If you would take a man's life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.” ― George R.R. Martin. Likewise, the very fact that we have un censored freedom of speech in India, it comes with a responsibility and duty not to abuse that freedom by being hateful or offensive.
Freedom of speech though delivers increased diversity, it should not be construed as tolerance. As we watch the JNU fiasco in disenchant as to the actions of our youth generation is indeed shocking. I do not write this blog because of my love of journalism or my love of political satire but purely because of my love for my country. The JNU controversy is probably the attack on perhaps one of the most important human rights democracy ever founded, built and sustained upon - freedom of speech and expression, Liberty.
Laws strive to maintain peace and safety in the society. Laws are necessary as they provide resolutions of disputes, for the promotion of common good and moral habituation. Thus, The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all its citizens but with exceptions, viz, Indian Penal Code which has several clauses that make it contingent upon the person “expressing” himself or herself not to hurt sentiments or cause public discord such as Section 153A which deals with words, spoken or written, or representations that promote disharmony and feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between groups. Section 292, which makes obscene publications (book, paper, pamphlet, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any object) an offence. Section 295A criminalizes “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings, including words, signs, visible representations and Section 298 which penalizes the “utterance of words” that might hurt the religious feelings of any person.
Further, with the world getting progressively more linked through the web and India on the brink of digital revolution, we are in a dire need of clear cyber security laws and cyber management policies without causing danger to free speech and without the government intervening by banning or curbing the use of social media, that is, maintaining an equilibrium between arresting for merely expressing opposition by liking or commenting on a Facebook post and an actual act of sedition. Today, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become everyday places to hangout, the threat of mass rage or retort increases manifold but the subsequent responsibility of using these platforms is still budding.
Freedom is a huge requirement of every human being and with freedom comes a sense of responsibility and respect. As a citizen of a free country, I like many millions of others feel deeply affected. This blog also does not take an opinion on any political identity of a group responsible for events, rather it looks at the discussion detailing freedom of speech and liberty. Free speech is an important component for the development of the nation and it is up to people how they use or abuse it. As much as free speech is enjoyed in our Nation, it needs to be respected and upheld.