Wednesday, February 15

On freedom and free speech #flashreads

Mahatma Gandhi on the sedition laws:

“Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has an affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite to violence. But the section under which Mr.Banker [a colleague in non-violence] and I are charged is one under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied some of the cases tried under it, and I know that some of the most loved of India’s patriots have been convicted under it.”

Sedition, by Prasun Mukhopadhyay

“To serve the Muse is sedition

Sedition is assemblage

To think about the country is sedition

Sedition is to speak about hunger

To continue living in this country is sedition’.

From Luka and The Fire of Life, Salman Rushdie:

“The nerve!” squeaked the Border Rat. “That you say you are offended, insults me mortally. And if you offend one rat mortally, you offend all Rats gravely. And a grave offence to all Rats is a funeral crime, a crime punishable by--.”


A poem by Jeet Thayil

Let us govern those who undertake the telling of stories.

Censorship is good governance. Self-censorship is an attribute of the highest civilization.

If an actor speaks of God, he will be chastised. He will be refused an encore. If he repeats the speech, he will have his license revoked.

Let us govern those who undertake praise of the next world, since what they say is neither true nor useful to us.

Our best recourse is to be warlike.

We do not deny that storytellers are good at their job and give people what they like to hear. But the better they are, the less we wish our children and men to hear them.

We shall refute their attempts to be wise. We shall scoff when they repeat their vile allegation, Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.

We will do away with the dirges of famous men and leave them for women, and not the best among women either.

Let us abolish those fearful and terrific names, Cocytos, the River of Lamentations, Styx, the River of Fear, Ganga, the River of Death in Life, Lethe, the River of Bliss, Tigris, the River of Affliction.

We shall disallow travel and the mingling of songs.

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