Satire is not slander
Mamata Banerjee has gone nuts.
What do you think the chances are that I get into trouble for saying the above? A professor of Chemistry at Jadavpur university has been arrested for sending an email with a cartoon depicting Mamata Banerjee and her heavy-handed way of dealing with ideas she doesn’t like.
You may remember that she banned English (and even some high-circulation Bengali) newspapers from state-aided libraries in Bengal. The official reasoning was that reading the eight periodicals mentioned in a circular would “significantly contribute to the development and spread of free thinking among the library users.” Free thinking. Except about which newspaper to read.
The cartoon in this case is the following (reproduced from the Hindustan Times page. Click through to go to the page):
The cartoon isn’t even all that funny. The cartoon apparently uses dialogue from a Satyajit Ray movie, so perhaps it is to somebody who is Bengali and knows about the connection. The biggest thing the cartoon has going for it is that Mamata Banerjee apparently has all the sense of humour of a groundnut, and simply can’t stop herself from banning things and getting people arrested.
lackeys ministers will obviously fall in line. ‘Both labour minister Purnendu Bose and transport minister Madan Mitra defended the police action, saying the e-mail was in bad taste.’ They must think the cartoon is accurate. Some TMC members of the legislature did say the action of the police was over-reaching, though. Does anybody wonder why they are only MLAs?
And this on the same day that an author has to leave the country because he’s written a biography of Aurobindo that somebody somewhere has a problem with. And on the same day that Raj Thackeray tells the sitting Chief Minister of Bihar that he had better not visit Bombay. (Nitish Kumar apparently retorted that he doesn’t need a visa to visit Bombay.)
As a society, we seem to be collectively going in entirely the wrong direction on the right to free speech.
Update(15/04/2012, 12:45am): Sheila Dixit, the CM of Delhi, has apparently said that Narendra Modi would not dare campaign in Delhi, for fear of getting stoned (not getting stoned, you know, but having stones thrown at him).