Archive for the ‘ Through the PsyOp Glass ’ Category

The summary of the Supreme Court of India’s judgment of homosexual and transgender Indians

On 11th December 2013, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice G. S. Singhvi and Justice S. J. Mukhopadhyay delivered a regressive verdict on the subject of constitutionality of S. 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by upholding its validity, which criminalizes consensual, adult sexual relations between persons of the same sex. The Supreme Court pronounced its verdict after 21 months, in appeal against the Delhi HC’s 2009 judgment in NAZ Foundation v. Government of NCT & Ors., which famously confirmed the constitutionally-protected rights of LGBT Indians and developed an entire realm of jurisprudence on subjects of minority rights, individual liberty, Constitutional morality, privacy, the State’s burden in satisfying a compelling interest for abridgment of life and liberty, substantive due process and Equality.

To appreciate the Court’s opinion, we shall look at all the subjects explored by it in the following parts:

I)                   Scope of Judicial Review(Pages 46-62):

While the Supreme Court recognizes that it is vested with unqualified and absolute authority to declare a law to be unconstitutional, it puts forward the argument of judicial restraint in deference of the principle of separation of powers to tread cautiously in this case. This is all the more disturbing since the Courts have consistently demonstrated judicial activism in an unbridled trend to protect and promote fundamental rights in relation to the environment, expanding the access to justice, human dignity, employment, hunger, education and reproductive rights, amongst others. The Court cites precedents which precisely give credence to NAZ’s arguments in favour of reading down S. 377 to exclude consensual, sexual relations between same sex persons when it recognizes that changing times and progressive, social mores illuminate later generations to the oppressive nature of our past laws (Anuj Garg, 2008), while confounding the public by not disclosing its reasons for disregarding such compelling arguments.

II)                Analysis on S. 377, IPC 1860 (Pages 62-77):

While the Court opined that it has merely expressed its view on the legal validity of the judgment of the Delhi HC in 2009, and not on the constitutional validity of S. 377 per se, the materials referred to in arriving at such opinion reveals the Court’s homophobia and transphobia, and how it has translated into the verdict in a disingenuous manner. For the purposes of demystifying the legislative history of S. 377, the Court relies on 2 provision of the penal code, one of them on rape (S. 375) and the other being S. 377 for no apparent reason, thus conflating the nature of homosexual and transgender sexual relations with rape. This notion is further exacerbated with extensive reference to precedents on S. 377 from the late 19th to early 20th century, which characterize all same-sex sexual relations as violent and “deviant/perverse”, reinforcing fear and loathing against sexual minorities.

The Court’s selective research on the subject overlooks important materials which also inform the social, cultural and legislative history of S. 377, which were held in great regard by the Delhi HC. The Wolfenden Committee Report, 1957 in Britain lead to the abolition of anti-sodomy law in 1967; an integral historical event that the Supreme Court of India couldn’t have inadvertently overlooked but for its apathy towards sexual minorities, given the Victorian-era origin of S. 377. The 172nd Report of the Law Commission of India (2000) recommended deletion of S. 377 on the precise understanding that it operates to persecute sexual minorities.

By its own admission, the Court expresses that “it is difficult to prepare a list of acts which would be covered by the section”, and nevertheless holds that S. 377 would apply “irrespective of age and consent”. Importantly, it states that S. 377 “does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation”, rather punishes certain acts (penile non-vaginal sex). S. 377 returns back in greater rigour as not only does it disregard age and consent of persons engaged in sexual relations, but also applies to heterosexual couples now, which renders all persons at risk of prosecution or harassment by their neighbours and police on suspicion of partaking in “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

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Hijra activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi at the Jantar Mantar protests against Supreme Court’s 377 verdict

III)              Apparent deficiency of evidence for Constitutional challenge (Pages 77-79):

The Court expressed skepticism on the authority of the Delhi HC in entertaining the challenge to S. 377 by NAZ Foundation, which issue, in fact, is already settled by the Supreme Court order in 2006 which remanded the matter back to the Delhi HC for “serious considerations”.

On the issue of insufficiency of materials on record to illustrate the patent unconstitutionality of S. 377 in targeting homosexual and transgender persons, the Court simply overlooks all the materials appreciated by the Delhi HC in terms of academic studies, surveys, reports, international jurisprudence and personal affidavits from LGBTI community members and healthcare experts that bore testimony to the personal struggles of the people by bringing to light the violence, stigma, discrimination and harassment faced by the community, dispossession by families and societies, sexuality, mental health concerns for persecuted individuals et cetera. The Court also entirely disregarded the data on health presented by NACO, which emphasized on the dire needs for access to healthcare services for sexual minorities, and the success achieved over the years in reducing the prevalence of HIV as a result of advocating an integrationist policy. It maintains a conspiracy of silence on the times and climate around which the original petition came to be filed by NAZ, when organizations working on healthcare for sexual minorities were hounded by the police, and directly contributes to the silencing of material on record presented by the Respondents.

IV)              Article 14 (Equality and Equal Treatment) and Article 15 (Freedom from discrimination) (Pages 79-85):

The judgment does a great disservice to the institution of the Supreme Court and the relevance of the debate on S. 377 by merely explaining away the intelligible differentia in S. 377 as “carnal intercourse in the ordinary course and carnal intercourse against the order of nature” as constituting different classes. The reasonable nexus between such classification of sexual activity with the object sought to be achieved by the penal statute is again explained away merely as ‘crime and punishment’, in that it seeks to criminalize carnal intercourse against the order of nature, regardless of the fact that the comprehension of such sexual activity is riddled with patent ambiguity and arbitrariness.

Again, recognizing the boundless sea of uncertainty and the probability of misuse of law to the detriment of an individual which has impelled the Court in the past to strike down a law or read it down (K.A. Abbas, 1970), especially in light of the Court’s own observation in this case where it characterizes S. 377 as difficult to construe due to its heavy reliance on the circumstances of a case, the Court simply rules against a violation on grounds of Article 14 without precise reasons. An entire repository of jurisprudence on Article 15 argued by NAZ and expounded affirmatively by the Delhi HC is conspicuous by its absence, which in the least affirms the opinion that the Delhi HC’s observation on sexual orientation as an analogous concept to sex under Article 15 still stands.

Pertinent to note is the Court’s characterization of the queer community in vague terms such as a ‘miniscule fraction’ of the population, shrewdly avoiding using the clearest and legal term as is appropriate in cases where dominant-group interests conflict with individuals or secondary groups: minority. The Court does not once express recognition of LGBTI persons as a ‘minority’, clearly avoiding the trigger of minority-rights jurisprudence well expounded in NAZ (2009) and Anuj Garg (2007). The verdict and the Supreme Court stand as morally and intellectually dishonest in this light.

V)                Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty) & International Jurisprudence (Pages 85-97):

The Court recognizes that substantive due process has been read into Article 21 of the Constitution by way of Maneka Gandhi, which mandates that the State shall satisfy its burden of demonstrating a compelling State-interest before it can invade into and curtail individual rights, but despite this observation the Court fails to recognize that criminalization of ‘penile non-vaginal sex’ serves no compelling State-interest and is in violation of the right to due process of law.

The Court also makes disturbing remarks about disregarding foreign jurisprudence for applicability in India when it came to appreciating international developments on LGBTI-rights, ignoring that the fundamental Right to Privacy has been culled out from reading foreign jurisprudence into Article 21 of the Constitution of India, right from Kharak Singh (1964), Gobind (1975), Maneka Gandhi (1978) and upto Selvi (2010). The Court’s duplicity is illustrated by its attempt to co-opt the large body of Indian jurisprudence developed to serve human rights of all persons, by emphasizing adverse observations disproportionately to defend its position on S. 377. This is evidenced by clear non-application of judicial thought to Gobind which affirmed that the privacy of the home is sought to be protected by State-intrusion to allow individuals their freedom of expression, howsoever diverse they maybe, which is appropriately applicable to sexual minorities.

The Court defends S. 377 on the grounds that the legislative intent doesn’t sanction persecution of LGBT persons, and misuse by law enforcement agencies does not invite any challenge to the constitutionality of the law itself. This analysis is in direct violation of the Supreme Courts’ own observation in R.C. Cooper (1970) which held that regardless of legislative intent (criminalization of penile non-vaginal sex), if a law directly and inevitably has an adverse effect on a domain it does not intend to regulate (sexual orientation, privacy, public health), the law must be struck down as violative of the Constitution for abridgment of fundamental rights.

Article 21 of the Constitution has been consistently read affirmatively to privilege and expand on the idea of liberty, not its curtailment. Fundamentally, the Court errs in forsaking its duty to protect fundamental rights of its people by creating a wall of hyper-technicality, isolating itself further from the people it is meant to protect and serve.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Kill the White Messiah

Look into the mirror”. Noam Chomsky’s sobering and instructive words hold good advice to a new generation of ‘Warriors of Light’ who are awakening to injustice in the world we live in. Social justice, much like the neo-liberal agenda, has globalized in the past couple of decades or so. No injustice is too far away to intervene and correct. If the globe is truly universally connected today as they say, you need to introspect how you are connected to the world you seek to change.

Invisible Children’s YouTube phenomenon Kony 2012 promises to do just that. Except it lies.

Kony 2012 is not only misinforming the hottest demographic in the world it seeks to target, teenagers and yuppies, it is paternalistic and pure old-school Western racism. If anything, it is a classic disinformation programme. Remember the ‘Nurse Nayirah’ incident?

Nayirah, a young nurse in Kuwait, was flown in to the United States’ Congress in 1990 to testify before them the horrors of the atrocities committed during the Iraqi invasion in her country. She recounted stories, as she choked emotionally before Senators and millions of Americans watching, of how the barbaric Iraqi soldiers broke into hospitals and threw babies out of their incubators to die on the streets. In months leading up to America’s involvement in the First Gulf War, George H Bush would invoke Nayirah’s testimony on every platform he appeared as a rationale to seek public support for joining Kuwait in the war. This is just what they needed to claim the moral backing of the American public, and as public opinion polled in favour of the war, the US started wantonly bombing Iraq. As it so happened, ‘Nurse’ Nayirah was no nurse at all – she turned out to be the daughter of then Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States who was coached to rehearse her testimony. The whole media circus of her testimony and influencing public opinion in support of the war was brought to the American public by one of the biggest PR firms in business at its time – Hill & Knowlton. By the time this knowledge became public, Kuwait was on its way to ‘liberation’, and Americans had once again learnt it the hard way that the first casualty in war is truth.

So how do you make sure if Kony 2012’s moral compass is pointing in the direction of justice? Let’s start with Uganda.

The incumbent Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has gladly accepted ‘structural adjustment programmes” for his country proposed by the World Bank and IMF since the 1980s, that encourage Third World countries with dictators and ‘natural allies of the West’ to keep borrowing more credit. It means ‘growth’ for Uganda in the long-run, achieved by speculative and export-oriented agriculture and liberalizing trade at all levels. It’s no surprise that Uganda is suffering a food crisis too, because that’s how the Washington Consensus works – the Third World, which now imports basic sustenance crops, produces crops for the First World, with scant regard to local temperatures and geographical factors. In a sharp reaction to this inequality in India, journalist P Sainath once remarked – “The dream of the Indian farmer is to be born a European cow“, because the latter are the most food-secure creatures on the planet thanks to the generosity of the former. With the recent discovery of oil reserves in Uganda, it won’t be long before Big Oil kills more Ken Saro Wiwas there.

If economic terrorism isn’t good enough for you, then let’s take a look at Museveni’s downright terrorism. He’s Family International’s ‘key man’ in Africa. Family International is the largest fundamental Christian evangelical organization from the West; the Book of Revelations Nazis, if you will. They’ve had every American President in their pockets since WWII. On the very first day of his job, the American President, including Barack Obama, has presided over the National Prayer Breakfast organized by the FI, where he vows to “end suffering and bring Christ’s message around the world”. That’s why they’ve been instrumental in shaping the world in many ways; be it attempting to crush liberation theology that seeks to connect the poor and the meek to Christ’s original gospels in Latin American countries through the 1980s, funding rebel groups such as the Contras in Nicaragua, lobbying with the US government to support Israel’s occupation of Palestine or simply bringing down ‘un-Godly’ communism in Poland.

There’s no other reason why he’s been described as ‘a new breed of African leaders’ by the West.

One might wonder, with Museveni boasting of a devil’s resume, things are bound to be in shambles in his own country, which is exactly what Kony 2012 doesn’t inform you about. Yes, what Joseph Kony does as the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army by abducting children and raising an infantry is obviously terrible and sad. Those kids need rehabilitation and justice as much as any other victims around the world, but let’s not lose context, for it helps connect the past to the present and identify the real problems that foster Konies around the world. Like several countries around the world, Uganda’s at war with itself. The ethnic-conflict caused by unbalanced socio-economic factors between the North and the South is an inheritance of British colonialism, which has been left untouched by successive governments post Uganda’s independence in the 1960s. Fifty years of marginalization and deprivation of North Ugandans might be border-line genocidal, and that is exactly what has driven the LRA to take up arms. I am not advocating the moral high-ground of the LRA; I’m merely suggesting the Ugandan problem needs a Ugandan solution, an indigenous peaceful negotiation to come from within, not the West and not anybody. India should know this so well that it should stand up to the world and shout – Story of my life, man!

There is as good a chance tomorrow for some pasty-white kid with a camera to mobilize the world to ‘Make the CPI (Maoist) Famous’ and get NATO troops deployed in the forests of central India to save the Invisible Tribals. I hope when that day comes, we know better. It is good to study other countries’ atrocities and bring attention to them, but it is our primary duty to look at our own atrocities and rectify them. It is the moral duty of the Americans today to call Invisible Children’s bluff and for the Ugandans to ask hard questions to themselves and their government.

The West’s attitude towards Africa, Middle-East and Western Asia is reflected in the words of John Mill Stuart’s (East India Company official) on India– the barbarians are backward and inferior, and for their own benefit we have to uplift them, civilize them and educate them and so on. At the period of its worst atrocities, Stuart described England’s dominion over India as an angelic power, so magnificent that nobody could understand how wonderful they are. That has always been the moral and intellectual content behind colonization.

If you see the White Messiah on your screen again, switch it off, and do the world a favour before you set off to save it – open a book.

Notes –

  1. NYT Examiner article on mainstream media manufacturing consent on Joseph Konyhttp://www.nytexaminer.com/2012/03/joseph-kony-and-the-new-york-times/
  2. Pete McCormack, director of Uganda Rising(2006), interviews Professor Noam Chomsky on the impact of neo-liberal agenda on Africa http://www.petemccormack.com/social_005.htm
  3. Better Business Bureau’s current rating of Invisible Children – http://www.bbb.org/us/article/kony-2012-video-sends-mixed-message-to-young-activists-33206

Sharia-influenced video game sets precedent for global Gaming Industry

Garshasp is something that is surely going to make many Americans sit up and revisit their stance on Iran. More importantly it’ll challenge the authority of American institutions – right from the U.S administration, the media and the software industry, at least that’s my hope – all having been dealt with a PR blow that’ll force each one of them to re-examine their existing standards – be it ideas for a better world or simply ideas for better video-games.

In August 2010, Arash Jafari, an Iranian, launched his first video-game through Fanafzar Game Studios, ‘Garshasp’. It is the story of a Persian hero who goes on a voyage to reclaim his fatherland from evil-monsters. Arash Jafari states that he got approvals through the Iranian ratings authority, ESRB (Entertainment Ratings Software Board), in order to get his game launched.

“The game should be fun, at the same time must honour Sharia, to conform with Iranian and Islamic cultures” confesses Arash.

It would be hard for Islamophobics to believe that the ESRB in Iran works with psychologists and sociologists, not the Grand Ayatollah, to develop sensitively-approved games. ‘Garshasp’ fights only demons and monsters in the game, as it is forbidden to kill human beings, even in a virtual landscape. Portrayal of drugs and pornography is also prohibited, as it is perversion of culture according to the National Foundation of Computer Games. Hmm, after learning of such unprecedented corporate ethic, I would really love to know what sales pitch do the pro-rape(yes, rape, not sex)-and-drugs gaming software developers exploit!

We are so over-fed with the Iran-bashing propagandist news that such revelations about Sharia come like a bolt from the blue; I guess we owe it to the ‘scotoma of the mind’, if there is such a thing, that the Zionist-media is so adept at proliferating. I won’t be surprised if the American gaming-software industry is already commissioning ‘independent studies’ to learn the success potential of such ‘radically-pacifist’ games, in the environment of ‘radically-decadent’ markets. They are inoculated with the idea that teenagers thrive on sex, drugs, violence and all sorts of aberrations their games depict, and soon they might club catering to such needs, all that is dangerous about human nature, under the umbrella of social-entrepreneurship, because ‘society needs a release’. I can only imagine how jaded society will be when one will need medically-prescribed violent/sexed-up video games that give a vent to the angst; but what many people might fail to question is that this numbness was a direct consequence, if not a long-standing grand marketing strategy, to effect such mental incapacity on society, so as to eventually get us to turn to these exact same perverse media to have a harmless vent for all the shit that’s built up in our heads, lest it all spiral into chaos.

The bottomline is, Arash Jafari’s liberal interpretation of the Sharia as an essential element of creating a healthy and enjoyable video-game, that sets a conscionable tone for others to follow, brings to light the fact that Iran is not all that we witness on FOX NEWS/CNN and newspapers, that receive heavy advertising revenue from American business interests. There are of course criticisms of the nation, as there are for every other. The Sharia practice of ‘Rajm’, an act of stoning a person convicted of a crime, is barbaric alright. Most of us lately read about Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani from Iran being awarded 99 lashes and then ‘stoning unto death’ on charges of adultery. How a society punishes it’s ‘astray’ talks a lot about itself as a nation. Saudi Arabia, US’ greatest ally in the Middle-East, is most infamous for it’s fanatic adherence to religious code, and compared to it, Iran stands out as a democratic heaven, as pointed out by Prof. Noam Chomsky, prominent American dissident. Be it the Republicans(overtly psychotic) or Democrats(covertly psychotic), both unscrupulously exploit the occasional Sakinehs of Iran as poster-campaigns for their diatribes against the Islamic Republic, in guise of “women’s liberation”, “civilization”, “spreading democracy” and “containment”.

Depiction of the Iranian Government and Sharia as barbaric, fundamentalist and absolutist is a product of the propaganda machinery that people can only learn to see through if they base their information independent of the mainstream media, because history tells us that the mainstream media’s job is that of stenography for the diktats of the elite; manufactuing consent. Of course there are several valid arguments against Iran – the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ controversial crowd-control tactics, hard-liner clerics and sponsoring insurgency amongst Shia-rebel groups in neighbouring Iraq, but these instances certainly don’t give it’s ‘Not so Holier than thou’ rivals a permit to declare a pre-emptive strike on Iran. For those who have a strong aversion to Islamic fundamentalists, it bears well to read Noam Chomsky’s political works to understand that American & Israeli governments have for decades directly contributed to their emergence, by crushing secular nationalistic movements in those very states taken over by fundamentalism now.

The current “hard-liner” Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a more learned and philosophically sound leader than all of his Western counterparts (a benign dictator if you will), a staggering majority of whom derive their titles via claims to a network of royal dynasties, corporate & banking lobbyists and other such megalomaniac categories. Barack ‘Yo-Mama’ Obama, President of America and Nobel Laureate(!), who has upped US’s Foreign Policy ante against Iran’s peaceful development of Nuclear Energy, has, like much of his predecessors, a misplaced sense of self-righteousness. If one has heard Ahmadinejad during conferences or interviews, one can dissect him as a reasonable person who has a more peaceful vision for the world than his Western “think-tanks”; albeit he is zealous in his condemnation of Israel, which needs to be interpreted through the obvious prism of Israel’s atrocities. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited as the sole international leader to speak at Columbia University in 2008 as part of a discussion on social/political issues, he was cheered with loud applause unanimously by students present there, making up of Jew & ‘Gentile’, when he re-iterated his position on the situation in Palestine, in that they deserve their right for peaceful self-determination.

I know of only Switzerland so far that is putting into place laws to enact a total ban on all kinds of violent video-games, while other countries have relative definitions of ‘violence’ depending on which they allow distribution of games. Iran’s gaming industry is the first in the world to come out very candidly, proclaiming ‘incessant killing of human beings in video-games makes young minds accept violence more readily than before’. Fanafzar Game Studios has to be applauded for taking such a high moral ground in creating a video-game in a world dominated with games that ‘wire young minds’ to accept debauchery, alcohol and drug abuse and disregard for human sanctity as ‘everything goes’. Americans being the most outspoken critics of Iran, have also a lesson on corporate ethics to learn from this.

It is pleasantly surprising to see that the most sensitive and ethically-sound video-game currently in the world emerges from the philosophy of Sharia, slammed outside the Islamic world for medievalism. The persistence of Sharia highlights Muslims’ affinity to traditional values while protecting them fiercely. It would do good to the Islamic world to amend it’s application in the 21st Century, dial down the force and use dialogue more effectively. I hope erstwhile Islamophobic readers, will appreciate the difference between Sharia per se and the hardliners’ interpretation of it, because to condemn Sharia would be tantamount to condemn the Bible and Torah, each one being Abrahamic offshoots and occupying a major if not equal share of the global religions-pie; hence the wisdom lies in understanding that Islam isn’t regressive, rather it’s custodians have failed to contemporarize its’ philosophy, cases of which have also been made against Christianity and Judaism – Slavery was legal as recent as 19th Century, Homosexuality is still considered an abomination in many parts of the world.

I wonder if Garshasp and the Sharia will develop what author/journalist Naomi Klein dubs a ‘Co-branding’ relationship – while Sharia could gain a positive reinforcement and understanding of its values from it’s depiction in the video-game amongst a large population of ardent gaming fans, ‘Garshasp’ can use the idea of non-violence against human beings as the ultimate marketing strategy to appeal those parents who are especially concerned about the content of games/T.V. children are exposed to. It is ironic, that an industry that thrived on fetish-ization of video-games, is turning to religion to compete now.

As-Salaam-Alaykum