Lately an anti-superstition social activist named Narendra Dabholkar was killed in the city of Pune in India by unidentified gunmen while taking a morning walk. He was a rationalist, and campaigned against superstition, mysticism, spirituality, black magic, human and animal sacrifice, and fraudulent and exploitative religious/spiritual practices in the state of Maharashtra where he hailed from, and he was also a notable critic of India’s so-called “godmen” (so-called gurus and babas and self-styled ascetics who claimed to perform miracles and were revered by many). His death has been causing much grief, anger, and outrage among people in India; students marched in protest against the killing, and even local businesses closed in order to protest. This led to the Maharashtra state quickly introducing a ban on black magic in response to the outrage. But am I the only one who thinks the idea of a ban is ridiculous?
Think about this for a moment. The bill is being instituted to ban rituals, superstition, and black magic. How the hell do you expect to enforce that? The government in Maharashtra has basically rushed through emergency legislation, and according to local media reports, this is supposed to make it an offence to exploit people by offering rituals, charms and magical cures, and to practice black magic. You just can’t enforce it, because you can’t tell if any of it is real or made-up. There’s no way you can enforce a ban on any kind of magic or superstition. The only thing you can enforce is a ban on human and animal sacrifice, because at least there would be bodies to find and thus suspects.
And you know the Maharashtra government just rushed the bill in right after Dabholkar’s death and the surrounding outrage, so it just seems like the government is simply pandering to outrage.
It’s not like I don’t respect the idea of protecting people from the harm some superstition can do, but trying to solve these problems using legislation is not a good idea.