A protest for the paintings


by Sunny
25th May, 2006 at 12:06 am    

I’m thinking that it may be worthwhile exploring the option of holding a protest (or some sort of action) in favour of Asia House showing MF Husain’s paintings. Sooner or later we will have to take a stand. We cannot let the likes of the Hindu Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, MAC, Sikh Federation etc issue press releases about the “grave insult” that actions of others have caused millions of people, when we know it is one man in his office.

Asians Against Censorship (AACE)? This needs discussion, which is why I’m posting it here. Sooner or later we need a coalition of people, from the Asian community, who are willing to stand up against censorship. Otherwise they will carry on competing with each other in the victimhood stakes.

Update: Wrote a related article for comment is free.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Hindu,Organisations






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  1. Clive Davis

    ASIANS AGAINST CENSORSHIP?…

    More on that religious art controversy, mentioned yesterday. Sunny Hundal wants to raise the stakes:Sooner or later we will have to take a stand. We cannot let the likes of the Hindu Forum, Muslim Council of Britain, MAC, Sikh Federation…


  2. mediawatchwatch.org.uk » Asians Against Censorship

    [...] Go there and watch the birth of a movement. [...]




  1. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:11 am  

    Sounds good, but how do you see it working? As a separate pressure group or something attached to PP?

    I don’t think we can prevent them competing with each other in terms of censorship envy and competition. But you can present the alternative case – especially to the media.

  2. Amir — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:20 am  

    Awesome idea.

  3. Tanvir — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:19 am  

    I believe being against censorship for the sake of being against censorship is just pointless and more of a display exercise in the name of being modern ‘progressive’ or whatever.

    These situations where violence being threatened in order for offensive material to be taken down is sad. However, not all situations are identical, and each needs to be scrutinised. What if the Iranian president issued a set of cartoons mocking the Holocaust? Wouldn’t you find it distasteful? I would definitely not find that tolerable (obviously it is not the same as what MF Hussain is doing, so not a completely comparable example…but you see the idea about things being offensive to people).

    I found MF Hussein’s choice of subject disturbing. If he is such a good artist, I doubt his talents would be limited to painting things insulting to ones religion, and nor are they. I think those who have profound faith in a religion would probably find it easy to understand the hurt sentiments.

    Its almost like a battle between those who believe in a faith and doctrine, and those who believe they are more enlightened, and in a way feel superior because they have figured out their own meaning of life, and it happens to not be a fixed doctrine, and therefore almost feel above those who do follow a doctrine or particular faith. These people need to understand that those with a religion deserve the respect that the pro-secular extremes demand with their views of being able to do or say anything they like (regardless of who it affects) as if their secular views are more important. Its very difficult to put into words, but it seems those who are dishing out accusations of people thinking ‘my religion is better than yours’ are also the same people who are expecting those who do follow religion to adhere to their secular principles and find it hard to accept that the religious people don’t see their ways….as if religious people should follow the secular view of keeping religion only in the temple and outside it having a thick skin toward it and not hold it dear to them every moment of their life. Religious people hold their religion dear to them, as a profound belief and that right should be respected. I’ll stop waffling about this because I’m finding it difficult to explain, and I don’t want to make it seem like I am justifying the actions of these extremists. I would stand by those who are hurt by the insults to their deities however.

    No doubt MF Hussain should have his artistic freedoms, but when groups of people specifically say to him, this is insulting our religion; I think he should have taken this into consideration. Especially since it seems he has previously withdrew work insulting to people of his own religion.

    Just being against censorship is oversimplifying matters. There are things out there that need to be censored. I think an effort needs to be made into taking account both the rights of freedom of expression and respect/ for others, and undoubtedly this balance is difficult to achieve, yet it must be sought. Oversimplifying things to make a point risks coming across as cavalier or even as attention and publicity seeking as the offending artist may have been.

  4. Sunny — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:33 am  

    Who says I’m against censorship for the sake of being against censorship. Although I’ve outlined many times why I am against censorship on particular occasions, I’m going to try and put together an article on why censorship is bad in such contexts, for PP.

  5. Amir — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:34 am  

    Tanvir,

    What if the Iranian president issued a set of cartoons mocking the Holocaust? Wouldn’t you find it distasteful?

    He did!!! And guess what? The Israeli newspapers re-printed some of these baleful cartoons on their front pages, and – to re-assert their commitment to a free press – began their own ‘Holocaust cartoon competition’, which was even more outrageous and distasteful than the Iranian one. Tehran got egg on their face – big style.

    There are things out there that need to be censored.

    Why?

  6. Tanvir — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:02 am  

    Okay good to hear your not going all out censorship for the sake of it Sunny, putting into context is the way forward.

    Hadn’t really been keeping up with the Israeli press Amir, but whoaaa i hadn’t heard it had gotten that far! As for there being things out there that need to be censored, well we have a board in this country to censor different kinds of media and there are laws against blasphemy which had the potential of being extended, I don’t believe it is fair to insult one’s religion particularly when it profoundly insults – especially when the basis is for the sake of one guy doing a painting. Personally, for example when I heard about the defamatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed (pbuh) I felt the best way forward was to ignore not give it publicity and rise above it. The media in the UK largely exercised self-censorship.

    I believe respecting one another is important. Evidently, MF Hussain found a painting (looks like a pretty shit one to me) more important.

  7. squared — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:46 am  

    I don’t believe it is fair to insult one’s religion

    Why not?

    I don’t see why insulting a religion is unfair. Or insulting any ideology, for that fact. Offense is subjective, anyways.

    But still, what’s so unfair about it?

    Sunnerzzzz, I think it could work. If nothing else brownies may get to show people that they’re not all backwards and don’t all have a danda up their arse about anything portraying their religion/culture in a negative sense.

    It’s a wonder programs like Goodness Gracious Me didn’t experience mass riots…

  8. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:07 am  

    Fucking A.

    Let’s follow the BJP and burn ourselves and shit.

    Oh and squared, you’re right. It pisses me off I can’t slag off Islam. It’s what I was born into, it’s what turned me into the freak I am today. If you went to public school and got beaten up and buggered, who’s to say you can’t slag off public schools?

    I hate public schools too cos I went to one.

    My sphincter still hasn’t contracted.

    Anyhoo, back to the angry protests. Anyone got a light?

  9. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:31 am  

    Sunny, you could get Kismet his deathwish (and PP its public role) by sticking dear old Kismet on a stage and letting him rip into one and all. Beats a stodgy press release/conference and he IS very funny…

    When he turns serious and into a ball of flames, you’ll make every news channel on the planet and strike mute all the whining fundos – cause who is going to top that, huh?

  10. David — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:07 am  

    This is a very exciting idea, Sunny. Good luck!

  11. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:35 am  

    Yes Clive. MAC have got away with it for too long. Just because they are the only mainstream cosmetic company to cater for brown skin does not mean other Asian companies who produce make-up should go ignored.

    Burn them. Burn them down

  12. BevanKieran — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:57 am  

    Great idea!

    Have to work on the acronym though, AACE doesn’t roll off the tongue quite like the MCB, MAC, or even MPAC.

    In addition to a protest, how about a letter challenging other galleries to hold the exhibition. How about Tate Modern?, didn’t they display Damon Hill’s chopped cow in acetylene. Oh shit, or was it Damon Hirst’s chopped Sheep in formaldehyde.

  13. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:11 am  

    Picklers Against Protest? (PAP)

    Society of Liberal Asian Girls?

    Coalition of United Non-conformist Theorists

  14. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    Asians from a Hindu background protesting against censorship of supposedly-offensive Hinduism-related paintings: Feasible, and will have credibility.

    Asians from a non-Hindu background participating in the above: Potentially a whole different ballgame. Lack of credibility, and potentially counterproductive as it would arouse suspicions about underlying agendas, regarding why non-Hindus so fervently want the aforementioned offensive Hinduism-related images to be publicly depicted.

  15. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:50 am  

    LoL Kismet with the acronyms

    I like the last one best

  16. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:03 am  

    Jay In Support Mode

  17. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:05 am  

    Asians United in New Types of Identity Exploration

    Union of Neo-asians Condoning Liberal Exhibitions

    Brave Asians Defiantly Mutinying Against Any Signs of Hypocrisy

  18. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:10 am  

    Asians Now Jeopardising Exhibitions Liberal Indians Never Attempted, Just Objecting to Lascivious Impressions of Eroticism.

  19. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:13 am  

    BADMAASH!

    We have a winner!

    Sunny, you have your name. Now let the anarchy begin

    Which pub do we meet in to plan the revolution?

  20. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:14 am  

    Yes. Bring Jolie. We need a mascot

    Who wants to organise the creche?

  21. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:14 am  

    Kismet paaji,

    =>”Which pub do we meet in to plan the revolution?”

    The Glass Junction in Southall. Where else ?

    ;)

  22. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:15 am  

    who’s Angelina Jotlie?

  23. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:17 am  

    Sid,

    Read it again. Small “t” in-between “Objecting” and “Lascivious”.

  24. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:18 am  

    If we go to Glassy Junction me and Kismet will just end up getting pissed and we’ll have to be carried home and censorship will never be defeated. Bad idea to hold any meetings in a pub.

  25. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:19 am  

    =>”The Glass Junction in Southall”

    Sorry typo, that should have said “The GlassY Junction”.

    Although I guess you’re probably all too drunk to notice. I know Sunny is.

  26. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:29 am  

    Society of Hindu Organisations Living Amongst You.

    Youth Outfit, Muslims Against Majority Manifestations of Aggression.

    Birmingham Right-wing Indians Totally Indignant about Secular Hindus, Ready for Armed Jihad.

  27. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:30 am  

    Here is an example of what doesnt help – on MediaWatchWatch’s thread about the exhibition at Asia House, one of the commenters says:

    ____________

    And why has no-one the bottle to tell these whiners to go and eat a beef sandwich?

    (In the same way that what whining muslims need is a pork sausage!)

    _____________

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard it suggested that a Jewish person discussing censorship have their face stuffed with pork (and we know what uch a suggestion would signify) but in the realm of Asians it becomes a hilarious game or ‘dare’ (how transgressive!) to suggest a humiliation and sign of degradation to Hindus, and Muslims too.

    Sunny you asked before in a discussion about how you want to take PP forward how you can make sure your campaigns stay legit and don’t become part of a general defecation on Asians – rule one is stay away from pricks like that.

  28. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:44 am  

    What a waste of a pun. Had he said ‘weaners’ instead of ‘whiners’, the meat analogy would have been sublime, although the ‘bottle’ offers a mixed analogy that I’m simply not comfortable with. Plus they repeat ‘watch’ on media watch twice, which if you ask me, just comes across as desperate. Pickled Politics Politics, while a pleasant acronym, just wouldn’t work for instance. I’ve just totally bored myself

  29. Chris Stiles — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:56 am  


    Asians from a non-Hindu background participating in the above: Potentially a whole different ballgame. Lack of credibility, and potentially counterproductive as it would arouse suspicions about underlying agendas, regarding why non-Hindus so fervently want the aforementioned offensive Hinduism-related images to be publicly depicted.

    Yuh .. it’ll descend into a game of “Where were you when such and such a community protested about such and such”.

  30. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:08 pm  

    That’s right Chris, along with other potential ramifications too.

    Tanvir has made some excellent points in his messages above — it’s important to look at the big picture in these issues, along with attempting to see matters from the other party’s perspective in order to gain a better understanding of their stance and motivations. One has to know which are the “right” battles to fight, and which are not.

    Perhaps a better approach would be “Asians united against other Asians breaking the law & using threats to achieve their aims”, rather than a blanket “Asians against Censorship” per se.

  31. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:15 pm  

    Kismet, can I adopt you?

  32. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:20 pm  

    Create the overarching organisation. Include the term Southasians in the name – so as to include the diaspora. Every member has to understand and accept the underlying concepts:
    1) F of E
    2) Revocation of victimhood
    3) Art for Arts sake
    4) Money for God’s sake

    But – and here is the crux – demonstrations can only involve co-religionists of the religious group that is being protested. This solves the queasy ideas of sectarianism that mirax and I demonstrated so viscerally the other day – but which are unfortunately necessary.

    onwards and upwards.

  33. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:22 pm  

    Daddy!

  34. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    I hope Kismet isn’t calling Sid “Daddy” in the flirtatious sense of the term.

    Brokeback Desi : The Pyaar That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

  35. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:28 pm  

    No you sicko. Only in the Skywalker/Vadar sense of kinship

    Revenge of the Sid, anyone?

  36. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:29 pm  

    Ah, what the hell, this is a progressive website. If Kismet wants to canoodle get adopted by Sid, why should any of us object.

    Waiter — Appletinis for everyone.

  37. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:34 pm  

    Sorry for the lame Brokeback joke, by the way. I already used “Brokeback Call-Centre: Bangalore Bad Boys” and “Brokeback Space-Mountain: Voyage to Uranus” on the Sepia Mutiny blog, so this was all I had left.

  38. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:39 pm  

    No worries, it’s the position that counts

  39. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 12:49 pm  

    Sorry, disclaimer time: just want to say the perception of sectarianism that can arise and that was discussed by mirax and myself the other day. Not suggesting anyone is sectarian.

  40. David — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

    But – and here is the crux – demonstrations can only involve co-religionists of the religious group that is being protested

    But that wouldn’t address the perception of sectarianism within each religious community. You can be sure the protestors will find a way of labelling the counter-protestors not “true” Hindus/Sikhs/Muslims etc.

  41. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:42 pm  

    You can be sure the protestors will find a way of labelling the counter-protestors not “true” Hindus/Sikhs/Muslims etc.

    and vicé versa. oh i know it would be rubbish and virtually unworkable. it was just a suggetion to try and get around Tanvir and Jai’s valid reservations.

  42. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

    Yeah but David those arguments can be batted back and refuted easily. It’s not comparable with the accusation of sectarian bias.

  43. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:45 pm  

    If I had my way it would be AAA – Asians Against Asians :)

  44. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:48 pm  

    That means you’d be against yourself raz!

  45. David — on 25th May, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

    I think if the free-speech group included people of all religions and none, that would also prevent any accusations of sectarian bias.

    Maybe if the co-religionists led the counter-demos that would send a powerful message, without being unnecessarily exclusive of others who might legitimately want to make their voices heard.

  46. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:00 pm  

    David to be honest it could go either way. It would be better if the people speaking up come from the same religious background as those protesting.

    Failing that it is perfectly feasible to make general points about the primacy of freedom of speech and rule of law coming from any background. So it is preferable but not neccessary.

    What never helps is suggesting things like Hindus should have their faces stuffed with beef sandwhiches. Crassness like that, from any source, makes it difficult to be taken seriously if you ally yourself with it.

  47. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:04 pm  

    Are you guys really suggesating the best protests would come from people from the same religious group as the protestors they’re protesting against?

    By which token, everyone at the Stephen Laurence march ought to have been black, everyone in the anti-gulf war demo Iraqis and everyone in the poll tax riots crusty middle-class students with no girlfriends.

    If we’re going to give these inbreds any sort of an education, it should be ‘we’re all the same not because of who we were born to, but how we choose to live’

    Surely?

  48. Amit — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:06 pm  

    May I make a small suggestion Sunny?

    IMHO, resistance movements create more resistance, whereas a proactive movements create the feeling that you wish to create with you group.

    I hope I make sense but to illustrate my point; Mother Teresa once replied to someone: “If you invite me to an ANTI WAR rally, I won’t come, if you invite me to a rally of PEACE, i’ll be there.

    Just a thought!

    Amit

  49. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:07 pm  

    Kismet

    I think it can help counter the inevitable barrage of counter-argument that if, say, a Hindu denounces Muslim censorship he is doing it from a position of communalism. But I don’t think it is NECCESSARY. Just that it would be better if the argument can be made by a co-religionist.

  50. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:14 pm  

    Bollocks. I’m not joining any party that’ll have me just because my parents match theirs

    So when a, say, Hindu counter-argues: ‘Are you a Hindu that you can call us inbred freak?’

    We say: ‘We are united. And as Muslim, sikh, hindu, atheist, jew and agnostic, we all are unanimous: you’re inbred freaks’

  51. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    Yeah I’m not saying you’re wrong Kismet, just that it would be PREFERABLE (note: preferable) to have someone from the religion of the protestors to articulate the counter arguments. To a degree it’s a matter of cosmetics.

  52. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    I agree with Kismet. After all, our own Sunny is from a Sikh background but he goes after people from other religons all the time and we support him. Asians need to get out of this communal mindset, and attack the fanatics who menace ALL of us.

  53. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    You’re right raz, but look how chippy you get when an Indian criticises Pakistan. Its not the same as hearing the criticism from a Pakistani. The same principle applies.

    I am not saying it is VITAL that this happens, but that it would be GOOD if it could happen that way.

  54. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    Sunny’s sikh alright. In the head

    (I’ll get me coat)

    Jay, I just don’t think we should even consider stooping down to the level of people who identify themselves and like-minded people because they bought the same band t-shirt

  55. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

    Yeah I agree in the principle of that Kismet but saying that it would be best if Muslims/Sikhs/Hindus take the leading initiative in countering their extremists with the full support of everyone else is not the same as stooping to their level. Its just another tactic. Something to keep in mind, if possible.

  56. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

    Fair enough dude. But I think trying to reason with extremists by introducing yourself as one of his kind is like trying to convince a madman the voices in his head aren’t real by dressing up as the devil

    All we can hope to do is show them their thuggish, unreasonable, separatist wank doesn’t rub off on us

  57. SajiniW — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:31 pm  

    Raz would be a better rapper than JaySean, showing him the true meaning of ‘Me Against Myself’.

    I disagree with Tanvir here. Artists are here to challenge the status quo. If we don’t question it, we can’t progress.

    If he is such a good artist, I doubt his talents would be limited to painting things insulting to ones religion, and nor are they.

  58. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:35 pm  

    Well, to the issue of reasoning with extremists it might not make a difference because by their nature reasoning with them is impossible!

    What you do want though is to make the case plain as to why people should not be taken in by their rhetoric – you’re speaking to the masses as well as taking the extremists on. It’s alright to get into a shouting match, but it helps to have arguments too for the people watching from the sidelines to listen to.

  59. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:37 pm  

    “True belief”

    Does my true belief count?

    It’s just the repetitive use of the word “should” makes me think you’re telling me what I have to believe.

    I don’t believe you.

    Truly

  60. Sunny — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

    Amit – We are for free speech instead of being against censorship??

    Don’t worry I have enough Hindu friends who will sign up to the cause.

  61. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:40 pm  

    “look how chippy you get when an Indian criticises Pakistan”

    I think that’s more down to the ‘my countries better than yours’ rhetoric which accompanies most Indo-Pak flamefests. In this instance, I don’t think that anyone is saying that Hindus/Sikhs/Muslims are superior/inferior to one another, only that we must not tolerate fanatics of any religous ideology from censoring art through threats/violence/intimidation.

  62. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

    I disagree with Tanvir here. Artists are here to challenge the status quo. If we don’t question it, we can’t progress.

    Sajini, I dont doubt what you say about the need for artists to question traditions. But I just would like to know how paintings of revered Hindu Goddesses engaging in bestiality (sex with animals) helps ‘us’ to progress.

    If the artist was making a point about the caste system, or dowries, or gender inequality, that would be ‘progress’. But this is not progress in that sense. It’s just a painting of revered Hindu Goddesses having sex with animals. It’s gratuitous. In the light of him bowing to requests to change one of his films after requests by Muslims after he offended them, I am confused as to this artists credibility as a proponent of freedom of speech. It only extends so far one way; to offending Hindus, but not to offending Muslims.

  63. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:43 pm  

    Jay, I’m probably too thick to get what you’re saying, even though I suspect you’re saying the right thing. I just think our belief (if I can speak for us) that ‘it’s okay to let others be as long as we they let us be who we are’ shouldn’t be compromised by saying: it’s a sikh issue, you and sunny go. It’s a muslim issue, let bikhair and tanvir sort it, it’s a gay dwarf crack cocaine issue, kismet you’re on.

    If I’m to join something, it can’t ever seperate one from the other on terms of what our parents got off on, otherwise I’ll fight my own battles as an individual.

    Or not, if my dealer ever gets back to my calls

  64. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:47 pm  

    Was that reply Number 61 to me kismet? Me confused.

    raz

    It’s easy to see it that way because you’re reasonable. But look how Jai got heated with your statement the other day! Asians take things the wrong way all the time, full stop. I’m not arguing against you, just making these points which will be helpful to bear in mind.

  65. sonia — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

    good idea in principle sunny. though i do think jai’s got a point re: the reality of it may turn out to be quite messy.

  66. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

    Kismet

    This all stems from 1989 when the Rushdie affair kicked in. Before that we were all Asians. After 1989 everything broke down into religious groups and there have been many occasions where that has exacerbated. If you reclaim a secular Asian identity then it does not matter. It really doesnt matter to me or anyone here. But this is the after effects of the breakdown of the secular Asian identity in Britain. If PP can do anything it should try to reclaim that ground.

  67. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:52 pm  

    Jay

    I absolutely agree with your sentiment, that having co-religionists on board will make it easier to ‘sell’ this criticism as valid. I guess this comes down to the ‘backwardness’ of Asians I was referring to previously, in that we are so obsessed with religion in a communal way, that a perfectly valid and worthy cause like criticising these Hindu idiots is compromised if non-Hindus are the ones doing the criticising. Just look at the previous Paintings thread to see our communal stupidity and paranoia in action. It’s a shame.

  68. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:52 pm  

    Re: The repeated use of the term “fanatic” on this thread.

    Is it the fact that the people concerned objected to the paintings which makes them “fanatics”, or the fact that they supposedly used threats in order to shut the exhibition down ?

    If it is the latter, I can understand the use of this term; however, if it is the former, then it does raise questions as to why anyone who objects to any deliberately offensive act against his/her religion is automatically a “fanatic”.

  69. Refresh — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

    In order to establish pre-protest PR – we should have a series of threads attacking and mocking each community in turn. Castigate the protagonists etc etc. Identify as many acronyms as possible. Get them listed on Harry’s Place and so on.

    [Note this does mean all communities represented in South Asia].

    Then come back uniting all to attack their own.

    Is this what is going to happen?

  70. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

    Jay, point 61 wasn’t about you. I was trying to blag a response to point 60. Like I could be arsed to read it. Post-Rushdie fiasco, if that’s when it started, won’t change my mind about who I am: a slighty pervy British Asian smackhead with a passion for The Pixies.

    Call me muslim and I’ll fight ya

    Big love

  71. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:01 pm  

    The Pixies?

    I’m starting a campaign against Asians who listen to indie music. That’s one thing I can’t tolerate.

    (don’t worry, David T of Harry’s Place will soon come to your defence with appropriate lyrics from Prophet Morrisey [pbuh])

    Only joking I like a bit of jingle-jangle shoe gazing miserabilist guitar music myself. Do Coldplay count?

  72. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

    Do Coldplay cunt, more like

  73. Sunny — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:03 pm  

    But this is not progress in that sense. It’s just a painting of revered Hindu Goddesses having sex with animals.

    Divya you are partly right. But people can make any excuse in order to demand censorship. Sikh groups said, during the Behzti controversy, that the play was not progressing things in anyway by insulting Sikhs… and the MAC/MCB etc say the same thing about the Danish cartoons.

    But fundamentally if you give way then these groups will use any excuse to launch a protest and get anything shut down.

    The Royal Mail stamps thing was another example – no real religious reason, they just conjured up hundreds of hurt Hindus through their press releases.

  74. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:03 pm  

    And this David T sounds like a dan and a half.

    Fuck the lot of you

    I’m off to Harry’s Place

  75. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:04 pm  

    My theory has been proven.

    There is nothing more vicious than an indie music snob.

    ’nuff said about who the real extremists are.

  76. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Sunny, I understand what you’re saying, but excuses and reasons are two different concepts.

    =>”But fundamentally if you give way then these groups will use any excuse to launch a protest and get anything shut down.”

    So, does this mean that your actual motivation is to pre-empt any future unjustified protests by these groups, rather than necessarily disagreeing with their reason(s) for objecting to the current religiously-related controversies ?

  77. Sunny — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:11 pm  

    Jai – the fight against censorship is a current one (these paintings… the MAC’s campaign of global civility’) and to preempt any future ones.

  78. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:12 pm  

    Sunny

    Thanks for that reply. But then I wish people would be more honest and say that it is for the sake of being offensive that MF Husain’s paintings are made, and not pretend that it has anything to do with progress. I could paint pictures of sacred icons of Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh religions and break lots of taboos and offend just your average Hindu or Sikh or Muslim or Jew for no reason other than I can do it. But people then should not pretend that this is about ‘progress’. Then you should be ready to explain to people why it is a good thing in and of itself that their icons are gratuitously painted having sex with animals. If it is art explain art to them. But dont say it is to ‘progress’ society, because that is just false. It also gives more power and strength to conservative factions inside society who feed off this kind of gratuitous thing. When the artist involved censors himself to avoid offending Muslims, it becomes a farce. Not much progress is made.

  79. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

    I’ve just got barred from Harry’s Place for suggesting Morrissey got better after divorcing Marr

    Got any bhangra, Jay?

  80. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:16 pm  

    yeah kismet but if you disrespect Juggy D or Punjabi Hit Squad you’re a blasphemer and dead.

  81. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    I got their phone numbers. How do you like dem apples?

    Actually, I’ll call them now. The ringtone sounds like… well every song this side of chandighar since ooh 1985?

  82. SajiniW — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:19 pm  

    Divya Q – I don’t believe in offensiveness for the sake of offending either.

    At the same time, people do get touchy about anything detrimental being depicted against their religion – this defensiveness is an obstacle to an honest evaluation.

    Slightly OT – but how did Lord Ganesh end up half-man, half-elephant?

  83. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:22 pm  

    (Jay just insulted my music, my religion and did any of you stand up and say: no, jay. don’t be a meanie. Don’t be insensitive to kismet’s religion. No. Hippie-crites)

    SULK

  84. SajiniW — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Kismet – I like my Indie. Think the Pixies are overrated though.

  85. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:24 pm  

    Sunny,

    Okay then; let’s take this further. I know this question was raised by a couple of other people in the previous thread on the topic, but it ended up getting lost in the usual arguments (which I know you were not involved in).

    As those of us from an Indian background all know, Sita is regarded by Hindus as the epitome of female virtue. Similarly, to my understanding, Ayesha is also regarded by Muslims as a exemplary example of female virtue.

    Therefore, in theory (please note: I am not advocating that either of these would necessarily be ethical or, indeed, a prudent course of action), if one is going to defend the right of a Muslim artist to portray Sita in sexually explicit situations for the sake of “freedom of artistic expression”, then one should similarly also defend the right of a Hindu (or non-Muslim) artist to portray Ayesha in the same manner, assuming that the motivations of both individuals are analogous.

    Therefore, would you defend the rights of both of the aforementioned artists (the latter is obviously hypothetical) against censorship by Hindus and Muslims respectively ?

    This is a sincere question and I am not being facetious here — the point was lost in the original thread so it is worthwhile clarifying where you stand on this.

    Also, I agree completely with DivyaQ’s points in post #80.

  86. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

    Sajini

    At the same time, people do get touchy about anything detrimental being depicted against their religion – this defensiveness is an obstacle to an honest evaluation

    So how does it help when an artist is gratuitously offensive to separate that from over-defensiveness?

    The example of Hindu organisations objecting to stamps is ridiculous and the overwhelming majority of Hindus will say so.

    But to the average Hindu who you ask about, what do you think about your revered Goddesses having sex with animals? you dont do anything to get people on your side.

    You just offend the harmless people, the simple Hindus who get on with their life, respect their dharma, dont mean anyone any harm.

    Instead of engaging them, you alienate them, and then insult them by saying it is all for ‘progress’ that you insult them. When there are double standards, like when MF Husain censors his work to protect the feelings of Muslims, the whole thing becomes ridiculous. It also distracts from real things of progress, like striking against caste, gender inequality etc etc

    I know it is a fine line, but there is a difference. Double standards annoy people too.

  87. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

    Sajini, Pixies aren’t an indie band. If you have to label them, label them Pre-grunge Post-modernist Expressionists or I’m afraid you just aren’t pretentious enough to talk to me

    (Still sulking)

  88. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:29 pm  

    Kismet man you overstepped the line with your comment about how every bhangra track sounds the same since Chandigarh by B21. In fact I’m starting a campaign.

  89. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:30 pm  

    mutter mutter i bet m f hussain has a copy of trompe le monde grumble grumble

  90. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Jay… Not chandigarh by B21. Chandigarh the place. You know, by the pind? Where they can only afford instruments with one string to them? And they rerecord put sardara de over and over again and sometimes try to hoodwink you by calling them boliyans? The ones that sound like ring tones

  91. Sunny — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    Therefore, would you defend the rights of both of the aforementioned artists (the latter is obviously hypothetical) against censorship by Hindus and Muslims respectively ?

    Yes, it has to be done. Although I’m not in favour of supporting spineless artists such as MF Husain, or racist cartoons, the point is that if you give leeway then the religious fanatics think that all they have to do is turn up the heat and get something banned.

    In a democratic society people have the right to protest peacefully. But I’ve just spoken to Asia House and they say their exhibition was cancelled specifically because of “threats”. That is the word they used. It happened with Burger King, it happened with Behzti and it happened even with a Sonia Deol controversy ages ago.

    All the nutters come out of the woodwork passing on threats. Something needs to be said.

  92. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:32 pm  

    I love Coldplay. So much better than post modernist Pixies. Or that whining daffodil thrower Morrisey (pbuh)

  93. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:34 pm  

    Kismet

    Chandigarh is actually quite a pleasant city. Designed by the modernist achitect Le Corbusier. Full of upper class Indians who play golf and hang out in hotels.

    hahaha

    You mean the one stringed instrument the tumbi? Yeah I agree with you. Need to add a string to their instrument.

  94. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    You’ve hit the nail on the cock Sunny.

    They make threats.

    We make threads.

    Don’t all groan at once

    (Jay, you saying Coldplay – who are a cheap imitation of Radiohead who got inspired by Nirvana who learned the fast-slow riff from Pixies – is like me saying LL Cool Singh is better than Chamkila and those dhollock weilding mullet haired Apna Sangeeters)

  95. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:38 pm  

    LoL – Kismet man you got me : a man who knows his music from the Pixies to Chamkila I bow down to!

  96. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:40 pm  

    Sunny,

    Thank you for the explanation. This basically takes us back to what I said previously on this thread — that it is specifically the threats & intimidation one needs to take action against, rather than attacking the religious groups’ reasons for objecting to any offensive artwork (which, as we both agree, may well be justified).

    It is their methods of protest which need to be addressed, not the fact that they are protesting per se.

    This distinction needs to be made very clear indeed, especially in order to prevent any misunderstanding that you actually support any gratuitous ridicule or deliberately malicious/unwarranted offensive attacks against their religion(s) by the artists concerned.

  97. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:45 pm  

    But Jai, half the time they are indistinguishable. The lunatics who protest against Sonia Deol or the stamps shouldnt be given the time of day or respected. Maybe for some other things they can be respected for feeling offended. For other things I probably feel offended. But the opportunist ‘campaigners’ dont discriminate much. Plus, the Behzti affair showed how ridiculous protests are – the peaceful protest attracted thugs.

    People who hype up the atmosphere and turn it into a ‘X Religion’ under threat need to be more sensible.

  98. sonia — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

    i think a statement on the ‘global’ importance of free speech is certainly important.

  99. David — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:49 pm  

    What never helps is suggesting things like Hindus should have their faces stuffed with beef sandwhiches. Crassness like that, from any source, makes it difficult to be taken seriously if you ally yourself with it.

    Jay, I wanted to reply to this off-list because this thread isn’t about MWW, but I couldn’t find your email anywhere.

    I just wanted to make it clear that I do not in any way share the opinion of the commenter who wrote those words on my blog. In fact I was appalled and embarassed by them. But as MWW is a free speech blog, I have a very hands-off approach to moderating the comments (you should see some of the crap that was coming from all sides at the height of the Mo-toons controversy).

    I thought it would go without saying that “comments do not necessarily reflect the views of the website owner”. But maybe I should put up a disclaimer, just to make it absolutely clear?

  100. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    Cool David. I wasn’t holding you responsible, just using it as an example, and I admire you and your work.

  101. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:53 pm  

    “But as MWW is a free speech blog, I have a very hands-off approach to moderating the comments”

    Well that’s understandable given the basis of your site. Rather than deleting offensive posts, it might be better if you yourself refuted them in the comments section, so at least people reading the site would understand that you didn’t support those views.

  102. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

    I’d still support “spineless” MF Hussain. He might have had cogent artistic reasons why he caved in to Muslim threats (yes Gene Patel, those Muslim fundoos are the baddest – DavidT Patel said so) which might not have had anything to do with co-religionist sympathies. He’s the artists and I give him the benefit of the doubt rather than to whichever censor group made the more threatening growl.

  103. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:00 pm  

    The thing is this. It is free speech but often it has different undercurrents.

    Take for example the Sonia Deol campaign. Sonia Deol is a Sikh radio presenter who was hosting a show when a Muslim caller phoned in and made a crude statement about Sikhs. The Sikh Federation amongst others instigated a letter writing campaign AGAINST Sonia as if she was responsible for that statement. Stupid as it seems to us, we have to understand that there was something that lies beneath that.

    It was not about freedom of speech but their being burnt and wanting to target a liberal and non orthodox Sikh woman in the media, who often uses her show to criticise conservative Sikhs. The offensive comment WAS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE to Sikhs, no doubt about that. And the BBC apologised for letting the caller on air. But it didnt stop ignorant mischief makers from trying to make capital out of it. Thankfully it failed. But there are many dynamics going on underneath these issues than just what there appears to be.

    The Rushdie affair was about influence and the jostling for power in the British Muslim (mostly Pakistani) community. Guess who first made a name for himself in 1989? The wonderful Sir Iqbal Sacranie, current ‘man of influence’ and knighted leader of the MCB.

    I bet that underneath all this fiasco is a similar dynamic amongst Hindu groups.

  104. SajiniW — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    Divya Q – I agree that double standards are unfair and that debating incidents like this is a distraction from ‘real’ issues.

    See the Behzti controversy for an incident where certain Sikhs got overly the defensive. The playwright was asking socio-cultural questions, not blaggarding against the theology of Sikhism or Sikh people in general in the way Nick Griffin demonised Muslims.

    I can see why Hindus/Buddhists get especially offended though – they’re seen as the ‘soft target’ since they’re a relatively peaceful bunch without specific ‘religious minority’ protection.

  105. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    Sid

    At the very least, MF Husain’s capitulation to the Muslim groups was unfortunate and does leave him open to the challenge of double standards. It was a bit unfortunate. It probably upped the ante over him. People making threats to Asia House must look at it that way.

  106. justforfun — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

    100 responses -wow -

    I read david’s point in post 42

    But – and here is the crux – demonstrations can only involve co-religionists of the religious group that is being protested

    But that wouldn’t address the perception of sectarianism within each religious community. You can be sure the protestors will find a way of labelling the counter-protestors not “true” Hindus/Sikhs/Muslims etc.

    =================

    Its probably a valid assesment of what would happen , but surely the point is to sow doubt in the mind of the remaining secular press in Britain that these original protesters are NOT the only voice of what ever religion they claim to stand for. Is that not the pupose of PP – to some how reclaim the agenda from self appointed religious community leaders? One way amongst many other tactics is to show the rest of Britain that they don’t speak for all, in what ever community happens to have a few that are offended by secular Artistic Expression. It would be ironic and good asymetrical tactics to use their protests as the very forum to highlight their own deficiencies in their claims to speak for all in their religion. After a few protests with ajoining counter demonstrations, they may learn that everytime they try and use this tactic, there will be another lot of their religion also sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of the average Guardian, Telegraph , Times, Daily Scare etc reader that the community leaders are just self appointed.

    Just a thought

    Justforfun.

  107. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    Sajini

    I’m afraid there’s no room for black and white or empathising with why Hindus/Buddhists get especially offended. Sunny has made a clear case of why you have to take it all on the chin without exception. Do you feel bad about it? Because if you stand that way, you’re going to have to defend an awful lot of shit that stinks to your nose to high heaven, gratuitous shit that offends for the sake of it. Behzti was a piece of shit and I have to hold my nose to defend it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you have no choice but to do that, and not claim ‘we are the soft touch and I understand why this group is offended’.

    It really does mean you have to suppress your empathy for the offence people feel, whatever the basis of that. That’s why you better get ready for being squeezed and called Uncle Tom, and sharpen up your arguments, if you want to address this seriously.

  108. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

    I meant ‘there’s no room for GRAY’ not black & white in the first sentence of my last post.

  109. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:16 pm  

    You meant there’s no room for gay

  110. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    I always have room for gay.

  111. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:19 pm  

    Jay Singh,

    Re: post #99

    The danger here is with regards to inadvertantly preventing any legitimate voices of protest from being heard, and their concerns being seriously addressed.

    If certain religiously-based organisations are opportunistically exploiting religious controversies in order to further their own nefarious agenda, then it is those groups specifically which need to be targetted, rather than necessarily focusing purely (or predominantly) on the artist whose own motivations and actions may not be above-board. However, other groups or individuals who are more sincere in their reasons for protesting should not have to pay the price for this, otherwise one is basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater and the potential legitimacy of their concerns will be ignored.

    DivyaQ has expressed the point I am attempting to make in a highly eloquent way so I am going to refer everyone to her posts if my own stance requires further clarification.

    I support the right of freedom of expression. I support the right of freedom to be a jerk. I do not support any defence of someone who subsequently exercises his/her right to be a jerk.

    Correspondingly, I support the right of religiously-based groups or individuals to protest against works of art if their concerns are genuine and their motivations are sincere. I do not support them if this is not the case, and I do not support them if the methods they use to achieve their aims are unethical and/or illegal.

  112. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:26 pm  

    You see, it’s funny how everyone has that residual understanding and sympathy for the offence people feel over something affecting them, whilst not being very bothered when it affects others, so of course its easy to speak in broad terms of the nobility of free speech etc etc

    But I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to take a strict liability approach to this or there are too many exceptions and slimy campaigners who will push their causes too far.

    I also think it boils down to Voltaire’s dictum of ‘I disagree with what you say but will fight for your right to say it’ and testing it to the MAXIMUM.

    Because if the icons offended are not yours, it’s not difficult to support all the principles, is it?

    Cartoons of Muhammad? Books calling his wives prostitutes?

    No problem.

    Paintings showing Radha, Sita, Saraswati getting fucked by dogs? Ummmm….actually…..

    See what I mean?

    I have come to the conclusion that there’s no easy way of doing this, but you better be prepared to defend things that are going to cut you to the bone, and get ready to explain why it’s important for Mr and Mrs Khan/Singh/Patel harmlessly going about their business in Wembley/Southall/Ilford why you should defend these things.

    Are you ready for that? Because that’s what it will boil down to. At least get ready and steel yourself for this task. That’s what it comes down to for Asians.

  113. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

    *rather than necessarily focusing purely (or predominantly) on the artist whose own motivations and actions may not be above-board.

    In the sense of just defending him/her — one has to consider whether their actions actually deserve to be defended.

  114. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

    Re: post #114

    Good point Jay Singh, but bear in mind that I thought the Danish cartoons were a stupid and unnecessary course of action too. In that situation too:

    a) I defended their right to draw those cartoons;
    b) Although I thought them actually publishing the cartoons was thoughtless, immature, and incredibly irresponsible;
    c) I understood why so many Muslims objected to the contents;
    d) I supported their right to protest and, if possible, use legitimate, legal, non-violent means to have the cartoons withdrawn if their own objections were justified and their motivations sincere;
    e) I did not even remotely support the violence and threats worldwide which followed.

    I don’t distinguish between religions in this regard. I may not agree with some concepts within other religions, but I support the right of the people concerned to practice their religions as long as they are not deliberately hurting anyone else by doing so, and — a pertinent point considering the topic of this thread — I support the right of people not to have their religious beliefs unnecessarily ridiculed or deliberately offended by people belonging to other religions if the motivations and methods of the latter are unethical and insincere.

    I’m sure you know about Guru Tegh Bahadur and his actions in relation to certain issues related to the above — the same basic principle applies here. Whether we are talking about Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam or any other religion is irrelevant to me — my stance is the same for all of the above — it’s a matter of basic courtesy towards people of other faiths and using common sense in how one handles religious issues which are essentially “owned” by them.

  115. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

    “Mr and Mrs Khan/Singh/Patel harmlessly going about their business in Wembley/Southall/Ilford why you should defend these things”

    I guess its like this:

    Mr Khan does not need to read the Satanic Verses if he doesn’t want to.

    Mr Singh does not have to go to the theatre and watch Behzti if he doesn’t want to.

    Mr Patel does not have to go to the Asia House and gaze at the artworks if he doesn’t want to.

    This is the crux of the matter. By all means be offended. But you cannot stop others who wish to view such material from doing so.

  116. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 4:47 pm  

    Exactly raz. But when the ball of ‘our religion under attack’ is rolling, flames fanned by ‘community representatives’ and media the issue becomes more than that. You can see in the reactions : Theo Van Gogh, MF Husain and Behzti become indicative of other things that hit raw nerves.

    You better be prepared to deal with those accusations of Uncle Tom, because they will come.

  117. squared — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:06 pm  

    I think I’m in e-love with Kismet Hardy.

    In response to Divya’s points, whilst I agree that the art in itself isn’t progressive, defending it is.

    Yes, he’s a man with double standards. Yes the paintings suck. Yes it’s mainly just a depiction of his naughty animal fantasies.

    But it’s very easy to criticise it without being violent, or having to censor it. Censorship should apply to things that really ARE a hazard to society. Things encouraging stuff like child porn, for example.

    Censorship is a real tool to protect our children from things they shouldn’t see, unwittingly. No child will walk into an art gallery unwittingly. If this stuff was on the streets, I’d be all for censoring it. I wouldn’t want my little cousins starting to hump animals! :|

    When it’s used as a weapon by cry babies who are offended by most things, it becomes dangerously close to putting a cap on ANYTHING insulting ANY ideology – be that religious, philosophical or political. Can you imagine us not being able to make fun of scientology or Tony Blair anymore?!

    The art is not progressive. But ensuring that it remains uncensored IS progressive. I wish some brown people would stop being complete sissies. There are bigger things to cry about in this world than the fact that not everyone shares your opinion or taste.

  118. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:21 pm  

    squared

    From what did you extrapolate that I concur with threats against the gallery?

    Where does it get you to denigrate and mock Hindus or ‘brown people’ who are offended by depictions of their revered Goddesses having sex with animals as being sissies or stupid? That is a patronising and condescending attitude. That is 90% of Hindus in Britain or around the world.

    If it is good and progressive to do this, then it will also be good and progressive to paint, display and defend paintings of Muslim, Jewish, Sikh religious icons also engaging in bestiality. And when people say they are offended, we can also condescend and patronise them, and say ‘We are progressive!’

    And will society have progressed? I dont think so really. Unless this recipe is for everyone, and we must do this exercise in full to the same extreme towards every group (why restrict it to religious groups, lets depict offensive ‘taboo shattering’ paintings of racial groups too and also condescend and patronise black and Chinese people when they protest – because we are the Gods and they are the plebian fools, right?)

    Oh how we will progress through this art.

  119. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    I mean, how does it progress things to mock gratuitously the common person and not the patriarchs and conservatives?

    Paint/depict/write/film about the real culprits and you progress and criticise society – the politicians, religious ideologues. Paint pictures of Goddesses/Mohammad/Moses having sex with animals, and you just alienate normal harmless everyday Hindus or Muslims or Jews going about their business.

    What have you progressed?

    Also, do you think you have subverted the conservatives? This gives them exactly what they want to increase their ideology and power.

  120. Don — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:33 pm  

    If you feel that something you hold precious has indeed be reviled, you can persuade, publish and protest. You just can’t threaten or hurt.

    If you have a good case you will establish that the perpertrator is a bigot or a jerk or whatever and that you have dignity and reason. And you will be respected.

    If you’re objections are trivial (Burger King) you will reveal yourself as such. And everyone will have a good laugh at your expense.

    It’s not a question of ‘supporting’ Hussein or any other artist, but drawing the line. You don’t get to threaten or incite violence to silence anybody.

    The intensity of the offence, (‘Hey, but I’m not just offended, I’m really really offended’) is irrelevant.

  121. Divya Q — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:42 pm  

    Don

    As far as I can see nobody on this thread agrees with the threats.

    I am talking about the justifications being made for this kind of ‘shock art’. This is what I am addressing.

    I like it when people confess that we want to gratuitously offend for the sake of it. They are honest. But people shouldnt come out with the line of being ‘progressive’ or that this is some great contribution to the liberation of Hindu minds. Because then to use a crude phrase, it is like you are shitting in their mouth and calling it an ice cream sundae.

    And accept a free for all, unrestricted and uncensored. I at least respect that line of reasoning. The idea of the ‘progressiveness’ of offensive art that depicts Goddesses having sex with animals is simply mendacious. Better to be honest about gratuitous offence than dress it up and condescend and patronise to people as if you are Gods on a cloud dispensing truth and wisdom to the harmless plebians below.

  122. Pablo Informer — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:56 pm  

    Remember the ‘Burger King’ farce? Read this interview with the man who kicked up a stink. Over a purely coincidental cartoon squirt of ice cream that looks by pure coincidence similar to the Arabic word for Allah.

    +++++++++++++++

    The Enlightenment happened at half past 12 a.m. in Burger King, Park Royal. I had ordered my food, and a French guy got talking to me and asked, “Are you Muslim?” He said, “Look at this,” and he showed me the cone. I saw it and I thought, “Wow,” like anyone would. He said, “Turn it around.”

    I was thinking of my stomach. I was hungry. I would have loved to eat an ice cream. When I saw it, my mouth fell open. I dropped the ice cream. I canceled my order. That was the defining moment of my life.

    The Burger King logo is there in Arabic. “Allah” is spelled exactly how it is there, and the Burger King logo is where the ominah should be. Why, there is no way it could be a coincidence. How can you say it is a spinning swirl? How does it spin on something that is static? You cannot spin it around unless you have a mechanical device. You spin it one direction, to the right, and it is offending a billion people.

    I’m not talking about Muslims in the Park Royal vicinity, or in the U.K. I’m talking about globally. Everyone who sees this is going to be offended. If you put a different symbol on there, you’re offending Jews, Christians, Sikhs, or Hindus. I am going to try my best in life, so that these people do not operate in a single Muslim country again, so that we get an apology to every single Muslim on this planet in their language, in their country, on a national TV station: “Sorry. We, as an American company, are sorry. We didn’t mean to offend you.”

    What angers me most is that most people, once they have finished with it, they look at it and say, “Nice cone. Nice design. Nice cone design.” They chuck it away. That is disrespectful. Don’t throw it away. Keep it as evidence. A reminder of what these people are doing every single day of our lives.

    We showed this to Muslim customers in Burger King and they were disgusted. We went to the manager. “Is this true?” we asked. He said, “Yes, my brother. It is true.” I spoke to two other Pakistani Muslim guys there and they said, “We are sickened.” They were cussing Burger King.

    I feel humiliated. I want to humiliate the person who did this to an extent that he never works again. I’m going to make him see that it was the biggest mistake in his life. I want to meet the guy. I want to ask the guy, “What does this mean to you?” then never see his face again.

    In a way, I’m glad he did this to me. It has opened my eyes. The fear of God, the love of God, the love of not letting anyone disrespect God. Even though it means nothing to some people and may mean nothing to some Muslims in this country, this is my jihad. I’m not going to rest until I find the person who is responsible. I’m going to bring this country down.

    http://www.harpers.org/ImHatinIt.html

  123. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 5:57 pm  

    Divya,

    You can go on ad nauseum about double standards and some people still won’t get it. Instead you get disingenous, illogical and equivocation-filled statements like the following (ha ha, ho ho, it elicits such laughter for its lameness):

    “I’d still support “spineless” MF Hussain. He might have had cogent artistic reasons why he caved in to Muslim threats (yes Gene Patel, those Muslim fundoos are the baddest – DavidT Patel said so) which might not have had anything to do with co-religionist sympathies. He’s the artists and I give him the benefit of the doubt rather than to whichever censor group made the more threatening growl.”

    Can you please explain why his cogent artistic reasons allowed him to put the song in the movie in the first place and then, lo and behold, deserted him only after he had received complaints from his co-religionists? If you’d read the story about the whole mess, you’d see that Hussain himself gave sympathy for his offended co-religionists as the reason for censoring the song. He didn’t say “cogent artistic reasons prompted me to censor the song” but “I don’t want to offend them so I’m immediately pulling the song.”

    Likewise the editors of the Danish newspaper had cogent artistic reasons that made them reject a cartoon offensive to Christians and publish a cartoon “offensive” to Muslims. I’m sure you’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt too.

  124. Don — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:02 pm  

    Diva Q,

    Of course no-one on this thread supports these threats.
    My point was that opposing threats does not equate to ‘supporting’ offensive art.

    But nor did I notice anyone on this thread putting forward ‘the line of being ‘progressive’ or that this is some great contribution to the liberation of Hindu minds.’

    I take your point that the conservative forces are well served by controversies such as this, which is why they are so keen to sniff them out, and turn them into a big deal.

    But when the threats are met with ‘Well, threats are bad, but it was really offensive, so I can see why …’
    Doesn’t that also strengthen the conservatives who want only one voice to be heard?

  125. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:22 pm  

    Don,

    =>”Doesn’t that also strengthen the conservatives who want only one voice to be heard?”

    If I may play Devil’s Advocate again, one could also propose that allowing the artists unfettered, consequence-free freedom (or at least defending this freedom “to the death” regardless of whether we actually support their actions) whilst simultaneously forcefully condemning those who object to their work on religious grounds also strengthens unscrupulous or morally-dubious artists who just want to deliberately push people’s buttons in order to get a reaction whilst simultaneously getting attention for their “work”.

    An analogy I could draw would be a person basically acting like a spoilt, indulged child, where they want the freedom to say and do whatever they want, regardless of the gratuitousness of their actions and the deliberate offence these actions are intended to cause, without wanting to have to face any counter-reaction, consequences, or general fall-out for their behaviour.

    Excellent points in your post #122, by the way — you’re basically saying the same thing as myself, even though we have ostensibly taken different stances in some aspects of this situation.

  126. David — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

    I’m intrigued by this “double standards” accusation, and I’d like to pick it apart a bit.

    Say an artist paints two pictures. Picture A offends religious group A, picture B offends religious group B. Religious group A objects politely and asks him to withdraw the picture which offends them. Religious group B protests violently and threatens to kill the artist if he doesn’t withdraw the picture which offends them.

    So the artist withdraws picture B, but leaves picture A hanging in the gallery.

    Is the artist guily of “double standards”?

    I’m not sure, to be honest. But I don’t think he is.

  127. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:30 pm  

    David

    The double standards thing regarding MF Husain relates to the speed with which he changed the lyrics of a song in a film he directed which offended some Muslims. He is thus seen as having double standards for giving in on the question of freedom of speech when members of his own religion complained. You have to see it in the context of Indian society and the Hindu/Muslim tensions and dynamics there.

  128. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:32 pm  

    If you notice, the organisers of the protest against Asia House speak in terms of grievance on a wider scale than just the offensiveness of the paintings, they see it as indicative of a wider humiliation and grievance of Hindus in the face of Muslim assertiveness in India on issues of religious offence, signified for them by MF Husain’s failure to stand up for freedom of speech when Muslims were offended by the lyrics in one of the songs in his film. That is the political fire beneath all of this.

  129. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:33 pm  

    >>When it’s used as a weapon by cry babies who are offended by most things, it becomes dangerously close to putting a cap on ANYTHING insulting ANY ideology – be that religious, philosophical or political. Can you imagine us not being able to make fun of scientology or Tony Blair anymore?!

    Exactly Squared!

    This article by Peter Fosl on online Philosophers Magazine touches on the Righteousness of Blasphemy, yeah you read right – righteousness!

    http://www.philosophersnet.com/magazine/article.php?id=1003

    >>Better to be honest about gratuitous offence than dress it up and condescend and patronise to people

    Great point Divya! Placing artificial, arbitrary and condescending parameters like artistic cogency/integrity or historical precedent (art for art’s sake? What’s that?)is to ultimately weaken the cause of freedom of expression.

  130. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    David,

    It’s not double standards if the artist in question withdrew picture B (and leaves picture A) but issued a statement something like this:

    “I am withdrawing picture B after receiving death threats (or in Hussain’s case with the movie, mere complaints from his co-religionists). However, I am firmly committed to freedom of expression and am only doing so because of threats to me and my family (or complaints from my co-religionists who I fear more than other religionists), not because I believe picture B should be pulled because it merely offends religious group B. I am saddened to have to withdraw picture B as this compromises my artistic freedom and realize that it comes across as double standards as I am letting picture A be displayed. But the only reason I’m displaying double standards is because I am more scared of group B than group A.”

    But if the artist says this, it is double standards:

    “I never intended Picture A to offend and am sorry it does but as an artist I am entitled to freedom of expression.”

    “I am sorry that Picture B offends group B (who happen to be my co-religionsists). I never intended to offend them and so am going to immediately pull picture B.” (no mention by artist about his being entitled to freedom of expression.)

  131. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    Sid, you have tourette’s syndrome or summin?

    Can’t go without reflexively reaching for sentences that contain the words sectarianism and mirax? And what we had was certainly not a ‘discussion’.

    Must be such a trial- those hated names Gene and David T just leaping out of your mouth every 10 seconds.

  132. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

    To add to some of Jay Singh’s most recent points, something else to remember (especially in the case non-Asians here on PP who may not necessarily be aware of all the various dynamics concerned) is that India has a history stretching back for almost 800 of the past 1000 years of Hindus (amongst other groups) being subjugated under Islamic rule and for their religion — along with associated places of worship and icons — to be ridiculed and attacked by various people acting in the name of Islam.

    I’m certainly not saying that MF Husain has the same intentions, but it is worth bearing this in mind, as — rightly or wrongly — Hinduism being deliberately attacked and/or insulted by Muslims has some broader ramifications within the context of Indian society, in many people’s minds anyway.

  133. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:46 pm  

    mirax

    i think you are right!

  134. Jai — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:46 pm  

    *in many people’s minds anyway.

    In terms of Hindus who object to some of his more controversial paintings.

  135. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    PP editing functions just trip me up. Sorry for all that boldface.

  136. Don — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    David,

    The next question about your example is ‘What have group B achieved?’ The art may be withdrawn but they have;

    a. established among themselves that violence and threats are their most effective arguments, making it all the more likely that next time it is their first recourse for increasingly trivial issues.

    b. established among outsiders to their group that they are violent bullies thus building up resentment and suspicion.

    c. deleted from the argument any question of the legitmacy of their objection by making it, ‘Shut up or we’ll hurt you.’

  137. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    It’s worth noting that Behzti was written by a Sikh not a Hindu or Muslim, but that didn’t stop the fanatics in their frothing rage.

  138. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    “You have to see it in the context of Indian society and the Hindu/Muslim tensions and dynamics there.

    The debate in India definitely has a ripple effect on her diaspora (be they Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, whatever). The continuing fiasco over the Da Vinci Code, in which we see the government bend over backwards, keep mum about bans against the movie in some states, and do astonishing gymnastics (and we see non-Christian countries like India and Sri Lanka act more Catholic than the pope and more Christian than Christian countries) to accomodate perceived Christian and Muslim hurt over the movie, moves which it would never do to accomodate the majority (nor should it necessarily do so), has only inflamed things and made the double standards all the more glaring.

    India Today has an interesting piece called “The politics of minorityism in India” in the wake of the Da Vinci Code fiasco.

  139. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:56 pm  

    i think you are right!

    Poor baby. All those crosses you already shoulder.

    Tell you what, I’ll help out with the mirax/sectarian/communalist problem. I’ll bitch slap you silly everytime that one pops out, deal?

  140. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

    Mirax

    I object to your sexist use of the word ‘bitchslap’. That is the language of misogyny. Please don’t use such terms.

  141. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:00 pm  

    “It’s worth noting that Behzti was written by a Sikh not a Hindu or Muslim, but that didn’t stop the fanatics in their frothing rage.”

    I don’t think the point is that people only get enraged when someone else “hurts” their religion. The fact that Sikhs and Hindus and Muslims and Christians and Buddhists would be just as likely to be “hurt” by their co-religionists as well as “outsiders” shows their consistency. Perhaps an outsider would face more scrutiny, I think that’s the natural defensive reaction, but “insiders” certainly haven’t escaped from the wrath of “hurt” people. Hindus in India have certainly faced the wrath of other “hurt” Hindus for perceived insults and slights.

  142. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

    #138

    Also Don, Group A learns that violent reprisals ‘work’ and takes that as first option when the next controversy pops out.

  143. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:01 pm  

    I was only joking mirax, you can use whatever words you like. I was just doing an impression of you.

  144. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

    Don’t be tedious bore Jay.

  145. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

    “Also Don, Group A learns that violent reprisals ‘work’ and takes that as first option when the next controversy pops out.”

    Zigzactly!

  146. raz — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:02 pm  

    Mirax can bitch slap me any time she wants. I like a dominant woman :)

  147. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:03 pm  

    hate the way my articles are disappearing. apologies.

  148. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:03 pm  

    Yeah Rushdie wrote Satanic Verses. Although the grievance might be aggravated if it is an ‘outsider’ producing the work. A Hindu or Sikh or Jew writing Satanic Verses would have been even more incendiary.

  149. John Browne — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    The most violent event of my life was visiting a pub in Erith.

    It was like a wild west saloon. Sikh’s were having a massive fight with another Indian group. Chairs were getting smahed on people, glasses flying. I think it was just after some assination of an Indian PM (or there abouts).

    I did manage to find a table still undisturbed, but I didn’t stay longer than one pint. I then went back to Upper Belvedere, saw a Sikh temple so went back to the relative safety of Croydon and its West Indian community.

    Has to be said, I don’t understand how asians (Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus) take religion so seriously as to phyically fight about it. It makes no rational sense me but thats probably because I don’t come from Belfast (incidently BT in Belfast have recruited hundres of Indian workers, that should make an interesting cultural mix).

    John

    John

  150. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:05 pm  

    Heh – don’t be a grammar nerd mirax or I’ll bitchslap you :-)

  151. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:07 pm  

    Raz, you and Amir are so sweetly desperate that none of us women will ever bitchslap you ;-)

  152. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:08 pm  

    John

    Indians fight over religion, English people fight over donner kebabs in town centres on a Saturday night, what’s the difference?

  153. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:13 pm  

    >>I think it was just after some assination of an Indian PM (or there abouts).

    Indira Gandhi. Oddly that was the only desi event that had a (very tiny) ripple here in S’pore. A fight or two broke out in the Indian shopping area.

    Odd because Sikhs here are model citizens and other Indians are not that connected to Indian politics.

  154. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    is that India has a history stretching back for almost 800 of the past 1000 years of Hindus (amongst other groups) being subjugated under Islamic rule and for their religion

    Jai

    I’ve been to India more times than you have probably. And I don’t feel Hindus by and large feel particularly disadvantaged by Islamic rule. And furthermore, Indians don’t, by and large, harbour anti-Muslim feelings by definition. Muslims are a minority in India, but neither do they feel subjugated.

    I sense more than a little emotional baggage goes into these views about these matters which can often be due to immigrant communities carrying on a set of received attitudes which they keep in jars by the door. But which the old country have, by and large, moved on with.

  155. Katy Newton — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:18 pm  

    Jay, they only fight over donner kebabs because they can’t hold them and fight at the same time.

  156. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

    Sid

    That’s what I mean when I talk of the manufacture of grievance and the attachment of peripheral issues to these ‘offencive art’ stuff. That’s how you draw in people and link all this stuff to ‘grievances’. A few paintings, and now we have to reference a one sided view of Islamic tyrants stomping on the face of Hindus for 800 years. Of course it makes peoples blood boil.

  157. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

    Katy I was in Northampton town centre on a Saturday night about three months ago and it was the most frightening atmosphere and sight – glass, blood, aggro – an English city/town centre on a Friday/Saturday night must be the most violent place in Europe! Although to be honest it looked like some of them were figting because someone spilled their pint or looked at their girlfriends boobs or something. Not a safe place especially if you are Asian and all the taunts start off from beered up lads.

  158. Ravi4 — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:28 pm  

    I think Sunny’s original proposal is right – it’s a good idea to organise some sort of action/protest in support of Asia House’s right to display MF Husain’s “art”. That doesn’t have to be (only) a physical protest outside the building. An email campaign to asia house and the wider media, Sunny and the other PP writers publishing articles on CiF or whatever, anything which conveys the message widely and publicly that these touchy, backward “community leaders”, “elders” and the rest do NOT speak for all of us. Publishers, exhibitors, theatre managers and the like should not be making decisions about what to put out there under the false impression that these “elders” are acting in our name. Their inability to survive in a robust free society is their problem, not ours.

    (By the way I don’t like the idea of monocultural protests. Yes, it would send the wrong message if the protest/ email shot etc about Husain was only by non-Hindus. But a “mixed” protest would I think send a message of solidarity and universality.)

    Jay Singh is absolutely right. There has to be complete freedom of speech, even the freedom to be a total jerk, so long as there’s no incitement to violence or other serious illegal activity. The Danish newspapers, MF Husain, Iqbal Sacranie, George Galloway, Nick Griffin, Brian Haw they all have the right to be ill-willed, wrong-headed, offensive morons, and exercise double standards as much as they want, so long as they do not engage in that kind of incitement.

    And yes, this does not mean people should have no right to protest and complain about the unfairness of said publication/speech/piece of art/literature etc. But equally, there’s no excuse for intimidation or threats. And we cannot let them be the ones to present themselves as the voice of the “Asian Community”. I hate the fact that OUR views aren’t heard, and these eternal whingers get the headlines. “Not In My Name!”

    The number of contributions on this thread shows just how important a discussion this is. (Even if a large proportion of the posts here are proposing Silly Highly Ideological Titles for this Campaign Reclaiming Asian Politics.)

    Go Sunny and Jay Singh. What’s the email address for Asia House?

  159. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:30 pm  

    >> sense more than a little emotional baggage goes into these views about these matters which can often be due to immigrant communities carrying on a set of received attitudes which they keep in jars by the door. But which the old country have, by and large, moved on with.

    Not all immigrant communities. Hindu-muslim tensions hardly are a feature of SE Asian diasporic Indians.Must be the South Indian angle. There is absolutely no following for Hindutva politics either. MF Husain would have no problems whatsoever exhibiting here – there would have been no outcry at all from the numerous hindu organisations here. But they would also not protest against Modi if he were to drop in for a visit. Just to be polite.

  160. Ravi4 — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:35 pm  

    Whoops, just spotted Sunny’s CiF article. Let the revolution begin…

  161. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:42 pm  

    You people should also get Kismet to go interview some fundamentalist ‘community leaders’ behind these threats (a la Cat Stevens) and publish the results. It will damn be hilarious. He could go undercover in a saffron robe.Like that British asian undercover reporter who dresses up as an Arab Sheikh -the one Galloway fingered.

  162. Katy Newton — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:45 pm  

    Northampton! My best friend used to live there. We went out one Saturday night in December. It was below freezing and the town centre was full of bleached coatless blonde Dawn French-sized teenagers in skimpy cropped vest tops, the better to show off acres of purple, goosepimpled flesh. I am still traumatised.

  163. Katy Newton — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:46 pm  

    I feel strangely off topic.

  164. Sid — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:50 pm  

    I always do.

  165. sunray — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:51 pm  

    Sunny
    You want to protest for the paintings yet you fail to see the offence this is really causing the ordinary people in the streets of UK.
    If you had held a protest against that film ‘Water’, or ‘Sonia’ or ‘Behzti’ or the ‘Burger King lid’ or the ‘Stamp’ issue, I would have joined you. But there is no way Im going to back you on this and the moron you are supporting. Well that’s how the rest world will see it.
    In this instance your protest will be seen as very little to do with freedom or rights.
    It seems you too are choosing a soft target to start a campaign against.

  166. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

    Sunny’s CiF article is good, except that the main point of the protest was not about the nude Mother India (Bharat Mata) but about Hussain’s portrayal of deities. The Hindu group’s press release on their website doesn’t seem to mention the Bharat Mata painting in their objections, only depictions of Durga and other deities they find objectionable.

    That doesn’t affect the freedom of Asia House to display Hussain’s work or give any more legitimacy to HHR. They may also be offended by Bharat Mata, but their press release for this protest makes no mention of that specific painting. Just a small journalistic point. If I’m wrong about the press release not mentioning Bharat Mata, correct me. Thanks.

  167. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 7:59 pm  

    What is sunray actually saying?

  168. Ravi4 — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:03 pm  

    Sunray’s saying “freedom of speevch is fine, so long as you don’t say anything naughty”. sounds like my mum. actually sunray, are you my mum? your reasoning skills seem petty similar…

  169. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:05 pm  

    I think he’s saying he missed the organized PP street protest against the people who protested against Behtzi and against the people who protested against the Danish cartoons with placards calling for the beheading of anyone who published those cartoons.:) But better later than sooner, is what I think he’s saying.

  170. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

    Why’s he bothered about those things? PP wasnt on its feet back then.

    I think what he’s saying is that he will support any protest for freedom of speech, unless it involves supporting MF Husain, because he hates him, in which case, he will not support it.

    But there is no way Im going to back you on this and the moron you are supporting

    And

    You want to protest for the paintings yet you fail to see the offence this is really causing the ordinary people in the streets of UK.

    Is it causing offence on the streets of UK? Or does he mean the Hindu streets of the UK? Is it really making blood pressure rise on the ‘Hindu streets’ of Britain?

    This just goes back to my point – everybody supports freedom of speech until it is their sentiments offended by the latest outrage. Then they suddenly declare they’ll support freedom of speech for anyone except that ‘moron’ who has offended them.

  171. mirax — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:19 pm  

    Sunny’s still getting plenty of grief over his goatee …he he…but otherwise the reaction thus far to his article is almost universal agreement. Good start.

  172. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:29 pm  

    Wasn’t PP on its feet during the recent cartoon fiasco? It certainly caused a lot of talk on this site, enough to spark an organized protest against the protesters who wanted the cartoons banned, in sunray’s view. The reaction to the cartoon sparked global protests and much handwringing in Western countries, especially in Britain, probably more than the Hussain fiasco ever will.

    But I was only paraphrasing what I think sunray meant to convey. I think he sees it the same way as you but in reverse: there has been a lot of talk about standing up to extremists on this site, but from his viewpoint, the action against it has come a little later than sooner and against what is perceived as a ‘softer’ target (his viewpoint).

    Not sure about the Hindu streets of UK. I think he just means ordinary Hindus, although I have no idea from reading anything about this issue whether there really is a groundswell in the UK Hindu community against Hussain’s exhibition or if it’s just a few people claiming to speak for the whole community, as Sunny points out in his article.

  173. Ismaeel — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:35 pm  

    One man in his office huh Sunny, carefully forgetting the thousands of people MAC brought onto the street which u urself reported on….

    Anyways don’t forget that this little stunt has been tried before by the old March for Free Expression… and we all remember what happened with that : )

  174. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:39 pm  

    Basically he’s saying he supports freedom of speech, except when he has to support something that offends him, and also he thinks Husain is a moron, and PP not seeking to do anything about the Mo cartoons is more evidence of the anti Hindu bias of the world, rather than this being the latest in a long line of things that has broken the camels back as it were. So this is part of a conspiracy too. Like I said, we all support freedom of speech until it comes to something close to the bone, in which case we always see the other side of the story.

  175. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:42 pm  

    Is there anyone out there willing to comment on how this issue is playing out amongst Hindus from their level? Because it hasnt got that much mainstream media attention at all, I bet most dont even know about it.

  176. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:44 pm  

    In the UK I meant. Because none of my Hindu mates have even heard of it.

  177. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 8:54 pm  

    I think he’s saying he would support this protest (whether he would is another case, but to give him the benefit of the doubt) against those who protest Hussain if PP had a record of organizing protests against e very recent egregious violations of freedom of expression. (Not saying that he’s right or wrong, but I think that’s what he’s saying.)

    You see him as being a hypocrite and he sees this website as being a bit hypocritical in the same manner. I guess he’s wondering why the cartoon thing was not the straw that broke the camel’s back, given that according to Sunny and to recent issues discussed on this website, this sort of thing seems to be a long-standing problem in the British Asian community, instead of the Hussain exhibition. And the reaction to the cartoons far exceeded anything by the protesters against the Hussain exhibition.

    Maybe to accomodate everyone and offend no one, PP should organize a maha-protest against all the protesters of various issues that have “hurt” Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and whoever else in the last year – backdate it so to speak :) PPers can be broken down into color-coded segments for each issue: saffron placards for anti anti-Hussain protests, green placards for anti anti-Danish cartoon and anti anti-western school uniform protests etcetera.

  178. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:00 pm  

    No – he’s saying: there is no way Im going to back you on this and the moron you are supporting

    He says he would welcome a protest against Deep Mehta but it’s just this ‘moron’ that annoys him, and thus by implication PP is engaged in passive discrimination against Hindus, (the all consuming, supernatural, wicked ‘double standards’) by making a stand on this issue.

    Just common place grievance mongering.

    I understand it to a certain extent, when your feelings are hurt, why take a stand, but when you have a mindset that sees hypocrisy and a grand universal narrative of humiliation and satanic double standards, it’s not difficult to fall into grievance-conspiracy mongering mode.

  179. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:09 pm  

    I’m too wasted to care if this is irrelevent but I had this epipheny in the toilet: politics and art, notwithstanding the philosophies of plato, earnest benn,  Henri Queuille and my uncle bulbul aside, have no business trying to mud wrestle one another. Politics, like religion, is all about order, rules, see things my way or die, while art is all about ‘can you tell what it is yet?’

    Everyone here comes from a political or religious or socialogical background, all defined by rules and barriers. How can you possibly try to fathom the mind and intention of an artist who thrives on defying all your preconceptions on the way it should be?

    Anyhoo, I just hope the sri lankan dude in the petrol station that sold me my roll of aluminium foil thought I was basting a turkey or something
     
       

  180. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:13 pm  

    Maybe I’ve misread what he said then. I thought he meant he would have joined a PP protest against anti-Mehta people, against anti-Behtzi people and the like, but doesn’t like it that PP’s protests are going to launch by being anti anti-Hussain.

    I guess it all boils down to one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist. Hypocrisy, double standards and blindspots are part of the human condition. We’re all guilty of it to some extent in our lives and at some point in our lives.

  181. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:16 pm  

    People who throttle artists are nazi scum

    All through history

  182. Don — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:21 pm  

    I’d rather seen the post as intended to open up a general discussion, rather than finding the current crop of demanders more egregious than previous ones, or the current target more worthy.

    During the mo-toons madness we all tried to sound measured and considered, but personally I was a bit taken aback by the sheer craziness of the events. How many died? And not one remotely connected to the spark. And they just keep on coming; respect me or else, respect me or else. Did it set some sort of benchmark? At what point do religious groupings (with all the attendant sub-texts, hidden agendas, wheels within wheels etc.) decide to by-pass normal means of civilised discourse and go straight for blood and fire?

    If this particular threat had not provided the starting point for an admittedly overdue debate on sectarianism and censorship, free-speech and religious sensitivities, then I’m sure another one would have been along soon. And another.

    By the way, Ismaeel,

    I know you didn’t mean it to sound that way, you being an old blues man and all, but your last post came out slightly sinister. Try saying that in a faint German accent, while wearing a goatee like Sunny’s. Chilling.

  183. Don — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:25 pm  

    ‘I guess it all boils down to one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.’

    That was ironic, right?

  184. xyz — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:30 pm  

    “That was ironic, right?”

    Yes and no, which I think is the reality, horrible as it may seem. I’m not saying it’s right, though. I’ve even heard and read British commentators, historians and the like referring to the people who participated in the Sepoy Mutiny as terrorists.

  185. Ismaeel — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:53 pm  

    It was meant to be a wry comment Don, i apologise to anyone if it sounded threatening.

  186. Ismaeel — on 25th May, 2006 at 9:57 pm  

    and i have a full beard, none of this half hearted goatee buisness

  187. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:03 pm  

    Ismaeel. I smile. How rather lovely. I bet you get that a lot.

  188. Ismaeel — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:13 pm  

    Don, thought u might be interested in the possible Islamic roots of blues music…

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/08/15/INGMC85SSK1.DTL

  189. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

    No blues, Smile Ismaeel

  190. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:39 pm  

    I hope this thread makes it to 200 posts. Without padding.

  191. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 10:42 pm  

    Kismet Hardy after reading post 181 you are coming across as more and more of a genius.

    But just let me know, what was the roll of tin foil for?

  192. sunray — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

    ha dont worry these comments should take it to 220 atleast!

    Why start a campaign with a support for a moron who clearly respects his religion but likes to mock Hindus? If anything else sunny should be organising a protest against MFH for his bias against the Hindus. The one thing that seems to be overlooked is the immensely tolerant nature of the Hindus in India and here. Instead of praising this community some of you are out to make them into some kind of mobsters. Had he offended other religions he would either be dead or in hiding by now.
    I can’t even believe some of the posts which tries to imply the ferocity of the Hindu protestors or the way some posts have been worded it seems all hell had broken loose and that we should not tolerate such a thing.

    Yes lets campaign in support for these painting as a lesson to teach all the nasty evil Hindus who really cant tolerate simple artistic paintings. Obviously we don’t want to upset the other peaceful communities now do we.

    Im also not saying only Hindu offences I’ll not protest for or only nonHindu offence I’ll support. There are some issues like the Hindu stamps or the ‘Water’ protest which I am able to tolerate or don’t find offensive enough to support violence in cinemas of India or make a big fuss over. They are not detrimental to the Hindu religion.
    I was generalising those examples of what I can tolerate and what I cannot. Freedom of speech is great, but has its limits; but then again the words ‘freedom and ‘limits’ contradict each other, don’t they. It’s a balance which you have to work out for yourselves.

    I can put up with photos of Gods on cake but not photos of Gods on Bras.
    I don’t find photos of Hindu Gods in pubs offensive but would find offensive photos of Gods depicted as holding a beer bottle.
    Im holding my reservation for photos of Gods on Shoes but would not tolerate photos on toilet seats.

    I cannot fit into many of your liberal mindset but this is me. I really don’t care if you don’t agree with me. You can sit there and scrutinize my post all you want.

    I also don’t think all those Representatives of each Religions are as mad as Sunny makes them out to be. More questions then ponder on!
    Well what is right and what is wrong?
    Or should that be When is it right and When is it wrong
    or should we ask How is it wrong and How is it right?

  193. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:07 pm  

    tin foil?

    to wear as a makeshift hat of course to stop eschelon permeating my senses of course

  194. squared — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:10 pm  

    Divya,

    Read my post. It wasn’t an attack on you, so please don’t take it so personally.

    I specifically said that I do NOT think the art in itself is progressive or even good for that matter.

    What isn’t progressive is censorship. I don’t know what people have been saying that makes you think they think the actual piece is meant to be progressive, but my view concerns the way the art is dealt with.

    And yea, I do take the piss out of conservatives too – because I still can.

    I will reiterate: you start stopping people from offending religious groups and you become DANGEROUSLY close to putting a cap on even criticising ANY ideology for fear of offense.

    It’s not about how crass the art is, it’s about the very principle of censorship.

  195. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:17 pm  

    Roll on the weekend.

  196. John Browne — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:22 pm  

    Jay,
    No – you miss the point.
    sanskrit is an important religious language.
    How many books can you buy (say via Amazon etc)
    which are written in Sanskrit with English
    help tutorials? I’d say 75% of all the INDIAN
    texts are full of boll*x miss translations

    John

  197. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:27 pm  

    Eh?

  198. Jay Singh — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:28 pm  

    200

  199. Kismet Hardy — on 25th May, 2006 at 11:44 pm  

    200 + 1

    5 more and it’s gonna be 206

    If you post at 02: 06: 2006 then that’ll prove things

  200. Andy A — on 26th May, 2006 at 9:46 am  

    Perhaps every time there’s a protest about something like this, the organisers should post the art on a website, making the point that it will get a far bigger audience. Since they’ve had to close down the physical exhibition, anyway, there should be no revenue considerations. Artists may decide that, provided certain criteria are met – such as duration of the online exhibition – they’re happy to have their works exhibited in this way, partly to show them off, of course, and partly as a protest against attempts at censorship. Every time this is done – and, if an organisation were to be adventurous, it could extend to videos of theatre – the point must be made: far more people are now going to see this; if you don’t protest when we want to stage it in meatspace, fewer people will see it – it’s up to you. It will obviously take some organisation, and some bodies talking to other bodies, and web space set up and hosted far away and anonymously (or in a safer country). But it could be done. Off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts at the moment – this could be refined. Unless of course I’ve missed something glaringly obvious and have been talking impracticable bollocks. But someone reading this may just have the wherewithal to set something like this going.

  201. Jai — on 26th May, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    Sid,

    =>”I’ve been to India more times than you have probably……”

    I’m not quite sure exactly what you’re basing this statement on — I usually go to India almost every year and have done so for a very long time, my family owns property there in major cities, and most of my (extended family) relatives still live in India too, spread from the north of the country to the south.

    Ismaeel,

    You have a sense of humour ! I knew it ;)

    Jay Singh,

    =>”Is there anyone out there willing to comment on how this issue is playing out amongst Hindus from their level?”

    The people who actually know about it regard it as being beyond the pale, although Hindus familiar with MF Husain’s work over the past few years are not surprised that he is still trying to push the envelope and regard him as a slightly crazy old man with a dirty mind; many Hindus just ignore him because of this.

  202. Arif — on 26th May, 2006 at 11:18 am  

    This is a great discussion, I am someone who instinctively wants to avoid offending people and find it hard to defend people who do. But Jay Singh makes the distinction between defending the right to offend, but not the offence, and all the implications of this.

    The trouble for me is this is such an abstract argument. What motivates us to take it on? Is it an underlying belief (expressed by Kismet Hardy) that threatening artists leads on to threatening all of society? Or threatening expression of one kind leads to threatening expression of many kinds (expressed by squared)? They are persuasive fears, but fears like these can be turned on their heads.

    Artistic expressions which humiliate or demonise another social group could also be believed to lead on to further expressions of hatred ending in massacres. If we were motivated by our fears for the impact on society, we should be just as sensitive to these fears.

    People who feel threatened because they are a minority or have been targeted by violent groups should be defended. And that includes both the artist and their sympathisers and those who feel attacked by the artist and their sympathisers. Building respect for peoples’ feelings does not feel oppressive to me. It is an expression of my values. It might require me to think before I speak and to apologise if I say things clumsily. But I am willing to do this and would ask for other people to be respectful to me in return.

    This also isn’t easy, but it is constructive – just as this site is constructive because it is built on a form of censorship monitored by Sunny.

    I agree with Jay that we should be censoring threats and expressions calculated to intimidate, but I also think like Sunray and DivyaQ and others we cannot stand aside from also expressing disappointment with an artist who cannot see how their art hurts people and appears not to care. The artist too has a responsibility, just like those offended by them. Both sides can be contributing to hatred and yet believe they are defending important principles which protect a free society.

    By projecting fears on one another we close down dialogue, and that does not seem like the kind of free speech I am motivated to defend.

  203. Shariq Faraz — on 28th May, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

    Art should entertain undoubtedly but shocking recreation needs to be demarked by certain limits even good ole John Stuart Mill wouldn’t argue to this. Viewing agnostic imagery with secular lenses may give a hazy view of socio-religious backdrop just behind these bold artifacts, Hussein’s canvass in this case, but the fact remains ‘They do exist’ and clearly visible to the naked eyes of many mal-nutritive but spiritual bodies in third world. Behzti, Satanic Verses, Lajja are all commendable work from greyest of grey cells in the South-Asian literary club, but even the demonized authors of these work would consent that religion is very much entangled in the personal egoistic framework of its fervent followers. Artfully playing or experimenting with some shades of divine may result in a brilliant art work but one which is stained and doomed to be given a faithful crimination, at least in the home grounds. Whether it’s a prophetic caricature or holy full frontals of pagan Gods, people holding the same sacred should be and would be agonized. As British writer Hanif Kureishi commented post notorious Rushdie hula bolo, is fiction which kills (Danish artworks recently) or hurts worth to be fictionalized?

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