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Legal PIL: SC To Decide On Banning Sikh / Sardar Jokes Websites. Your Views?

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Admin Singh, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Excerpt: I have fought with fellow lawyers in the courts for making fun of Sikhs. I have slapped people who have cracked Sikh jokes at my expense. I know of a newly married Sikh couple who were hurt because somebody presented them with a Sikh joke book at their wedding...

    sikh-jokes.jpg

    A Sikh man calls up a doctor.

    "Doctor my wife is pregnant. She is having pain right now," he says.

    "Is this her first child," asks the doctor.

    "No, this is her husband speaking," answers the man.

    Many would find this a rather lame and harmless joke, but this is exactly what gets Harvinder Chowdhury's goat.

    This is also one among the 60-odd gags that the feisty 54-year-old Delhi-based Sikh lawyer has submitted to the Supreme Court, while seeking a ban on jokes involving her 20-million-strong community.

    In an unprecedented plea to the top court last week, Ms Chowdhury, herself a lawyer for the past three decades, says that there are 5,000 websites which sell jokes "projecting Sikhs as unintelligent, stupid, idiot, foolish naive, inept, not well versed with English language and as symbols of stupidity and foolishness".

    'Casual comic'
    These jokes, she says "violate the fundamental right to life and to live with dignity", and so the sites carrying them should be banned.

    The puzzled judges, while agreeing to hear the rather dire plea, wondered why she sought such a ban.

    "Many people we know take these jokes sportingly. It may not be an insult but only some casual comic statement for amusement. You want all such jokes to stop but Sikhs may themselves oppose it," said the judges.

    But sitting in her poky room in a warren of lawyer's chambers near the Supreme Court in Delhi, Ms Chowdhury says she's not willing to take these "insults" lying down any longer.

    "Enough is enough. We Sikhs have endured a lifetime of mockery. My children want to drop their Sikh surnames because they face a lot of ridicule. When I protest against this, people say I am a Sikh woman, so I must be mad," says an agitated Ms Chowdhury.

    "The jokes are the bane of Sikhs. They have to go."

    Ms Chowdhury - who says she studied law in the UK and worked as a cab driver, samosa maker and at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet during her time there - conflates the "racism, hatred and sexual harassment" that she has faced as a woman with the jokes targeting the Sikh community. She also says her family was targeted during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, where more than 2,000 people died.

    Sikh jokes
    • Sikh on phone: Doctor my wife is pregnant. She is having pain right now. Doctor: Is this her first child? Sardar: No this is her husband speaking.
    • Sikh: How much is my mobile bill? Call centre: Sir, just dial 123 to know current bill status. Sikh: Stupid, not current bill, my mobile bill.
    • Sikh to his servant: Go and water the plants. Servant: It is already raining. Sikh: So what, take an umbrella and go.
    • Teacher: What are prehistoric monsters called when they sleep. Sikh: A dinosnore!
    • Teacher: What language do they speak in Cuba? Sikh: Cubic.
    • Boss: Where were you born? Sikh: India. Boss: Which part? Sikh: What which part? Whole body was born in India.
    • Interviewer: What is your birth date? Sikh: 13 October. Interviewer: Which year? Sikh: Every year.
    (Source: Harvinder Chowdhury's petition in the Supreme Court)

    "I have fought with fellow lawyers in the courts for making fun of Sikhs. I have slapped people who have cracked Sikh jokes at my expense. I know of a newly married Sikh couple who were hurt because somebody presented them with a Sikh joke book at their wedding."

    Now she's marshalling her forces to persuade the judges that she has a watertight case for a ban: a Sikh MP has supported her ban, and a college in Punjab has joined the issue and petitioned the court. Sikhs have begun visiting her at her chamber and the main group that looks after Sikh temples in Delhi have offered her support.

    Ms Chowdhury has also shot off letters to school principals requesting them to give "counselling to children to stop enjoying and spreading [Sikh] jokes".

    One Sikh commentator wrote that he supported the ban because "India needs to grow up and stop being the kid at the dinner table listening wide-eyed to and laughing at crassness. It needs to stop despite the fact that we all hold free speech dear".

    This is not the first time Sikh jokes have been under pressure.

    In 2007, police registered a case against leading businessman Anil Ambani for circulating jokes "insulting" the Sikh community, when a Sikh leader in Uttar Pradesh blamed his mobile-telephone company for the text-messaged jokes. The company which circulated the jokes apologised. The same year a bookseller was arrested in Mumbai for selling Sikh joke books and "hurting religious sentiments".

    Many believe Sikh jokes, like all jokes playing on stereotypes and comedy about one's race, are harmless fun. There are jokes about the Italians, the Polish and the English, and in India, there are plenty of gags which play around stereotypes such as Bengalis, for example. (One Bengali is a poet, Two Bengalis are a film society, Three Bengalis are a political party, Four Bengalis are two political parties.)

    Nobody quite knows when Sikh jokes became a part of pan-Indian humour, but Sikh joke books - many written by Sikhs themselves, and a few by India's best-known Sikh writer Khushwant Singh - have been available for a long time.

    With the advent of the internet and smart phones, Sikh jokes have become a veritable industry, with joke factories around India writing and selling them on phones. Most feature two fictional characters, Santa and Banta - and their funny, and sometimes, tasteless, gabfest.

    India's Sikh community - despite being targeted in one of the worst riots in post-Independence India which left it with deep psychological scars - is among its most successful minorities. Hardworking and entrepreneurial, they dominate the armed forces and make successful businesspeople, sportspeople and farmers. They travel widely and work and thrive all over the world.

    Jawaharlal Handoo, who has written extensively on Indian folklore, suspects that the success story of Sikhs may have bred anxiety among non-Sikhs. "I suspect this may have threatened the Hindu ego and created an anxiety which in turn seems to have taken the form of various stereotypes and the resultant joke cycle."

    Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan echoes a similar sentiment, but believes most of the stereotypes involving the Sikhs brim with naivete and are "friendly, even playful". The jokes have spread, he believes, because the community is migratory, mobile and ready to work in diverse professions.

    "Stereotypes cannot be equated with identity. But the problem these days is that identity has become a fetish. People have become touchier. So there are more demands for bans," says Mr Visvanathan.

    Tell that to Ms Chowdhury and she flies into a bout of mild rage.

    "These jokes are racist. Everybody seems to be having fun at the expense of our community. This is unacceptable, this has to go."

    That's clearly not a joke.
     
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  3. Ishna

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    My immediate reaction is to point our that those who can't laugh at themselves are often the most insecure. On the other hand, everyone gets sick of being the butt of the joke after a while. Hmm.
     
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  4. Inderjeet Kaur

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    These jokes are not harmless fun. They are not fun at all. They are stupid. And I don't like them. I feel the same way about nasty jokes about women, which are considered perfectly OK. I heard most of them told about the Polish, the Irish, the Italians. Strangely, I never heard any of them told about African Americans or Jews.

    There is a whole genre of jokes about the Protestant minister, the Catholic priest and the rabbi. Some of these are really hilarious.

    I do not like or tell racial or ethnic or religious insults or jokes - almost always unfunny - that demean others. I do not listen to tell or laugh at them. I generally give the teller a dirty or puzzled look. "I don't get it" usually embarrasses them when they try to explain.


    I see this as a freedom of speech issue. As a proponent of radical free speech, I think banning these jokes, stupid though they might be, violates a fundamental human right. I also think it makes Sikhs look weak and fragile. We should be neither.We should grow up a bit and quit being so sensitive. Take offense only when offense is intended.
    [​IMG]

    I live in the USA, where it's legal to say almost anything short of serious physical threats and certain sorts of incitements to riot. In India, the law is different. I understand that it is illegal to say or write anything that offends anybody. I'm surprised anything gets written at all.

    [​IMG]

    Harry Haller, I think your wit and wisdom is needed here.

    I remember years ago when the Vatican elected a Polish cardinal to be Pope, the first non-Italian Pope in centuries. I gave this news to a Polish friend of
    mine. She's still waiting for the punchline.
     
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    #3 Inderjeet Kaur, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  5. Ishna

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    ... is that Putin?
     
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  6. Harry Haller

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    I am not sure I am the best person to bring wisdom to this thread, or indeed any thread, all I know is what works for me,

    To me everything has humour, and humour is an excellent weapon to be used as you fight through life, our Gurus displayed much humour if certain sakhis are anything to by, they all had a twinkle in their eye, therefore, to me humour is not such a bad thing.

    I find the sentiments expressed above irrelevant, why any lawyer would waste time stamping her feet and demanding people stop making fun of her, is beyond me, surely lawyers have better things to fight for, it all sounds very agenda driven to me, but then is there not always an agenda..
     
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  7. Inderjeet Kaur

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    That's it exactly, Harry. She's making us all look like ridiculous, whiny little crybabies, not Sikhs of the Guru.

    But she did give me the opportunity to plug free speech.
     
  8. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
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    What we have seen in India is that it is basically racism wrapped in humor.

    In every talk, every argument or just like that, a joke would be thrown in and you will be told: 'You all Sikhs are same, dumb and duffer.'

    I had one rule for my friends in school and college.. if you racially abuse (aka joke) me on my religion, I will stop talking. Not a hard rule but ya they all realized I was not humored. And there were people who just won't give up.. they were not the ones I talked to often in the long run.

    Will we continue making the jokes in our living rooms when no non-Sikh is around? This is just like the way it is not racist when an Afro-American calls another a {censored word, do not repeat.}?
     
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  9. Inderjeet Kaur

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    Yes, indeed. I made this picture after some of his anti-gay tirades.
     
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  10. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Sikh jokes are good. When people joke about you, it means they are inwardly envious. Why ban these things and be so sensitive about it? If Sikh jokes are deemed offensive in India, then how about all those Sikhs living in diaspora being called Osama, a Towelhead and many other things?
     
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  11. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Not true , Jokes does not mean people are envious , People make fun of others which they don't want to be. Dumb people are joked, Short , fat people are also laughing stock why because we don't want to be like them , dark people are also part of comedy and even old people , Do we ever make fun of 6-2 ' perfect shape guy , hardly because most men want to be like him
     
  12. Harry Haller

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    I make a beeline for 6-2 perfect shape guys myself
     
  13. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    KDS1980: It seems you are confusing bullying with jokes. Please clarify it. In the US, there have been jokes about the Italians, Irish, Polish, South Asians of all types and of all other ethnicity/race you can imagine including the blacks.
    In Brasil, there are a plenty of jokes about the Portuguese.

    Do you mean these are all 3 ft midgets to be made jokes of?
     
  14. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Not bullying but casual jokes which are shown on tv , shared on what'sapp or which friends crack at each other or behind their back.There is a very thin line which divide joke to bad humour.

    I have to see a TV show or film where a midget was given not role of comedian Indian or Hollywood
     
  15. Admin Singh

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    Supreme Court gives six weeks to formulate mechanism to stop Sikh jokes
    The Supreme Court today gave Sikh bodies six weeks time to formulate a mechanism that will ensure that jokes on Sikh community can be stopped.

    The Supreme Court today gave Sikh bodies six weeks time to formulate a mechanism that will ensure that jokes on Sikh community can be stopped. In the past the apex court, while acknowledging that jokes on the Sikh community are bound to hurt them, has wondered about the practicality of implementing a ban.

    The court has said that orders had to be within the “judicial dimension” so that they are capable of being implemented.

    “We cannot say something which is impossible for implementation,” observed the bench earlier this year as it heard a PIL, which has sought a ban on jokes on Sikhs and Sardars, claiming such jokes are a violation of their right to equality with fellow citizens and an attack on the dignity of the community.

    The PIL filed by woman lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury had received the support of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Managing Committee (DSGMC), which said, “distasteful jokes have started hurting the community.”

    The case has been pending for some time now, with the apex court seeking practical solutions to make the ban effective.
     
  16. Admin Singh

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