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3-min read

Heckling the Heckler is Hazardous to Health No Matter How Much They Deserve It

The burning question, as the Commander-in-Chief of Heckling might shout, were he to debate it, should he have been heckled at all?

Anuradha SenGupta | CNN-News18@anuradhasays

Updated:January 30, 2020, 1:26 PM IST
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Heckling the Heckler is Hazardous to Health No Matter How Much They Deserve It
File photo of stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra.

Heckling the heckler is hazardous to health. Stand-up comedian and opinionated political commentator, actually that’s one and the same thing in a time when journalism for the most part has abdicated its role, but I digress. Let’s start again.

Stand-up comedian and opinionated political commentator Kunal Kamra found out in the last week of January that giving someone a dose of their own medicine can be a bitter pill to swallow. Because in India 2020, those who live in glass houses can throw stones and get away with it.

Which is why the nation’s Commander-in-Chief of Heckling who has made the brutal art of haranguing, abusing and browbeating in-studio participants... they must be masochist or really hard up to be there at all, but again I digress.

... which is why the nation’s Commander-in-Chief of Heckling who has made the brutal art of haranguing, abusing and browbeating in-studio participants and by-standing if not always upstanding members of Indian public life, and the public at large, a prime-time passion, has managed to ensure that his heckler will henceforth find it tough to fly high.

The airline, which found itself converted into a stage by the enterprising comedian-commentator to take on the anchor-fake news purveyor, swiftly and highhandedly banned him from using its service for six months.

So now that you’re up to speed, the burning question, as the Commander-in-Chief of Heckling might shout, were he to debate it, should he have been heckled at all?

In my book, no, because an eye for an eye really does make the whole world go blind. And I would really not do to others what I don’t want done to me, no matter that they really, really deserve it. And no matter that the provocation the nation’s Commander-in-Chief of Heckling poses nightly by making people feel vulnerable, distraught and panicked, is extreme. It may be irresistible yes but it may be better to be the better man and like Michelle Obama famously said ‘go high’.

Should the airline that was converted briefly into a high-octane news studio have banned the comedian-commentator from using it for more pedestrian purposes like getting from one place to another, with such lightning speed? No, it should have followed due process and that’s spelt out here.

Should the Minister for Civil Aviation have put out this tweet advising other airlines to follow the market leader? Not at all. But if you think about it, overextending is a common Indian failing. Air travellers can vouch for that. After all, who hasn’t at some time or the other had the tray table shoved into your paunch because the man or woman in front has without even the most cursory glance behind reclined their seat as far back as it can extend?

Of course, if it’s a large, loud group of friends and family, then consideration can always be taken for granted. So the reporter in this video continues to fly with impunity. But then, opposition politicians are lower down in the new power and privilege pecking order than establishment news personnel, right?

Should three other airlines have followed suit with such alacrity? A resounding, highly alarmed no.

And finally, what should we make of the DGCA’s clarification that “the action taken by the airlines is in complete consonance with the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section-3, Series M Part VI on handling of unruly passengers”.

Well, Kunal Kamra will have a planeload of material to dig into for his next gig. And hopefully, we will have the last laugh.

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