Exercise in Accountability or Misplaced Activism?

Abish Mathew received heavy censure for his 2012 tweet, which calls Dalit leader and former UP CM Mayavati “so ugly” that only statues can get “erect.” He is one of the several comedians, including Neville Shah, Sourabh Pant, and Shubham Gaur (brother of Saloni Gaur) who came under widespread criticism.

As discriminatory and stale tweets from comedians surfaced on social media, it raises pertinent questions about how we approach change as a community.

While Neville Shah had made fun of Bahujan medical students in a 2016 stand-up video, Sourabh Pant received flak for joking about Muslims. Shubham Gaur was also slammed for his 2015 islamophobic tweet.

Abish Mathew’s poorly-worded tweet?

Abish Mathew has apologized for his “poorly-worded tweet”, and mentioned that he has “evolved” since the tweet was first posted, which was eight years ago. Similarly, Shah explained how the joke he made was about dealing with the loss of his mother.

Despite the apologies, we need to ensure that stand-up artists are responsible for their words and hold them accountable. Comedy at the expense of ridiculing minorities and women is absolutely unacceptable.

However, is it alright to look at these old tweets from the purview of the present? After all, none of us is born ‘woke.’ We all learn and unlearn crucial truths as we grow in age and develop a socio-cultural and political awareness.

Abish Mathew, Shubham gaur old tweets: Exercise in Accountability or Misplaced Activism?

In addition, are we directing our outrage and energy in the right direction? What is a more ideal approach to spur change: targeting individuals or the system that enables the individuals

There can be no excuse for the unacknowledged privilege and its blatant misuse.  It’s up to us how we hold influential individuals accountable: through space for redemption and forgiveness or by ‘canceling’ them.

Let us know if you agree with us! Your comments are even more welcome if you disagree with us. Let us learn from each other and grow together. 

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