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Posts Tagged ‘libya’

Time to Rethink Freedom of Speech

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 12, 2012

With the advent of social media platforms, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore. In this new world order, it is time to revisit the founding principles of nations. It is time to exhibit the courage and foresight required to change these tenets to cater to present day sensibilities.

Freedom of Speech is protected in the U.S by the First Amendment to the U.S constitution. However, this freedom is not enjoyed by speech that presents “imminent lawless action” and what may be termed as “hate speech.” Great, so the U.S Constitution lays out a very balance and judicial legislature to allow its citizens to speak their minds and suppress opinions that may lead to outrage among its people. But what happens when what Americans express, either in the form of opinion or art, transgresses the moral principles and beliefs of  people belonging to the more “unfortunate” rest of the world?

There are two very important opinion/speech defining parameters that must govern any discussion on this topic. Firstly, the Geographical reach an opinion can have and second, the Universality of the subject.

The lawlessness that broke out in Cairo and Benghazi last night are being attributed to anger over an American film that shows Prophet Muhammad in very bad light. The film has been made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli American real estate developer. The attacks unfortunately led to fatalities. Would it be wrong for the Libyan and Egyptian governments to ask for deportation of Sam to try him in their countries? Should not the U.S courts try Sam Bacile for inciting violence that led to the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens? This incident clearly illustrates that opinions in a connected world, like the one we live in, have absolutely no geographical boundaries. New laws need to be formulated to address these issues.

It is high time that the world decides to exempt Religion from Freedom of Speech. Religion is a private affair. While your religious beliefs should be kept to yourself, so should your opinions about other religions. Representation of religious opinions in any form, text, films, cartoons, paintings etc. should be globally prohibited. That, and only that, is true Secularism. No ban should be put on people trying to present the teachings of their religions as stated in their scriptures. But negative opinions on any religion must be banned. If a religious group is proving to be injurious to its followers, it is the Government’s responsibility to safeguard their interests.

No religious bashing has ever hurt any religion! It only hurts people. And in this case we lost Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. RIP.

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