Three ministers in Karnataka’s legislative assembly resigned today following a TV expose showing them watching a porn clip in the assembly. While the MLAs were defensive at first and claimed that they were doing research, their resignations and the multiple inquiries that have been ordered seals their fates.
Opposition MLAs and the media has painted this as a moral low for Karnataka. Twitter has responded (of course) and BJP supporters and detractors alike have bashed the ministers for having watched porn in the legislative assembly.
Two things have seemingly united the right and the left against the accused
- BJP and its allies are known to take a conservative stand on morality and culture, and watching of porn is blatantly immoral.
- One of the MLAs is the minister for Women and Child development and had previously made a remark to the effect of “women should not dress provocatively or they are inviting trouble”.
Of the many hours of Lok sabha TV I have watched and what I gather from others, MPs and MLAs routinely sit around totally distracted, reading something unrelated, talking to each other and in general paying absolutely no attention. The grave error of these MLA’s was that they watched porn not that they watched porn. That these elected representatives were doing “research” or “entertaining themselves” is less relevant than that it was an obscene clip.
Call it prudishness or political opportunism, this episode is a good reminder that when we take sides without paying attention to what we are taking sides about, we end up making silly arguments.
Do ministers dealing with women and children have to affirm to a “higher” moral code which includes abstaining from pornography? Is linking his statement about women to his watching porn not a case of confirmation bias? (I knew it, this is typical male chauvinistic behavior!) . Does the right have any objective or consistent standard of obscenity or morality? Does the BJP believe watching pornography is not suitable for people of high moral fiber and culture like its cadre?
How many of India’s ministers have any educational background related to the ministries they are handed? Is there any meritocracy in the handing out of cabinet portfolios? Do we have any mechanism for public appraisal of personal beliefs and practices of our representatives with relation to their effect on their political decisions?
These questions are for examining of our biases and for finding the right reasons to condemn someone. For condemn we must, and from what I gather, these MLAs are condemned not because they watched porn but because they were caught.
Update: Edited for grammatical errors