In my view, freedom of speech is a non-negotiable right that free people have. It is a natural right, not a right that is artificially conjured. Human dignity is lost when the right to express what you think is restricted. I regret the fact that Indians don’t have genuine freedom of speech. Here’s a piece I wrote for the June issue of India Currents. Excerpt:
Publishing anything that the government is likely to take serious offense to is akin to publishing an invitation to officialdom to please come and shut down the business on some pretext or the other; and also to audit the accounts; and to get an income tax raid done on your home immediately; and file a few cases against your business which the courts will take decades to settle.
For the record, I reproduce the full piece below.
“If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.” –George Washington
The importance of the freedom of speech is underestimated by most people.
George Washington stressed the instrumental role of the freedom of speech — as a defense against oppression. But freedom of speech, like the right to be left alone, is also something of value in and of itself, even if there was no possibility of being oppressed.
I wrote this piece for India Current (June 2016 issue). I reproduce it here, for the record. Continue reading
Free speech has always been under attack. Throughout history, there have always been people who claim to know the truth and to possess the right to silence others who hold contrary views. So also throughout history, there have been defenders of free speech. The great English political theorist and moral philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a formidable force in defending the freedom of speech. He devoted the second chapter of his book “On Liberty” (1859) on the topic of the freedom of thought and expression. Here’s a brief excerpt from it.
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost invariably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And if he is not romantic personally, he is apt to spread discontent among those who are. ― HL Mencken
And usually these troublemakers are the ones who need to be muzzled through suppression of speech and expression.
Pat Condell is a hero in the true sense of the word — a warrior known for his exceptional courage and bravery. But you would not have heroes if there were no cowards. He is a heroic defender of human freedom and therefore the cowardly attacks on him. He is being censored. Vimeo took his videos down. Now YouTube has done that to some of his videos.
However, the internet is what it is because of its distributed nature. The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it, as John Gilmore put it. So here is the incomparable Pat on dotsub.com thanking the anonymous cowards who are afraid of what Pat has to say and what they don’t want you to hear.
Here we go again. The UPA government of India wants to dictate once more what people should know and what information is OK for people to handle. It routinely blocks websites, prohibits or limits the use of mobile text messages, and is now threatening to block twitter altogether. The government’s repression of the people is an old habit and it should not evoke any surprise or comment. Yet the fight for freedom of speech and expression is too important to life and liberty that one should not give up merely because one has been on a losing streak for centuries. We, the people, have to win that battle if we have to win the war for freedom.
Frederick Douglass (d. 1895), the renowned American abolitionist wrote, “Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them . . . The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” I used that quote in my book, Transforming India, (click for a free download). Indians will submit to a lot, and have done so for centuries. The current oppressors are “democratically” elected. Allow me to quote from the book: