Theâtre de l’absurde

A talented playwright may soon open up a new trend in the field of literary genre locally, the ‘theâtre de l’absurde’. This is not to expose philosophical existentialist issues.

We have quite a few of these in our pockets already, which conveniently come to our rescue and restore our faith in life whenever ordeals and calamities of all sorts threaten to devastate our hearts and minds. The playwright should come instead to entertain us with the impending threat to the very foundations of the Republic because of a solitary missile flung by a frustrated young lady on Facebook. It is made to appear as if the « missile » may cause unprecedented damage, more devastating than cyclone Carol, more destructive than the 1967 communal violence and 1999 post-Kaya riots, and more dangerous than the flood that drowned Port-Louis in March. The pillars of democracy are flexing their muscles to face the imminent tsunami that is about to unleash its fury over the island. Even the Fourth Estate, the « independent » press, which reports it, refrains from divulging the exact nature of the deadly « missile » so horrible and monstruous it is, but just cautiously hints at its hypothetical ability to cause irreparable harm to the social fabric as perceived by it.

First things first, as spectators waiting to see the last scene of the farce acted by the ‘theâtre de l’absurde’, we claim our Right to Information from the concerned media. Publish the exact content of the comment posted on the social network and give us the name of the person or association that is dragging the young lady to Court. As mature citizens in a free country, we have the right to know the truth not because we are going to don the cap of self-appointed moral judges, awaken our primitive instinct of predators, mobilize a mob and tear a fallen victim to pieces. No, we are quite familiar with the hypocrisy that lies behind such accusations of so-called offensive comments.

As mature citizens, we should feel free to discuss the issue openly and appeal to common intelligence and reason instead of having recourse to irrational emotions. So far we are vaguely informed that after a relationship that went awry with her partner, the young lady published a disparaging comment on his community or religion, but it is not clear what the reproach exactly is. All we are told is that her comment might breed ‘haine raciale’.

Indeed ! Mauritius has adopted the European-style law against racial abuse which is supposed to protect society and punish those who voice out and publish offensive comments. It so happens that this law specially targets those who comment disparagingly on minority ethnic groups. Such comments are considered newsworthy and are highlighted in the media. In Europe, anti-White racial abuse is not supposed to make sensational news, and so they are not given media limelight. Some minority groups take advantage of such laws to gleefully run down those who represent mainstream society, and assume the minority victim role when the occasion arises. Their mentors, backward bigots or double-dealing high profile intellectuals pontificating comfortably from democratic countries in the West, run to defend their flocks by turning the modern laws of host countries against mainstream society and the governments of host countries.

Anti-Communal Bill in India is suspected to be targeting mainly Hindus as potential offenders. It is all topsy-turvy. In Mauritius, online newspapers have no qualms publishing anti-Hindu comments or running down its members as an ethnic group. In social networks, advocates of monotheism pour out their rants against so-called polytheism. Nobody is raising a hurly-burly over such comments not only because of the jaide attitude but also because ignorant and spiteful comments are not considered as deserving attention. Or, causing racial disaffection. For decades, innate xenophobic rants against a so-called Hindu-dominated political sphere have been freely given vent to in certain editorials in subtle terms. But they are coming out more crudely in social networks these days in a country in which minorities play a dominant role. It is not a big step from here to harbouring hatred for those others who are seen to be outside the fold. How on earth is a comment published by a young lady on a man who has been close to her, on his culture or whatever religious rite he observes, according to her imperfect understanding of the matter, amount to ‘racial hatred’?

Race is not a taboo word. It is employed in Europe for historical reasons. The word ‘race’ is generally used in the sense defined by Claude Lévi-Strauss as ‘peoples’ of the world. Talking about fanning ‘racial hatred’ is grossly exaggerated. The media which has been doing so has its own private objective to seek and this is more of a destructive enterprise than what it appears to be on the face of it. The calculation is to create rifts among groups of the population based on a stray incident involving a couple of estranged social partners.

Ethnic politics which believes in a balanced ethnic representation of the people, even if it proceeds at times by appointing worthless people who do not deliver in some ministries at the expense of taxpayers’ money, is a cause for real concern. Different institutions and independent organizations had better channel their energy and use funds to address real issues, identify authors of hate-mongering speeches delivered in closed circles which do threaten social harmony and fearlessly deal with them. The young lady’s comment which might engender hatred and so on is just a pretext for a masquerade of justice. A picture of her is being displayed as a vulgar criminal whose face is hidden in shame in the press. That’s a deliberate portrayal no doubt to create the element of guilt before the guilt, if at all, is assessed. The only conclusion one may reach in the matter is that the stray personal incident in which the young lady was involved is being used to hide the cowardice and hypocrisy that characterize higher spheres of influence.

A laughable farce, lol! A most absurd trial by the press!


* Published in print edition on 27 September 2013

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