“Ban jokes on the internet?”

I have often written about how giving offence in India is treated as a crime, but it’s being taken to a ridiculous extreme now. The Times of India reports:

Buoyed by a successful campaign against a publisher of joke books, members of the Sikh community have now approached the Mumbai police to block any form of humour on the net targeting them.

The cyber cell department of the crime branch has received a plea asking it to “ban jokes on the internet” which portray Sardars as objects of ridicule.

The article goes on to tell us that a gentleman named Ranjit Parande has been arrested under Section 295-A of the India Penal Code for publishing The Santa and Banta joke book. I have written before (1, 2) that, like so many much of the antiquated Indian Penal Code, Section 295-A should not exist. Let me reproduce it here in full:

Section 295A. Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of [citizens of India], [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.

Note that this is a non-bailable offence, and I suppose I should be glad to be a free man given that I am an equal-opportunity religion basher. Isn’t it ironic how those who show the most hubris about their Gods are most insecure about the damage that mere words can do to those Gods? Tsk tsk.

Or perhaps I should look at this as an opportunity and demand that The Flying Spaghetti Monster be incorporated as an official protected deity by the Indian government. Pastafarianism is no less worthy of protection than any other religion. No?

(Link via breakfast conversation with Manish Vij.

Comments are open, but if you insult the FSM, I shall make sure you pay for your words!)