It’s déjà vu time — February 2011 saw the arrest of a couple of DJs who catered to the A-listers of Hyderabad. Panic spread among the rich and famous, who worried about what would happen if the DJs spilled the beans and named them as clients. Fast forward to February 2012 — another popular DJ is arrested, and the wealthy are yet again crapping bricks. I must say, I am impressed with how proactive and alert the authorities are, in nabbing criminals.
Then again, are all these people criminals? While some actions are universally condemned as immoral and illegal, such as murder, stealing, child abuse and sexual harassment; there is no unified view about several other behaviours. A whole lot of human behaviour falls into this gray area. For instance, downloading free music, driving before you are 18 years old, consuming alcohol before you are 21, swallowing cough syrups and painkillers by the dozen, sniffing whitener, watching porn, bar dancing, stripping for money, mating for money. Some of us, at some point in time may have behaved in a manner that could be perceived as illegal, though we know that the behaviour in question is not antisocial and is pretty harmless. At worst, we are entertaining ourselves.
Most of us need an anchor that works as a feel-good factor and buoys us to face the day. For some of us, it is a cup of tea or coffee, for others it may be a bar of chocolate, for yet others, it may be comfort food. While these indulgences are not usually judged by society, the fact is that these substances can be addictive.
Habits such as smoking and drinking are judged to some extent, but are legal. Some of us choose alcohol and cigarettes as our feel-good fix. The words on the cigarette cover are warning enough — we are all adults, and can decide whether or not we wish to do something that harms our health.If we choose to go ahead and hurtle towards the grave by overindulging in our drinking or smoking, well, it’s our call, isn’t it?
We were warned! Most of us, however, are able to strike a balance and exercise moderation. In my opinion, the same goes for drugs. There are people who may use weed or pot to pamper themselves once in a while. And then there are those who go overboard. But this is where the law draws the line. Most nations won’t sell heroine or hashish over the counter with a ‘statutory warning’. Urbandictionary.com defines weed as, “God’s gift to the world. Brings peace when used wisely”. To each his own! As a nation, we’re pretty judgmental and conservative. But this is also the country where cannabis has historical and religious significance.
But then ours is a nation of contradictions. We have the Khajuraho temple that celebrates the beauty of the human form; and we have Pooja Bhatt and Mamta Kulkarni getting on the wrong side of the law with their indecent exposure. We traditionally practiced swayamwara, and yet balk at the idea of our kids choosing their own mates.
Confusing? Yes. Logical? Yes. Fluidity suggests flexibility. Ours is a country that is maturing — the proof is the decriminalisation of homosexuality in July 2009. It takes an open mind to grow, and we are in the process of growing as a people.
The bottom-line is that legal and illegal are fluid and can change with the times. Most of the city folk who use drugs probably consider themselves as upright, law-abiding citizens and wouldn’t dream of doing anything antisocial.
Are we barking up the wrong tree, and letting the real criminals go scott-free while we are focussing on the gray area; people whose offences are inconsequential at best?The writer is a city-based commentator.The views expressed are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.