Freedom of Speech

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I am strong supporter of the ‘freedom of speech’ especially because in India we grow up without that freedom. You grow up with people telling you what you should speak, when and to who by parents, elders, teachers, friends and everyone. And if you are a woman, pretend to have no views till you are financially independent. But I won’t give this the feminism angle.

But this is why I support freedom of speech. And there are is no “but” after that. Because every conflict has 2 sides of the story and everyone can never be on the same side. In fact, if everyone is on the same side, someone in the group is lying.

We all know what happened at JNU. Or atleast we know versions of it. Everyone has a view and they read or share articles supporting that view. It is impossible to debate on facts in such a scenario. When people have already made up their mind, there is no scope to discuss and convince. The good part is I now know who have brains and who don’t. And I can differentiate between open minded and close minded people. Sure, my personal equation with people won’t change if they have opposing and narrow minded views. But I have new found respect for people I don’t know very well.

I just want to mention a few things:

  • JNU is not 1 person. It is made up of 100s of students who have different view points. People who gathered for the protest march last week are a very small group of people. So, asking why JNU didn’t protest this cause or that cause just shows how dumb you are. They have protested and raised voices for many things but you don’t know that. Because you debate on social media without researching or reading anything. I mean, I would be deeply offended if you judged me by the intellectual capacity and narrow mindedness of my batchmates in B school. I would not want to be clubbed among them.
  • There are groups of people who consider Afzal Guru to be a martyr. There is a political party which considers him to be a martyr. Just the same way as RSS celebrates Nathuram Godse as a hero. Different view points, remember? It isn’t a crime. This is a fact. Live with it.
  • The army is offended for some reason. Now, if I followed the logic of insane people I would ask the army why they didn’t protest against crimes by their colleagues in the Kashmir valley? But I won’t ask them that because am a sane and logical person. Everyone can’t protest over everything and anything every single time. We also need to earn roti, kapda and makaan.
  • When scum of the earth like Sadhvi Pragya spew hatred, my first thought isn’t “Jail them” instead it is “Can the ruling party which is associated with these fuckers get them to shut up because this will hurt them during elections?” Freedom of speech, remember. One half of the country with one kind of views cannot have this freedom while the rest have to fight in the courts for them. It doesn’t work that way.
  • If you think rights change basis the context it is being discussed, then you are biased and should either exit the conversation or mention upfront about the bias so the rest of the group can exit the conversation.
  • Pride in the country is not about flags and anthems. I refuse to touch anyone’s feet, that does not mean I don’t respect certain people. That is the problem with India and Indians, symbolic gestures are very important to us. I feel pride in USA when I see a movie like Spotlight where they can take on the religion with the largest following when it does something wrong. I would feel pride if students of JNU and every other college had the right to discuss, debate and speak what they think is right without fear. I will feel pride when India will let the Kashmiris pick which country they want to align with because we are a democracy and it doesn’t suit us to withhold fundamental rights in the state. Don’t make me stand up for national anthems at a movie. That is just so stupid.
  • If you think colleges are for grades and research only, you were probably a virgin when you got married to a girl picked by your parents. College is the institution which influences your thinking and develops you as a person. It is that place where you explore, debate, think without any financial pressures and hopefully, academic pressures.

One last thing – being a bystander and not standing up or supporting what you think is right is not equal to standing up for what’s right. Because you choose not to speak up when you see a wrong being done makes you an asshole.

You should read Swara Bhaskar’s open letter on the JNU row here. Even a bumpkin should be able to understand the whole issue now.


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