Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Kaafiri and the blogger

Neela asks me I am curious about why bloggers advocate not reading their blog as the solution to anyone who criticizes their writing. Would you really rather that someone does not read you if they disagree with what you say or would you rather have them say waht they will?

I cannot presume to speak for all bloggers; but here's my answer:

I would rather that people continue to read me, whether they agree or disagree with what I'm saying. I'd rather that people hate me, despise me, get infuriated by and want to hit me, but that they continue to read me.

Why do I (as a blogger) tell someone to stop reading my blog?

Because that is my way of saying 'Live and let live'.

Dissenters have the option of providing an alternative perspective, either through comments or via email. Or creating a new post on your blog (and I will happily link to it). You have the option of shooting holes in any given argument. You have the right to correct me if I'm factually wrong. You can even tell me you don't like the blog (and I will probably reply along the lines of 'Thanks for nothing... I don't like you either').

But you can't tell me to change my blog, to suit your tastes.

If people are going to try and tell me what should or shouldn't be posted on the blog, then I would have to gently remind them that this is my turf, created for the specific purpose of allowing me to have my say.

Besides, that is the most civilized way of dealing with disagreement. I do not take differences of opinion (dissent) lightly. Dissent led to burnings at the stake. Dissent let to impalements over a gate. Dissent has led to killings and war.

They smash shops on Valentine's Day because it cannot see eye-to-eye with love-hungry teenagers anxious to get their first date through this love-sanctioned festival. They strip down to their underwear and parade semi-nude in front of an old, respected actor's home. (Saira Bano must have been vastly amused... in her place, I'd have filmed it all for post-dinner entertainment in duller times). They rip through brilliant canvases because they don't like to think a Goddess could be nude. They threaten to burn down cinema halls because they disapprove of one dialogue, one scene, or one song. (Poor MF Hussain gets it from both sides of the communal spectrum... and such a lovely song it was too!)

They set off bombs in theatres, tubes, bus stations, offices. They fly planes into buildings. They induce children to take up arms and turn into suicide bombers. They break down mosques and destroy hard-won livelihoods, all on account of a difference of opinion.

Do you know the meaning of 'kaafir'/Kafir/Qafir?

Not 'non-believer', as they would have you believe. My mother tells me that the word actually 'dissenter'.

Yet, dissent is all around. All of us are Kaafirs unto each other.

The trouble begins when we take upon ourselves the onus of tackling kaafiri, of wiping out the things we don't like.

What would you say is a rational way of dealing with each other as kaafirs?

Would you not tell violence-mongers that they have the option of not watching a movie they find offensive? That they have the option of not celebrating Valentine's Day? That they have the option of not looking at women, if they think women's faces should not be seen? That is the rational, peaceful approach, right?

Cut back to blogs and the blogger's reaction to disagreement.

People have the right to disagree with my writing. They have a right to tell me they hate my writing. You have right to say I'm melodramatic and that my brains probably aren't working. You do not have the right to tell me to spare you x or y kind of post.


Anonymous said...

Whoa. I like it and the spirit. No dissents here.
:) :)

Neela said...


A very eloquent post.

Thank You.


gawker said...

Not to mention if the blogger says "Your are free not to read my post" the commenter can retort back "Well you are free not to read my comments on it".

Jabberwock said...

Very comprehensive post Annie, thanks.

I was discussing this with someone who’d posted some nasty (and, in my view, overly personal) comments on my blog but with whom I managed to have a more tolerant – and eventually very rewarding - exchange when we shifted to private email. We agreed that blog comments aren’t always the best forum for a meaningful exchange of views. Because too often people who don’t know each other in the real world get lulled into a false sense of familiarity and post comments that can be misconstrued. Also, when you have many people talking all at once, there’s always the danger that a comment that was directed at another commenter ends up offending the author of the post.

Dissent is fine; as I’ve said in one of my posts, some of the comments I appreciate the most are from people who have a completely different opinion from mine. (I’m not a big fan of blogs as a self-affirming medium where all you’re doing is gathering like-minded people around yourself, and participating in group hugs.) But when dissent gives way to ad hominem, that’s a problem.

Also, it pisses me off when people get their knickers in a twist over a post that was meant to be facetious or at least lighthearted. Happens to me all the time, what with my very warped sense (or lack of sense) of humour.

m. said...

ah.i more or less echo your sentiments... but theres one thing more i would add: ppl are welcome to dissent if they can do it in a civilised fashion, not stooping to personal attacks because theyre not happy with the point made!

i find that happens every now and then, and that i have to put up this kind of disclaimer after that, which is something i heartily dislike doing because i believe in self regulation... and since i dont owe it to anyone to remind them to behave decently i say "dont come here"!! :)

steppenwolf said...

'For all of us are kaafirs unto each other... '


lovely post

R. said...

Early in this post it is mentioned that "I'd rather that people hate me, despise me, get infuriated by and want to hit me, but that they continue to read me" but later it is said that "But you can't tell me to change my blog, to suit your tastes", these two statements are at odds with each other, simply because, if someone is to hate/despise a blog but still read it, then at the very least they would be expected to vent that negativity thru a comment or two, which might involve describing of what they feel should have been actually written.

Hence, I hold a slightly different view compared to the what has been written in the post as well as the previous comments, which is that one can't do much about the comments that one recieves. People would comment when there is an option to comment, these comments could be serious or light hearted or simply stuff to provoke the blogger. If the blogger finds it the comment offensive, then he or she can ignore it or just delete it. These comments do very little to affect the quality of the post or the blog or infact the blogger.

In life, we meet people everyday who get more personal with us than they should or offer uneducated views about us or to us that they shouldn't, how can the blogsphere be any different? (my comment is no different, i regret its length).

p.s. gonna have to look up 'ad hominem', new term for the day!

eM said...

Good post. I'm going to have to remember to link to it next time someone says, "Oh eM, why are you so self-centred/alcoholic/ditzy/full of yourself/frivolous?" :)

Anonymous said...

YEAH! I'm waving the rock and roll devil-sign up in the air as I read the words "...kaafirs unto one another". Brilliant post.

I'm also reminded of Woody Allen's famous line, "dissent and commentary merged to form dysentary"


Anonymous said...

excellent post (as usual). I am all for dissent - it makes life and certainly my blog more interesting. and sometimes, I just step back and watch the proceedings with an amused eye.
I guess the problem comes when the blogger / commentor gets so involved in the discussion as to be unable to make out the difference between disagreeing with the blog post and the blogger- in other words taking disagreement as a personal slight.

and I think kaafiri helps maintain perspective. like in an ideal society / polity where the oppposition party performs the role of kaafir?

Annie Zaidi said...

gawker, point noted.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Great post Annie.

Err but don't you think that talking about Shiv Sena (minor party poopers, Valentines Day spoilers, semi-nude protestors, just rough-up people types)and Al Qaeda (people who *kill thousands other people* - bombing tubes and ramming planes into worlds greatest monuments, engage in 'organized' terrorism) in the same breath is a bit unwarranted.

I mean, I hate both organizations but there is still a *huge* difference. The Shiv Sena, for all its evils is a legal political party in India that more or less abides by the laws (and gets punished when it breaks them). The Al-Qaeda is a *TERRORIST* (in big bold letters) organization - it is irrational to equate them.

I think you got carried away in being a little bit too 'secular'

phucker said...

Hey first time on your blog, came here via Vulturo - just wanted to stick my two paisa in though - At times I have engaged in personal attacks against bloggers, and I actually live to regret them - because those comments are STILL on those people's sites - so eventually it dents your "repuation" as a serious blogger (if that's what you wanted to be..). The best thing you can do to discourage these comments is to actually just leave them there - you will find that other readers can sometimes take your cause much better than you, and find a better way to shut up the abusers - or the abusers themselves will skulk away in silence, remorseful for what they have done (like me). And sometimes, when you look back on the abusive comments (like some of the ones I've received on my blog) you can have a good laugh. I still find being called "A Nutsack" amusing....

Finally, getting back to the question of reputation, you can sometimes use the leftover comments against the abuser if s/he someday makes a claim to be all mature and civilized e.t.c.
Just my 2 paisa...

Dilip D'Souza said...

Annie, perhaps Vulturo can explain to us, when has the Shiv Sena been punished for its crimes? Like, for example, killing people in Bombay in 1992-93? (About a thousand, comparable to Al-Quaeda).

Looking forward to an explanation.

Anonymous said...

The more I read replies like the one that started this or that idiot Sumanth, I realize how utterly pointless it is to try & force your opinion down someone's throat.

I agree totally.

1conoclast said...


The Shiv Sena is only a legal political party because NO Government yet has had the BALLS to ban it permanently & irrevockably!

There have been feeble attempts, but they soon recall the ban, because politicians like sleeping with the enemy. They're almost all an immoral bunch, who will always pay more attention to personal gain than the good of the nation/humanity. There are very few Abraham Lincolns around.

The Shiv Sena is a bunch of Gundas. Their leaders instigate violence & communal hatred, but instead of being in jail they're euphemismistically called rabble rousers. They have been allowed to infiltrate our system of Govt. because of selfish politicians & people like you & me who are either too scared to fight them or are too unaware!

Anonymous said...

People like you all, advocate putting innocent women and innocent elders behind bars under 498a, just because you live in a world with blindfolds.

You call it collateral damage. Then, what is difference between you so called honest, righteous bloggers and Bush&Army or Modi. They all also in favour of collateral damage like you bloggers.

You are as fundamentalistic as Shiv Sena or Al-Quaida.

So, stop looking good.

Now, I know, why Indian Blogging is in such a sorry state. It looks exactly similar to Indian Media.

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