A Burden That the Ass Does Not Deserve
The Ass has always got a raw deal. Except for a tendency for its natural vocal articulation to sound a bit like the mindless laughter of a drunkard, it offers no ready reason to be labelled as being mentally deficient. Yet, it has always been dragged into arguments it could probably have no stake in. The law is an ass — that phrase goes back to at least 1838, when Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist and Mr Bumble in the novel utters these words, albeit without care about the appropriate article to precede a vowel. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s opponents have paraded asses wearing signs that identify themselves as Nitish Kumar, to register their protest at alleged malpractice in the conduct of academic examinations. And now Akhilesh Yadav has dragged these four-legged frolickers into an unseemly political controversy, drawing on a Gujarat Tourism promotional video featuring a herd of galloping wild asses of the Rann of Kutch. The Gujarat model has been so assiduously popularised that anything to do with Gujarat is automatically associated with its three-term chief minister and current prime minister. The very Ass-ociation sought to be evoked by Akhilesh relies on theories of cognition that call for an IQ that no ass would disdain. Animal testing is a strict no-no in cosmetics, these days. That should be the case in politics, too.