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Freedom of expressio n – condit ions apply

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  • Salil RK
    http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/01/anil-thakraney-freedom-of-expression-conditions-apply/ Anil Thakraney: Freedom of expression – conditions apply By Anil
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 29, 2012
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      http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/01/anil-thakraney-freedom-of-expression-conditions-apply/

      Anil Thakraney: Freedom of expression – conditions apply

      By Anil Thakraney
       
      I write this piece on Republic Day. And, in the fitness of things, would like to discuss that much used and abused phrase, ‘Freedom of speech’. The only sad thing is that on this occasion the debate has been fired by that rabble-rouser called Salman Rushdie. Wish the trigger had been a nobler soul.
       
      Anyway, let’s first understand Sir Rushdie’s latest antics: I can assure you the colourful author is extremely thrilled with all the free attention he just got at the Jaipur Litfest. And he must be celebrating the drama over some hard stuff. In fact, Vinod Mehta was being quite accurate when he said, during a TV debate, that Rushdie himself ‘inspired’ all the madness involving him.
       
      I have been writing quite edgy columns and stories in the mass press and the trade press for some years now, and I have had my share of dissing and abuse from readers. Not only do I treat negative feedback as par for the course, I encourage it because it helps further dissect an issue. It provokes thought, and in my world view, that’s the whole objective of writing. Sugary puff pieces do not lead to any change (apart from inflicting diabetes) and are therefore a waste of time. Given that ideology, I obviously support and cherish the freedom of speech we enjoy in this country. And yet, I have no time or respect for people like Salman Rushdie and MF Husain. No, they certainly did not deserve violent threats, but it’s equally true that they abused the freedom of speech.
       
      So here’s my own stand on the matter. No, the freedom to express isn’t conditions-less, it carries with it a great deal of responsibility. As writers and artists, while we must provoke thought, we must never hurt people by trashing objects/issues close to their hearts. Trashing and making fun of religion leads to no change at all, it’s simply a mischievous trick to get instant attention. Exactly as a naughty pupil would chuck a piece of chalk at the teacher to get her attention. In all these years of writing, I have taken utmost care not to mock people’s religious beliefs or scoff at their faith. Sure, we can and must discuss religious practices, even debate them, but we must NEVER take ‘creative liberties’ with holy figures. I did not go to a communication school (in fact, I studied microbiology!) but this is like common sense stuff for me.
       
      So let’s get this right: Rushdie had no business making fun of the prophet. And Husain had no business sketching goddesses in the nude. Both gentlemen, both very intelligent beings, knew perfectly well there would be a backlash. They courted trouble, got it, and then paid a price for it. Therefore I have no sympathy for them. Since Husain saab is gone, all we can say is may his soul rest in peace. As for Rushdie, his continued belligerence and irrational support from his fans is quite worrying. This means quite a few literate people still haven’t understood the idea of freedom of expression.
       
      No, it isn’t absolute. In fact, nothing in this world is absolute except for the vodka brand.


       

      Regards

       

      Salil Rameshchandra

       

    • Arun Shrivastava
      I have taken utmost care not to mock people’s religious beliefs or scoff at their faith..................would like to discuss that much used and abused
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 31, 2012
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        " I have taken utmost care not to mock people’s religious beliefs or scoff at their faith..................would like to discuss that much used and abused phrase, ‘Freedom of speech"............freedom to express isn’t conditions-less, it carries with it a great deal of responsibility. As writers and artists, while we must provoke thought, we must never hurt people by trashing objects/issues close to their hearts
         
        Looking for a black cat on a dark night in a dark room, when the cat is not there.
         
        Insanity informs iteself in many ways, too.
         
        Kind regards
        Arun Shrivastava
         
         


         
        On Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 11:29 AM, Salil RK <protekmumbai@...> wrote:
         

        http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/01/anil-thakraney-freedom-of-expression-conditions-apply/

        Anil Thakraney: Freedom of expression – conditions apply

        By Anil Thakraney
         
        I write this piece on Republic Day. And, in the fitness of things, would like to discuss that much used and abused phrase, ‘Freedom of speech’. The only sad thing is that on this occasion the debate has been fired by that rabble-rouser called Salman Rushdie. Wish the trigger had been a nobler soul.
         
        Anyway, let’s first understand Sir Rushdie’s latest antics: I can assure you the colourful author is extremely thrilled with all the free attention he just got at the Jaipur Litfest. And he must be celebrating the drama over some hard stuff. In fact, Vinod Mehta was being quite accurate when he said, during a TV debate, that Rushdie himself ‘inspired’ all the madness involving him.
         
        I have been writing quite edgy columns and stories in the mass press and the trade press for some years now, and I have had my share of dissing and abuse from readers. Not only do I treat negative feedback as par for the course, I encourage it because it helps further dissect an issue. It provokes thought, and in my world view, that’s the whole objective of writing. Sugary puff pieces do not lead to any change (apart from inflicting diabetes) and are therefore a waste of time. Given that ideology, I obviously support and cherish the freedom of speech we enjoy in this country. And yet, I have no time or respect for people like Salman Rushdie and MF Husain. No, they certainly did not deserve violent threats, but it’s equally true that they abused the freedom of speech.
         
        So here’s my own stand on the matter. No, the freedom to express isn’t conditions-less, it carries with it a great deal of responsibility. As writers and artists, while we must provoke thought, we must never hurt people by trashing objects/issues close to their hearts. Trashing and making fun of religion leads to no change at all, it’s simply a mischievous trick to get instant attention. Exactly as a naughty pupil would chuck a piece of chalk at the teacher to get her attention. In all these years of writing, I have taken utmost care not to mock people’s religious beliefs or scoff at their faith. Sure, we can and must discuss religious practices, even debate them, but we must NEVER take ‘creative liberties’ with holy figures. I did not go to a communication school (in fact, I studied microbiology!) but this is like common sense stuff for me.
         
        So let’s get this right: Rushdie had no business making fun of the prophet. And Husain had no business sketching goddesses in the nude. Both gentlemen, both very intelligent beings, knew perfectly well there would be a backlash. They courted trouble, got it, and then paid a price for it. Therefore I have no sympathy for them. Since Husain saab is gone, all we can say is may his soul rest in peace. As for Rushdie, his continued belligerence and irrational support from his fans is quite worrying. This means quite a few literate people still haven’t understood the idea of freedom of expression.
         
        No, it isn’t absolute. In fact, nothing in this world is absolute except for the vodka brand.


         

        Regards

         

        Salil Rameshchandra

         


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