Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Moral Police Pulls the Plug out of Television

Posted by Jerry on September 2, 2006

Mumbai has been under a television black-out now for over 24 hours, which may continue for an indefinite amount of time ahead.

Apparently, the Mumbai High Court felt that Mumbai cable channels displayed too many “obcene” and “adult” content on TV. Therefore, the court ordered channels like HBO, Star Movies, and AXN to be pulled off the air. The Cable distributors decided to strike by blanketing the city with a virtual television black-out.

According to this report, it all began with Mumbai’s “morality super-cop Pratibha Naithani filing a petition in the high court against obscenity on television… Naithani’s lawyer had argued that despite an earlier order to the contrary, a total of 85 films with ‘A’ [Adults only] certificate and 42 films with ‘U/A’ [Underage/Adults] certificate had been shown on Cable TV and that three other films with no censor certificate were beamed.”

This country–India–is utterly lawless, which is ironic given that it has a constitution that’s more than some 300 pages long, filled with all kinds of arbitrary edicts, whimsical amendments, and immoral principles. In fact, this insanely and ludicrously long constitution is itself responsible for all the lawlessness rampant in this country. It attempts to codify an unlimited number of rules of behavior in an infinite number of concrete situations.

And as if the constitution was simply not enough of a pathetic embarrasment to this country, the judges and magistrates who preside over the courts and interpret the constitution attempt to speak in an English that’s worse than that of the janitors who clean the place! Take this case for example: a Mumbai lawyer was so frustrated with the incomprehensible language of the court magistrate, he decided to move to the courts to file a suit. Advocate Jamal Khan claims:

The English used by the magistrate is incomprehensible.. So much so that at times it obstructs the court proceedings and makes it difficult to interpret the legal ramifications…”

To bolster his case the advocate quotes extensively from several of magistrate Bedgale’s orders. To wit:

• “I cannot give the exact time when I admitted the hospital after the incident”.

• “I was fallen down at my residence”; “I detained conscious at hospital”.

• “They assaulted with the help of hands and legs”.

• “Ganesh Chauvan tried to assault me to my face but I prohibited through my left hand.” And so forth…

Khan alleges that that the magistrate used words like ‘stolened, brokened, caughted’ etc which the English language is stranger to.”

When we spoke to one of the stenographers at Mazgaon court, he said requesting anonymity: “Often we fail to understand what he (Bedgale) means or intends, leaving us with no choice but to blindly record whatever he orders.”

So, with judges like that presiding over the Indian courts, with rogues and brutes in the Indian Police dictating the moral culture of a city, and with illiterate and corrupt politicians legislating from the Parliament, the totality of India realizes a hellish nightmare for a rational man to live in.

India is a primitive tribalistic society that’s being dragged out kicking and screaming into the light of modern civilization and capitalism and it does not know how to deal with the bright lights. So, very often it shuts its eyes in desperate attempts to remain in the darkness that it is so comfortable in.

*sigh* I have got to get out of this place as soon as possible.

Update:

While the many cable channels have begun beaming into households again, the English movie channels–particularly, HBO and Star Movies–are still under the banned blackout. This means, we currently receive no English movies on television–be it, “The Mummy Returns” (rated A – Adult) or “Minority Report” (also rated ‘A’) or even any good, clean Disney movie.

The absurdity of having movies like “Minority Report” and “The Mummy Returns” restricted only for Adult-viewing is amplified by taking a look at the government-stipulated guidelines for such a rating:

    • Intimate romantic scenes including lip to lip kissing
    • The lyrics of the songs and the dance movements may be sexually suggestive
    • Underlying principle is that ‘Adults should be able to see and hear whatever they choose to see and hear
    • Obviously even adults will have to exercise discretion before watching to the film

Frankly, this just gives me a laugh! Note their own bolded and italicized “Underlying principle,” which they immediately undercut by the next (grammatically incorrect) principle! It’s mind-boggling to me how they can maintain a clear contradiction so explicitly!

And on a related tangent, I’m not sure if all the cable service subscribers (consumers) who have been paying for English movie channels are being refunded their money. I doubt that that’s the case. So, in the end, the government shuts down English movie channels, presumably for the “good of the people,” but the people still continue paying for a service that they are not properly and entirely receiving.

So, should they just stop paying the cable companies? Well, sure they can. But what they’ll be left with is far far worse! State-run broadcast channels are all that is permissible on the air, and all that one can receive free of cost. Unlike in the US, where broadcast channels are populated by private companies beaming some very viewable progamming–Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order, etc., here in India broadcasting is the sole domain of the government, and they do the crappiest job of programming. Typically, this consists of long and incomprehensible and unintelligible political speeches, or utterly annoying and boring classical musical performances, or a droning news anchor who could care less about the news he’s reading.

Even the poorest of the poor in India do not watch these state-run channels; they’d rather steal cable illegally from their neighbors than inflict torture on themselves by watching broadcast channels.

So, what do we have here? The poor stealing cable from the people who pay for a service they don’t get because the government controls broadcast channels and bans certain cable channels.

Ugh. I can almost taste the vomit in my throat.

14 Responses to “Moral Police Pulls the Plug out of Television”

  1. Mark said

    At least the cable operators are taking the correct action to fight back.

    That just can’t be the speech of a magistrate, can it? It would be laughable if not for the fact that he is indeed expected to uphold the law.

  2. Hiren said

    Very nicely put.

    Frankly speaking, all this talk of India being on the way to be an economic powerhoue is a lot of nonsense as along as we have our outdated lawas and our pathetically slow judicial system. That is the biggest blockage for progress. There is a lot of intellectual gymnastics over it but nothing ever improves unfortunately.

  3. Jason Leary said

    Oh my , you mean they won’t get to hear skanky yuppie-minded reporters (e.g. Entertainment Tonight, CNN ‘s NANCY GRACE , Extra) providing the latest sordid, fiendishly vapid, mind-boggling superficial and creepy lurid gossip on children like Jon Benet ramsey being raped and killed, and all those “enthralling” celebrity break-ups and custody battles ? OH MY good heavens–those savages why that’s a tragedy –that they are so primitive as to want to miss out on the plastic media culture of our all so “advanced” media culture –with its news as entertainment and entertaintment as news , pokemon Cards , fad and fashion mystification and all the other fabulous sorts of cultural entropy of our productive rat race Economy of Scale ! why they must be in the stone age if they don’t want to salivate over t.v. sets !

    But sarcasm aside–it is apparently many of the cable companies that are choosing to pull out of India . I thought you libertarian proponents of lassie-faire economics thought that the businesses have an inherent wisdom to guide them . So IF that premise can be predicated of libertarians –or the mainstream variant of them –then let the question be asked you : did these t.v. channel companies make the right decision in pulling out of Mumbai to protest the censorship of adult content ?

    Bear in mind that though I deprecate souless sex-laced mass culture kitch and the rat race Economic mystification that sustains it , I do NOT support goverment censorship .

  4. Ergo said

    Jason, next time you wish to comment on my blog and elicit a reply, you must keep your derisive sarcasm out of it.

    With regard to your questions: First, yes. A culture that bans Television populated with the shows and people you mention is indeed a primitive culture that hasn’t yet come to terms with the nature of a society made up of individual, conceptual human beings. They are still desparate to contruct iron cages for the mind and lock up what they believe are mere animals.

    Second, yes private cable operators are within their rights to protest by pulling off the air. The consumers are held at ransom in this battle between the government and private cable businesses. The consumers have no choice but to use cable services because Air broadcasting is still strictly under Indian government regulation. Moreover, given the primitive, corrupt, and unscrupulous culture of India, I hardly doubt that these cable providers and the politicians are not in cahoots together to hold consumers at ransom to feed on some free moolah. In an irrational and lawless society, there can be no legitimate discussion of rights. No one’s rights are respected in such an environment, thus rendering the concept of rights as invalid.

  5. Nicely put. Our judicial system is really running amuck. For my views on this case, please read this

  6. Jason said

    God, what a mess! You did give me a horrible case of deja vu when I began reading the post till I got to the update, though! 🙂

    The people who hate the programming should take some personal responsibility for turning off their own damn TV’s. My youngest sister, a tried-and-true conservative, keeps her television in the attic, so not only is it not convenient to watch, she only goes up there to watch the shows she truly finds desireable and wholesome, all the while not telling everyone else what they should or should not be watching. India could learn a thing or two from that Christian, and you know it pains me to admit that! 🙂

    India needs to decide which is more important: protecting their people from something they find offensive, or keeping the revenues from the cable networks–something tells me money will win out in the end (it usually does), but certainly with some lost content that most wouldn’t mind seeing in the first place. In the long run, India is keeping its people from being free-thinking, free-working people, which leads to a population not worth a damn in the big picture. A people who aren’t free to take responsibility for themselves and their actions will never be a country that can impact the world at large, for the better or worse.

    The Indian government needs to let it’s people take responsibility and stop being a nanny government!

    And to Jason Leary’s comments: I would say the cable companies have every right to protest when their market is clamped down on with no discernable reason or rhyme than a simple “We don’t like it and don’t want them to see it” scenario. That’s the same kind of tripe simple-minded morons in the states pull. “If we don’t like it, no one should have the opportunity to like it, either!” What nonsense! And in the end, it is the people who pay for the service who should decide what they do or do not want to see on their TVs. HBO will stop showing sex on TV in India if they find no one is watching it anyway. Showtime will not show kissing if they find out no one is watching. The market does follow, and is a slave to, what sells.

    And the fact that people were watching, and now bitching about not being able to watch, should show the government that a strong hand will not endear its people to it, and may be a stepping stone to an eventual revolution or rebellion which the current government may regret handily one day…

  7. Rajendra said

    Thanks to a Idiot xaviers proffesor!! we should hang him

  8. Ergo said

    I think this idiot Xavier’s professor (as you aptly note) is a woman. And yes, I hold similar feelings. Me thinks she has a young son or whatever who just hit puberty and asked her some questions on the birds and the bees (or, how to have sex with another person). She freaked out and demanded that the rest of Mumbai share her woes of having to deal with a young, hormone-raging, teenage son.

    Whatever the case is, I am appalled to no end that this woman has shut down the English movie channels for the entire city! Which is very ironic because I just finished watching most of the movies at the French movie festival in Mumbai in packed theaters and watched really explicit, extremely explicit sexual scenes (that the french are so famous for producing) in those movies. The greates irony of all? This was an entirely FREE movie festival that permitted entry to ANY adult.

    So, we can’t watch “The Mummy” on HBO in the privacy of our own homes, but we surely can watch full frontal male and female nudity and sex in French movies screened publicly for free in the multiplex cinema halls of Mumbai.

    I can’t express my disgust for this city/country strongly enough.

  9. Rajendra said

    why the hell is freedom be caged,for such silly reasons.star movies is a pure family movie channel

  10. Ergo said

    Rajendra,

    I agree with your sentiments. It’s worse than silly. And star movie is a family movie channel. Though, I would argue that even if they were showing Playboy TV or some other explicitly adult channel, every individual (or family) should have the right to decide *for themselves* whether or not to watch them.
    We do not need a Nanny state. Nor do we need some imbecile of a professor at Xaviers to assume the role of Nanny for the city of Mumbai.

  11. Jason L said

    HURRAH FOR INDIA ! (Refusing to be punks for mass culture)

    Ergo ,you call the goverment India lawless for intimidating cable mass culture trash producers out of the country . Define what you mean by lawless ? Do you claim that what the goverment of India did violates the written court law in India? IF so please document that claim. Do you allege that India has no written law ? If so please document that claim also .

    Where’s the great loss in keeping culturally entropic trash like , say , a hideous yuppie-skank show like CNN’s Nancy Grace gossip show, or equally vulgar shows: like Entertainment Tonight, both of which presents the murder of children as sordid entertainment for spoiled, vapid suburban pipsqueaks to fill their lazy minds with ? So there are people who do NOT salivate over getting the big hunk of cheese at the end of the lifestyle rat race . Maybe they’ve got better things to do, like contemplating the Taj Mahal, or the other numerous examples of beautiful architecture their country has produced—to salivate over the latest economic trends of reality t.v., tabloid journalism via Nancy Grace, and the plasma sets where such sordid spectacles drone away into trendy oblivion !

  12. Ergo said

    Oh, so now you want to decide for an entire nation what people should contemplate upon… like the Taj Mahal, for instance!? Frankly, you disgust me.

    And as for your questions about me documenting my claims, indeed, I have. On this very blog. Perhaps, if you’re so keen on finding the sources for my claims, you will search my blog, read the pertinent articles, and realize that I have indeed provided sources and based my arguments on reason.

    And finally, even if it was pornography that I desired to watch–regardless of the value-judgments you can rightfully make about my choice–you have no objectively valid justification to deny my right to watch it.

    “It is not very inspiring to fight for the freedom of the purveyors of pornography or their customers. But in the transition to statism, every infringement of human rights has begun with the suppression of a given right’s least attractive practitioners. In this case, the disgusting nature of the [purveyors of pornography and their customers] makes it a good test of one’s loyalty to a principle.” — Rand

  13. krishashok said

    🙂 It is very interesting to observe a comment battle between a resident of India who wants to badly get out of this oppressive place and a resident of the West (presumably?) who is sick of the crap free market TV shows him anyway.

    That said, I am totally against censorship. It is complete idiocy and Ergo, you make some excellent points in that regard. I am reminded of a joke by somebody who said that India follows the “line” theory of movie censorship. No (cleavage) line = OK. (cleavage) line = Baaaad.

    Since we are talking about censorship, I am reminded of the stupid Janet Jackson incident, when the FCC went ballistic on a semi-second long semi-bared tit, while day soap operas have love scenes galore.

  14. Ergo said

    I agree, Krish. The FCC is a despicable expansion of governmental powers into areas it has no business being. At least, in the US, cable TV owners are not held ransom by some wacky university professor on a moral clean-up drive.

    Are you aware of the lastest FCC injunction regarding air waves and bandwidth?

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