Saturday, May 9, 2015

Are we safe anywhere?

I’ve been in a cynical, depressed kind of mood today, people. I keep saying to myself, what’s the point? Look at this Salman Khan thing. The man goes scot free (yes, yes, suspended sentence of 5 years, boo-hoo for him) because he’s a famous actor and because the person he killed was a nobody. Now if Salman Khan had managed to run over Shah Rukh Khan, I’ve a feeling things would have run a very different course.

Squabbles are erupting online on the rights and wrongs of it. But bottom line is, he’s been granted bail and is now happily ensconced in the lap of his family; having thumbed his nose at society and all its rules.

Some people are saying, so many hit and run drivers (the funny part is, few people dispute that it was Salman Khan behind the wheel; despite his devious attempts to implicate his own driver) escape prosecution, why should poor Salman be the scapegoat? Or, why in the world do homeless people sleep on pavements and make things difficult for drunken drivers?
A person, yes, poor Noor Ullah Khan, died. However much you argue and excuse and rationalize; shouldn’t there be some kind of accountability for that? And yes, all the other murderers out there should be brought to book as well, not only poor ol’ Salman bhai. (Watch where you step the next time he decides to do a spot of drinking and driving; see how wronged you think him when you’re being mowed down.)

Similarly, all the loose, simply moronic opinions about rape bandied about by people who think they are safe from any such attack; all boiling down to the seductively simple “it’s always the girl’s fault, somehow.” She shouldn’t have been out so late. Without a man to “protect her”. WITH a man (what a slut). She shouldn’t have been wearing that. She shouldn’t have been in that part of town. Or, the best yet – it wasn’t rape.

So many people simply LEAPING to see the rapist’s side of things, refusing to see that yes, some things are black and white. Simply right and simply wrong. Some things are that simple. Because the moment we start seeing grey shades of “mitigating circumstances” everywhere -- where does it all stop? And though most of the people I know are mercifully schooled in political correctness; privately everyone believes there are extenuating circumstances for absolutely everything.
Until it happens to YOU.

The examples I give here are of ‘have-not” victims. So, we comfortably think, as we settle back on our satin cushions, this could never happen to us. But in a world where EVERYTHING can be rationalized away, how safe are we from being the next victims, really?
Tomorrow, You -- tall, strapping, fit upper class male -- are jogging down the street with your earphones in your ears; and someone jumps you from behind and does unspeakable things to you, simply because he can. What stand would you like for society and the whole law-enforcement machinery to take? It was wrong and your perpetrator will be caught and punished? Or, why were you there? Why were you dressed so expensively? If you weren’t listening to music couldn’t you have heard him coming? Why did you fight back? Maybe you did something to tempt your attacker? Let’s FACE it, weren’t you a little bit culpable?

If you cannot TRUST society to take a firm stand that crime is crime and victims should be defended, what is the point of being part of society? Isn’t everything we do, based on this trust? If one cannot trust the people around you not to attack you every time you step into the street, how is one to function? Is one an idiot for buying something on the trust that it is genuine? Can one drop one’s child to school everyday, unless one has a little bit of faith in human goodness that he will be looked after even though his parents aren’t watching?

Our whole human existence runs on trust.  And it is the state’s function to reinforce that trust (with the threat that abusing that trust brings punishment, very few questions asked). If not, all is chaos. And we might as well all disappear into the woods before we start sneaking into each other’s houses and murdering people as they sleep, (“she was offensive about my d├ęcor yesterday, and it annoyed me.”) if that is the way we are headed.

This image of an anarchic world may seem alarmist to you. But in my opinion, it all starts with people shrugging their shoulders and saying “it was the victim’s fault for being there. He/she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”, and ends with -- the law backing such people up.

In such a world, where can you be safe?