"If you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect," American author Mark Twain famously said. Since May 2014, when Modi swept India with a wave - or a catastrophic storm as some of us would call it - a good number of journalists have asked their readers, viewers and Twitter followers to "pause and reflect" on the intolerance seeping into the public discourse and our daily lives.
As more than a hundred of us marched in solidarity for the "right to report", calling Sanghi mobs to "flex intellect, not muscles" and asserting that "the press is not your punching bag", it made me wonder why it took a grievous assault on journalists inside a Delhi court for us to protest for the right to report dissent or its consequences.
The Left, Right and Centre have now put aside ideological affiliations and newsroom debates to protect our basic rights.
But why does this long walk to protect the freedom of speech come only when a Centre-controlled police force silently watches us run for cover from lumpen mobs who freely abuse us inside the temple of justice?
Things come to such a pass when the fourth pillar of the democracy we so often defend survives on shaky ground - of a selective outrage that speaks truth to power only when "the worst" is in power. It is little surprise that the last time the press showed such grit against the government was in 1975 - WhatsApp groups and Facebook forwards didn't help mobilise protests - when the country was battling a similar Emergency under the Congress government.
In four decades of modern India, haven't enough journalists been threatened, assaulted and even burnt alive for a protest to reach the gates of Supreme Court? Only last week, Malini Subramaniam, a writer for Scroll.in, was attacked in her own home in Chhattisgarh, and a few months ago, freelance journalist Jagendra Singh was reportedly burnt alive in Uttar Pradesh for an expose about a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government. Where were our protests then and why do we have a threshold?
Are the UP and Chhattisgarh governments less culpable because the states have built a reputation for violence and barbarity, or because these journalists' freedom was not violated inside a court in India's capital?
Surely, the freedom of press is not guaranteed to the Delhi journalist alone or one assaulted under the Modi government's watch. The attacks at Patiala House should, at long last, give us the impetus to probe why we fail, as media, to see ourselves critically in the mirror we show to the society.
As we submit memos to the Supreme Court to act against the lawyers who shot the messenger, it is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that we cannot choose to guard our freedoms against a fascist sarkar and let every other government get away with murder.