It’s infuriating not knowing things. I understand that this has begun to become a recurring theme in my blogposts, but this is literally keeping me awake on a Friday night.
I’m not proud to admit it or anything, but I didn’t have an opinion on a lot of things before I came to Law school. As a 12th Grader, I always thought I knew what big words like feminism or feminist theory meant, and I thought I understood nihilism and cultural relativism – essentially abstract concepts, really well. Merely because I was able to slip these words into conversation with individuals who had a similarly flawed understanding of these phrases, and therefore fed into the comfortable cycle my brain got accustomed to: “Yeah, you got this”.
As an MUNer, I thought I understood the canons of pre-emptive self defense and armed attack, and also had a belief that I was quite well-read on the Middle East. In hindsight, I now realize that a lot of my views were based on relativism, contained perhaps a little more nuanced knowledge than the average person, and fed off of popular opinions on Facebook.
When an Indian lady was denied abortion in Ireland, I thought, “Hey, that’s incorrect”, especially considering she passed away, but, my brain never stepped up further beyond that – to look at a bigger picture regarding the abortion debate. I supported sentiment my friends carried. But that was it.
I’ve never been one to use social media to express opinion-based sentiment, nor am I a terribly outspoken/activist kind of individual, which also enabled me to cop out of conversations and discussions pretty easily – a small statement in support or against a particular view, and I was done.
Today, the Supreme Court passed a verdict on the Nirbhaya case, confirming the death sentence for all 4 individuals who were accused and convicted by the Sessions Court & the High Court.
This sparked a lot of sentiment in my head. Principally because I could recount that I was a 9th Grader when the incident took place, and I’m now at the end of my 2nd year of law school – marking nearly 5 years since that cold night in Delhi. This raised questions of delayed justice for me.
But beyond that, I realized how little I knew about the death penalty: that, after studying courses on the Indian Penal Code/Criminal Procedure Code/Constitutional Law-I & II. I realized how futile my second year had been in terms of introducing me to the concept of the death penalty, though 3 subjects of the 4 I mentioned above had massive scope to do so. The post regarding the education system is a different one, but it made me question what I felt about the death penalty.
So, naturally, I logged on to Twitter. Found out what popular sentiment was. Read through the tweets trending on #Nirbhaya.
Then I downloaded the judgment and read through it. It kept me hooked, right till the end.
But I wasn’t convinced. I had hoped to gain a little more insight on my views regarding the death penalty by reading through the case, but it didn’t really help me. So I read some more.
And some more.
Until 2AM in the morning, when I remembered I had an exam to study for.
The point is, I still have no opinion on the death penalty. I know the argument for – slightly, and the argument against – again, slightly, but I haven’t firmed up which side of the table I’d prefer dining with.
This would have been okay, in 2012, for me. As a 9th Grader, I don’t think I would have cared as much. But I think it’s despicable now, and I hate myself for not spending more time thinking about this issue.
So there, I’ll admit it. If there’s a debate on the death penalty, I’m likely to sit in a room filled with intellectual individuals in silence, as they debate.
This is very annoying, and my list of summer reads has expanded by a couple of Indian and American judgments, in addition to a book by Albert Camus.
Should you have any recommendations to solve this information gap that exists in my brain: between society sentiment and my own worldview, kindly help. My conscience and my soul will be eternally grateful.
On that note, I should go study.