November 08, 2007

Shabash New Age!

Yesterday on Tacit's blog, I commented:

"how we are to distinguish between uncritical support and government coercion, I leave you to figure out. Yes, they (Daily Star) can be slightly more critical as NA (New Age) is, but even then, one does not quite know what kind of pressures are on them."

Today, I think we see a clear difference between those who are coerced into silence and those who are in bed with the current government. While some newspapers go so DISGUSTINGLY low as to report on what brand of undergarments a female arrestee possesses, others take bold - even provocative - stances. From the sidebar of the New Age:

"WE APOLOGISE

When New Age was going to press on Wednesday evening, we had in our possession photographs of top-brass BNP leaders, including standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman, being assaulted by activists of their own party. While we at New Age strongly believe that – in the spirit of freedom of the press and our readers’ right to information – we are committed to bring those photographs to our readers, a number of our journalists were repeatedly ‘reminded’, however courteously, that Mahbub after all is a former army chief and publishing photographs of him being assaulted may not go down well with his former charges. Living in these times of ‘reminders’ and their untold consequences as they are, we, therefore, sincerely apologise to our readers for our inability to publish those photographs, and hence absconding, even if momentarily, in our responsibility to bring to you the whole truth in its full, graphic manifestation."


(emphasis mine)

Ahhh yes, his former charges. The paternalistic patriots whose patriotism is simple suspicion of their fellow countrymen. We already know what retribution against their fellow countrymen another picture brought.

I do NOT approve of the treatment meted out to a Bangladeshi citizen (Mahbubur Rahman's most important identity to this blog) because of his views, nor do I approve of the picture. But out of sympathy for a young lady who is being subjected to a Bangladeshi version of witch-burning and stigmatization, I will link the picture. Yes, just for today, let me wallow in the one rule I frown upon: two wrongs don't make a right.

But remember, there is no news censorship in Bangladesh. How could there be when the Daily Star is free to tell us what brand of undergarments is worn by different people?

God Bless Nurul Kabir!

2 comments:

tacit said...

Talk about great minds, I just said the same thing in reply to your comment on my blog. Anyway, I think we should all highlight these courageous stances. I mean, the military government may tell people not to print pictures/stories, but surely they're not deconstructionist/post-modernist enough to object to the printing of news about something not being printed.

I think I caught a glimpse yesterday in TV of this Nikita standing in a RAB office with two female RAB personnel beside her, and they were poking her hair, much like little kids do to their toys. Move over tabloids and soap operas, our government is here to give us our daily fixes of sordidness.

DhakaShohor said...

Tacit,

I've seen friends of mine - very good friends - lose their way through yaba back in the day when it was just becoming all the craze among the kids of my generation. I still see very fruitful lives hang in the balance as they tackle their addiction and get their lives back into order. Unlike what the media would have you believe, none of my friends or their fellow yaba-users were particularly well-off. Many came from middle-class families or rural families to study in the universities of Dhaka. Many went without food so they could afford their fix.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for any yaba dealer.

But the simply awful and misogynistic way that the media is reporting on this "Nikita" person has left me speechless and not without some sympathy. There is a lot to be said about the sexual politics involved, and I hardly know where to begin or whether I'm qualified to even talk about it.

I doubt - highly doubt - that such a fuss would have been made had she been:

1) nowhere near as "good-looking" as she is

2) kept a lower social profile thereby not threatening the patriarchal order

3) a man

I suspect some RAB officer is getting off (excuse me, but there really isn't a better phrase at this moment) on some big power trip by showing the world how much of the personal life of a beautiful woman he can bring to the public.

And I suspect the public is lapping it up because she seemed to have indulged in a flamboyant lifestyle that eluded most of them. Plus, they too are getting their jollies from the recital of the prurient "details of the case".

If ever you or anyone else wants to do a thesis on mass perversion and misogyny, look not towards the "decadent West" with its witchburning past or its numerous present-day strip clubs. Look at Bangladesh and look at it now.