December 09, 2010

Taunt-surfing

On Wednesday morning, two bits of news caught my eye, and neither of them had anything to do with 2G or Wikileaks or the Ashes.

One was about a man who got into an argument with another man over a seat in a train, and suddenly picked up the other man's 4 year-old daughter and threw her off the train.

The other was about a bomb blast on the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi, which killed a 2 year-old girl and injured about two dozen others.

Both items left me nauseated. What kind of sickos set off bombs in public places, intent on killing innocent people? What kind of sicko would throw a little girl off a train, no matter what his argument with her father?

My assumption is that others out there feel just as nauseated. My assumption, equally, is that others out there will assume that much about me.

Yet such assumptions founder on comments of the kind I invariably get when such events happen, like these that I got that refer to the Varanasi tragedy:

"any plans for disaster tourism in Varanasi? I guess no.. and we all know why.."

"I can bet Rs. 100 that you will never try to visit the parents of the 2 year old who died.. and will never ever write about it."

"Khush ho gaye DD Boss? now that their is a blast in Varanasi.. claiming to celebrate the 18th.."

We have here a person whose first reaction -- absolutely the first -- to this atrocity is, "let me get on DD's blog and taunt him."

We have here a person who actually thinks I am happy about this murder. I cannot begin to understand how any sane person would think this way. Except for this: he himself is glad about other atrocities, and seeks to project this inhumanity on those whose thinking he disagrees with.

I have visited Kashmiri Pandit camps, and relief camps in Gujarat and Bombay. I have spoken to bomb-blast and riot victims in Bombay and Delhi hospitals, families of victims of that fire on the train in Godhra. I have travelled sometimes long distances to spend time with families of soldiers who were killed on our borders (one the morning I wrote this). I have got to know the wives and children of men killed in police custody in West Bengal and in Maharashtra, of farmers who committed suicide in Vidarbha.

Yet I can always be sure that there will be people who will say, "You must be happy about the death of that two year-old."

And it makes me wonder, what has happened to our country that people like this have lost some basic, essential humanity?

36 comments:

Patrix said...

Reminds me of a comment somewhere analyzing the opinions of people in America - 27% of the population at any given time is crazy.

Unfortunately, same seems to be true of India. And worse, they have Internet access.

Anonymous said...

Shukrana, Shukrana DD Saheb.. at least you acknowledged my existence.. Glad to know that you "visited" the Hindu Kashmiries..

baki sab ke liye.. "khuda khair karey"

It is easy to point out other's fault ( in this case I am with you), but how would you know that I jumped to ypur blog before doing whatever I can to help the victims at Varanasi? I will not disclouse the amount I paid, and you would be surprised that you also could.. with an event so recent, but it still does not answers my questions..

OK going forward, for how long will you remember this blast and for that matter the Hindu Kashmiries?

Shit.. the "hindu" word itself is so untouchable.. right.. ? even I want to get rid of the word Hindu.. makes me wash my hands..

But you of course, have good H friends.. I am so sure coz I have studied in Pilani, and have worked in US

It works out, when you need them.. for the rest of the time........

Anonymous said...

"And it makes me wonder, what has happened to our country that people like this have lost some basic, essential humanity?"

How 'bout visiting the sufffered and write on your blog/book/newspaper?

Kisi ke marne par dookh tau sab ko hota hai DD saheb.. par kabhi kabhi emotions auro ke liye bhi dikha diya karo.

Like the song.. gairoon pe karam .. apno pe sitam..

Agar pura secular banana hai tau kabhi kabhi kisi aur ki maut ko bhi notice kar lo.. nahi to log kahenge..

aur aap kahte rahoge ki " logo ka kaam hai kahana"

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Dilip - in some ways the train case you mention was worse, because the child was deliberately targeted by someone who was not ideologically brainwashed. Correct me if I'm wrong but I've never heard of even the most perverted terrorist specifically targeting children.

As for your commenters, they're ideologically brainwashed too... But I have to say, though I agree with you most of the time, I do find your style grating sometimes. Specifically, I think, it's your habit of throwing multiple stories together, implicitly connecting them though no connection exists. Tom Friedman does that too, but he's a moron and you're not. Can mail you privately (as I recently did with an example that didn't involve terrorism or religion).

Dilip D'Souza said...

it's your habit of throwing multiple stories together, implicitly connecting them though no connection exists.

Rahul, do you refer to this post? If so, I'm not implying any connection, I just put them both there because the two news items together so disturbed me that morning.

In general, though I am hardly looking to putting off people or alienating them, I'm also in the business of trying to write things that give you something to think about. Necessarily that means some things will grate on some people.

I see connections sometimes. I write about them. Sometimes you make connections that give you perspective. I cannot expect everyone to either make the same connections or find the same perspective. That's OK. I'm willing to listen to alternative perspectives too.

As always, you're welcome to mail me privately. Look forward to it if so.

PS: I find Friedman annoying too, but he's no moron.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

PS: I find Friedman annoying too, but he's no moron.

He's shallow, superficial, can't even keep his metaphors unmixed (as Taibbi repeatedly and hilariously points out), and has been wrong on pretty much every issue of importance -- whether it's Iraq or the Irish economy or anything else. And the reason he's wrong is that he gets his ideas at elite dinners with the rich and famous, not by talking to ordinary people or doing his own research.

Rest in private (shortly).

Jai_C said...

Patrix,
I'd guess anon sounds a lot more normal IRL, the net is an enabler for this kind of behavior.

Anon,
Dilip maybe a poora secular banana but you seem to be just bananas.

Rahul,
Are you referring to the ethics post that Radiiated away to encompass all humanity or all Indianity?

Rahul & Dilip,
Please consider having your discussion on comment thread if that is okay with you.

Why just have various anons disagreeing with D in public space? They tend to be the variety currently on display.

Regretfully, a blogger with a pseudonym seems to have receded to anon status to post comments disagreeing with Dilip recently.

Why cant serious bloggers I read and respect have disagreements and discuss them on their blog spaces.

Its your call of course and I have no right to any such expectation.

thanks,
Jai

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Jai -
(1) I don't disagree with Dilip most of the time, and not this time, either
(2) If we were to talk on the phone, would you want us to record it and upload the recording too?

Your last statement is correct: you have no right to any such expectation. Then why ask for it?

Anonymous said...

Rahul,

Actually video of your chat would be even better :-)

I dont disagree with D "most of the time" either.

But since you are making it more than abundantly clear that you are NOT okay with discussing your disagreements in public, however infrequent or nuanced, cool.

Anon-the-other (who sounds like somebody) that I was referring to in previous comment,

Thanks for discussing your disagreements however anonymously, in comment space.

thanks,
Jai

Anonymous said...

Dcubed - Are you sure you are not confusing Tom with his unrelated coreligionist and annoyance perpetrator, Milton? Cos Tom Friedman IS a MORON. Unless you use the term disparagingly "moron" for people with learning disabilities or low IQ, Tom is a case study.

Rahul - Please can we have that Friedman discussion posted. That Friedman is read by too many educated Indians, the "Indiashiners" for you to do this privately.

Puppy M - Isn't it freaky that we read the Taibbi reviews around the same time (a few ours earlier) that Rahul posted the links. Its seriously freaky.

Jai - Alas. But hurrah!

Rahul Siddharthan said...

I didn't discuss TF with Dilip, other than what's above.

However, I'll leave it to Dilip to post our correspondence if he likes (one mail from me and one from him). There is nothing confidential as far as I am concerned. I just don't feel the need to publicly post every bit of correspondence that I have with anyone. But I guess that's why I haven't really warmed to Facebook.

Why is Friedman/Taibbi topical -- well, it was on my mind because I saw this earlier yesterday. And went back to those Taibbi articles and refreshed my memory. I'd forgotten the vase thing, and the four-point graph was ludicrous, but pretty much all his columns are like that. (Anyone remember his "France is our enemy" column, at the height of his Iraq bloodlust?)

Really, there is nothing positive to say about the guy. If some Indians admire him because he said nice things about Bangalore and Infosys, well, good for them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

On Friedman: like I said, I find a lot of his analysis annoying. But he's no moron -- if we mean the sense of being stupid -- even though a lot of folks might like to call him that. It's like Dinesh D'Souza, whose work I find annoying too, but he's no moron either. Guys I disagree with are not necessarily stupid.

I don't post publicly correspondence that is private.

Anonymous said...

"Guys I disagree with are not necessarily stupid."

Not necessarily yes, but some really are.

So for ex - One might disagree with

Christopher Hitchens about invasion of Iraq
President Obama about war in Afghanistan/Don't ask don't tell/Economic Policy/
Hillary Clinton about wikileaks
NYTimes Editors in General
L K Advani about almost everything under the sun
Dinesh D'Souza and the American Christian Right about Christianity, creationism and neo-conservatism
Mao Zedong about revolutionary tactics and totalitarianism
Lenin about Totalitatarian socialism
Mahatma Gandhi about underwear and its relationship with politics/condescending attitude towards dalits

None of these people are stupid. Nor by any definition of a moron, are they morons.

Others like
Tom Friedman

are. The question is why? - Rahul has linked to the Matt Taibbi article, it proves it.


Guys I disagree with are not necessarily stupid but some of them just are. As long as you have a convincing answer to why, its all fair.


Also -

"If somebody passionately denounces someone its not necessarily because they are intolerant about disagreement."

That's what I got from your Mandela recommendation.

If one misses the entire argument for a particular denunciation every time, (even when links are provided which practically prove the point) does not show any interest in tackling the points and consoles one's self with "Oh, these guys are intolerant about disagreement" then .....alas, but hurrah!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sorry to beat this into the ground. My last bit on this: my dictionary defines "moron" as "a stupid person". I don't believe Friedman is stupid.

I don't know what you mean by the "Mandela recommendation" (where did I recommend him, and for what?), or that quote, which I don't have any recollection of having said.

Anonymous said...

Dcubed -

Yes, by that definition you are right. But perhaps in that case we should just give up the usage of both terms moron as well as stupid. Its quite hurtful. But that's a different discussion and an annoyingly semantic one. We are all sensitive people here, we can let such things go...

The Mandela discussion
http://dcubed.blogspot.com/2010/11/shied-away.html
__________________
Dcubed:

"I don't get much satisfaction in simply condemning people I disagree with.

I recommend "Playing the Enemy", the book that inspired the movie "Invictus", and Mandela's thinking."
__________________

It ends on that similar note as here, where you seem to conclude that the only reason the condemner is condemning the condemnee (aah!) must be that he/she can not handle disagreement.

I, if I may, would accuse you of using this as an excuse to not take substantive criticism seriously. May be I am wrong.

And I am saying - although dispassionate argumentation and respectful 'agreeing to disagree' should be the norm, sometimes condemnation is justified and perhaps also a good tactic.

That said, given that its from Mandela, may be it has some strategic insights on how to argue and struggle against the worst form of condemnable human thought and action which he admirably and famously did succeed at. So will consider that book too...

Anonymous said...

and sorry for the misunderstanding

"If somebody passionately denounces someone its not necessarily because they are intolerant about disagreement." - Anonymous

You never said that.

Anonymous said...

True story:

Friend 1: Have you heard of Dilip D'Souza?
Friend 2: That Christian dude who argues with atheists. LOL! yes...
Friend 1: What!? No! this guy is an Indian journalist, excellent writer. The guy on whose true life story, the Hindi documentary "Pardes" is based.
Friend 2: I think that is Dinesh D'Souza. Are they brothers?
Friend 1: What!? No! oh wait let me check...(googles) I don't think so...I would be surprised if they are.
Friend 2: So what of Dilip D'Souza?
Friend 1: Dilip D'Souza went out with Ann Coulter.
Friend 2: What!? Scary Republican, lying, I am scared of Muslims-they-are-"Swarthy suspicious looking men"-Ann Coulter!?
Friend 1: YES!
Friend 2: What a moron!

Dilip D'Souza said...

No, it's only that I'd like to be precise in words I use.

There is a value to condemning a lot of people/things. There is very little the Shiv Sena and its leaders do that I find worth anything but condemnation. Their kind of hate-filled politics is sickening to me and I want no part of it. Ever. There are other examples.

But "Invictus" did open my eyes: the way Mandela dealt with his political opponents and put his country on a path entirely different, and better, than it might have taken after he was released and apartheid came to an end. I'm not sure I have the fibre to do it his way -- check the way I feel about the SS -- but it is an inspiring, thought-provoking, stimulating example.

I do honestly try my best to take substantive criticism seriously. Try me. But remember that taking it seriously may not necessarily mean that I agree with it, or don't have my own point of view that I will also put forward.

As for Ann Coulter, she does have long hair (last I checked) and I like long hair. Apart from that I find little to recommend her.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Dilip -- yes, a moron is a stupid person. It is possible that you deny the possibility of a stupid person. Nobody is stupid, you may say. I can respect that. But if you admit the existence of even a single stupid person in this world, surely T. Friedman is it.

I wouldn't call him stupid if he wrote from a small town for the Hitavada or a local college paper. But he writes what he does from an incredibly privileged position: he has met and talked to rich and famous people all over the world, he has access to any information he wants, anyone would return his calls. And yet he produces "Our war with France" (which I was sufficiently irritated with to parody, back in 2003 before the world discovered blogs).

And remember the whole Rumsfeld-inspired tripe about "old Europe" (Germany) and "new Europe" (Ireland)? Here's what Friedman wrote in 2005: "The only question is when Germany and France will face reality: either they become Ireland or they become museums."

These are not isolated examples, only the most extreme ones. Taibbi does a real public service in calling Friedman out on his idiocy, because, sad to say, there are still people who take him seriously. Taibbi may write like a college kid on drugs, but there is more substance in a single page of his reports on the financial crisis, the mortgage crisis, etc, than in all of Friedman's oeuvre this century. And there are Friedmans in India too. We need more Taibbis.

It is possible Friedman was not always a moron -- I discovered him only around 2003 and have no idea what his pre-NYT history was, but presumably he did something to earn his seat as their resident pundit.

As for Dinesh D'Souza -- he's no moron. He's a demagogue in the mould of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, with a veneer of sophistication, and (like them) he knows exactly what he's doing.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Interesting the turn this discussion has taken ...

Rahul, what you say about TF reminds me of someone you and I have had discussions about, in particular in regard to a certain cricket enterprise. I find that person's writing empty, shallow, you name it. Much like you find TF's (and like I do, admittedly). But that person is no moron. That person knows exactly how to get ahead in this world, and had got pretty far (if not as far as TF).

I see TF similarly.

We need more Taibbis, certainly. I wish I had the kind of rapier way with words he does. Maybe I should try.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Dilip - if you're saying TF knows how to get ahead in the world, yes, you're right. If you're saying he writes as he does not because he's an idiot but because he is catering to idiots, well, maybe you're right too. Is it preferable to be a fool or to be a scoundrel? My explanation was the more charitable, because he seems genuinely to believe what he is saying, with wide-eyed naivete -- but perhaps that is part of the game. But I doubt it's a pretence.

The management types have for a while been talking of the importance of EQ as opposed to IQ. Perhaps TF has low IQ but outstanding EQ.

Anonymous said...

DCubed has a way with his words and is very good at it. I wish he just stuck to travelogues and not pontificate with his prejudices.
Equating a blast at a religious place to a gruesome end to a silly spat in a train shows a menial bend in his thinking and argument.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Mentioning that two incidents left me nauseated amounts to "equating" them: this is the logic, such as it is, on display here.

Dilip D'Souza said...

By the way I should add that whenever I see words to the effect of "I wish he just stuck to [whatever]", I know I'm doing something right.

Anonymous said...

LOL

"DCubed has a way with his words and is very good at it. I wish he just stuck to travelogues and not pontificate with his prejudices. "

means, Dcubed seems to invoke basic humanity and reason in me and I don't like it because it challenges my unsustainable bigotry that has now become conventional wisdom. Hence Dcubed should stop making me uncomfortable and write things that don't make any one uncomfortable like Chetan Bhagat or better, Gurcharan Das or even better Harsha Bhogale "arre su ingles boleche, first class"


Congrats Dcubed. The fact that these people are so revolted by your "expositions" but keep coming back means you are doing something terribly right.

The Orange Cat said...

Doesn't it bother you that most of the haters don't know grammar of any language?

PM said...

Jai (Dec 10, 11:10 AM):

It seems easy enough for you (and me, but that's because I know him) to pick out my co-blogger,the Anon-who-was-formerly-a-pseudonym, based purely on his (lack of) writing style, so I don't see what the big deal with the transition to anon is. I would worry when he discovers how to use commas correctly, because that will make it really difficult to recognize him (not really, but I couldn't resist the cheap shot).

I think now that the "serious" commenters can easily recognize him, there is no need to sign off with his pseudonym. When both of us did sign in to blogger or comment with a link to our blog, we started getting hate comments there. Our blog is fairly silly with a high irony content, and it makes little sense to have people judge our comments here based on the nonsense we post on it.

BV / Rahul :

Yes, it is a weird coincidence that we were all reading Taibbi around the same time. Actually, before I read your comment (BV's comment), I thought you got the Taibbi links from Rahul. In any case, those were thoroughly enjoyable reads, so thank you both for them.

Regards,

PM

PS: word verification : hingh
PPS: Firefox doesn't like "commenters"

Anonymous said...

Thanks PM for the explanation. You didnt owe me one of course, and could have batted me down like Rahul did upstairs. But thanks for taking me seriously enough to not do so.

I didnt have anything to say on the OP here, but let me note that some of the discussion (esp. on TF) couldnt happen at a more appropriate place! esp w.r.t the title. This includes my own characterization of somebody as "bananas".

On TF:
I used to like his writing several yrs ago and then outgrew it. His mission statment appears to be to get the gist of something within 10 words or less. That "something" is typically vast, complex and could easily take books and years of effort to get a handle on. He gets things pretty wrong or only superficially right.

For all that I wouldnt call him stuff he's getting called here.

thanks,
Jai

Anonymous said...

Dcubed - What if the Shiv Sena would speak in English and were capable of intellectual hypocrisy and eloquence. If they manage to create a class of educated propagandists and intellectual apologists, will you perhaps find the Shiv Sena less condemnable?

Essentially what I am asking you why you find yourself less lenient to the crimes and politics of the Shiv Sena than say the crimes of the American presidency (since Truman, pick any one)

Would you quote some good quotes from Bal Thackeray then? Would Bal Thackeray give you some fodder for thought then? like Barrack Obama did recently?

BV

Anonymous said...

RS: "The management types have for a while been talking of the importance of EQ as opposed to IQ. Perhaps TF has low IQ but outstanding EQ"

You have that right. The "EQ system" takes ones with high IQ, offers them much money, profits from them, raises their EQ/IQ ratio and turns them into scoundrels who write drivel that belongs to the intellectual waste basket, but is remarkably profitable. Perhaps you personally do not deal in any profitable goods/services, thus have maintained your original miniscule and pontificating EQ/IQ ratio.

Anonymous said...

Tabby dreams of having been crowned the Grammar Queen.

Dilip D'Souza said...

BV: Short answer is no.

First, the language has nothing to do with this. After all, the Sena's rhetoric and bluster come to me in English.

Second, this is about extremes, where it is difficult to find any redeemable qualities. I hate Bush's venture into Iraq, for example, but I was encouraged by the way he went to a mosque in NYC after 9/11 and made a point to his countrymen. I have mentioned that somewhere (can't immediately locate it) in my writing. In contrast, I cannot think of one Sena utterance I find worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Dcubed - Thanks for the answer.

Language has a lot to do with it. Shiv Sena and their propaganda apparatus has written great benevolent sounding op-eds in the past. You will have never read them. They were in Marathi.

"but I was encouraged by the way [Bush] went to a mosque in NYC after 9/11 and made a point to his countrymen. "
-bravo.

So all you need is for Shiv Sena leaders to hire PR agents, speech writers and all will be good, even if they start a war against "ant-Indianism" where most victims happen to be of one specific community

Dilip D'Souza said...

No, I've read several of their opeds in the original Marathi too. I am yet to find something worthwhile in them.

"All will be good" is meaningless. That visit to a mosque sent out a message that needed to be sent out. PR or not, I'm yet to see Thackeray doing anything similar.

I try to believe that most people/regimes/leaders have a mix in them, of things I find abhorrent and worthwhile. And if I find those worthwhile things, I try to speak about them too, because the world around us is not black and white.

In some people/regimes/leaders, I'm yet to find those worthwhile things.

Anonymous said...

Dcubed - I am not in the business of comparing human suffering, so I won't go in to the who is worse (nor will you, I am sure) but your preference of Bush is absurd. That mosque speech was meaningless- MEANINGLESS. How and why? Ask the people he was addressing and then also consider his administration's actions and policies.

Its hard for me to understand how the regime head responsible (legally indictable btw) of systematic torture, illegal abduction, illegal invasion, dismantling of constitutional rights and by standards of Nuremberg indictable of the WORST CRIME on Humanity - Aggression..

is preferable just because he made a meaningless speech. And remember I don't call it meaningless because it was a speech. Pres. Obama also made a speech in Cairo. As low an opinion as I have of it and of that speech, it certainly was not meaningless given the positive impact it is supposed to have had over the muslim world.

BV

Dilip D'Souza said...

"Preference" is not the word I would use. Given a choice between a regime headed by Thackeray and one headed by Bush, I'd want to shoot myself. So leave that aside.

The mosque visit was meant to address the fears of American Muslims, right then living in fear of "reprisal" attacks for 9/11, a few of which had already happened. That addressing, I think it achieved then. I've heard American Muslims say so. It was a stark contrast, for example, to what the US did to Japanese-Americans during WW2. It's the kind of thing that Modi should have done, PR or no PR, in early March 2002.

I can't think of more ways to beat this into the ground, so if it's OK with you, let's do the usual agree to disagree thing.