The Butterfree Effect: How Pokémon Go is hurting 'religious sentiments' of Indians

On Wednesday, a PIL was filed in the Gujarat High Court against developers of the location-based augmented reality game Pokémon Go, alleging it hurts religious sentiments of certain communities by showing eggs in places of worship.

The petitioner — Alay Anil Dave — has said eggs are considered as non-vegetarian food, and it is blasphemous to carry non-vegetarian food inside a place of worship of Hindus and Jains.

Now maybe Dave must have undergone some really traumatic experience to be able to gather the courage to file this PIL. The image of an egg in a temple could have questioned his religious identity and the existence of God. The impurity of a virtual egg in a temple must have angered the gods who in turn must have asked Dave to go to the court of law and file a suit against the makers of the highly popular game. Or he must have definitely pre-empted the end of the world by the sight of an egg.

How could he have done that? But of course, through the Butterfree Effect (that bares no resemblance to the butterfly effect. Honest). Here is a look at what must have probably been Dave's thought process when he saw the image of an egg in the temple.

The Butterfree Effect

 The Butterfree Effect: How Pokémon Go is hurting religious sentiments of Indians

How will this PIL affect the makers of Pokémon Go?

It won't affect them. At all.

John Hanke (the mastermind behind Pokémon Go) must probably be sitting in his fancy office staring at his computer screen, reading this news alert, hurt by the foolishness of the PIL.

If we approach the matter logically, the terms and conditions of the game clearly states that the onus is on the user to use his discretion to not hurt the sentiments of the society.

"By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the Services and Content, you will not:

- defame, abuse, harass, harm, stalk, threaten, or otherwise violate the legal rights (including the rights of privacy and publicity) of others;
- upload, post, email, transmit, or otherwise make available any unlawful, inappropriate, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar, offensive, fraudulent, false, misleading, or deceptive Content or message;
- promote or engage in discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, or harassment against any individual or group"

Moreover, what if a person were to indulge in some 'food porn' in the temple and stare up at the picture of a 'barbecue chicken'? Would it then be fair to sue the creators of 'barbecue chicken'?

Recently, PTI reported that the Supreme Court of India quashed criminal proceedings initiated against India's ODI captain MS Dhoni for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by portraying himself as Lord Vishnu on the cover of a business magazine.

pokemon-go-logo_crBengaluru additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) had directed registration of a case against Dhoni under section 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and had also issued summons to the cricketer for him to appear before the court, after which he moved the High Court. Karnataka High Court had refused to stall the criminal proceedings against Dhoni.

The HC order was challenged by Dhoni who found the complain frivolous. According to The Times of India report, commenting on the case, senior advocate Amrendra Sharan had said, "The SC while upholding the constitutional validity of Section 295A laid down that insults to religion offered unwittingly or carelessly or without any deliberate or malicious intention to outrage the religious feelings of that class do not come within the Section and it has to be proved that the person so accused had deliberately and with mala fide intentions outraged the religious feeling."

Now we can't imagine John Hanke sitting in his notorious man cave, scratching his head, looking for innovative ways to insult religious sentiments of the Hindu/Jain community.

So maybe Indian judges would deem this issue frivolous enough to quash it. If they do, then more power to them.

The larger picture of 'religious sentiments'

Dave's logic, while filing the PIL against Niantic (the game developer), was that the game hurts religious sentiments of certain communities by showing eggs in places of worship. Among other things, the image of eggs shown in the augmented reality game appear in places of worship of different religious groups. The petitioner has said eggs are considered as non-vegetarian food, and it is blasphemous to carry non-vegetarian food inside a place of worship of Hindus and Jains.

So following that sentiment, leather products should be banned. Slightly juvenile, but hey, animal cruelty is not encouraged by most religions. Perfumes, which usually use alcohol and animal parts to create fragrance, will have to be banned. Use of cosmetic products like lipsticks would have to be banned for they are made after extensive animal testing. Cow brains and spinal cord are used while making lipstick and hair spray because they are cheaper than plant-based or synthetic ingredients. So let's haul a woman out of the temple for using lipstick, or let's just file a PIL against the creators of lipstick?

Following Dave's flawed logic, the Shani Shingnapur temple trust would be then justified in not allowing women from entering the inner sanctum because it hurts the 'religious sentiments' of some people. But religious sentiments are not as important as a person's basic freedom.

In other instances of outrageous PILs, in July 2016, a PIL was moved in the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain manufacture, supply and sale of 'Godfather' beer in the national capital, saying that it hurt religious sentiments.

The plea by a civic organisation had submitted that "sentiments and emotions" of the public at large of every religion would be affected as the word 'God' is used by everyone to refer to the "almighty power".

"The Godfather (beer) manufacturers are against humanity and the principle of natural justice as they are intentionally harassing and damaging religious emotions," the plea had alleged.

So associating beer with god is practically insulting all the gods who must have clearly hated the effects of alcohol. It hurts religious sentiments, don't you know?

This battle of consumption of animal products/alcohol by people has long been waged and has caused a lot of heart-ache to religious leaders. So at what point should logic take over?

It is difficult enough to sustain life in this hyper-active modern world of ours. We definitely do not need PILs in courts because of egg images in places of worship.

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Updated Date: Sep 07, 2016 18:36:21 IST