Defending Free Speech and Defying Fundementalists
The Legendary French philosopher Voltaire demonstrating his solidarity with right of Free Speech wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it .” He didn’t stop there, he proceeded to write “Men who believed in absurdities committed atrocities ; and apparently on both these occasions, Voltaire was referring to amazingly uncultured men affiliated to bullying gangs, who hauled with ire, every time their feelings were hurt.
The fanatics, unlearned and hardliners who couldn’t wait to handle any criticisms against their cults, turned themselves as self-styled crusaders and sought the heads of the literary world terming them as ‘Blasphemers’
And thus arose a disturbing phenomenon of Sacrilege and Blasphemy,raging out from the veins of despicable extremists, who made it habitual to cry foul every time they felt like feeling offended. The weirdness attached to the term offensive is so great, that it erupts each time, it feels pinched. This occurred as early as 500 years before Christ, when an admirable Athenian philosopher was sentenced and poisoned, for his thoughts. The thoughts that went against the common beliefs of his period, and thus Socrates came to be regarded by modern writers as the ‘first prisoner of conscience’.
In the 17th century, an Italian physicist and astronomer devised an innovative theory, which suggested that earth revolved around sun and rotated around its axis, contrary to the traditional belief. The fundamentalists didn’t spare him too; he was charged of hurting religious sentiments, and sentenced to prison. A few decades later, his theory was adopted in the mainstream and to this day Galileohas been hailed as the “father of Scientific Revolution”.
Dating back to the mid-19th century, an English Biologist released a book by the name “Origin of Species” which explained a remarkable and an awe-inspiring theory of “Natural Selection. The Biologist had penned down a theory on “Evolution of Mankind; which didn’t go well with western conservatives of his era. Thus, he had to seek state protection and forced to move into hideout, due to fear from faith based hardliners and protestant fundamentalists. A Few decades later, his theory was seriously narrated in all schools around the world, and today Darwin’s theory and his other findings have been widely acclaimed in Academic circles, earning him the title of most important biologist on Evolution Theory.
In recent times, when the world has taken progressive steps in protecting Freedom of speech and Expression, and most importantly the lives of artists, Scientists and literary icons; India has sarcastically remained primitive. This has been portrayed in recent times by the treatment presented to two iconic Artistic genius of this era Maqbool Fida Hussainand Salman Rushdie. The Indian government, greedy of power, spineless in heart, Timid in decision, fantastically coward and inexplicably corrupt has successfully created a vacuum for the rise of intolerance in the country. It is the Indian government’s capitulation to the fundamentalist nut-bags wandering with destructive weapons in the streets, which eventually resulted in blocking Salman Rushdie’s much awaited presence at the Jaipur literary festival, for a talk on the topic “chutnification of English Language”.Continued on the next page