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Saturday, 11 February 2012

Free Speech- Is This an Impossible Commodity?

In 1948 the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a New York bookseller who sold magazines that contained fictional stories of murder and bloodshed. Those with an online law degree may be familiar with that case.

In a ringing passage supporting freedom of speech, the Court wrote in ‘Winters v. New York’ that it did not accept the argument that “the constitutional protection for a free press applies only to the exposition of ideas.” 

In an oft-cited passage, the majority declared:

“The line between the informing and the entertaining is too elusive for the protection of that basic right. Everyone is familiar with instances of propaganda through fiction. What is one man’s amusement, teaches another’s doctrine. Though we can see nothing of any possible value to society in these magazines, they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature.”

And yet the basic right for expression has been gagged in recent times.

During the recent Literature Festival that was held in Jaipur in January2012, the freedom of speech was exploited in a big way.

I did not attend this festival but saw it unfold on the net and on the blog posts of my friends who witness this first hand.

Salman Rushie attending/not attending/attending/not attending the festival and then the live interview cancelled at the last minute for the fear of the violence that would follow.

The interview did take place on National TV, millions of people around the world listened to it, and the Mullahs were powerless. Even if they were not listening, they heard it.

But must we be afraid and shut up?

I pontificate as I defecate, on the latrine...freedom of speech,
can I speak and I don't care if you're not listening,
you're still hearing me!
Good people get up on your feet
and wake your brother up that went to sleep.
Because these cowards are on the creep.
They say they have a group of people that serve and protect
but yet, all I see is killing and disrespect.
They say they uphold a code justice,
BUT I ask, 'who's justice is it'?
As they alternate justice
while they make laws that oversee laws,
 laws that oversee man's laws that even oversee God's laws...
As a simple man,
I will never fully understand the rules and regulations or
the degrees of these rules and regulations in this foreign land.
and I will never feel safe or free in a nation
That says' we are equal as a people',
but yet they segregated us with race...
 For ya'll that know better,
ya'll gonna do better.
Whether you're in the caves of Afghanistan
or in this "promised land",
I beg you,'
learn your history or should I say 'his' story'?
 I want you to understand me when I say,
 "I am here with you, and you are here with me".
So let's kick it
 'til we ain't got no teeth and
together we can make this world a nice place to sleep.
I know you've heard it before,
but we, can rock the dance floor-
Let me say it again,:
 to all my brothers hustlin' the streets,
it's time that we should meet,
and wake your brother up that went to sleep.
Because these cowards are trying to kill me.
 I can't do this all by myself,
and neither can you,
but together there's nothing "we" can't do.
I want what you want because l'm just like you.
I want peace I want peace.

Feel free to create your own way of protesting on 14th feb.

THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression

WHY FEBRUARY 14TH? For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

February 14th or Valentine’s Day has also become a flashpoint in India, a day when protests against “Western culture” by the Shiv Sena have become an annual feature. In Chandigarh, 51 Sena activists were arrested by the police after V-day protests turned violent in 2011. 

Our hope is to take back the day, and observe it as a day dedicated to the free flow of ideas, speech and expression.

Places where you might do public readings: subway and Metro stations, public parks, coffee shops, open areas in malls. If you’re talking about Flashreads on Twitter, please use the #flashreads hashtag.

#flashreads is a simple way of registering your protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India in the last few decades. At any time on February 14th—we suggest 3 pm, but pick a time of your convenience—go out with a friend or a group of friends and do a quick reading. 

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