Archive for March, 2009

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Preface

Of course I know that freedom of speech is not absolute. I agree with that too. Societies have to prevent certain expression, like child pornography, incitement to violence, or any other form of expression that actually impinges on other’s right. My problem with “Hate Speech” laws is more about the abuse of that mechanism to prevent fair comment. You cannot simply prevent speech because it hurts someone’s feelings. You can however and should restrict speech that is calculated to incite violence. Its a fine line, and it should be left to the courts, with individual discretion. As free societies, we need to be robust, but not duped.
But
ann_coulter_quoteIt’s a curious but very true thing, how liberal governments around the world, despite their claims of belief in freedom, continue to impinge on people’s basic human rights, by dictating to them what they can and cannot say.
Most of the time, if you sit a “liberal” down and ask them if they believe in freedom of speech, they will tell you “absolutely.” Of course, if you press them, they will soon confess that there are certain areas where, “obviously” free speech should be restricted,  like for example, what they call hate speech.
Hate Speech.
This, dear reader is what has landed a politician in India, in deep water.
This idea that you should restrict people from saying hateful things stems no doubt from the usual good intentions that pave the road to hell, but the simple reality is, that it means free speech is restricted by statute, and usually on very vague grounds.
Now, I not suggesting that anything goes, but our legal system has tried and tested methods of protecting one against slander, falsehoods and any form of defamation. That the state should police the statements of people based on their criteria of “Hate” is a dangerous and terrible intrusion on freedom of speech, and a reflection of how political correctness, gone mad, has made it onto the statute books, and all in the name of freedom.
Varun Ghandi, democratic,idealistic, and in jail
Varun Ghandi, democratic,idealistic, and in jail
The man of whom I speak is Varun Ghandi, politician and grandson of Indira Ghandi. Part of India’s premier political family. A Hindu, by birth, he finds himself in jail today for allegedly making disparaging remarks about Muslims. Prosecuted and jailed by the Indian Election Commission.
Now aside from the fact that Muslims continually make disparaging remarks about the rest of us calling us infidels and flying jets into our coffee shops and putting death threats on our writers, not to mention threatening us with daily jihad, burning flags and effigies of western rulers from the US to Holland, and despite the fact that this continues unabated, apparently in India, you cannot be disparaging about this bunch.
Which, lets face it, is pretty unfair , considering the stuff they say about us. By us I mean secular humanists, Christians, homosexuals, Jews, other non believers, adulterers, and if you read the news to day, smokers, who they say are worse than cows that shit in the street, drinkers, and my personal favorite, people who make fun of Mohammed, or even dare to draw him, and so on.
Burning of all things Her Majesty, in England, and .... no arrests.
Burning of all things Her Majesty, in England, and …. no arrests.
Hate speech indeed.
However, consider Anne Coulter, who you may, or may not have heard of, the American conservative commentator, who regularly says the kind of thing about people that could land you up in jail in places with this silly hate speech law, like India.
Let me introduce you some Anne Coulter comments;
“Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots.”
“We should invade their (Muslim) countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”
“If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
“I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot.” –at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference
“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s deaths so much.” -on 9/11 widows who have been critical of the Bush administration
“We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens’ creme brulee. That’s just a joke, for you in the media.”
“The New York Times editorial page is like a Ouija board that has only three answers, no matter what the question. The answers are: higher taxes, more restrictions on political speech and stricter gun control.”
“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
“Usually the nonsense liberals spout is kind of cute, but in wartime their instinctive idiocy is life-threatening.”
“We’ve finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism, and they don’t want to fight it. They would, except it would put them on the same side as the United States.”
“The swing voters — I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don’t have set philosophical principles. You’re either a liberal or you’re a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster.”
Now you can imagine, there are lots of people who are deeply offended, and many in the US who hate her, yet the woman cannot be arrested for Hate Speech.
Its one of the reasons why the US remains a free and sophisticated democracy. In the United States freedom of speech is like apple pie, it’s an American pastime.
Curiously, in a country like India, which likes to refer to itself as one of the oldest democracies in the world, a man lies languishing in jail because of restrictions on speech.
Perhaps they still have a lot to learn about tolerance.
Freedom of speech remains the crucial element in maintaining a functioning and successful democracy. These inroads to freedom of speech are dangerous, and threaten the very fabric of what makes democracy work, robust debate.
This is what democracy is made of.
And, Mr Ghandi, in jail for being disparaging about these endlessly jihading nut cases who threaten us daily, and burn effagies of Her Majesty, and the Pope, and Salman Rushdie, because your government wont let you, and mine will,  I’ll say it for you:
A Response
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