Thursday, April 2, 2009

Odium on Podium!


The long and the short of hate speeches in India!

Criminalisation of Indian politics is nothing new. For a considerable time it has received a lot of flak not only from media, but also from the civil society. Though, not much has been done to cleanse the system but what is worth noting is that a lot of effort has been put in terms of creating awareness among people to vote against anyone who has a criminal background. Whether it succeeds or not is debatable but at least an effort is made towards de-criminalising Indian politics. Amidst all this, an interesting yet equally damaging issue is getting completely neglected. And that is to do with those who have attained the status of hero by delivering hate or extremely provocative speeches.

Most of the ambassadors of hate speeches get away due to the lack of passable laws that demarcates hate speeches from that of freedom of speech! This freedom of abusing the freedom of speech gets celebrated in India while world over the case is quite different. There are laws that clearly demarcate freedom of speech from hate speeches. In Australia, the Racial Discrimination Act, 1975 forbids hate speech on several grounds. Similarly, in Brazil, giving hate speech is a crime with no right of bail being given to the accused! In Europe, the Council of Europe created the European Commission against racism, anti-semitism and intolerance against Muslims. Even in the erstwhile racist country like Germany, Volksverhetzung aka hate speech is a punishable offense and can lead to up to five years of imprisonment. The Iceland’s laws go a step further and also include expressing hatred publicly as crime. Even New Zealand and Switzerland prohibits hate speech under human rights. Same is the case with UK, where the Public Order Act 1986 prohibits expressions of racial hatred. Even the US prosecutes cases of provocation. And Canadian law does not even spare its media. When a Canadian magazine published an article arguing on the rise of Islam and its threat to Western values, the magazine was put on trial. In June 2008, actress Brigitte Bardot was fined with $23,000 in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a religious ceremony. In India, there is no specific law dealing with hate speech per se, but few IPCs prohibit speeches which promote disharmony and insult any religion or religious beliefs. The concern with hate speeches is that it has both a short term and long term impact on the society. In the short run, it can raise the adrenalin of some of the uneducated, naive and vulnerable sections of society. They even tend to get carried away with a feeling of being in the limelight and by virtue of hating the other perceive that the path to mitigate their predicaments is just this. In the long run, these remarks hamper the affiliation of fraternity, the pillar of harmony and principles of democracy.

The biggest challenge is to define a hate speech and then to identify all possible sources of hate speech. And believe me, it is just not confined to a few political leaders alone, but also envelopes almost anybody and everybody, in the current scenario. What we need is stricter laws and more than that an effective judiciary to put those laws into effect. If in 1999, Mr. Bal Thackeray was debarred from casting his vote or contesting any election for six years for his provocative speeches, why can’t we do the same for others too? Or even more? If de-criminalisation of Indian politics is a national imperative so is the arrest of the rise of hate speeches, provided the intent is to unite the country irrespective of religion, region and sect and not to divide it forever!


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6 comments:

  1. I loved this write up...

    Actually, I have myself been observing (with dismay)that how as a nation we are most prone to get swayed by Rhetoric.
    We see this in the speeches delivered to the masses not only in real life but also in the reel life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Freedom of thought is the very life of democracy; it is its very soul. But socialism cannot stand freedom of thought, because freedom of thought includes the freedom to support capitalism. It is difficult for socialism to swallow. Socialism wants to destroy capitalism root and branch, and therefore it has to destroy freedom of thought. And it is unthinkable how, after destroying the right of the individual to hold property and his freedom of thought. socialism can be democratic.
    Democratic socialism is a blatant lie. The fact is that the word democracy has respectability, and socialism does not want to forego this respectability. That is why Russia is democratic, China is democratic, and the rest of them Let it be clearly understood that democracy is a value that goes with capitalism, and not with socialism. And if democracy has to live, it can only live with capitalism; it cannot live with socialism. Democracy is an inalienable part of the capitalist way of life, and as such it can only go with capitalism.
    Similarly there are other values -- we are not even aware of them -- which can be destroyed easily. And they are already being destroyed. The individual has the ultimate value. But in the eyes of socialism it is not the individual but the collective, the crowd, that has value. And socialism accepts that the individual can be sacrificed for the collective, the society. The individual, in fact, has always been sacrificed in the name of great principles, and for the sake of big and high-sounding names. are democratic. Man can misuse words in a big way. He can label Satan as God. Who can stop it? It is difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Freedom of thought is the very life of democracy; it is its very soul. But socialism cannot stand freedom of thought, because freedom of thought includes the freedom to support capitalism. It is difficult for socialism to swallow. Socialism wants to destroy capitalism root and branch, and therefore it has to destroy freedom of thought. And it is unthinkable how, after destroying the right of the individual to hold property and his freedom of thought. socialism can be democratic.
    Democratic socialism is a blatant lie. The fact is that the word democracy has respectability, and socialism does not want to forego this respectability. That is why Russia is democratic, China is democratic, and the rest of them Let it be clearly understood that democracy is a value that goes with capitalism, and not with socialism. And if democracy has to live, it can only live with capitalism; it cannot live with socialism. Democracy is an inalienable part of the capitalist way of life, and as such it can only go with capitalism.
    Similarly there are other values -- we are not even aware of them -- which can be destroyed easily. And they are already being destroyed. The individual has the ultimate value. But in the eyes of socialism it is not the individual but the collective, the crowd, that has value. And socialism accepts that the individual can be sacrificed for the collective, the society. The individual, in fact, has always been sacrificed in the name of great principles, and for the sake of big and high-sounding names. are democratic. Man can misuse words in a big way. He can label Satan as God. Who can stop it? It is difficult.

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