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Does Freedom of Expression include Right To Offend?

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by Amarendra Srivastava (http://pulejawan.net/author/asrivastava/) April 28th, 2012

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Sukumar Muralidharan, Program Manager at International Federation of Journalists, spoke on 14th of April 2012 at the Pul-e-Jawan India forum, held at India International Centre, New Delhi, which brought together citizen journalists, senior journalists, alternative media practitioners and representatives of cultural organizations promoting peace in diversity and conflict situations.

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Sukumar Muralidharan, Freedom of Expression & Activism, Pul-e-jawan India Muralidharan initiated the discussion on Freedom of Expression & Activism How active citizens are using creative freedom to promote causes and crossing the boundaries of traditionally available media avenues. He observed that humans are the most orthodox and limitarian thinkers of the society. He spoke about the positive

liberties and negative liberties of the society the former particularly entails what we want do and what we choose, doesnt matter if it causes injury or insult to the other side; whereas the negative liberty is about engagement with other individuals and members of society which leads to the question of encroachment of rights of others. He maintained that the right to offend is not inherent. Citing the example of MF Hussain, he raised that right to offend is not a part of it, but it is necessary to establish the intent of offending when something is wrong. He also shared about the issue between modernity and tradition. Being responsible adults we have the right to take choices against the traditions and he highlighted cases like the ban on the book by Salman Rushdie and others. He concluded by putting forth a question that how far are we going to deal with this challenge; traditions are not dead but they are living organisms or entities and these traditions are being challenged by modernity; these are affecting the tribal communities in a large manner, but do they have the right to speak-up against this so called modernization projects including arrival of mining companies. Sukumar Muralidharan, Freedom of Expression & Activism, Pul-e-jawan India (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HafIv8TWmso)

Tagged: Expression (http://pulejawan.net/tag/expression/), Freedom (http://pulejawan.net/tag/freedom/)


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About Amarendra Srivastava
Amarendra Srivastava, an Active Citizen associated with Digital Empowerment Foundation to promote Pul-e-Jawan in India.

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kodimirpal (http://disqus.com/guest/65bf1d36f11e783a269375d7ba5c4175/)

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There is a long history of messiahs who preach gospels of free speech and utopian harmony but who succeed in producing disharmony.

Tradition of free speech is an abstract principle, formulated principally for the benefit of a small elite of intellectuals and artists

Can anyone deny the fact that there can never be absolute and untrammelled freedom of speech without any restraints or restrictions whatsoever?

If there is such an absolute freedom of speech why do we have laws on libel , race relation, obscenity and on slander?

In Britain a valuable organisation such as Rationalist Press association, discriminates freedom to impart information and freedom to insult, offend or abuse. Peace between communities should take a precedent In a rational utopia where everybody would be free to abuse and insult everybody else and nobody would take offence may lead to disunity and disturbances.

In the real multi-cultural, multi-religious and pluralistic world which we all perforce inhabit, words do wound, insults do hurt, and extreme and obscene abuse does provoke anger and violence. European tradition recognises this.

It is an unwritten constitution of freedom in the West that has shied away from absolutist doctrines of liberty and assumed instead that with freedom there comes responsibilities: moral, prudential, conventional or simple a matter of good taste covering areas much wider than the law contains. This is because absolute freedom is very dangerous.

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