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Taking the offensive

I couldn’t believe the news. A gentleman was filing a complaint against a brand of Scotch Whisky called Teacher’s because it was offensive to teachers, writes actor Imran Khan.

entertainment Updated: Dec 13, 2009 18:50 IST
Imran Khan

I couldn’t believe the news. No, I know there’s all kinds of strange and stupid stuff going on in the world, but every so often something really really exceptional happens. Something that causes you to blink twice, then look around to make sure someone isn’t playing a prank on you. And this was one of those times: A gentleman was filing a complaint against a brand of Scotch Whisky called Teacher’s because it was offensive to teachers.

One would expect a group of teachers to spot the apostrophe, denoting that the brand takes its name from a person named Teacher (William Teacher, for those of you who are interested... hey, if you just learned that from me, does that make me a teacher too?), but perhaps they missed that class.

Whether he’d been sampling his merchandise at the time, we shall never know; but either way I still think old William was on solid ground back in 1830 when he decided to name his company after himself. How could he possibly have known that nearly 180 years later a group of teachers unaware of the significance of an apostrophe (that’s still bothering me) would feel hurt and angry by this decision?

Now, we in the movie business are no strangers to outrage and hurt sentiments. There’s always someone offended by something a few days before the release of a big film (the timing is impeccable), and apologies have to be made, free screenings arranged for the aggrieved and their friends and families, and disclaimers inserted into the film. And after that, the problems kind of disappear. If I were a cynic, I’d suggest that all these people were looking for was a bit of publicity. Good thing I’m such an idealist.

Somebody tell me the truth; what’s going on? Are people just looking for a way to get on TV for a while? Or are we actually becoming so self-centered that we interpret something completely innocent as a personal attack? What’s next? I was planning to list out humorous and unlikely things that people would take offense to in the future, but the truth is, I can’t think of anything more humorous and less likely than the things that have already
happened. Teachers upset by the name of a whisky? Barbers upset by the name of a movie? Where am I? You’d be hard pressed to find a more positive and optimistic person than yours truly, but there are days that I despair. Wake me up when this one passes.

write to me at imran.khan@hindustantimes.com