IS THE MEDIA THE MORALITY GATEKEEPER?
Dhoble is a common name in the city of Mumbai. To most people, it is another Mahrashtrian Maratha surname. In recent days, that name has been getting much more attention than is commensurate with its density in the city. And, it is only one individual who is getting all the attention – Vasant Dhoble. Why? Vasant Dhoble is the Asst. Commissioner of Police in charge of Mumbai Police’s Social Service wing. He has variously been accused of ‘Talibanising’ Mumbai and called the ‘Oppressor of the innocent public’ [Facebook page]. Pritish Nandy, the well known journalist, has called him ‘Public Enemy no 1’; yes, of course on twitter.
Now what is Dhoble’s crime or distinction (yes, this depends on which way you view him) – the media has accused him of ‘destroying the party life in India’s financial capital’, ‘being a slur on Mumbai’s image’, ‘picking on youngsters just having a good time’, … well I’m sure, you’ve got the gist of it. The media has also done the hard work of researching him – they say that he has been accused of taking a bribe some years ago and was suspended. In 1994 he was suspended for seven years for a custodial death and also made to pay a fine. He was reinstated in 1996 on the basis of a Mumbai High Court order. Further, they say that a departmental inquiry is pending against him under the orders of the Supreme Court.
Of course, there is another side-not heard too loudly- since the media rules the sound bites that reach us. Individuals from organisations like the ‘Union Park Residents Association’, ‘Citizens for a better Mumbai’ and ‘We the People Foundation’ say that Dhoble has helped to restore the normal night life of the citizenry. Parties in Illegal Pubs and Bars in residential areas, with loud music, were ruining the life of many residents of the city. They think that Dhoble has helped put the issue of illegal establishments operating without proper regulations in the forefront again.
This is not the first time that we as a nation have been subjected to the moral judgements of the Media. They determine what is best for the city/country and then pretend that they are the voice of the people. Take the issue of homosexuality – the media has consistently been espousing the cause of the homosexual without giving space for anyone of consequence from the other side of the line. They very carefully choose the voice of the opposition – those who can be ridiculed or excluded for reasons other than the topic under discussion. This would effectively silence the voice of the opposition either by direct fiat; or by peer pressure. It is not any secret that, if you are not liberal, you cannot get a position in most media setups – and if you do not stay liberal, you cannot stay in the same framework. So effectively, all counter voices have been crushed.
Here is an important question: Can we permit the media to represent the voice of the nation? Either singly or collectively? A democracy is by definition ‘by the people, for the people’ – so obviously, the Media is displacing the authority of the elected government by moral posturing. This of course is not to say that one approves all that the government mandates, but at least they are not using back doors to impose the personal agenda of a minority.
In the midst of this, what is the position of the Christian? The Bible is clear that God as creator has the authority to mandate the moral boundaries; and this he does as the God who is Holy. We are unable, in ourselves, to fulfil the moral requirement of this holy God. So, those who have put their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ have the Holy Spirit in-dwelling them. He enables us to live, in Christ, a life which is morally upright.
So, does this mean that we can impose Biblical morality on the world (like the media is doing for their liberal morality)? Well, we surely can make our voices heard in the public square articulating a world view that needs a hearing. Why do they need to hear it? Because, we love our neighbour and wish to stand in the gap to prevent their destruction. How? In the words of Vance Havner, ‘We do not really break the laws of God, we break ourselves against them. We do not break the law of gravitation by jumping from a skyscraper, we break our necks.’ We don’t want them to break their necks and lose their lives.