A rather innocuous tweet by actor Hrithik Roshan has apparently annoyed a lot of Catholics. The errant tweet said:
Ther r more chances of me having had an affair with d Pope dan any of d (Im sure wonderful)women d media hs ben naming.Thanks but no thanks.
— Hrithik Roshan (@iHrithik) January 28, 2016
There are many things to be infuriated with in this tweet if you like your spellings whole, but an organisation called the Indian Christian Voice has now accused Roshan of very grievous things. Invoking the frequently misused section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which allows anyone to claim their religious sentiment has been hurt, they say Roshan has insulted Catholics. They want him to apologize unconditionally or face legal consequences.
The only thing evident from the episode is that the organisation's grasp of the English language is tenuous. But more about that in a moment.
One Abraham Mathai, a former vice-chairman of the State Minorities Commission in Maharashtra, said this in a legal notice to Hrithik Roshan, "That despite being aware of the above facts, and besides being no way concerned or connected with the highly respected "Pope Francis" whether with respect to the said subject matter dealing with homosexuality or even otherwise, you have yet through your statement so published on a public platform i.e. twitter on the 28th of January 2016 have malafidely, mischievously and intentionally insulted as well as defiantly ridiculed the Pope, by suggesting that the respected and chaste Pope who is the religious and spiritual head of Roman Catholics all over the world is "available to have an affair with you."
Mr Mathai is accused Roshan of suggesting that the Pope is homosexual. #Abbeyaar.
No matter how you read the tweet, it throws up just one meaning--Roshan is saying that it is impossible that he has had relationships with the women that gossip columns are linking him to. And that the idea of him having had affairs with these women is as absurd as that of him having an affair with the Pope.
This Mr Mathai, means that him having an affair with the Pope is the epitome of impossibility. What is objectionable about that?
To aid your comprehension, here's a biblical reference for a similar sentence construction:
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19:23-26.
Except for the patronising undercurrent when Roshan refers to the said women as 'wonderful', there is nothing else that strikes you as objectionable. And he isn't remotely suggesting that the Pope is gay.
The main fact that Mathai should be cognizant of is that the current Pope has signalled a greater willingness to engage with the LGBT community than anyone in the history of the Catholic church. “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he famously said in 2013. There has been confusion about his stand since then, but in these matters it is better to look at the bright side.
Now, how is Hrithik Roshan, or anybody else for that matter, responsible for religious orders' wish to continue living under a rock and not acknowledge how real humans work? How is it Roshan's fault that Mathai isn't evolved enough to get sarcasm?
Since the notice had been sent in English, perhaps Mr Mathai is familiar with the language. If that is indeed the case, what part of Roshan's tweet suggested that the Pope is available for a homosexual encounter? That makes as much sense as saying that the Manusmriti is a definitive guide to socialism.
Actually, not Roshan, we know who should be really worried about Mathai. Every homophobic sentence of the notice sent to Roshan could give stiff competition to every gem that Baba Ramdev has uttered about homosexuality. The latter may just lose his 'most nonsensical comments on homosexuality ever' trophy to Mr Mathai.
The Facebook page of Mathai's organisation has to say this about its goals: "To safeguard christion's peaceful nature, we need to have our voice in Indian Parliment, and all the State's Assemblies. We need to create our own Political openion to safeguard our rights awarded in our Constitution (sic)."
How about adding, "to not spew hatred against fellow humans" in that list? Or perhaps, "learn English and/or grow a conscience"? Mathai's comments on homosexuality, on behalf of all Roman Catholics like he claims, makes them look like a regressive bunch of zealots.
Mathai ends his notice with the following words, 'Hoping that wiser counsel shall prevail'. Maybe, his lawyer should read it back to his client.
Till then we have a suggestion for ace conspiracy theorist, specialist in time travel to the Dark Ages, Mr Mathai: Have you ever considered writing Hindi TV serial scripts?
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