April 14, 2021
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377 Reasons For Free Speech

Writing on the poverty of the Indian liberal response to the ban on Jaswant Singh's book, Prithviraj Datta says that "this reactive defence of free speech is problematic, because it makes the right to speak one’s mind dependent on empirical factors, like the possibility of riots, not on normative considerations":

The freedom of expression is not a constitutional guarantee which exists solely for the purpose of ensuring that citizens are kept informed about the activities of their government. Like the right to equal protection of the laws, expression deserves heightened protection because the espousal of one’s views and beliefs is regarded as being fundamental to one’s identity. Since human beings rarely exist in a social vacuum, our ability to communicate to others, and be receptive of their responses, is an important determinant of who we are. Much like one’s sexual orientation, therefore, one’s ability to disseminate one’s views should not be subject to censorship where it contradicts the views of others, and causes them offence. In such a case, the constitutional mandate of equal protection will be violated, for one’s ability to express one’s identity will be made entirely subservient to the demands and feelings of one’s community. A state which permits individual freedoms to be restricted in this manner is not a state which respects liberty. Such a state is also incapable of respecting equality.

Read the full piece at the Indian Express

377 Reasons For Free Speech
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

Writing on the poverty of the Indian liberal response to the ban on Jaswant Singh's book, Prithviraj Datta says that "this reactive defence of free speech is problematic, because it makes the right to speak one’s mind dependent on empirical factors, like the possibility of riots, not on normative considerations":

The freedom of expression is not a constitutional guarantee which exists solely for the purpose of ensuring that citizens are kept informed about the activities of their government. Like the right to equal protection of the laws, expression deserves heightened protection because the espousal of one’s views and beliefs is regarded as being fundamental to one’s identity. Since human beings rarely exist in a social vacuum, our ability to communicate to others, and be receptive of their responses, is an important determinant of who we are. Much like one’s sexual orientation, therefore, one’s ability to disseminate one’s views should not be subject to censorship where it contradicts the views of others, and causes them offence. In such a case, the constitutional mandate of equal protection will be violated, for one’s ability to express one’s identity will be made entirely subservient to the demands and feelings of one’s community. A state which permits individual freedoms to be restricted in this manner is not a state which respects liberty. Such a state is also incapable of respecting equality.

Read the full piece at the Indian Express

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