The devil reporter wears emotions?

A rape apologist is somebody who condones rape, not one who reports on its verdict. The Steubenville trial has concentrated on making a devil of a reporter by comparing what she said with the terrible online comments. How concerned about rape are those who merely ‘followed’ the herd to outrage about the news?  All those who downloaded or watched the YouTube clips are as much rape apologists as Poppy Harlow. 

The CNN site and others have got many hits. Yet, who has bothered to even mention that she called it a “serious crime”?  That is just so tame and obvious, isn’t it? So, this quote from her has made it:

"Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart."

The screenshot reproduced by Mashable has the incessant query, “Not one word about the victim.” What do they want to know about the victim that has not been already reported? Is this a spectator sport? Trent Mays and Ma'Lik Richmond were sentenced for raping a 16-year-old by a juvenile court. Why are rapists punished? Because society needs to understand that they are committing a crime against women, against another human being. 

The idea is to make an example of them, and what better way than to mention that they were star football players and good students who had indeed lost it all for behaving in such an atrocious manner. Is this not the message that has to be sent across to other young men that, whoever you are, if you commit a crime, then this is what you get? 

One recalls other crimes, including mass murder and terrorism, where the convicts has been deemed insane. This results in covert sympathy, which is far worse.

You might ask: why was it difficult for a reporter or the news anchor to discuss emotions? Check out the comments. Anger is also an emotion. Pity is an emotion. Had the judge let them off, most people would have reacted emotionally. It was difficult to sit in the courtroom probably because both of the convicted got up and apologised to the family of the victim; one broke down. It is not about sympathy for their crime, but for their response to being punished. I would judge Harlow harshly had the verdict been innocent and she had said that this was an incredibly emotional moment watching as these two footballs stars and good students could return to a new life that awaited them. This was not the case.

A report further states:

(Candy) Crowley turned to legal expert Paul Callan who sounded almost apologetic when explaining how the rape conviction will mean that the Steubenville rapists will now be registered sex offenders and how that "will haunt them for the rest of their lives." None of these things said were untrue. But the tone was certainly a little off.

How does anyone decode that the tone was off? As I said, the report was about the trial, not on the rape. The emphasis ought to be on the rapists who will be tainted for the rest of their lives. This is as it should be, for the usual narrative is that it is the victim who is so tainted and who has to live with this all her life.  If, for the sake of argument, the tone sounded apologetic, it does not reverse the judgment. It brings to the fore that whatever anyone might feel those two young men will have to live with it, their futures have been mucked up. Justice has been done.  

Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine said after the verdict, "As I said already, any rape is a tragedy. But, it is even more of a tragedy when that victim is continually re-victimized in the social media."

This is what people should understand, instead of a typical knee-jerk reaction.

But, then, it is becoming increasingly impossible to do so.  Online abuses by anonymous blokes are being spread around by women, giving even more ammo to them.  How many of those reading these get sensitised? It just becomes part of the sickening term ‘rape culture’ that even well-known commentators use with impunity.

One report while rubbishing CNN – that I do not admire, anyway – talked about how the circus has just begun. Well, the moral high-standing falls flat on its face when you decide to ignore the crime and only watch the ensuing performance. How many referred to the victim while pulling up those who they think are rape apologists? Online warriors are primarily online voyeurs. This is being an apologist, too.

There is also a clear hierarchy regarding who to feel sympathy for. A few days ago in Mumbai, four men sodomised a eunuch, stubbed him with cigarettes, poured kerosene on him and threw him out of the moving car in which they committed the crime. Has there been any reaction to it except for a newspaper report? For all those who participate in the Gay Pride parade and offer lip sympathy to the LGBT community, this still remains an area of darkness. One of the reasons is that liberalism is all about accepting, but not questioning crimes towards the community as well as within it.

© Farzana Versey


Sunday ka Funda

“Neither can the wave that has passed by be recalled, nor the hour which has passed return again."

- Ovid

Yet, we always wait...sometimes for nothing in particular. This song probably has nothing, but it lulls, it soothes. It makes one realise that waiting is all about the slow pace of understanding every moment going away...



Imagine, how easy it is to get one language to become another. I don't usually post forwards here, but could not resist this...or ziz...from my inbox:

"The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the  British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for  improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become  known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will  replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump  with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should  klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in  the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f"..  This will make words like fotograf 20%  shorter.

In the  3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted  to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are  possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double  letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate  speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the  silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go  away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such  as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz  yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from  vordskontaining "ou"  and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil  sensi bl riten  styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil  find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali  kum tru.

Und  efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze  forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza  pepl."


Wharton Woes: Modi Gets a Feel of Poison Ivy League

Those applauding the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for dropping Narendra Modi from its list of keynote speakers had better pause. 

If anything, Wharton can be seen as the ‘Vibrant’ wing of the university. By denying Modi the opportunity to address what is clearly a capitalist-driven agenda, it has managed to imbue itself with a liberalism it may not possess. It is essentially a conformist management institution and the sole concern is to further precisely what Narendra Modi is claiming to do.

The Wharton Economic Forum is run by students, so clearly there are many who did not consider inviting Modi wrong. Even the protests are conformist, and playing into a politically-correct pattern from the humanities stream, working the stereotype. The US administration had already denied the Gujarat chief minister a visa in 2005, and that stands.

Recall the last time this happened, senior BJP leaders like L.K. Advani, Manohar Joshi, Arun Jaitley addressed a rally when Gujarat organised a ‘Bharat Swabhimaan Divas’ (self-esteem day) to regain the lost prestige of a state chief minister who could not visit America to address some hoteliers in Florida.

Modi had responded with: 

“No court of India, or the world, has passed any judgment against either the Gujarat government, or its chief minister. The decision is heavily lopsided, against the tenets of democracy and human rights and a violation of natural justice. The American government, which prides itself on being a democracy, has indulged in the misdeed of insulting the Indian Constitution and the five crore people of Gujarat.”

Modi is not India. And he has gone against the tenets of the Constitution and degraded the self-esteem of his people.

Mr. Advani had said, 

“The US regards India as a ‘pushover state’. However, this time they have chosen the wrong person. The fight for swabhimaan initiated by Narendra Modi will become the fight of the entire nation. It must be noted that even those who are ideologically against us have stood by Mr. Modi.”

This was an insult to the country, for India has not fallen prey to US moves in its internal policies or even on how to deal with foreign powers. The entry of multinationals too is debated and argued.

If his self-esteem was so important, why did Modi agree to address the forum via satellite on March 23? This time the BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “It doesn’t matter as Americans don’t vote in India.”

But, a huge PIO population does exercise this right. Then, there is the funding and a promise of investment. Besides, America is itself an imperialistic power. How much does its antipathy towards Modi have to do with the fact that he "did nothing to prevent a series of orchestrated riots that targeted Muslims in Gujarat” and how much because it wants to ensure that the economic promises made by Modi could considerably reduce its leverage in the market and lead to the prodigals returning home?

The main sponsor, Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group, has backed out as a protest. Other speakers too are dropping out.  The Shiv Sena that has problems with Indians from other states coming into Maharashtra, has said, ”Wharton’s move is an insult to India.”

There is some noise about how Modi will become a martyr because of it. The rightwing parties have little opportunity to get sympathy votes, so clutching at such straws often helps ride a storm.

Why has the rejection of Modi become such a huge issue?

The educated middle class aspires to get into Ivy League colleges. One has to only see the desperation over getting an entry into this rarefied world. The alumni associations help these wishes come true with annual sponsorships. The universities are happy to gain a bunch of bright students who will add to the US economy in future. However, its mainstay is the significant contribution by India's rich. All the scions of business families have performed the ritual of that mandatory MBA, and the parental wealth has helped a good deal to keep these universities in a happy frame of mind.

That is the reason Wharton had no ethical or technical issues when Anil Ambani got a lecture series dedicated to his father Dhirubhai, a man who used the simple old-fashioned method of keeping people in fine fettle to get where he wanted without any management technique. Wharton is, therefore, not terribly picky. It is important to note that Anil Ambani has not commented on Modi's invitation being cancelled. Just a month ago he had hailed him as the "king of kings".

The Wharton Forum has no lofty principles. Described as one of the big-ticket “India-focused business conferences that provides a platform for leaders to discuss the opportunities present in India and the challenges that need to be addressed", this meet is essentially about how to make the most of the Indian economy that has suffered fewer blows than the US or Europe.

So, whether it is Modi or anyone else, this would be like a preview trade delegation. It has been doing so for 16 years and has never got much attention.

The protest petition states:

“We find it astonishing that any academic and student body at the University of Pennsylvania can endorse ideas about economic development that are based on the systematic oppression of minority populations, whether in India or elsewhere. Our role as scholars and students—and indeed as would-be entrepreneurs and business managers—must be to develop conscientious and efficacious modes of economic organization, not to piggy-back onto the inhuman policies of politicians who not only lack a commitment to human rights and to ideals of social justice, but whose political success is based on the suppression of substantial sections of their own citizens. Modi still does not have a US visa to enter the US, but Wharton plans to present him on Skype to the audience. Recently there have been efforts to whitewash Modi’s grim record and to grant him respectability. Wharton’s invitation lends itself to doing just that.”

All good. But business models anywhere in the world ride on political initiatives. The very idea of a liberalised economy lends itself to some amount of wiggling. The Occupy Wall Street Movement was not organised by big business and bankers. A group of Wharton students, essentially expats, are indulging in diaspora nostalgia. How many minorities are accommodated in US universities? Pointing out a universally-recognised wrong in India does not absolve the flaws within their own system. 
To make up for the snub, news has come in that the expats under the aegis of ‘Overseas Friends of the BJP’ have decided to redeem him. He will address them at Edison, New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, of USA through video conference.

One hears that Aap Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has been invited. This is irony for he will be the only aam aadmi they will get to see, as the university has no place for commoners. How many cabbies and corner store owners have been to management schools in the US or even in India?

Recently British Prime Minister David Cameron on his visit to India went to express his regret over the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre. He was not revisiting history; he was ensuring that the Southall population kept the UK economy buzzing via Amritsar. He assured that the brightest students and big bucks got easy access to the old colonisers.  And he is not against the Gujarat chief minister. Most political leaders use a convenient modus operandi of semantics and split ‘acts of commission and omission’ with proactive development.

This is what the Wharton Economic Forum had done.  And this is also what the protests are doing. They are merely denying him space to speak. Will any of them sign petitions that say they would not invest in Gujarat and do business with anyone associated with Modi and the state?

If they get a good ‘package’, they’d pick it up in the future when the T-shirts and the slogans are frayed and the management cap seeks out talking heads.

(c) Farzana Versey


Sunday ka Funda

“If it could only be like this always - always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe..."

- Evelyn Waugh

Not quite, not quite. But torrid it surely is...


Desire under the microchip

Would you want your clothes to become transparent whenever you are aroused, instead of the usual signals? When innovative tech art enters personal territory it becomes both edgy and a matter of some concern.

Artist Daan Roosegaarde, who runs a social design lab, has diversified into computerised couture. He does not call it that. Rather, it has a name more befitting lingerie – ‘Intimacy’. You may opt for the black or the white version.

According to The DailyBeast:

Each dress has a small microchip embedded inside that contains software programmed to monitor different behaviors—in this case, a heartbeat. The garment functions much like a computer: The input is the heartbeat, the processor is the microchip and the output is the foil material, which can change from white to transparent or black to transparent.

Roosegarde does not treat it as merely a techno marvel:

“It creates a situation of total control that the wearer or the one who observes it has an influence over what fashion looks like…With some people you want to show more and some people you want to show less. We thought it would make complete sense that the dress would be proactive in that: either you have control or you lose control.”

Any woman who has been exposed to a particularly cold windy day or the gust from an airconditioner knows how her nipples react. These signals have little to do with arousal, although bracing weather can indeed be utterly enticing.

I assume the person who chooses to dress in ‘Intimacy’ is aware of the consequences. A beautiful and spontaneous reaction is now about control. What if she is aroused by a fantasy, a passage in a book, a scene in a movie, and not the person she is with? Is it not possible that she would try and control herself and withhold a natural expression even though she might not wish to see it through to what is considered a logical end?

The sensual would now become mechanical. Were the woman’s garment to turn transparent due to her partner, then it would express urgency, a preparedness that might pretty much bypass foreplay. Where would the blushing cheeks, the darkening of eyes, the shortness of breath, the slow running of fingers through hair, the biting of lips, the anticipation figure in this?

There is something automated about the dress, and as it is programmed one is not too far from such an allusion.

Besides, while ostensibly giving women the freedom to let their clothes communicate their desires, it actually plays into the male prerogative of perceiving the signals. It assumes that women might not wish to convey what they want – either through those natural expressions I mentioned or proactively by seduction, where she can gauge male arousal. ‘Intimacy’ makes woman the taker, or rather the taken, as does every stereotype in the book.  It chips in with a microchip to assist her to get rid of being able to transmit sexual intent.

Male arousal is seen as a given and in control of itself and of what it desires. The man will know exactly what to do, when and how. The reality is not quite as simple. Men also have issues and inhibitions.

There are plans to dress men, too. ‘Intimacy 3.0’ is a suit that will become transparent when they lie. Roosegarde uses humour to explain it: “That’s for the banking world.” That one-liner itself reveals that men’s command over their bodies in sexual situations is to be taken for granted.  It is unlikely that they would pick up a suit that would expose their lies. If they would wear it in an intimate setting, isn’t it a bit confusing that they would want to fake arousal or lie about interest in their partner? Reminds me of Pinocchio, whose nose grew longer with every lie. It would kind of stick out.

Unless, there is an altruistic motive to get men to be more truthful, aware that their lies would get exposed. The microchip would then work as conscience-keeper. From the body’s reactions to emotions to matters more intimately moral, it would seem a market can be created for robotising and lobotomising everything that is human.

© Farzana Versey