Friday, December 19, 2014

Freedom of speech! Whats that?

There has been much ruckus lately in both the houses of Parliament regarding the various communal speeches including the ones that were made inside the house by MPs. No legislative work could be taken up in the past week. 37 bills had been scheduled for this session and none of them have been cleared in both houses, most of them not even introduced. This raises the question as to whether the opposition's holding of the parliament to ransom has any merit which offsets, the importance of the legislative work at hand. It didn't work with the last government at least. No doubt it could be a tool to keep the government in check. But if it defeats the purpose of having sessions of parliament, what is the use? Also the opposition continuously harping about the speeches made by the government MPs brings into spotlight another debate, that of the freedom of speech.

It is true that what has been said is not something you should be saying on any public forum let alone in the parliament but everyone has a right to make a fool of himself/herself. Protesting against it and making a point that such views are only helping erode the fabric of society is also fine. But not letting the parliament work for days together because you do not agree with someone's statement? There are so many more important issues to be debated. As much as everyone has the freedom of  breathing, they also have the freedom of saying anything they wish with total impunity against hurting anyone's sentiments, however racist, sexist, communal etc. these might be.

As Bill Maher said in one of his shows, "I have a problem when people say things like 'freedom of speech is all fine, BUT!" He is absolutely right. There cannot be a 'BUT' at the end of this sentence. Freedom of speech should be all pervasive. Which means books should not be banned, newspapers should not be attacked and religion should be something you practice within the confines of your own home and without the sensitivity of a pouting child. People should be able to say what they believe in. Putting boundaries to the freedom of speech is self defeating and paradoxical.

Either way the politicians need to see how they are wasting the time of the parliament with this logjam. And they should give some credit to the people here by not considering them so gullible as to get swayed by one or two speeches in parliament, which most of the country does not even watch.

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