1. Not every rape can shock-spark the starter-circuit of the national outrage factory. No sir it cannot. The act has to be egregious in its sexual violence (shock and awe compulsory hain boss), must have occurred in a “decent” area of a Tier 1 metro (smaller cities, villages and metro slums—you are out of luck, the outrage factory cannot empathize with you folks) and the lady in question must have been “innocent” (i.e. no prostitutes please, we are Indians). Remember, if the crime does not pass the sansani test or make you feel that the victim could have been you, or your maa-behen, it will not make it to Step 2.
2. And that Step 2 is TV coverage. Which is where the wheels of the outrage factory truly start humming. Breaking news ticker. It’s exclusive. Carefully concerned reporters with their mics roaming the streets and getting “reactions”. Audience changing channel from Pavitra Rishtaa and gawking at the screen. They are also talking among themselves. TRP rising. Newspapers catch on also. Suggestive pictures are put, artistic impressions only, for anger purpose. Anger rises.
3. Anger. Nothing cleanses the collective conscience like anger, pure 24 carat anger, Sunny Deolian anger, of the kind that once made the great man thunder “Kahaan chupayenge humare ma behnon ko” (Teesri Aankh—the Third Eye). Severe indignities must be heaped on the perpetrators, the skin flayed off their bones in public. The wise National Council of Women will ask for death and castration, possibly in that order [Link] since rape, as well as know, is not a crime of control but of lust. So na rahega baans, na baajegi baansoori. Life is quite simple once you think about it. One must not point out that what emboldens sexual predators and skews the cost-benefit analysis in favor of the crime is not that punishments are not severe ?but that the chance of getting caught and convicted, especially if the perps are in a group, is rather slim, what with the understandable decision taken by most victims to suffer in silence than complain to the sexually-harassive, insensitive and inefficient police force or take the truth to the equally insensitive “It-was-your-fault” social system. One must not point out this. But let collective anger flow. Pure. Hang them by their necks like they do in Lebanon. I saw it in this picture on Facebook. Honest. What? How do I know that actually happened in Lebanon? How do I know that was for rape? Arre. I told you no. I SAW it on Facebook. Once we start doing that kind of public sooli pe charana, I tell you yaar problem will be solved. See,what a peaceful society Lebanon is…such a…
4. And then there is Facebook. Twitter. Echo-chambers of Re-tweets, mentions, comments and shares. A collective competition to appear “sensitive” and win the endorsement of peers. The +1, as they say. Rays of outrage are reflected, refracted and diffracted. Here is a petition I made. We want 1 million signatures. How will that change things? Well…mm….we want 1 million signatures. Sign it and you can sleep easy. Don’t sign and you are on the side of the rapist. Like my “Indians against rape” page. Like it. Share it. Did I say “Like it?” Okay. Remember how India won freedom by making “#QuitIndia” trend?
5. Put on the ghungroo on my foot and watch the deraamma. Thus sung Dharmendra in the epic movie “Tehelka”. Nothing defines the outrage machine more than public drama. And nothing says “public drama” more than candlelight vigils, which are flash mobs you do when you are sad. The press love to cover such vigils because they are very media-friendly. They hold the pose like this. And then they give “touching” ” Be the change you want to be” lines like this.
Himanshu confesses that he had been an eve teaser until yesterday. “I was an eve teaser, and I accept it,” he says. “Mein aaj yahan apne paap dhone aaya hun,” says Himanshu. But he swears that he has never touched a girl. “I have passed comments at girls on the road. I was the leader of my gang,” he adds.
But something a few nights ago changed him. “There was no power in our locality and my elder sister had not come home. It was a day after I had heard about this incident. I was so scared for my sister,” he says.
“I decided then that I’d never indulge in eve teasing again and I will also not let anyone else do it,” he says
My sister, who is in the US, tells me that if she is alone on the road at night, she is easily able to ask a complete stranger to escort her home,” says Himanshu, 25, is software professional.
The cup doth brimmeth over.
6. When Arnab Goswami, the Lord of the National Outrage, says “The nation demands answers” what he means is “The nation needs someone to blame”. That’s what print, TV and social media is for. The blame game. And there is enough blame to go around. The curators of the pitch…oh I am sorry, I am on the wrong outrage. What I meant is…Western culture, short dress, chow-mein, cell-phones, roaming the street at night without a male escort, roaming the street at night with a male escort, women drinking, men drinking, roles essayed by Sonakshi Sinha, politicians, police, law, Ravindra Jadeja. Damn. Wrong outrage once again. The only thing that escapes blame, in the midst of the blame orgy, is the face in the mirror.
7. When sparks fly from the gears of the outrage factory, politicians have to be seen to do something. And that something is—reaction theater. This could entail spilling tears in public, putting on the “concerned” face, blowing hot air about “changing the laws” (even though the basic problem is not the law but the low rate of conviction), and then taking countermeasures that cannot be called cosmetic or knee-jerk—like making sure cars dont have dark screens, or making sure that bars close by 7 pm (Since people cannot drink at home or in the streets or in their cars). There are some politicians who react differently—they blame the victims, call rapes a “political conspiracy” and then transfer out the courageous police officer who cracks the case. Is there any particular politician I am talking about here? Of course not.
7. Like a hyper-energetic baby on a sugar-rush, the national outrage factory burns itself up and settles down into its warm blanket, sucking on a pacifier. The politicians go back to their day jobs—making money for themselves and those that give them money. Police reform , a national 911 for sexual violence, a national sex-offenders database for convicted sex felons (and yes not just rapists but convicted street-sexual-harassers) are not pursued because they are all difficult concepts that difficult to get angry about. People will keep opining on message boards, on and off, as to why rapists are not being hung by their testicles, but, in general, that will be their level of their engagement.
8. A blog-post is written to outrage about the outrage.
9. Till the next outrage.