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Twinkle Khanna Lost A Golden Opportunity By Targeting Sri Sri On Twitter

18/05/2016 2:54 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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I find the Twinkle Khanna-Sri Sri Ravi Shankar controversy a bit ridiculous.

Khanna got into a "Twitter war" with Sri Sri's followers over a very silly tweet.

She tweeted "Sri Sri got his noble foot and half beard stuck in his mouth in a yogic pose that Baba Ramdev perfected a while ago #HolyMenAndHairyTales."

I didn't think it was funny. It was juvenile at best and seriously disgusting, if you visualize both the foot and beard bacteria in someone's mouth.

But Khanna writes humour and tweets out from a handle called @funnybones. She thought it was hilarious and so did her followers. People could have just let it go.

Sri Sri is just another pompous, self-righteous, judgmental holy man who, like many Indian men, looks down on women and their achievements.

Her tweet was in response to Sri Sri 's comment that Malala Yousafzai didn't deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. To be fair, his thoughts on the young Pakistani girl were profoundly unworthy of his public image of a "holy, spiritual man." The founder of Art of Living seemed plainly envious of her. But again, people could have let it go too.

But the media didn't and Khanna went on Twitter to express herself.

To cut a long story short, the holy's man followers freaked out, trolled Khanna on Twitter, threatened to boycott her husband Akshay Kumar's upcoming movie Housefull 3, which in turn made the author delete her tweet and apologize.

Personally, I think the whole thing is way blown out of proportion. Also, to be honest, I couldn't identify Sri Sri in a police lineup among the other "godmen" that India worships with increasingly fanatical devotion. I don't care for him or any other "spiritual" leaders.

But here are some hard truths about this issue: Sri Sri is just another pompous, self-righteous, judgmental holy man who, like many Indian men, looks down on women and their achievements.

And if Khanna was an ordinary woman, her comment would have elicited a yawn. But because of her stature, her comment rankled his followers.

I see this incident as a "teachable moment" to caution journalists and columnists about posting opinions on social media...

While Twitter overwhelmingly supported Khanna, I would urge everyone to think about the rights and freedoms we all have.

I see this incident as a "teachable moment" to caution journalists and columnists about posting opinions on social media.

Before you put your personal thoughts anywhere, know your market and understand your readers. India, please remember, is a regressive country which is thin-skinned and a single sentence could spark a controversy or trigger a riot.

It's a country run by corrupt politicians and flawed religious leaders. They know that, which is why they try to suppress the intelligent liberals who want to point out these facts. They intimidate and they force these strong people to shut up. You seriously think they can take a joke?

We have to be very extra-careful in reporting on them. Slander, libel, defamation and causing someone "mental distress" could be the end of your career.

Remember that Khanna is an extremely wealthy woman with access to expensive lawyers. Should she ever be served with a notice, she will be able to get the best legal help but if you are a freelancer, you are on your own.

If you are ever the writer of a piece and you have to apologize publicly, it means you were defeated and your opponent emerged the victor.

In fact, with freedom comes responsibility and accountability. The more power your readers grant you, the more evolved, the more politically correct and more fact-based your writing should be.

Had Khanna written a column and stated that she disagreed with Sri Sri's views on the Nobel Prize and made an impassioned case for Malala, this story would have ended very differently.

I respect her right to say what she wants to, but had she had done so in a professional manner, she would have been golden. With her extremely powerful public platform, she had an opportunity to do a hard-hitting piece on Malala and why it is so wrong for a "holy man" to go after a young teen.

She could have brought readers to tears, she could have made people think and, maybe, it would have made Sri Sri apologize. Instead, she was the one who had to apologize.

If you are ever the writer of a piece and you have to apologize publicly, it means you were defeated and your opponent emerged the victor. Don't ever let that happen. In your articles or on Twitter.

Once you say something, you should stand your ground. Do not back down.

Learn from this debacle. If you want to attack someone, do it with a column you have written or use a quote from someone else's. Do not rant and rave. Report with facts.

The pen is mightier than the sword, use it wisely and strategically.

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