Thursday, December 12, 2013

Don’t make it simple, stupid!

Most of the times, when we talk about keeping things simple, we won’t go much far, because, almost all the time, things are anything but simple. It is surprising though how simplicity appeals us and how we try to stick to it. Case in point? SC ruling on section 377 and the various responses to it that flooded my Facebook wall.

Natural?
There are those who say “gay sex doesn’t lead to procreation, hence it is unnatural and should be banned.” Cute that you think so! Tell me more about the last time you took a flight, watched TV, wore clothes, stayed in a man-made house, ate cooked food, logged onto Facebook and so the list goes… Really, please go ahead because I am really interested in finding out your reasoning process about choosing and picking ‘unnatural’ things to do according to your convenience.

And there are others who cite research results and historical evidence that being gay is natural, gay sex has been there all along and hence should be allowed. Hmm… interesting that you think so… I wonder what your response would be when I say cancer is natural, it has been there all along… well, you can fill in rest of the blanks. See?

What the heck am I blabbering? Well, that’s simple. Let’s not simplify our arguments like “X is unnatural, hence no good” or “X is natural, we should accept it”. Why not? Because of the simple fact that they make as much sense as “Oozma kappa, tooronga trolllala”.

Procreation and sex
“Gay sex should be made illegal because it doesn’t lead to procreation”. Haha! Whom are we kidding here? This from the same place where condom advertisements and public awareness campaigns were run on national television! What about otherwise healthy people who have clinical difficulties in reproducing? Logically taking the procreation argument to its conclusion, they should be criminalized too. And yeah, all the others reluctantly do it because they want babies, no? Nothing else!

I am not taking sides here, I am just sick of the stupid and overly simplistic arguments for and against the issue that fall apart with a minute or two of serious thought.

Bedroom privacy, liberals, and how liberal are you really?
In my social circles, it is the ‘in thing’ to have a liberal outlook. My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with opinionated pieces like “what I do in my bedroom is none of your concerns”, “what two adults do with mutual consent should be no one else’s business” As a matter of fact, I totally agree. But I also agree that there is a chance that this liberalism of mine might be superficial. If you subscribe to the idea of ‘my private life, none of society’s concerns’, here’s a few things to ask yourself to find out just how truly liberal you are…
  1. What would your reaction be if you find out that a person, in his privacy, draws obscene picture of your mother and let’s say, indulges in unsavory thoughts about the same?
  2. How would you react if you find out that your spouse is engaged in an extra-marital sexual relationship?
  3. What opinion would you form of a person who watches explicit content featuring children? (To reduce the moral quandaries, let’s say that no children were harmed, say, the aforementioned content is computer generated imagery or hand drawn)
  4. What of that guy who catches cats, kills them, skins them, and eats them raw; all in the privacy of his kitchen? (you are welcome to replace the cats with your favourite animal)
  5. What of suicide? Isn’t it a natural consequence of your argument that everyone should be allowed to end their lives? (I personally think so, but that is irrelevant.)
Hmph! What’s my point again you ask? This is it — liberalism on its face appears to be a very simple thing. Attractive and easy to follow. I don’t think it is. I think we are social creatures and not individualistic ones. It takes efforts to internalize liberal thoughts and different people succeed to differrent extent. (Hats off to you, if you found all the above five things unflinchingly acceptable) Things get much more complicated when you factor in your inherent biases that you are hardly aware even exist.

Is consent sufficient?
Consensual heterogeneous sex is okay? Hmm… why does it stop being okay if there is also involved a monetary transaction? It is totally fine that I pay to satiate my hunger, but not fine if I pay to satiate my carnal hunger? Seems sensible to legalize prostitution, don’t you think so?

Well, sir, not so quick! When you pay for your food, you are fueling an industry that isn’t viewed as immoral, unethical. What happens if prostitution is legalized? We all agree, I guess, that as long as it is a well thought out, informed decision on both parties, it is fine. The question is: Will it stay so? We know from reality, that it won’t. It has turned into an industry of exploitation and oppression. So, here we have an issue which is about implementation, about practicality. If we could come up with some system to avoid the pitfalls and legalize prostitution, well and good, but, till then, having a ban and criminalizing the involved parties is a quick and dirty practical solution.

Ah! Again you are asking what the point is? I think that ‘mutual consent’ isn’t a sufficient criterion. There are factors like the implications on the society, possibility of misuse and abuse that need to be addressed. There should be debates, arguments and a thorough churning of thoughts about how a decision would impact the society (after all, laws are tools to enable a society to function optimally and when the interests of society collide with individual ones, the former should be upheld). It is definitely not as simple as “मिया-मिया राज़ी तो क्या करेगा काज़ी?” (Both the husbands agree, nothing else matters) Nor it is “Ban! Ban! Otherwise everyone would turn gay!”

Empathy is hard to come by
“Ugh! Yuck!” exclaimed I when I saw two guys smooching. Eyebrows were raised. How could I be so insensitive? [fictional incident] If you too think so, tell me your reaction when I tell you that at ceartain places, dog vomit is treated as a delicacy. What if I told you that cow urine is a drink?

It is hard to cultivate empathy about something that you are not, and you should understand before passing a judgment, because, after all, even you fall prey to lack of empathy in certain other cases. What matters is that we work on it. What matters is we try our best to accommodate. Both sides fail to see that. Gay rights activitists are vocal about the lack of empathy on the other side. I wonder how many of them try to look from the other side’s perspective too. Imagine… you have been born and brought up in a culture where it comes across as a downright disgusting thing… it is going to take time for you to come to terms with it. I think some slack should be cut when it comes to people of elder generations not being able to make their peace. Totally and fully agreed that straight people should understand and empathize with gays, but the other way is also equally important, IMO.

No issue is simple. There is no winning argument. There is no “right answer”. Agreed, some answers are more right than others :P There is no black and white. Everything is grey. Unless it is a rainbow.

[an attempt to put down thoughts and arguments during a dinner-table conversation with Pararth and Shantanu]

1 comment :

  1. Arey waah, I somehow liked the intensity in this post. Of course, as usual, it is a bit complex and unclear. But it does make its point: this world is a complex shitty place.

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