The Congress party in its manifesto, released earlier today, has promised a crackdown on social media. After hinting at Communal Violence Bill 2.0, the manifesto also hints at the possible return of Section 66A, only stronger.
Reading through the entire length of the manifesto, one gets the distinct impression that the Congress President has been watching too many videos of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on Youtube, far more than what can deemed healthy. Rahul Gandhi could never be accused of great intellect but displaying remarkable similarities with the likes of Cortez is a fall far too low, even for him.
The Manifesto promises to “Pass regulations to stop the spread of fake news and hate speech and punish those who misuse digital and social media.” The last time the Congress made an attempt to regulate social media, we got 66A. It is naive to assume that we will get anything different this time around.
The Congress manifesto makes it abundantly clear that the party is attempting to replicate the social engineering that Liberals in the West have succeeded in. People in other parts of the world have already traveled this road before and we know where it ends. It’s not somewhere pretty.
We have seen time and again that attempts to curb ‘hate speech’ are always directed towards stifling mainstream dissenting opinions. The ambiguity of the terms ‘hate speech’ provides ample scope for political parties to crackdown on those who refuse to toe the party line. Because at the crux of the matter is riddled with ambiguity. After all, who exactly defines what ‘hate speech’ is? Who defines what ‘misuse’ of social media is?
The Left worldwide has demonstrated repeatedly that it’s primary objective is to accumulate power, attaching themselves to noble pursuits is only the means towards that end. The transformation of the party under Rahul Gandhi has been such that now it’s essentially impossible to distinguish between the Congress and Radical Democrats in the US like Cortez.
The Left has recognized that social media has been instrumental in propagating rightwing ideas and is actively trying to regulate it. Donald Trump is touted to be the first President to be ‘memed’ into the Presidency. In India, the Bharatiya Janata Party has used social media very effectively to secure its rise to power. Under such circumstances, Rahul Gandhi’s promise to regulate social media appears to be motivated by political concerns hiding under the cloak of ‘hate speech’ and ‘fake news’.
It’s also necessary to emphasize here exactly what the Left considers ‘rightwing’ political opinion. According to Democrats like Cortez, and now it appears Rahul Gandhi, anyone to the Right of Pol Pot, Mao and Stalin are ‘rightwingers’. Therefore, objectively speaking, a great number of these so-called ‘rightwingers’ are really liberals themselves. That the Congress party is taking leaves out of the Radical Left playbook in the West speaks volumes of the lack of wisdom on Rahul Gandhi’s part and, of course, on the part of his advisers.
It’s also consistent with the interests of the mainstream media to have social media regulated as it has irreparably damaged their reputation. In the US, the mainstream media acts as the propaganda wing of the Democrat party while in India, they render their services to the Congress. People have seen through their partisanship and as a consequence, their reputation has suffered horribly. Therefore, as the mainstream media in the US cheer for a crackdown on social media, so have their counterparts in India. It’s basic quid pro quo.
Further evidence of the fact that the promise to regulate social media is a direct threat to dissenters is the Congress party’s promise to revoke the sedition law. The manifesto promises to “Omit Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (that defines the offence of ‘sedition’) that has been misused and, in any event, has become redundant because of subsequent laws.”
Thus, the Congress, which can only be described now as a radical Left party, is offering its acquiescence to slogans such as “Bharat tere tukde honge” while potentially criminalizing dissenting mainstream opinions that does not align with radical Left inclinations.
The Congress President’s concept of ‘Hate Speech’ is bewildering as well. When those anti-India slogans were raised at JNU, he was the first to rush to the University in solidarity with the ‘students’. However, suddenly, he has woken up to the necessity of cracking down on hate speech. Oh! Advocating violent revolution against the Indian state is fine but dissenting opinions on social media? Rahul Gandhi has no tolerance for that.
The promise to regulate ‘Fake News’ on social media is just as problematic. The mainstream media, undoubtedly, has been the greatest purveyor of Fake News across the world. Will Rahul Gandhi act against his friends in the media who diligently peddle his propaganda day in and day out and relaunch his political career every few years? Of course not.
In the US, the mainstream media pulled off the greatest hoax in US history with remarkable efficiency for three years without suffering any consequences. I am, of course, referring to the Russian Collusion hoax. Has there been any shred of accountability? None. Will there be in India? ‘Extremely unlikely’ is a major understatement.
It was the Congress party itself which pulled off the greatest hoax in independent India, the Hindu Terror theory. A certain leader of theirs even attended the launch of a book which blamed the RSS for the Mumbai Attacks. Has the Congress party taken any action against the leader or those who propagated the distasteful Fake News about Hindu Terror? Of course not.
The issue of ‘Fake News’ and ‘Hate Speech’ is further polarized by the fact that people across the political spectrum now disagree on fundamental ontological positions regarding what constitutes the two. According to Radical Left organizations such as the Congress party and mainstream media, even maintaining that there are only two genders is ‘Hate Speech’. Therefore, will people who emphasize on the biological basis of gender be punished as well under the new law? There have been instances in the West where they have been. It appears that the malaise is coming to India should AOC fanboy Rahul Gandhi become the Prime Minister of the country.
At the end of the day, it’s the ordinary citizen who will suffer, regardless of any political affiliation. Because it will give people more scope to take unethical advantage of the law and unethical people can be found across both ends of the political spectrum. For instance, there is a certain Babu on social media who goes around threatening common people who use social media effectively to spread knowledge and truth by abusing his authority. The consequence of the Congress party’s harebrained idea would be empowering such people to harass ordinary citizens.
The law will also give political leaders immeasurable power to hunt down dissenters. It’s something that has happened in the past when section 66A was enforced. And it was the Congress party who was responsible for that.
Only a couple of days earlier, Times of India had published a ‘Fact Check‘ where it informed its readers that Chris Gayle aka Krishna Goyal had not joined the BJP. Whoever wrote that article could not differentiate between Fake News and a Meme, what’s the guarantee that the government appointed regulators will be able to? Will memers be punished, most of whom are creative young people, because people much older than them can’t understand humour?
That the Congress party’s real intentions behind the law is to go after dissenters is further confirmed by its history which is littered with instances where it has clamped down on free speech to preserve its political interests. It’s the party of The Emergency, it’s the party of Section 66A. That it has included the return of Section 66A in its manifesto only shows how deadly serious the party is about preserving its political interests. But most importantly, it remains the party of Fake News, the party which propagated the myth of Hindu Terror.