More Assaults On the Freedom Of Speech

And this latest assault comes from two of our own kind in the Indian Blogdom and not from establishment figures like Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose et al who bemoan that the “irresponsible” masses are speaking their mind bypassing their propoganda machinery editorial process. Or I &B Minister Priyaranjan Dasmushi who considers himself the sole “moral” authority in what is to be broadcast or not by the TV channels. Or the Shivsena which routinely takes to the streets seeking ban on this or that.

The said two bloggers both went ballistic in the same week because they came across points of view opposite to their own which they found “offensive”.

One of them even sought a ban on what he considered as a “hate website”.The other questioned the motives of a prominent Indian News portal for giving people whom he considered as “hate mongers” and “fascists” a platform to express their opinion.

They both tried to justify their stand by using the same tired old vacuous argument used by many establishment crusaders all over the world to stifle dissent, that the Freedom of Speech should come with some kind of “responsibility”.

But the paradox is who gets to define what is responsible and what is not? Who gets to define what is hate speech and what is not? Since everyone carries his or her own prejudices, opinions and points of view. Everyone is therefore at sometime or the other going to ‘feel’ offended by something or someone.

None of us are therefore qualified to sit in the judgement of Others. Which is why the founding fathers of the US constitution who must surely be one of the wisest bunch of thinkers and visionaries ever assembled in one room for a common purpose put in provisions to constitutionally protect all kinds of Speech including ones that would be considered as hate speech.Even organisations that are obvious hate groups have the right to this constitutional protection.

Why did they do so? Especially when what passed for political debate in their own time was largely verbal and physical assaults, namecalling and worse. The reason is that they understood perfectly the concept of the slippery slope. Once one starts down a path there is no telling where things would end up. They knew that the first step towards tyranny is silencing dissent. And very often the would be tyrants would test the waters by seeking to ban what they claim as “hate speech” and imprisoning “hate mongers” and “fascists”. Thereafter it won’t be long before they start “finding” “hate speech” and “hate mongers” everywhere.Even among those who cheered them on or remained silent when they were taking down the so called “fascists”.

Alas! our own founding fathers were not as wise. As soon as the constitution was adopted with the guarantee to the right of freedom of speech many ifs and buts got inserted to control it. Many old colonial era laws also continued to hang onto the statute books. And to this day every two bit politician with an agenda and some hired thugs can go on the streets create a ruckus and unfortunately very often get his way. Books, movies, plays and TV channels get banned because they “offend” someone or the other or are accused of spreading hate among communities or being too steamy. The right to Information act passed after much struggle is sought to be diluted.

It is disheartening to see fellow bloggers go down the same path followed by the likes of mainstream media talking heads and politicians. They need to realise that if they condone midnight knocks for someone else just because they have a difference of Opinion with them and consider them as “fascists”. It won’t be long before that midnight knock comes around to their own doorstep after having finished with the others.

Once that “hate website” is pulled down the next target could well be your own “holier than thou website”. Once rediff is silenced it could be your chance next. That is the concept of the Slippery slope.And one is well advised to not go down that lane.


Filed under Freedom of Speech & Information, Opinion

9 responses to “More Assaults On the Freedom Of Speech

  1. Great post…completely agree

  2. First of all, I totally agree with the substance of your post. Secondly, Chacko’s post on Mutiny is indeed very childish.

    But I don’t think that you can club Sharique’s post with the one by Chacko. Getting “offended” and asking someone to be “responsible” is a far cry from threatening legal action and seems well within Sharique’s own right to freedom of expression. He isn’t asking for the article to be taken down.

    Lastly, could you please disable the snap preview? 🙂

  3. Well I never supported a ban on Rediff.

    It just that you cannot compare India and US for reasons I mentioned as a part of the post. Regarding the freedom of expression, I agree but for that to be implemented Indians have to be more rational and educated. They should be able to digest facts without getting violent. But would they? That article perhaps another reason for few organizations to motivate their workers and get support from the educated class.

  4. @ shantanu- thanks :).

    @vivek- I agree sharique was not in the same league as chacko. He was not calling for a ban on rediff. But was asking it to be “responsible” and not give a platform to whom he considered as “fascists” and “hate mongers”. and that is where we hit the paradox of who gets to define “responsibility” and who gets to label someone as “hate monger”.

    abt the snap preview, yes even i was thinking of disabling it :).

    @sharique – yes, you never sought a ban on rediff. but u asked it to be “responsible” perhaps because you fear that Indian people will not be responsible on their own and can’t be trusted with all that information. That is how the powers that be like PR dasmunshi gets away with banning TV channels and Shivsena gets away with what they get away with all the time.By saying that they are doing moral policing on the people’s behalf.

  5. RS

    Yes you are right . We shouldn’t ban anything on the net. If it were not for the net we wouldnt have known the little secrets of rapists like Rahul Gandhi, fascists like Golwalkar, Savarkar etc.

  6. I agree with you.

    You may have seen the exchange of my comments with the author at the ‘mutiny’.

    I eventually left realising there was no point discussing basic human rights with someone
    who wanted to define it to suit his own convenience.

  7. Yes i did see it. U brought up some real good points there though.

  8. I am overawed by the size of this blogsite
    and the sheer number of topics.

    I really feel ‘little’ in comparison,
    but I do love my (our) India, with a passion.

    I am new to blogging,
    I still read a lot more than I write;
    you may find me often visiting here.

  9. thank u :). well this blog has grown this big over the last one year. nearly 224 posts till now.

    you may find me often visiting here.

    You are always welcome :).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s