"Freedom of thought and expression are impossible without the right to offend," said the British Indian writer Salman Rushdie, who had himself faced a lot of opposition as he tried to exercise his right by writing a fictional work The Satanic Verses. The book which was published in the year 1988 irked the then Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa on Rushdie, which forced him to go into hiding for more than 10 years, the account of which he has chronicled in his autobiographical book Joseph Anton: A Memoir.
I needed to bring the above dispute so as to provide a context for the recent controversy that has been storming the social network sites, pre-dominantly Twitter: Virat Kohli and his statements that deny freedom of expression to an Indian. The story goes as follows: While launching an app based on him, Virat Kohli interacted with his fans on a live session, which saw him reply to one particular comment which in Kohli's perspective was demeaning of his country - 'India,' by telling him move to another country if he does not like "these Indians."
The "liberal minded" Twitterati apparently could not digest this and have started to comment on his insensitivity towards the freedom of speech by being insensitive to his freedom of speech. Don't worry if this above statement confuses you, I'm confused as well and fortunately, we have a word for that: PARADOX.
This paradoxical nature of the right to speech has what drove me to write this blog as it is something that is seldom acknowledged and almost never broadly discussed about. I definitely see a pressing need to open discourse on the same and assess what we think is ethical and what is not. Where do we draw the line? And why? As far I could observe, I believe that we do that to accommodate our personal beliefs, and along the way disregard the objective nature of the right of speech.
Could the self-claimed democracies with restricted notions of the freedom of thought and expression be blamed for this situation or should we accept it as one of the many flaws of the human societies?
- Open Face Team
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