Friday, January 30, 2009


I think this Facebook response by Barkha Dutt to someone who posted Chetan Kunte's post there verges on the absurd and the tantalizingly revealing:
Mr Saini,

Just because some random bloke can sit at a computer and make up stuff doesnt mean he or others like him need to be dignified with responding to their utter and total rubbish. rubbish is what it is. And as already mentioned. Mr. Kunte has been served a legal notice for libel by NDTV. That should give you some indication of where we and I stand. The freedom afforded by the Interent cannot be used to fling allegations at individuals or groups in the hope that they will then respond to things that arent worthy of engagement.

If you have any remaining questions my column on media coverage is available online.
Happy New Year.
But isn't the entire Internet pretty much a collection of "random blokes sitting at computers and making up stuff"? In fact isn't that the whole purpose of freedom of the Internet, that anyone can make up any stuff he or she wants to? But more importantly, isn't the Internet supposed to be the ultimate free market of ideas? If someone makes up ridiculous stuff, most of us will ignore it and it will peter out of the pool of valuable opinions. What I still fail to understand about this is why NDTV took such umbrage to the opinions of one lone blogger (who is not even some influential mover or shaker). NDTV is a big and successful organization; it's not even that Chetan Kunte's post exposed some big lie which would have brought them down. If some people are going to be misled by what Kunte wrote, let them get out on the record and correct the allegations. After all they would be guaranteed an audience much bigger than Chetan Kunte. And by pompously serving Kunte a legal notice, hasn't NDTV "dignified" him with the ultimate response? Obviously NDTV was concerned about some effect that Kunte's post would have. I am still trying to figure out what effect they considered so serious that they felt the need to muzzle this blogger.

Also, the last line quoted by Ms. Dutt (assuming it is Ms. Dutt) is in her own words, utter and total rubbish. Nobody can disallow anyone else to spout as much rubbish about someone as they want on the Internet. In response, nobody then stops the concerned party from responding as vociferously and clearly as they want. Barkha Dutt could have started a whole blog named "Lies That Chetan Kunte Told You: Setting The Record Straight" and it would have been fine and in fact very much in the spirit of the Internet. The Internet is precisely the vehicle for expressing all kinds of opinions. It's simple; if Kunte's allegations were baseless, then NDTV could have easily exposed them by providing some details. If not, then they wisely could have just kept quiet. But by serving him some ridiculous notice, they have simply done the most undiplomatic and unworthy thing that they can.

For now, some simple words for them; When in a ditch, stop digging. Better still, reach out for a hand.

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