[Reader-list] Media romanticizing rapists
shuddha at sarai.net
Fri Jun 25 14:18:51 IST 2004
This is a brief response to your post about the report in the Kolkata
edition of the Times of India about the death sentence and impending
execution by handing of Dhanajoy Chatterjee who raped and murdered a 14
year old girl.
Let me clarify one thing at the very begining. I have absolutely no
sympathy for any man who has raped and murdered anyone, and least of all
someone who has raped and murdered a minor.And I agree with your
revulsion at any attempt to romanticize the life of any such person,
just as I would be critical of any attempt to romanticize the life of
military personnel, prison staff, policemen, terrorists, powerful and
well connected individuals who operate within and outside the law and
others who rape and murder, routinely. in the line of their work, and in
the pursuit of their pleasures.
However, I have absolutely no qualms in saying and believing that the
death penalty is a barbarous and deeply violent institution that in my
opinion should only be a matter of shame in any civilized society. The
fact that the death penalty continues to exist in India, and is
routinely used, not only against rapists and murderers but also against
others, is a shocking indictment in my opinion of the routine,
institutionalized violence that we are prepared to condone in our
society. Dhananjay Chatterjee's death by hanging, within the confines of
a state institution, in Alipore Central Jail, will not bring the girl he
raped and murdered back to life. A life for a life is the ethic of the
blood feud that we continue to enshrine in our constitution, i think it
only brings the taint of killing on us all.
I doubt that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against violent
crime, if anything, societies that retain the death penalty (the United
States and China being leaders in this field, are arguably much more
violent than those that have abolished it, after all, the death penalty
confers on the act of killing a certain legitimacy, and this, in my
opinion contributes to more, not less violence in society)
I have for many years believed that there needs to be a considered and
an honest debate about the existence of the death penalty, and
extra-judicial executions, and concomitantly about the romantic cult of
violence that is so much a part of the vocabulary of resistance
movements in India. I am not a pacifist, but I would call for a
disbanding of military and police functions, I do not believe that
violence has any virtues, I do not believe that any valuable social or
political transformations can be brought about by violent means and at
the same time I am not an absolutist believer in what is called
'non-violence' (in that I do believe that armed resistance, by
individuals, or by groups, in self defence is justified, when no other
options are left, and when survival is at stake) but I do believe that
the death penalty and thinking that killing people is a solution of any
kind, is the kind of attitude that actually engenders and fosters
violence in society.
Dhananjay Chatterjee is responsible for the life he took, and he
deserves the harshest punishment for it, but we are all responsible for
the taking of his life, and by ensuring his death we are also cutting
off the possibility that he would be condemned to live out a life
contemplating the enormity of the violence that he unleashed on a
defenceless person. We ensure that neither Dhananjay, nor we, have to
really think about what violence means.
I look forward to more thinking on the list about this issue.
>reader-list: an open discussion list on media and the city.
>Critiques & Collaborations
>To subscribe: send an email to reader-list-request at sarai.net with subscribe in the subject header.
>List archive: <https://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/>
More information about the reader-list