The Great Appeasement
Reading a recent news report about the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu ordering officials to stop the screening of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in theaters makes me wonder if religious appeasement is not scaling new heights in India. Apparently, some Christian and other minority group’s religious sentiments are hurt by the film. This is strange considering that predominantly Catholic countries such as Italy, Brazil etc. have not banned the film. And even the Vatican did not call for a ban but has only asked Catholics to avoid the film. So I wonder if Christians in India have stronger feelings or do not agree with the Vatican over this issue? Or is it a perfect excuse to gain some political mileage by both the Catholic organizations and political parties rushing to please the former’s demands. After all, the book has been in print, has sold like hot cakes, and has been discussed to death for more than a year now. Why didn’t these people protest so strongly then?
I think these government orders set a dangerous precedent. Now the door is open for any group to demand a ban on anything based on the highly ambiguous argument that it hurts/offends their sentiments.
This also raises the issue of free expression. If we stifle dissenting views then how can new ideas arise? Whatever happened to freedom of speech enshrined in our constitution?
As I write this there have been fresh protests in Hyderabad by a Christian organization outside a movie theater, which was showing the film after a High Court judge quashed the government order banning the film, terming the order “as extravagant, arbitrary and wholly irrational.” Need I say more?