DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM

What’s Freedom? Probably not setting up the alarm in the night and not worrying about the clock ticking in the morning; stuffing up your favourite dishes without giving a damn to calories or pounds; spending without having to think twice about the bank balance and so on. But these things are too trivial, in fact, insignificant to define a deep and profound concept of “Freedom”.  My dear friends Chiradeep, Aastha, Prerna Aditi have beautifully given their insights on the same.  To be precise this week is about “Misuse Of Freedom”. Let’s see if I can bring something new to the plate, fingers crossed.

I hail from India, the largest democratic country in the world, where people have a say, rather “The Say”. It’s the public that elects their leaders to lead from the front.  To say the least, everyone knows what democracy means.  Our constitution makers after freedom decided to award a democratic setup to the generations to come because they precisely know what slavery means. And antonym to slavery is free, isn’t it? In my opinion, it won’t be wrong to say that “Freedom” is an unmistakably characteristic trait of democracy.

Freedom to choose and elect, freedom to practice the preferred religion, freedom to speak, freedom to contest (elections), freedom to form associations and so on so forth.  We really are a free nation. Really? That’s worth a point for a good debate.  Well, I am not up for that at this point.  Let’s focus on “Misuse” of freedom in a democracy.

Just as freedom (trust), when breached in a relationship, leads to disturbed bonds and emotional shutdown freedom in democracy when misused gives birth to disharmony in the country.  The bricks of democracy are laid on the foundation of trust – on its public and the government, trust that they will work in tandem with the interests of the country.  But alas there is no dearth of examples where this grant of trust/freedom is not only breached but murdered brutally.

Let me list a few examples:

  • A stand-up comedy show and a certain gentleman cracking up the most distasteful / under the belt jokes about a particular section of people in the society.  And when questioned it was all tucked under the carpet in the name of comedy. And freedom of speech card used effectively.  How appropriate is that?
  • A group of people shouting out anti-national slogans or instigating and poisoning minds  – again freedom of speech is highlighted.  Doesn’t it amount to being a traitor? Questioning the government on its policies is exercising freedom to question but conspiring against the country is treason, case closed!
  • A public servant or a politician misappropriating public funds for their personal purposes, amassing illegal wealth is a classic example of misuse of many things per se power, trust, freedom to build future.
  • Electing an unsuitable candidate as a leader purely based on false propaganda without a fact check is a misuse of freedom to elect which can only result in damaging the future of the country in an irrevocable manner.
  • Freedom to Express themselves is often misused as a right to abuse on social media and people often forget that if they have freedom to express themselves others also have freedom to disagree.

That was a handful and of course a very vague view of how “Freedom” could be and is misused in a democracy.  Freedom is a precious gift that must be cared for because of freedom exercised with responsibility no matter in what capacity paves a way for a better future, period! Freedom doesn’t mean to encroach other rights. And when freedom in a democracy is misused that’s what exactly happens – abuse of others freedom and rights. A small example: you have are free to celebrate your success at your home with your near and dear ones and in that process you break all the rules pertaining to the decibel levels thereby disturbing your neighbour’s sleep. On questioning you say “that’s my choice how to celebrate”.  Fair enough but what about the other party’s right of having a peaceful environment.  This happens.

We must value our democratic set up as much as we do our freedom as it demanded so many sacrifices, remember it.

Have you ever wondered why we need policing, rules and laws? Simple – to instill fear (respect is a minority, unfortunately) of consequences if your rights or freedom as a human or citizen are misappropriated.   They are to give everyone a fair chance of exercising their “freedom” and to curb misuse of it.

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FIGHT FOR RIGHT!

Freedom of speech is under peril and suppression is on the rise. This has been a constant fabrication for centuries. But today’s risk is not only being incited by tyrants and sovereigns, as was the case in the past. Rather, it is being stoked up by the very people who are thought to protect this principle: democratically elected bureaucrats, artists, and journalists.

Article 19 of Human Rights declares that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Yet, this right is unquestionably not certain because of the basic components of language.

Words, sentences and passages release impacts. They provoke sentiments in audiences and users. Language is never unbiased.

But far too often it is the case that analysts and diplomats give rise to unrealistic and absurd social aspects through the means of their platforms. They post, tweet and share to turn the tide of public opinion in or against sensitive matters, using inception and inducement to their personal cause.

Grievously, these radical viewpoints are not just limited to the boundaries of society. Rather, they are part of the game for governments in the mainstreams. At times of elections, these governmental bodies themselves hints that the right to freedom of speech is being used for worthless, adverse and evil purposes. This leaves us with a bigger problem, how to make sure there’s no obvious abuse of one’s right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Owing to the heedless exercising of our right to freedom of speech, the decree to reduce the liberty of viewpoint and effect is, regrettably, growing powerful. It is an extremely saddening reality that general theory of common man infers that the circumstances are worse enough that they want their governments to resolve to forbid such speeches and therefore propose degrees of censorship.

Though the aim of forbidding people from making an attacking comment is good, it nevertheless serves as a catch-22 situation because it would deliver the governments with way too much authority in selecting what is or isn’t offensive. With power comes duties – and in this singular context, one’s duty includes not invoking disorder, chaos and mayhem. It is hence obvious why people would want to back governmental impose of censorship upon the manipulation of freedom of speech.

Only and only by using language for the right causes can we secure the liberal right to freedom of speech. However, like I always say, this isn’t a one-way road. Well-known figures, shouldn’t use blasphemy or profanity in a manner that justifies extensive monitoring and restrictions of our speech.

To sum it up I would like to recite Voltaire’s famous quote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.