Freedom of expression should not be used to malign others
Pen can write Budha's Ashtmarg or it can write the death sentence for the medieval mystic for his allegorical statement.
Living organisms have sensation and where there is sensation there must be feeling. Animals express their feelings. For instance a cow kicks a stranger who tries to milk her. Dogs make a ferocious face on strangers. Even in humans, an infant gurgles or cries to express comfort or discomfort. These are meta lingual expressions. The Ramapathic man might have expressed his approval or disapproval by nodding, frowning or pursing his lips. The desire to express is a corollary to the capacity of feeling, thinking and imagination.
Feeling and expression is as spontaneous as breathing and there is nothing like right and wrong about it.
Man is a social animal, they say, he lives in a society. He does not simply express but communicates with the individuals or among the groups so he has to put punctuation marks where his free flow of expression should stumble. It becomes communication and the communication is no more spontaneous but deliberate. Sometimes our feelings are so strong that we suddenly burst into exclamation not caring for audience. But when we have a conscious audience we punctuate our expression and become communicative.
We must be conscious of the fact that communication of the ideas has been basic to the very development of the society and civilization. Exchange of thought is helpful to the growth of an individual’s personality and the society. However, complete freedom of expression has never been entertained given the imperfections of human personality.
We live in the age of information explosion and the mass media is a powerful source of information these days. Print media viz, newspapers, magazines, periodicals are a great source of information.
Fact and fiction are the important parts of a newspaper. Fact is the news about what happens despite the fact that it is coloured according to the bias of the powers, that be, fiddling with the editorial prerogative of the newspapers. The fiction part of a newspaper consists of the views and opinions of the intellectuals. These are subjective in nature.
Press is Carlyl’s forth estate of democracy thus watchdog of three other pillars viz parliament, executive and judiciary. Press plays a role in disseminating the public opinion and a sincere government gets a feedback to its policies and their implementation.
Sometimes our feelings are so strong that we suddenly burst into exclamation not caring for audience. But when we have a conscious audience we punctuate our expression and become communicative.
Media autonomy is not absolute anywhere in the world. Reasonable restrictions are to be followed otherwise it will create a chaos in the world and send shock waves down the society. Expression of feelings does not mean to abuse or malign any person or community. The Jellyn Posten caricatures or Charlie Hebido cartoons were not a fact but an imagination – a hatred carved out of nothing.
Hurting religious sentiments of any group is not what freedom of expression is meant for. They have their own axe to grind. It was founded by the most sincere individuals who questioned the prevailing belief systems of the society they lived in. The founders of different religions did not blow the whislte from the hide out to cause a rabble but they proved their mettle ‘mid the din ‘of the hostile atmosphere. They were not chasing a wild goose but they had something proper and positive to offer and did not indulge in destructive criticism.
Truth, beauty and goodness are absolute values but can be presented in a multitude of facets. But some of the facets give us a sense of security in this world of insecurity and predicament. Whileas others are the scarecrow that frightens even the brave hearts.
It is true that change is essential for a society to be dynamic but do you think that mouthing obscenities on the sublimity that billions venerate will serve any purpose, never.
Expression of feelings does not mean to abuse or malign any person or community. The Jellyn Posten caricatures or Charlie Hebido cartoons were not a fact but an imagination – a hatred carved out of nothing.
Art is the beauty of nature; to add something to beautify God’s nature; to carve out a beautiful image out of a dumb stone. Here the angels agree that human hands are the wonderful tools that could tame the wilder world of God.
Pen, brush, chisle or gun all of them are tools in human hands and can be used for good or for evil. It depends on the conscience. Pen can write Budha’s Ashtmarg (the eight fold golden path for human salvation) or it can write the death sentence for the medieval mystic for his allegorical statement.
Freedom of expression has to be circumscribed by self restraint just as freedom of movement to deliberately step on other’s toes. The prevailing culture and moral ethos demands some reasonable restrictions so that other’s liberty is not curtailed because your liberty ends where my nose begins.
- The author is a lecturer in Education Department.