channel in Noida, that too the channel with no licence, should not have broadcast the content without verifying the veracity. Did they broadcast to create sensation, or for the popularity of the channel (whose viewership is perhaps limited), or to degrade or denigrate the image of the saffron-clad monk – are all questions.
To justify the meme on the grounds of freedom of expression (in this case humour) is erroneous. It could easily be understood that the person who tweeted has his own bias against the popular leader. He wouldn’t have done on someone who he esteems high. This can be said with lines he added that he would support and help the love… Yogi ji blah-blah. It’s awful. Who gave him the right? Would he, as a person, agree if he was mocked that way? By doing so, the journalist is questioning the ‘orderly discipline of Yogis’. That’s the bigger mistake.
In Indian tradition, a Yogi is revered. They (Yogis) are unperturbed by any worldly attractions including the love by a woman, in the sense, for carnal pleasures. Have they (the Yogis) had desire for such pleasures, they shouldn’t become monks in the first place. Whether every monk is true to his ‘order of life’ or not, is not in the realm of speculation unless proved otherwise. Similarly, there are widows from political dynasties. They are respected. Never made memes on them on their personal lives to have love on someone in the manner that the particular meme expressed. That goes against Bharat’s ethos and traditions. There can be humour. There can be sarcasm. But not at the cost of ridiculing and maligning a public figure by encroaching in to personal sphere. In any case, Yogi ji is not the friend of the journalist to crack jokes on.
There are in place ‘privacy laws’ for writing a book. Those guidelines are to be strictly adhered to. For, a book goes into public. People read and will form some impressions mentioned on the characters in it. If it’s purely fiction, it is okay. If it’s non-fiction and the persons are still alive, the writer/ author has to be very careful while writing about them. Specially, privacy laws come into picture while writing personal things. If something goes wrong on that front, the author can be sued for defamation in the court. Now the book reading sections have reduced. Since the advent of social media, the public started reading instant short messages in WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc. These messages convey, better than books, the essential gist to the readers in the manner they could comprehend. So most of them have fallen prey to social media than to have a serious reading of books to deduce meaning to themselves.
In the aforesaid scenario, there should be some caveats or riders to contain the unwarranted information with regard to privacy of individuals specially for those vulnerable- in positions of public office. The above mentioned journalist retweeted with a comment which is poor in taste but could potentially be sensational as he was in a way justifying what the girl has said with his comment on it. Specially Twitter, is a medium, where you compress your thought in limited words but has a humongous weight. The video of the girl has become a handy tool to him to carry his mission of promoting his channel and vilification of the politician he disagrees/hates.
Now that the journalist’s wife has knocked the doors of Supreme Court, it has to be seen where this freedom of expression leads to. India is not a western country to implement free speech to any height. This country has a tradition in which, to raise questions on some matters, without a rhyme or reason, is not allowed in public. Can anyone name at least ‘one’ western country with a long-standing tradition? No. They have no traditions to bind them. Liberals in the mainstream news channels have been making a big hue and cry on the journalist’s freedom of speech. To a large extent, this journalist, has violated his freedom. To what degree and also the quantum of punishment imposed on now, is it commensurate with the violation or not, could be discussed and there are laws to measure that. However, this punitive measure taken on him justifiably or not, may work as a deterrent to many.
Earlier (on 8th June 2019) Madras High Court denied anticipatory bail to the BJP Leader S Ve Shekher who allegedly shared a derogatory Facebook post on women journalists, the court has observed that sharing or forwarding a message in social media is equal to accepting and endorsing the message specially, in case, when a celebrity-like person forwards messages, the common person will start believe it. The journalist in Yogi-retweet case, is no common man. He should abide by journalistic norms of truth.
To those who vouch for an bridled freedom, it could easily be said that one day that kind of freedom would dissolve the strong elements of age-old traditional society of India, leading to chaos.