Freedom of Expression, A Paradox


Social sense, a sense of community defines the basic tenet of the well-being of a community and a population. It is this sense of realization of the presence of another person, though, usually only in thought rather than the material presence, that  brings a sort of togetherness in a society. And that is the reason we as children in the schools are necessarily enrolled for Social Sciences subject to make us understand the priorities of a society for its felicity and functioning. This subject of behavior with other humans deals in depth with our day to day connections with the rest of the humans in our society in particular, and the entire mankind in general. Hence, the social sense is supposed to make us aware of the sentiments and sensibilities of a population. When we understand our responsibilities of being socially sensed and charactered we are supposed to behave and act responsibly keeping in mind the sensitivities and beliefs of other people. This social awareness makes people tolerant towards others and at the same time inculcates into us the realization of acting such that it does not hurt the feelings or sentiments of others in the population and thus acts as kinaesthetic sensory perceptions for the alleviation of different parts of a society, a prosperous and convivial society, with a feeling of brotherhood and chumminess.

In the present world with easy access to internet and a reach far beyond boundaries and borders, we sometimes tend to ignore the lessons of social sense, and sometimes out of acerbity act in a way that violates the basic paradigm of the social stability, culminating into  widespread truculence and incendiary leading to fissures and divide into the population we are a part of and often hiding behind the armament of “Freedom of Expression”. Take for instance the recent incidents like “a movie denigrating the Prophet of Islam (S.A.W.) leading to protests worldwide and even the death of a diplomat or a movie named Vishwaroopam by Kamal Hassan, which saw the angers flaring in Southern India as Muslims protested against certain derogatory comments against Islam in the movie, or the Danish cartoon works”. In all of these incidents the liberals have come in apt support of the “lets for some time call them-offenders” with the shield of freedom of expression fluttering in newspapers and on internet servers . Apart from protests and inferno as its immediate effects such incidents as part of their delayed effects have caused a communal divide and a sense of bullying, Muslims or rather Islam often at the receiving end. This hence has lead to further the conflict of ideologies that divides Muslim world with rest often transcending into violence.

Now my point of view is not against the freedom of expression but its ambiguous application. For example, a man in UK was arrested for posting a derogatory comment about the British soldiers killed in Afghanistan(who believed that British soldiers killed in Afghanistan should go to hell as they invaded a sovereign country), another was arrested for posting a picture that depicted a burning paper poppy (considered a symbol of  honor and remembrance of dead in war) and like wise some other cases. However, the liberal media and liberals this time did not consider the fact that even such people have their own right to say or express what they perceive of a particular situation, and hence are entitled to their “Freedom of Expression”, and there was no debate on the arrests of these people. Hence, freedom of expression does not suffice explicitly in the world and that it pops up usually when the Muslims are offended. Having said that, it seems to me that offending Islam which of course antagonizes Muslims serves different purposes and prodigiously shoots the offender to fame or his business (in case of Vishwaroopam) and thus serves as a newly found marketing tactic.

However, all of such reprobate actions or actions-out-of bad Judgement calcitrate the concept of responsible society and citizenry. And, those lessons of oratory or behavior that our elders would teach us-“to be good to people, not to talk incessant to people etc.” would loose to the concept of Freedom of Expression and hence the concept of “being good mannered” will fail at the behest of total Freedom of Expression. Now, the question is, how would the society survive then? And the answer lies in judgmental use of  our rights and at the same time upholding and recognizing those of others. Hence, it is this self restrain imposed by adjudication and the sense of distinction between right and wrong that will let the societal norms prevail, or else, a person or a population takes dig at other and the other retaliates with the same (each exercising their right to expression) and the world becomes a bad place to live in.

Published by Kashmir Reader on March 27, 2013


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Researcher in Chromatin Biology. Science/Politics. Words for @ForeignPolicy @etribune @GreaterKashmir

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