Sunday, February 15, 2015


Freedom of Speech and Expression is overrated.

No, I'm not against it - yes, we have fought very, very hard for this freedom and I am extremely grateful to be living in this country which allows me unrestricted freedom of doing and saying anything and getting away with it.  

There are few things most people on internet have taken for granted.  The fact that you were able to attend school without getting shot at is a good thing.

That you could be a woman and drive on your own at 3 am, with probably a threat of a stray dog running after you, is also a good thing.

You know what else is a good thing? You can make fun of your prime minister *and* get away with it.  

You, as a common man (heh), have the right to form the government.  You have the right to BE the government.  Democracy is a wonderful thing.  Scary and terrifying at times, but wonderful nonetheless.

There have been self styled crusaders of free speech over the internet, who have taken upon themselves to take up the freedom of speech and expression battle.  

Humour is subjective.  Stupidity, however, is not.  It is universal.  You'd expect these crusaders of free speech to be rational too, but that assumption would be one of the gravest mistake.  You see, these are the people who are the newest breed of activists.  Hashtag Activists.  They are full time outragers.

You try reasoning with them, you'd be named a troll.  Or a Sanghi (which I assume has something to do with the RSS, not the feed-wala RSS, the other one) or a right wing nut.  Because questioning their stupidity and countering their lack of logic makes you a right wing troll. 

So, the crusaders one day decide that they have the right to organise shows which have "offensive" jokes.  Now, mind well, the organisers had put up disclaimers that the jokes will be offensive.  Again, as I said, humour is subjective.  

Now a lot of things go here.

Since it was put up on YouTube, you had a choice to not see it.  You exercised your freedom of choice.

The show organisers exercised their freedom of expression, however offensive.

While it could have ended there, it didn't.

Certain section of the demography chose to take an offence to that.

Why take offence when you saw it out of choice? You had a choice to close any time you wanted.  But you saw it and took an offence, your protests are wrong.

See. That's where I get annoyed.

No, their protests are as much legally allowed as your jokes.

See, the same democracy that gives you freedom of speech also gives him freedom of expression, in this case, protest.  (not justifying violence here) but if an individual, decides to be offended, and files a police complaint - why is it wrong? Just because you put across a disclaimer, does not mean no one could take an offence.

So if someone files an FIR and police/court takes its legal course of action, and points it out to you, it doesn't make them a "right wing nut" - in most cases, it makes them rational, logical human being.

If an obscure "religious" organisation decides it will get you married if you're out on Valentine's Day, you do not blame the government.  Best would be to ignore these fools for their stupidity, but if you can't, because you're a self-styled crusader of freedom of speech and you have taken upon yourself to save the humanity from going "right wing crazy", file and FIR, try having faith in the judiciary.  Yes, it sound funny especially with thousands of legal cases stuck for years, but well, I am not sure how writing a fucking listicle will help?

Or going outside their office asking them to get you married because they threatened they will.  No, not funny, but stupid.  You are encouraging more loonies to come out and threaten.

I am all for freedom of speech and expression.

But I thank my stars every single day that I am born in a country like India, where despite all things that are wrong with this country, I am allowed to write this piece and you are allowed to read this.  

The fundamental right which makes it possible for us to sit in the comfort of our home and laugh at the pinstriped suit of the head of the nation or his speaking Star Wars while standing next to Wolverine - it shows that the country is way tolerant than we give it the credit for.  (obviously, HUGE scope of improvement there, but at least we're not Saudi Barbaria, or under the watchful eyes of the beloved Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, right?)

This freedom, is hard earned.  People have died in the past so you can live today to enjoy this freedom.  But using it wisely may not be a bad idea, right?

I know, it is hard, as a professional outrager, to think rationally, but try, maybe?

You are a journalist - despite all the cynicism the media gathers, pen is still powerful than the sword.  Media has the power to make or break governments.  You are the fourth estate.  Pick your battles wisely.

And to end it, to take words from the show you so religiously defended, every time you call yourself a journalist, ISIS beheads a real one.  Make it stop.

PS: No, if I don't like your jokes, find you unfunny, I am not a Modi bhakt, I just have a sense of humour which does not agree with yours. Deal with it. 

No comments: