Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hiding behind technicalities - Arundhati Roy charges

Being a journalist in many parts of the world is a tough job. Not wanting to banal, other than the TV heads and the heads of print media, most of the remaining journos have to fight multiple things like competition, lack of imagination, lack of news, reader fatigue to publish good stories. However given a great story like wacky "intellectual" Arundhati Roy pushing for separation of Kashmir from India, N.Ram and his team of jackasses publish what is probably the most banal articles possible titled '‘Sedition' versus free speech '.
Defending Ms.Roy for her treasonous activities, LiC initiates his salvo at the BJP,
It is deplorable that three sentences uttered at a seminar relating to the status of Kashmir within India should have evoked such zealous hyper-patriotic anger and resulted in demands for invoking harsh sedition laws.

He makes it claim as though she was charged during the Spanish Inquisition and burned on a stake!
The primary claim of all left wing journos is that they want freedom of speech when one of theirs makes treasonous statements. But when a nationalistic person makes a statement bashing China or Communism or a certain violent minority, the hypocritical N.Ram and his minions would be in a mad rush to beat them up.
In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.' It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others. It is to this powerful libertarian mid-19th century principle that we owe the idea that free speech cannot be proscribed merely because we find it disagreeable, and that curbs may be imposed only if such expression constitutes a direct, explicit, and unequivocal incitement to violence.

What Arundhati Roy did was exactly that. Supporting the rock throwing militants of Kashmir, who have for years sucked on the funds from the "special" status provided by Article 370 is a clear unambiguous evidence of treason. For all the free speech thrown around by the jerk N.Ram, how about publishing articles of the pogrom conducted by these stone throwing militants? Or the plight of the Kashmiri Hindus who were evicted from their homes?
But these are not the voices N.Ram and his minions like Sidd Varadarajan want to listen to. This is the real BS pushed as editorials by cHindu.


Thyagarajan said...

In his editorial, The Hindu was really skating on thin ice when it defends the right of the individual by claiming that free speech could not be hampered so long as it does not endanger or harm anybody. In support they seem to have also misquoted John Stuart Mill and his famous "Harm principle".The object of Mill's Essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means used be physical force in the form of legal penalties, or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is soveriegn.

Unfortunately, the editorial team was not aware of the "Offence Principle", which was also floating around the same time. The Offence principle relates to the Harm principle, in that both postulate a moral or legal ground for enshrining an actor's behavior. Whereas the Harm principle refers to the interests of "the other" (the victim), affected by the actor's conduct, the Offence principle refers to the moral standings/feelings of society. to give an example, do we want to prevent people taking drugs to protect them (against themselves) or for preventing their disruptive effect towards society or to prevent hurting the moral feeling of others? The distinction between the Harm principle and the Offence principle becomes more clear and relevant if applied to animal ethics. Do we not allow certain behaviour towards animals because it hurts some people's feelings, or because it hurts the animals involved?

I would like to know the editorial policy of the Hindu (do not have the time to read their archives) when it came to Vaiko, who was arrested for his pro eelam leanings or recently Varun gandhi's famous utterings. I am sure Harm principle may not be appied in the relevant instances.


The Editor of the "The Hindu", the "old pall-bearer of secularism" (Arun Shourie, Eminent Historians), seems to have selectively quoted John Stuart Mill. Mill differentiated "self regarding conduct" from "other regarding conduct" and added that society may intervene in the case of the latter.

Sudhir said...

Exactly ! I wrote to LiC the following letter asking him to clarify what he means by "harm"

Particularly this line in the editorial caught my attention: "In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.' It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others."

Now, let's understand this statement in the context of A.Roy's statements. She has been a strong vocal supporter (CNN-IBN has a list of some her statements) of the Maoists - the same guys who go about blasting school buildings, government offices, railway tracks and also occasionally kill policemen. In my, and surely yours, dictionary, these constitute "harm". Now, are we to believe that these thugs are not emboldened by the support receieved by the likes of Arundhati Roy? By so strongly advocating their murderous cause, isn't Arundhati Roy causing "harm" to the civil society? Is it so unreasonable to assume that by her constant complaints against the "Indian Democracy", she is not causing "harm" to the system? By openly encouraging the stone pelters in Kashmir, she is not causing "harm"? In her fetish to write prose, she talks about "graves of Dalit Jawans", as if the other graves are of less significance. Is this not causing "harm" to the families of those who sacrificied their lives for this country? If not, what would you classify as "harm", Mr. N.Ram? If yes, should Arundhati Roy be "silenced", Mr. N.Ram ?

I do not wish to get into your bashing of the BJP and quoting of non-existence of some laws in certain countries (am quite used to both these styles of yours, and hence don't see a need to seek a clarification from you).

My next grouse is the quality of letters you published in your news paper today. Incidentally, none of them criticize your editorial. Most of them glorify Arundhati Roy. Those which don't are way too mild in their criticsim (if it can be called that). Are we to assume that your newspaper has recieved no sane criticism of either Roy or your editorial? Or have they not been published because they might cause "harm" to the newspaper?

Particularly, the 8th letter in this link is very disturbing. The writer (who is from Hyderabad) compares the beauty of Srinagar's natural wonders in the 1950's to the dirtiness surrounding them now, and reaches a conclusion that this "indifference" by the Indian state is the reason for the anger. Seriously Mr. N.Ram - that logic is what you found worth publishing in the newspaper? Shall I now try and compare Hyderabad of the 1950's to the Hyderabad of now, rue about the "indifference" and throw stones on the secretariat? Which Indian city has retained it's beauty from the 1950's? So, now all metros should start agitations I guess.

Freedom of Speech - the one that you so passionately espouse - is complete only when you publish alternate views and clarify your ambivalent stands. Else, it will "harm" the reputation of your newspaper.

Sudhir said...

DD - in the words of Lalit Bhanot - "Our standards of "harm" are different from their standards of "harm" " :D

Anonymous said...

There have always been Tamilians, albeit not in big number (as yet), who want a separate Tamil Nation. In terms as understood by Mr. Ram, they are "azadi" Tamilians. And a few days ago, Thiru Thirumavalavan (a Dalit party leader) has wholeheartedly supported Ms. A. Roy, perhaps on the assumption that Ms. A. Roy will support the "struggle" for a separate Tamil land once she gets "freedom" for the Kashmiris.

Where would Chindu stand on "freedom" for the Tamilians from the oppresive northern "Aryans"?

India's "National Newspaper" will have several "International" editions within the present Indian border, if Chindu foolishly beats the azadi drum for A. Roy & Co.!

Oldtimer said...

If "freedom of expression" bit him in the armpit, Comrade N Ram wouldn't recognize it. Having said that, the question we all need to ask is: Will he also defend pedophile literature, if pedophiles don't harm anyone?

kuttychathan said...

DD & Sudhir, well said, thanks..

Please read today's editorial of chindu. "The ‘enemy' property law".

When in 1947, the undivided India was cut into India & Pakistan, millions of Hindus left Pak to live in India and vice versa. Several Hindus opted for living in Pak. Similarly, several Muslims opted to live in India. The Hindus who opted to stay in Pak were soon finished off. However, Muslims who stayed back in India were allowed to live. So India has a minority problem and Pak has none.

When people flee from both sides of the border, the land and properties they left behind were occupied by others. The Indian government tried to prevent unauthorised occupation of such alienated property by bringing in an 'enemy property law'.That is what our sekular quixotes are now tilting against. They want the 'enemy' property to be given away to Indian muslims. But the government and courts are sitting on them.

The Chindu editorial want the very name of the act to be changed, as it calls it darling Pakis, 'enemey'.

So, we can expect that Sonia and Manmohan would promptly oblige chindu by changing the name of the act to, 'patriot' property law.

Xinhua Ram said...

Opposition parties of India, China to meet ahead of US president's visit
Sorry to disappoint you, folks. China is yet to have an opposition party. Today, opposition to Communist Party of China is treated as opposing China.

Dirt Digger said...

Agree, the ridiculous nature of N.Ram (I'll probably drop LiC from my vocabulary for now) to defend his pet Arundhati while she goes on to blast the country is ridiculous.
It basically means that the tax payers, regular citizens and Soldiers are all fools.

Dirt Digger said...

That is indeed an intersting point on Mills. I will read more on this and respond.

Dirt Digger said...

Great points there. I'll reply to you via email. This BS has to stop.

Dirt Digger said...

If LiC sees benefit for China he will separate Anna Nagar from India and secede it to Pakistan.

Dirt Digger said...

haha great words. Yeah something bigger than freedom of expression needs to do that. it will be a service to society.

Dirt Digger said...

Thanks for pointing the article on enemy property. Will review and respond.

Dirt Digger said...

Xinhua Ram,
thats funny. the opposition party is in prison or dead.

gopal said...

Well said Mr.Sudhir.
If I can compare the beauty of Kashmir of 1950 to today's Kashmir , I should be allowed to compare The Hindu of 1950s and the anti "Hindu" nasty paper of antihindu N.Ram today.What a disgrace to which he has brought this once wonderful paper to todays level.As a true Indian and Hindu i request the antihindu N Ram to change the name of his paper atleast.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mr. Ram should elaborate a little bit on the freedom of speech in China and the applicability of John Stuart Mill's essay to Chinese "democracy".

The whole world knew what happened to the peaceful protesters in Tienanman square about a decade ago. Ms. A. Roy can brief Mr. Ram on this matter.

And what about "azadi" for Tibet? How many times Ms. A. Roy has led campaigns and protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Delhi?

If the Dalai Lama is called "splittist" by Chindu's masters, then what should the GoI call the types like Geelani?

Anonymous said...

@Gopal " .. I should be allowed to compare The Hindu of 1950s and the anti "Hindu" nasty paper of antihindu N.Ram today.What a disgrace ..."

Heartbreaking how a good newspaper's reputation has been downgraded to 'toilet paper' due to the megalomania of a single Marxist.

Anonymous said...

"The Hindu" can as well change its name (at least now), given the raging discussion on the issue of fatwa related to declaring "talaq" through the cyber space, during the last few days.

Today's "Letters" page is filled to the brim with explaining what is real islam and what the prophet (pbuh) said (and did not say) etc. etc. Of course, the centre-page permanent permit holders like Kasim Sait, Faizur Rahman are duly represented .

The debate is about what's apparently a frivolous matter (someone jokingly saying "talaq" through skype, then trying to gett a clarification and finally ending up with a fatwa on his face!).

kuttychathan said...

Read the chindu's editorial today

"Readying for regime change"

Wonder of wonders! Ram is predicting the defeat of CPM led LDF in the forthcoming Assembly Elections in Kerala, due to be held in May, next year.

For the first time, chindu admits to factionalism in CPM. It says "The factionalism within the Kerala unit of the CPI(M) did not help".

Read his parting shot " five-year spell in the opposition should be a chastening experience for the Left".

For the last several years,CPM and Jamaat-E-Islami had been close associates in Kerala. On the eve of the local body elections, they parted ways. They have been calling names ever since. The chindu has so far been silent on the issue. Today's editorial makes it clear the chindu and its thug-in-chief have decided to cast their lots with Jamaat-E-Islami.

kuttychathan said...

Sidd Vara's byline has not appeared for the last six days in the chindu. I am itching allover. Where has he gone? To US for a holiday?

Dirt Digger said...

We are hoping for N. Ram to quit the Hindu or at least retire gracefully in the next year :) That will be a welcome change.

Thyagarajan said...

Talking of Freedom of Press and Harm Principle, I would like to know on what basis, did LIC press for defamation suit against the IE and others, early this year, when they ran an expose of the family infighting to gain control of the Publications.

kuttychathan said...


There is one set of laws for LIC and his Marxist-Islamist cronies, and another set of laws for the rest of us.