news Tuesday, January 06, 2015 - 05:30
Siddharth Mohan Nair | The News Minute | January 6, 2015 | 9.05 AM IST Sunday’s Kiss against Fascism event in Alapuzha, Kerala where the organizers invited people to come and kiss in public showing their resentment against fascism hardly had any takers. This was the fourth such event where kissing was adopted as a means of showing protest in the state in a span of just two months. The poor turnout and the reduced media coverage on the issue raise a serious question: Has Kiss of Love (KoL) as a protest lost its novelty and curiosity factor? It was on November 2, in Kochi Marine Drive that the first KoL was decided to be hosted. It was the attack on a restaurant in Kozhikode by the members of Yuva Morcha alleging that the place was becoming a ground for illegal and immoral activities that led to the declaration of this protest. The published aim of the event was that it was a show of protest against moral policing. It demanded that people had freedom to express love in any means they wished to, and that for a person or a group to take exception to it and take to physical abuse was incorrect. Following the announcement there was a wide debate in the society about the event. It did bring the issue of moral policing to the fore. People, including politicians, started talking about it. Though there was a clear unanimity among large sections of the people that moral policing was wrong and that it should not be allowed to thrive, there was a debate with equal intensity discussing the correctness and consequences of a call for public kissing as a means to register protest against moral policing. As the debate proceeded, the crux of it changed; people forgot moral policing, what remained in the debate was only kissing. There were people justifying kissing, there were people questioning it. Ultimately on November 2 what happened sparked another debate. All fringe right wing organizations united in their opposition against the organizers of the protest. There were people under the banner of such organizations whose names were never even heard before in Kerala. The number of people who were protesting against the event turned out to be more than those who were protesting against moral policing. A situation of commotion ensued. The state police had no other go but to arrest those who were the causal factor for breaking law and order – in this case it sadly turned out to be the Kiss of Love organizers and participants. Those fringe elements who had avowed to not let the event happen had their way. The event organizers were detained by the police even before they could reach the beach, the place where the protest was to take place. The debate that ensued did not have moral policing as its theme, but the action of the police to arrest the organizers of Kiss of Love rather than the ones who had come there to ensure that a peaceful protest would not take place. The core of the issue - moral policing - found no place in the debate. The event organizers, however, would not retreat. They came out with the same public kissing under different names of protest in different places in the state. Kiss of Love became Kiss on Street and later Kiss against Fascism. Everywhere the same drama ensued. The event organizers were not even allowed to carry out their protest. The fringe elements would reach the venue; the police would detain the event organizers and also a few others who had come to stop the event from happening. After Sunday’s event in Alapuzha, the debate has all together changed. It is not moral policing; it is not the correctness of such an event. The debate has begun to revolve around the point that public kissing, though in different names, has become redundant. The organizers expected 500 people to join them in the beach but hardly 50 turned up. One would naturally ask if it was not pointing towards a disinterest among the people. People have started questioning whether public kissing alone is a way of protest against the issues the event organizers raise. Further, people have also begun accusing the organizers of having given strength to the right wing extremist organizations, more so at a time when an environment for their growth seems to be conducive. Kiss of Love was a protest that churned a debate in Kerala like no other protest in the recent past. It managed to make the debate shrill, but ended up polarising large sections. Is it perhaps time to have a re-look and reinvent? This time perhaps, with a protest that would win support, even from the moderates. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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