The world has its share of bigots and racists who through their actions and specious arguments substantiate their sophistry or refute even the most obvious evidence against their dogmatic views. We see it among zealots who brandish swords just as we see it among those who wield the pen and now increasingly among those who control our media.
While the fanatic’s actions often create a momentary shock response, the actions of those who control what we get to see and read have a more profound and longer lasting impact on our collective psyche.
Now imagine a situation where the mainstream media becomes a platform for a zealot or other similarly mentally-challenged person to air their views. This is gradually becoming the norm in the media as broadcasters vie with each other for better ratings and more online clicks.
"Some parts of the media are half in love with their [zealot’s] almost picturesque excessiveness, eagerly pouncing on every ‘shock’ video, rapidly launching them out into the social media world confident that they'll harvest ever-bigger viewer numbers," said Neil Durkin of Amnesty International to post an article under the heading, ‘Atrocity exhibitions as click bait’.
This rabid pursuit of more online clicks and better television ratings was behind the decision by BBC to air with alacrity a video-documentary titled ‘India’s Daughter’. The broadcaster even went to the extent of expediting its release date so as to capitalize on the fervor created by the video. A ‘click bait’ for the video — excerpts from an interview with an unrepentant convicted rapist and his two monumentally idiotic lawyers — which were conveniently leaked online, helped propel the video’s notoriety.
The India government’s belated lame response of banning the video in India only helped to further publicize the video.
The documentary’s director, Leslee Udwin, in an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, incidentally made on BBC Radio after the video had been aired, ‘begged’ him to view her documentary and rescind the ban. Pressed with government duties, the prime minister may not have, or more importantly, the inclination, to view her movie, but we did see it.
Even if we reserve our judgments on the production quality of India’s Daughter’ and we set aside our comments on the ethics of selectively splicing answers to suit a particular viewpoint, we still have questions on why program managers at BCC and the documentary’s director made and aired the video in the first place.
In a rare admittance, the BBC's South Asia correspondent Justin Rowlatt said in Delhi that the issue is not just what the convict says, but also whether he should have been given a platform to express his views.
One can understand BBC wanting to air the video since for long it has had a prejudice towards India, highlighting whenever possible the negative aspects of India’s economic growth and development in all arenas. Jealousy is an understandable trait and India can draw comfort from the fact that we feature only second on BBC hit-list, the first place is reserved for Russia and its President Putin.
The film-makers have said any attempt to stop the film's broadcast would be a violation of the right to freedom of expression. They plan to challenge the ban in court. BBC has a long history of hiding behind its hallowed ‘freedom of expression’ and its oft-repeated phrase that ‘the people have a right to know’, to justify the most outrageous claims.
Even if later they have to recant their story and publish a small apology, their intended aim of doing damage would have been achieved. There will always be bigoted broadcasters who in their insistence to prove their blinkered views will twist truth, splice evidence and bend that elusive thing called ethics, just so they can prove their foregone conclusions.
However, when the broadcaster maliciously places a heading on its website, which has subsequently been removed, asserting that the rape video underlines the attitudes of Indian men, it definitely merits an answer.
The rationalization by BBC that the ranting by a convicted rapist and the views of a couple of lawyers are indicative of the general attitude of men towards women in India is only an indication of their unabashed prejudice and stupidity. Because, if we stretch this rationalization to its full extent then BBC will also have to admit that the debaucheries of its most-famous commentator and DJ, the late Jimmy Savile, is indicative of pedophilic activities that BBC condones in its studios.
Newly published reports on the sexual perversions of Jimmy Savile, who was even knighted by the Queen in 1990, reveal that BBC management turned a blind eye to the rape and sexual assault of up to 1,000 girls and boys in the corporation’s changing rooms and studios for over 40 years.
By drawing conclusions and generalizations from individual acts we could say the recent racist ravings and acts by English football club Chelsea fans in France was symbolic of underlying xenophobia among the British public? And again, we could assume from the recent BBC title, ‘Young girls being lured to Syria by ‘attractive’ jihadists’ are a reflection of the (in) capabilities of British men in some areas? We could go on…
About the film and its director, the less said the better.