Of extraneous noise and double standards

Here’s the sequence of events — for the uninformed, Tarun Tejpal’s out on bail. So for the moment he goes from the lynch mob tag of ‘rapist’ to the relative comfort of being referred as, ‘rape accused’.

A leading publication sensing the ‘coast is clear’ invites him to be a panelist at their Lit Fest. Plus they offer him a platform to launch his new book. All is well until the inevitable Twitter outrage is unleashed.

Illustration /Amit Bandre

“How can you invite a rapist to be on one of your panels?” and other such angry tweets rent the virtual air.

The publication is concerned that his presence will create ‘extraneous noise’ and asks him to withdraw.

So while the Supreme Court has let him out on bail, the social media have kept him in jail.

In my book, for all its pluses, Twitter has sadly given a platform to the sanctimonious to air their ‘holier than thou’ damnations. It has given free reign to true cowards to bully under the guise of anonymity (but that’s subject for another column).

Tejpal has realised that this is chapter two in the saga of full-scale ostracism.

Frankly, it isn’t my place to discuss the true definition of ‘sexual molestation’. Neither from a Twitter nor Thesaurus perspective. Only the judicial system has the right to truly denounce the man a ‘sexual molester’ or not.

But beloved reader, bear with me, my interest is something entirely different.

Have we reached such judgmental juvenileness that we disregard a man’s professional skill because of what we perceive are his personal shortcomings?

Suddenly your work sucks because you’re flawed?

We want our artistes and idols to be perfect. Leading squeaky clean lives.

If that’s the case, then let’s start with other examples. Like the King himself. The king of pop. Also the king of kid perversion, Michael Jackson. All you MJ disciples, turn your iPods off. Immediately. No more getting thrilled with ‘Thriller’ and feeling good about ‘Bad’. He was a paedophile, yes ? That’s messing with young kids, remember ? How can all of you possibly revere a man who was sexually attracted to pre-pubescent 11-year-olds? The world’s most renowned pop star was also the world’s most notorious paedophile.

All you film festival enthusiasts, heading soon to watch Roman Polanski’s latest classic, Venus in Fur, stop there right in your tracks. You can’t. Oh! Come on, the man is guilty of rape and sodomy of a 14-year- old. He’s not allowed into America, for crying out aloud. And Woody Allen, churning out one gold nugget of cinema every year for three decades. He sexually abused his adopted daughter. A dirty old man, if ever there was one. If he came to India to speak on a panel, would we demand that he be removed. Ya right, you know the answer to that one.

And there’s Bill Cosby, groping, drugging his co-stars. I believe The Cosby Show DVDs long buried, are flying off the shelves in the US.

The list is endless. Of men whose inspired work in their professions co-existed with deviant warpedness in their personal lives.

Not holding a candle to their deviant personal behaviour. But I will wax eloquent when their talent dazzles. Let’s not get the wires crossed.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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