Discriminatory move

You can''t ban some channels and let others go wild

AJAZ UL HAQUE
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 21 2018 10:00PM | Updated Date: Jul 21 2018 10:00PM
Discriminatory moveRepresentational Pic

The government has banned the telecast of 30 television channels in the valley. This move has been taken (as they say) `for maintaining peace and tranquility'.

If your motive is to restore peace, then it shouldn't stop here. Is it the channel or the content that breeds trouble? Are we concerned about the medium or the message. If it's the medium, then the move is understandable. It's a throwback to the good old time when tuning to Pakistan Radio was considered punishable in Kashmir. If it's message, then the scope of ban has to be a little wider. You can't discriminate channels according to their nationality, but analyse according to their functioning. That is a democratic way of `maintaining peace and tranquility'.

Like in politics some are being punished for making anti-national statements and some others are set free to foster violence in all modes possible. The same has been done to media. We may not summarily dismiss such moves as oppressive. Any government can take abnormal decisions in an abnormal situation like this. There seems some logic behind restricting the flow of communication at a time when communication itself becomes a tool too hot to handle. Though the access has not become impossible outright, but difficult nevertheless. And when the medium is abused, you can't think of any better or any worse step but to block it outright. An outrageous and indiscriminate use of the medium has fanned the flames and every time a trouble erupts, a ban is slapped. Whatever the results, they do it as the last fire fighting option. Those who stand for freedom of speech and expression would do the same what to them sounds unjust and unrealistic here. No matter what the compulsion, but two immediate questions pop up. One logical and one moral. Will it work and (if it does) why punish minnows and let sharks go free? 

This whole `ban' concept is too outdated to deliver. It has been rendered invalid by the communication onslaught of the present times. Banning books, films, paintings from reaching their audience has proved not just futile, but counterproductive. It's liking plugging a leaky roof of a house that is already flooded from below. The social networking has been many times officially banned, but unofficially the ban became a joke. You close the gate, they break the wall. You remove the ladder for birds, they fly their way through. 

Second question is about a selective use of state power. If anything that breeds trouble deserves ban why let the bigger trouble-mongers go free. In the ban list figure some relatively unknown and comparatively inconsequential television channels, what about those white collar lunatics  (unfortunately called TV anchors) notorious for propagating violence on the screen. When they openly fan the flames of violence, doesn't  that disturb the `peace and tranquility' which you want to restore here. 

Barring a few serious television channels where journalism is done as journalism, there are others where journalism is only a means to practice hooliganism. If the scale is held even, these channels merit not just a ban, but punishment for disturbing public order. There has got to be some justice here. Either let all practice their right of expression or ban all to make them understand the limits of freedom. Set all free or make all responsible. 

 

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