Banning books and films in societies that claim to be liberal is a disgrace. Period. A day before its release, Aarakshan—a film that deals with the subject of affirmative action in India—has been banned, temporarily or otherwise, by three states. More states may follow their lead. This may even boost the film’s viewership, for there is such a thing as the controversy coefficient when it comes to these matters.
But beyond such cynical arguments there is a bigger question: can banning a book or a film hide issues they raise? The ban has been imposed as it allegedly “hurts the sentiments” of some groups. This is not a good reason for a ban. In almost every aspect of any human situation, someone or the other can find something offensive. That way creative activity of every kind can be dubbed offensive. This amounts to putting a lid on issues and not resolving them.