I logged on to Twitter early ‘yesterday morning in the night’ and found this funny story going around. This was about some Litfest. No no, not some Literature Fest! This is about a Litigation Fest. And it involved someone threatening some people they’d have to face the law for their tweets slandering a senior BJP leader. Well, who could it be but Barkha Dutt; the champion of defamation threats. Some people are smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others. Some people are dumb not to learn even from their own mistakes. What can we do, no? Anyway, let me cut the story short and let you read the whole stuff which is storified here. If you fell off your chair laughing, don’t sue me, I’m not the one who tweeted all that.
Hollywood singer-actor-producer-director star Barbra Streisand has something unique about her. She has not just won an Oscar (for being a ‘Funny Girl’) she has an internet phenomenon named after her. It’s called the ‘Streisand effect’. Briefly: “The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet”. When Streisand attempted to suppress pictures of her mansion being put out, her protests brought about even more attention to her bungalow which otherwise would have been ignored. Isn’t BD just like that? When BD tried to suppress and sue Chaitanya Kunte over his blog titled “Shoddy journalism” about her 26/11 reporting she made him and his blog all the more famous. She also earned the contempt of a huge population on the net for trying to suppress Kunte’s free speech. She initially tried the same with Open Magazine when they broke the Radiatapes but didn’t have the stuff to take any legal action.
Vinod Mehta’s Outlook magazine too had published the tapes. Mehta, therefore, appears to have permanently earned the ire of BD. Er… sort of a “Rift” between two staunch Congress supporters. Not that VM gives a damn. It all started with a tweet, on February 13, from one @AnkushJain100 (who has since deleted his Twitter account). That tweet took the fancy of Lalit Modi, the former IPL guy, who retweeted it. And that was enough to send Barkha into her black cloak and collar and threaten the people involved of being “liable to a libel case” (liable to libel - rhymes well, doesn’t it?).
Hmm! Now, what were these guys talking about? I had no idea at all. There was another retweet from Lalit Modi which linked the problem that started it all. This tweet finally brought me to Vinod Mehta’s memoirs titled “Lucknow Boy”. Although many have said it’s a very sweet book and story about a boy, I had absolutely no plans of reading VM’s book. But trust BD to be stupid enough to force me to read at least one paragraph from that book. That’s the Streisand Effect! And this is the damning paragraph that was at the heart of the problem. This is nothing new and has been on the internet since VM published his book. So what exactly was BD yakking about?
If you read Ankush’s tweet carefully, all he suggests is that Arun Jaitley colluded with Barkha Dutt. It’s a valid allegation, not libel. The self-righteous BD then started chastising Lalit Modi over what she calls “utterly irresponsible and scurrilous attacks on a senior BJP leader”. Haha! Imagine, media celebs often known to make many an irresponsible statement on political leaders, especially of the BJP, are suddenly worried about statements on Arun Jaitley. Ahem! I guess it must be the influence of Valentine season which spreads love and affection all over. I hope Jaitley calls her up and thanks her profusely for rushing to his aid. Anyway, if at all there is really an injured party here it is Arun Jaitley and not BD.
So why the hell is BD threatening libel cases? And is there really libel or defamation here? Ankush and others were referring to and quoting something VM has written and published. VM is a man with years of experience in the media to know a lot of behind-the-scenes titbits. His book or that paragraph is neither banned nor under any court order. No court has declared it defamatory. There is absolutely nothing wrong in quoting VM. And as long as Jaitley or BD have not denied VM’s story, rejected it or challenged him in a court of law there is no reason to disbelieve what VM has said.
Let’s talk legal. Please do note carefully that VM says BD “pleaded” with Jaitley not to mention the Radia intercepts in his attack on the govt. BD, whose Twitter profile also says “wannabe lawyer”, pleaded with Jaitley. (Oh… some lawyers were also referred to as pleaders, weren’t they?). Why was she pleading with him? Any answers? VM says Jaitley was on the “verge of”. So did Jaitley avoid mentioning the Radia-conversations because of BD’s pleading? If yes, then Jaitley does have a lot to answer for. Consequently, the BJP has a lot to answer for because Jaitley holds a top position in the party and the parliament.
This habit of threatening others, especially those who are helpless, usually comes from arrogant people who do not possess the guts to take on those in power. They suck up to them or fear a backlash and prey on those who cannot hit back or don’t have the time and resources to engage in a legal battle. BD didn’t have the guts to take on those who exposed her in the Radiatapes originally like she first threatened them. She doesn’t have the guts to take on Vinod Mehta. In trouble, she begs and pleads with Arun Jaitley. Why does she get so worked up and riled? It has an explanation in this oldie from Elton John (3.48mins).
There! That’s the reason: Well maybe it was childish, foolish, before-schoolish, immaturish, lose your coolish. Ego!