Opinions

AIB Apology. Minority appeasement or a precedent?

In an earlier post, we had mentioned that some of the first people to raise their voices against the AIB roast were a Hindu group and a Christian group. They were followed by many other people eventually but the floodgates opened from there. Today, AIB declared that they had met the Archdiocese of Mumbai and tendered an “Unconditional Apology” to the entire Christian community. They say:

Amidst the din over the AIB Knockout, we’ve had the opportunity to reach out to some groups who have had questions about the jokes and the taste they were made in.

The Brahman Ekta Seva Sanstha also had some grouse with the AIB, we assume AIB hasn’t yet found the time to “reach out” to this group and have a discussion with them let alone apologise. AIB also mention that:

The kind archdiocese acknowledged the fact that we have never been against any community, nor do we bear any ill will towards any community.

Its quite puzzling that although the Archdiocese feels that they don’t bear any ill will towards any community, yet it deemed fit to extract an Unconditional Apology from AIB. This entire episode reminds one of the times when Leela Samson deemed it fit to show movies to Christian groups before release so that they are pacified. One is also reminded of the recent case when author Perumal Murugan was asked by an aggrieved caste to issue an unconditional apology for defaming them, and how the entire issue was played up as a Hindutva vs Freedom of Speech battle.

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By and large, AIB’s response to this controversy has been slightly disappointing. Firstly, taking down the video made people feel they couldn’t stand up for what they said. The damage of course was already done and there was no real need to take it down, unless they were threatened by some group, and these threats were never made public by them, which could explain why they felt the need to apologise to a group.

Secondly, the apology has now set the ball rolling for competitive apology demands. As we pointed out above, other groups are bound to latch on to this and ask for their fair share of apology. This could have an effect on all further such events where an artist “offends” a group.

Thirdly, will AIB offer similar unconditional apologies to other “minority” groups? Fat people, Dark people, LGBTs are all “minority” groups, who were slaughtered by AIB using humour. Are apologies reserved only for religious minorities?

As for us, we always believed AIB should have taken this battle to the courts, to silence the intolerant elements and also to make the courts finally set the law straight as to what can be called “offensive”. We believe AIB has the financial might, the public support and the legal backing needed to make a fight out of this.

The most interesting aspect of this entire apology episode is yet to play out. Will the offended Christian groups withdraw their complaints thanks to this apology? If so, then will only Hindu groups be left as complainants? And will the entire argument be spun around to show it as yet another Hindutva vs Freedom of Speech issue? Only time will tell, if all groups are given the same privilege of an apology or is it just Minority appeasement.

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