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Friday, 1 July 2016

Offending the freedom of speech offenders

Like beauty, misuse also lies in the eye of the beholder. A thing that might be offensive to one might not be offensive to the others. A classic example of the above statement is the most recent Tanmay Bhatt case where he swapped his face with Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar on Snapchat. I have grown up listening to my parents chanting Sachin’s name during a match and my grandfather listening to Lata Mangeshkar songs. I love them both and so does Tanmay, as he had mentioned. But he was still brought under the spotlight for making people laugh by cussing because famous people automatically become funnier when they do something out of character.

There has been another case in 2005, where an Indian movie actress, Khushboo was charged with 22 counts of obscenity because she had stated in an interview that there was nothing wrong in women having premarital sex “provided safety measures are followed to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases”. There were huge mass protests in Tamil Nadu and temples built in her honour, were needless to say, destroyed.

So when I see news articles that say how freedom of speech is being exploited, I strongly disagree, but I don’t file an FIR because the person who has written that article is free to do so and freedom can’t be exploited. Freedom is something that can’t be exploited because it is freedom, not a clause with terms and conditions. The entire concept of ‘Freedom of Speech’ is fundamentally on the idea that you can express anything you want in public. There will obviously be people who will strongly disagree with you but no one can stop you from articulating what you feel.

If one encourages not hanging a terrorist, he gets criticized as an activist fed on foreign funds. If one debates for the hanging, the 'activists' do not hesitate in slamming him as a bloodthirsty traditionalist. So this basically concludes how people will always have something to oppose to your statement, no matter how reasonable your statement is or how their statement shows the one-digit difference in their IQ and room temperature.

Contrary to popular belief, freedom doesn’t have a moral value. Freedom itself implies choosing between the good and the bad. Just because you get offended by something doesn’t mean it should immediately be censored out. The fundamental right to freedom of speech is bound to be twisted into an unpleasant thing. I can’t name one instance where people haven’t made the most pleasant thing unpleasant.

There are many instances like extremists debating for separation of a state which has made our political and social situation more difficult, but labelling those occurrences ‘misuse’ or ‘abuse’ implies curbing the right to freedom of speech which defies the purpose of freedom of speech.

Though I do not disagree with the fact that our thought process shouldn’t be ignored while delving too deep into the right of freedom of speech. We should think twice before we express our views. Stupid things that people put on the internet will mostly not be taken to the heart but will definitely be made fun of.


Written by Durva Bhatt
A bibliophile who is fuelled entirely by caffeine, sarcasm, fandoms and random thoughts.


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