Arnab Goswami “throws out” actor Mita Vashist, a panellist and an invited guest, from his show and Twitterverse has erupted in a frenzy of ecstasy at the anchor’s heroic deed. They are celebrating that she got her “comeuppance”.
I did not watch that debate (I don’t watch Arnab Goswami’s shows. I am too weak for that). And I do not write to comment on the TV show, Newshour, either. I write on the aftermath, all that I read on social media, mainly Twitter.
There are two camps of people at logger heads, one (pro-Vashist) insisting that Vashist left the show, asking Goswami to “shut up”, and the other (pro-Goswami), louder and more boisterious, celebrating that Arnab “threw” her out for insulting Indian Army.
Okay, for the moment, let’s side with Goswami supporters and agree that he was the one who ordered Vashist out. So what? This is hardly a heroic act and makes him look really bad. How is he the hero of the moment?
Throwing out someone who you invited in the first place? Someone, a talented and hugely experienced actor, whom you considered worthy of putting forth a point of view. Okay, going by the character of Newshour debates, we are under no illusion what she was needed for– not really to speak out her views, but to offer herself as a punching bag for the chest-thumping winning side, presided by Goswami. But even then, the need was Goswami’s. He needed an opponent.
Of course, he is well within his rights to not agree with her. But unilaterally declaraing that he is taking her off air amounts to lack of manners, bullying and curtailing a person’s right to free speech. Coming from a journalist, such a behaviour should have ideally appalled a nation. But we have an Army of Twitter Tarzans celebrating that she got her comeuppance; they are so happy that Goswami “threw” her out.
This is a major tragedy of the present times. Online rowdyism has not only become acceptable, but also a virtue to uphold. It is almost assumed that in order to be heard in the Twitter din, you have to be abusive.The pure relish with which they work to trend hashtags like #someoneslapssomeone (like they did in one case involving Sagarika Ghose, a senior journalist) is unfathomable.
Those who think of themselves as Rightists, or pro-BJP, or pro-government seem to think of this as their defining quality, their hallmark. How else can you explain the foul mouths of some very talented and successful Bollywood personalities? I still cannot reconcile the Abhijit who sang “Mai koi aisa geet gaaun” with the Abhijit who trolled a journalist on Twitter.He reportedly had to face police action. Sample this:
“Y all “B..surat” koyla type Auntynational journos r after our Natonal Army ? Jail these Aunties with terrorists.” He says this retweeting Kavita Krishnan, the Leftist leader, possibly using “koyla”, or coal, to shame her for her dark skin colour.
I refuse to believe that is how he talks with friends, colleagues and members of his family. Why is he so foul-mouthed on social media?
He is not the only one. Social media is full of people hurling pearls of abuses all over the place. But it is one thing for a troll hiding behind a fake profile to mouth obsenities, taking advantage of the anonymity. And different thing for a celebrity to do the same from his verified account. The fact that he thinks this is the most normal thing to do is worrying.
Is this the new normal for accepted social behaviour?