Thursday, February 18, 2016

Burden of freedom of speech

While you're reading this, there is a huge debate going on about the extent of freedom of speech in our country. Isn't it as much a duty as it's a privilege? However, first thing first, everybody should be able to express themselves without any fear. But the question isn't about this primal right anymore. The discourse has moved on to ideals that are unachievable. At least in our country. We are standing somewhere in the midst of a universal belief and a national reality.
  • The universal belief dictates that the freedom of speech is a given, completely ignoring the damage words can do. They argue that words don't damage at all. Really? History is a blatant witness to harmful events that took place because people didn't know how to use words more articulately. Also, always notice that the ones extolling freedom of speech are often the first ones to cry foul when they are verbally abused. If words didn't damage, what's the fuss all about?
  • The national reality shows us that we are not mature enough to call ourselves a true democracy yet. We might be world's largest democracy but there's a lot of ground to cover—yet. Which is why it's easier for heavy words like 'sedition' and 'anti-national' to fling carelessly. When the ongoing debate dies down (as it does within days), we must reflect upon ourselves the hypocrisy that we live by on a daily basis. The problem lies deeper than our vocabulary.
For some unexplained reason, we assume that just because we learnt the words and their correct pronunciation, we'd also know by default how and when to use them. It's all in the language, isn't it? Too many speakers and too few listeners have eroded the art of communication to such an extent that a rational discussion is out of question now. The standards of discussion are so low that if you make noise, i'll make noise too. And if that doesn't work, i'll resort to violence. When that takes place, the root cause of the resulting violence could be traced back to the words that were either used or weren't used—on time.

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