And she is by no means the only one to face these tribulations. Rational atheist-humanist-feminist bloggers Jennifer McCreight, Rebecca Watson, Amy Davis Roth, Greta Christina, and many others have gone (and continue to go) through same or similar trials that stretch the limits of tolerance, sense, sanity or humanity. The list is long - a sad and shameful commentary on the inequities of humanity, or perhaps its inability to bridle the basest of its collective character traits. (Ophelia tweeted me some examples from elsewhere in the world, too.)
This morning, I added one more name to the list: Meena Kandasamy, an Indian poet, writer, and activist involved with feminism, linguistic identity, and issues surrounding the baneful and odious caste system in India - by all counts, an accomplished woman, who should be viewed with pride by Indians everywhere. She tweets her thoughts on different subjects, and I Twitter-follow her because I am interested in what she has to say.
This morning, when the Indian Twitterverse is abuzz with the news of the punitive execution of Afzal Guru, who was charged and convicted of masterminding the December 2001 armed terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. The point of this post is not to debate the ethics and justifications of capital punishment. Ms. Kandasamy is a conscientious human being with ideas and opinions, and if a country pretends to democracy in the world arena as India does, it must guarantee her the freedom to express them and to differ from the establishment view - without the fear of reprisals and retributions. But this seems to be a concept that is largely alien to the Indian psyche, especially the male Indians, who have been taught by centuries of tradition that women must be silent, that women must not speak out, and those who do, must be disgraced and harmed.
Time and again Ms. Kandasamy has publicly expressed her disapprobation for the death penalty. Opinions on this matter vary rather sharply in India because of various traditional, social and psychological angles - perhaps a discussion for another day. In any event, it didn't come as a surprise to many when Ms. Kandasamy reacted thusly to the news of Afzal Guru's demise.
Afzal Guru hanged. So our government is now a secret society that does secret hangings.— Meena Kandasamy (@meenakandasamy) February 9, 2013
She also retweeted the opinions of a bunch of other folks, including the people at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who expressed dismay not only at the death penalty, but also at how the whole process precipitated rather expeditiously based on circumstantial evidence. I am not in a position to judge the veracity of the claims and the counter-claims, but it is an opinion, and Ms. Kandasamy was perfectly within her rights to express them.
The abuses soon started to flow in - from the brilliant minds of male Indian patriotic Twitter-tigers.
.@meenakandasamy You need to migrate to Saudia... Quicky.— आदित्यअग्निहोत्री (@adityaagnihotri) February 9, 2013
(This is Meena's retweet since the "arunwrites" account seems to have been taken offline.)
One particularly odious specimen, a man whose Twitter account has "My India My Pride" emblazoned in the background (I am not kidding!), wrote a series of nasty tweets at Ms. Kandasamy:
My maidservant looks better than the Meena Kandasamy bitch.— Rajeev (@blunt_eye) February 9, 2013
@meenakandasamy After you left your husband, did you hook up with a muzzie? You seem to have a lot of love for them.— Rajeev (@blunt_eye) February 9, 2013
@meenakandasamy Your dusky skin indicates you must be deliciously erotic in bed. Will you please climb into my lap? <-- So,do you like this?— Rajeev (@blunt_eye) February 9, 2013
Served, of course, with dollops of gratuitous anti-Muslim inflammatory tweets:
All muzzies under Hindu names attacking me for calling out @meenakandasamy 's dangerous pseudo-secularism militant leftism. Sad.— Rajeev (@blunt_eye) February 9, 2013
So far, Ms. Kandasamy has refused to take the bait. She continues to engage these people like normal human beings, and responds politely to them. But she also has retweeted their original vicious tweets for the posterity to see. Is this the kind of India that is emerging in this second decade of a new millennium? Shame.