As per this report of OpIndia on 15th April 2018 “comedians”, Masoom Rajwani and Kunal Kamra were confronted by a group of people when Masoom Rajwani insulted Hindu god and goddess at the canvas laugh club in Mumbai. The video showcases a small conversation where the comedian seems to be apologising to a particular gentleman about his jokes on Hindu Gods. Later on, he is being challenged by another woman in the crowd to crack similar jokes about Muslims and their God and showcase some machismo towards that community too.
This led to the usual outrage/celebration on social media. A certain section of the non-left was celebrating the fact that finally English language comedians are being confronted for their selective machismo. This led to the standard response from the left which was crying about the state of free speech in India. But one response took the cake in my eyes. This was the response from the “comic” Mahima Kukreja (@AGirlOfHerWords). The comic went ahead and wrote a long Twitter thread explaining how it is ok to crack jokes about certain communities/ideas/religions and why it is not ok to criticise others. The thread ended with the comic sharing her thoughts in further detail in this article.
The comic says “In comedy, always punch-up. Never punch down. See where the power lies. We can make jokes about the powerful because, after the joke, they still get to keep their power, livelihood and reputation.” She then says “Look at the equation of the joke, the narrator and the subject, and see where the power resides.” As if this was not enough she says “So, can a comic in India make harmless jokes about Hinduism? Yes. Hindus are the biggest and most powerful majority in India. They’re at the top of the pyramid. The jokes don’t strip them of power in any way. Tomorrow, their lives will go on as it is.”
Now some natural questions that should be asked in the case of sweeping statements like punching up, checking where the power lies or jokes about Hinduism/Hindus are define what is “punching up”? What is this “power” structure? What do these people mean when they use words like Hinduism? In fact, what do they mean by Hindus?
So when the comic wants to punch up they make a generalised joke about Hinduism. At that time the caste matrix is thrown in the dustbin of bad ideas. But every other hour of the day we have to be constantly reminded of the great evil of casteism in India. The comic forgets that Hindu gods/festivals are worshipped/celebrated by Hindus cutting across caste lines, so a joke on Hinduism is technically hurting lower caste Hindus too. Even within their own claims, there seems to be a great deal of inconsistency. Because as per their claims the lower caste Hindu scores lesser points on the Oppression Olympics scale when compared to a Muslim.
Also on what basis are Muslims a weaker section of society? One joke on Islam or the Prophet leads to riots across the world. In India, from Kashmir to Rampur to the Azad Maidan riots in Mumbai we are constantly reminded of the possible repercussions when we criticise Islam in India. Also since when did Indian Muslims become a separate set of people? Wasn’t Islam all about the global Muslim Ummah? How can a theology that claims to believe in no type of nationalism/patriotism even talk about oppression and suppression at a local level as a unique set of Indians? Aren’t Indian Muslims technically part of the that global Muslim Ummah? The question is not what the author of this article believes personally, the question is for the ones who make claims from the lense of victimhood and oppression. How can Indian Muslims be oppressed if they themselves believe to be part of a billion+ strong Muslim Ummah which consists of rich Arab Nations that are loaded with oil money?
Nonetheless, while this whole concept of power structures and punching up or down can be shown to be fallacious and often hypocritical, what eventually matters is why do some people come up with these kinds of arguments? It is because they are no different from religious fundamentalists. One has to read the article of Mahima Kukreja in its entirety if one really wants to get the complete religious experience. Yes, I repeat a complete religious experience. What you have read above is the doctrine of the religion of SJW ism (Social Justice Warrior).
The behaviour of the comic Mahima Kukreja is exactly like that of a religious ideologue. SJW ism is Abrahamism reborn in its new avatar. It is the rebirth of religion in the West which has slowly percolated downstream to India from its masters in the West via the humanities/social sciences. Do not believe me? Well, let us dig a little bit deeper. Just look at the similarities between Abrahamism and SJW ism:
Abrahamism has the concept of original sin. As per all Abrahamic religions, all of humanity is eternally damned because of the original sin committed by humanity and those sins can be washed off only by a belief that Jesus is the son of God and he died for us. People who believe that doctrine go to heaven and the ones who reject that doctrine go to hell for an eternity.
Similarly, SJW ism also has the concept of original sin. Here “privilege” is the original sin of the majority community in a society. In India, that majority is the Hindus and in the West, that majority is the white race. The majority is eternally damned because they are “privileged” and the only way they can attain a seat in the SJW heaven is by acknowledging their “privilege”. If they refuse to acknowledge their “privilege” they are going to go to the societal hell created by the adherents of the SJW religion.
Order and Chaos
According to Abrahamism, the world is in a state of Chaos and Order can only be restored by a belief in their God because he is the only true God and you have to follow the tenets of their religious book. Similarly, the religion of SJW ism also believes the world is in a state of chaos where privileged majorities are dominating the underprivileged minorities and to restore order in society the majority has to be uprooted from its position of power.
Abrahamism cannot tolerate any false word spoken against their God. The punishment for blasphemers in Abrahamism is death. Similarly, in SJW ism it is blasphemous to question the concept of privilege. If one questions the concept of privilege that person is societally shamed, beaten up on occasions or de platformed from college events.
Punish the Apostate
Apostasy is forbidden in Abrahamism. Abrahamism is like a one-way ticket. You can get in but never get out. If you want to get out of the religion God says that you should be punished (punishment can sometimes be death too). Similarly, the religion of SJW ism also hates the apostate. The moment one decides to leave the religious cult of SJW ism its adherents will start hurling abuses at you and try to destroy your life and career by discrediting you and attacking your moral character. If that is not enough you will be harmed physically (Antifa and its physical attacks).
Curb Freedom of Speech
Abrahamism hates free speech. Because if you can speak freely it means you can question their God, you can question his commandments and you can think freely. That is the total antithesis of exclusivist ideologies like Abrahamism. SJW ism and its adherents also hate freedom of expression. You cannot question/challenge their tenets, you cannot speak against their religious beliefs. The followers of SJW ism want more and more laws that will curb freedom of expression in the form of hate speech laws etc.
Inability to handle the diversity of thought: Both Abrahamism and SJW ism are monotheistic exclusivist religions. They cannot handle thought diversity. Because thought diversity would mean a marketplace of ideas where people will have an actual choice. Where people could explore other ideas. Exclusivist and expansionist ideologies cannot handle such thought diversity because that is a direct threat to their existence.
At a fundamental level, both the concepts are collectivist, totalitarian, authoritarian & they are meant to guilt trip people till eternity. No one, whether it is the whites in the West or it is the Brahmins in India should be guilt-tripped for eternity. If we want an egalitarian society we need to dilute identity. And identities don’t get diluted by repeating them ad infinitum. That does not dilute them. That perpetuates them. Initially, the left did a fantastic job of keeping a check on societal problems. Post the invention of agriculture, societies have been large-scale human conglomerations. A natural result of such conglomeration of humans will be hierarchies. Even societies which were hunter-gatherers have some sort of hierarchy. The left’s job has always been to remind the large-scale society that these hierarchies have the potential to become rigid, toxic and dangerous. And we need that reminder constantly.
But, we have to remember that just like Abrahamic monotheism SJW ism tends to be very Utopian and Utopias are the most dangerous form of societal goals. Because Utopias can only be achieved when there is a complete elimination of every other thought process, and that is achievable only via violence. The key to life is attaining a healthy balance between freedom/responsibility, freedom is beautiful but it has to be complemented with responsibility. But that sense of responsibility needs to come from within the individual. The moment that responsibility gets shoved down our throat in the form of a suppressive religious ideology it becomes dangerous. There is a difference between activism and authoritarianism.
Activism is good but authoritarianism is dangerous. Both Abrahamism and SJW ism are very dangerous in their absolutely pure forms which its adherents constantly work to attain. It is up to both, their adherents, as well as its opponents to create inbuilt checks and balances to avoid the slide towards craziness. Personally, as a freedom loving sceptic, I dislike religion in all its avatars. So when I see the rise of a new religion in the form of SJW ism it is my moral responsibility to turn the spotlight on that. What will be done about it only time can tell. I will leave you with the words of Penn Jillette where he says ” Love and respects all people. Hate and destroy all faith. “