I had hoped it wouldn't happen, but it did. The hideous comments made to Meena Kandasami became the subject of some major online activism/condemnation. I had wished it would not happen, because I condemn the abuse of Meena Kandasamy as well as agree with the rights of whoever wants to have a beef [or pork] festival, but I disagree with the pretense that these condemnations are becoming.
Let me be upfront about this. Those comments were bad. There is nothing that excuses hate speech and death threats on the internet or in real life. At the same time, the idea that one kind of comments to one person deserve so much condemnation make me wonder why those and why not others?
I have got death threats, rape threats, random trolling abuse on occasion, though I don't get much. I have seen many women get trolled on Twitter. Notable others off the top of my head in recent times are @iKaveri @sonaliranade @Desdemonaous for example. By no account are these the only ones. Men get trolled too.
What is it that makes Meena Kandasamy more worthy of protection than others?
There are other dynamics to this equation.
Meena Kandasamy was speaking about a beef festival and got trolled by an offended Hindu. She also happens to be vocal about dalit causes, as well as domestic abuse from personal experience. To date, I have not really heard Meena Kandasamy have a problem with anyone else being abused on Twitter, including in her defense. - For the record, I was. After speaking up for her after her Outlook article. I don't know if any others were. It is also not her speaking up against abuse of herself.
The people bringing this up are the activist types. I invite them to show me any other spectacular defense of women/men being abused on social media that they initiated - including of themselves.
So what is really happening here? In my view, it is more about the identity of the person doing the abusing and the reason - beef festival. I support the beef festival - no problems there either. My problem is with this conflict over the beef festival and the abuse resulting from it being taken up as a feminist cause, as though all the other women being abused are not worth it.
Being dead honest on motives helps much. Either defend Meena Kandasamy for having a unique stand which you support and her getting trolled for it, or defend against all abuse happening over the internet. I disagree that one Tweep has more rights to dignity than others.
This is not to defend the Hindu man who threatened her at all, but it would be more honest to take this up as an issue around the cause she picked rather than pretend this is about defending a woman as though the crazies would accept a man saying the things she said.
Also more effective in confronting religious/caste extremism and violence. Get Hindu heads of organizations to clarify their stand over this, file complaints against that man, whatever. Don't pretend that this is an action to protect a woman. There are women being abused on a daily basis no one gives a damn about taking up.
I know many will disagree with me, but this is in my heart, this needed said.