Expression of hatred is not sacred
While freedom of expression is sacred, freedom of expression of hatred, ill-will or contempt is not. Such expressions of hate are often criminal acts as the Indian Penal Code lists acts such as providing provocation with intent to cause riot, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc, or making imputations or assertions prejudicial to national integration or even defamation a Crime with substantial punishment.
While exotic works of genius needs to be protected and indeed nurtured, it is an extremity to seek to protect criminal and often juvenile pieces of artistry in the name of freedom of expression.
Those who invoke the freedom of expression argument to an amateurish image of a giant pig defecating over a holy place of a particular community, or a dog fornicating with a man bent over in prayer, wearing robes belonging to a certain community or even a respected political leader's face morphed over an artiste performing a lewd act are not expressions of genius.
They are juvenile, puerile and criminal acts under Sections 153, 153A, 153B and 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code.
In "Islamophobia: Does America Have a Muslim Problem?", Time Magazine issue of 30th August, 2010, says, "But perhaps the most vicious attacks take place online, where extreme bigotry can easily metastasize." It quotes Pamela Geller, a blogger who mounted a concerted campaign against the New York City proposal to build a Muslim cultural center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero called Park51. "This is Islamic domination and expansionism," she is reported to have written.
"The location is no accident - just as al-Aqsa was built on top of the Temple in Jerusalem." Eventually, it is reported, other bloggers picked up the thread, and the campaign went viral.
"As we all know, the root of Europe's problems is the lack of cultural self-confidence [nationalism]. Most people are still terrified of nationalistic political doctrines thinking that if we ever embrace these principles again, new 'Hitler's' will suddenly pop up and initiate global Armageddon ... This irrational fear of nationalistic doctrines is preventing us from stopping our own national/cultural suicide as the Islamic colonization is increasing annually ... You cannot defeat Islamization or halt/reverse the Islamic colonization of Western Europe without first removing the political doctrines manifested through multiculturalism/cultural Marxism."
"I don't hate Muslims at all. I acknowledge that there are magnificent Muslim individuals in Europe. In fact, I have had several Muslim friends over the years, some of which I still respect. This does not mean however that I will accept an Islamic presence in Europe. Muslim individuals who do not assimilate 100 per cent within 2020 will be deported as soon as we manage to seize power."
"Although I do admit that I am disgusted by the current development, I would rather say I'm driven by my love for Europe, European culture and all Europeans. This does not mean that I oppose diversity. But appreciating diversity does not mean that you support genocide of your own culture and people."
Words such as these are often spoken on the Internet. These words however assume a chilling significance since they are from the 1500 page manifesto entitled "2083 - A European Declaration of Independence" by Anders Behring Breivik who killed 93 people in a bomb and shooting rampage in Norway earlier this year.
A recent psychiatric evaluation ordered by an Oslo court found the self-styled anti-Muslim resistance fighter was psychotic during the July 22 attacks, the country's worst peacetime massacre - which means he's not mentally fit to be sentenced to prison.
"The conclusions of the forensic experts is that Anders Behring Breivik was insane," prosecutor Svein Holden said, adding Breivik was in a state of psychosis during the attacks. In their report, the experts describe a man "who finds himself in his own delusional universe, where all his thoughts and acts are governed by these delusions", Holden said.
"They conclude that Anders Behring Breivik during a long period of time has developed the mental disorder of paranoid schizophrenia, which has changed him and made him into the person he is today." Breivik has confessed to carrying out the attacks but denies criminal guilt, saying he's a commander of a Norwegian resistance movement opposed to multiculturalism.
There are no prizes for guessing that much of the material in his 1500-page manifesto comes from the Internet. It is also commonly acknowledged that much of the material emanating on the Internet cannot be handled maturely by certain sections of society, who are incapable of making a reasoned response to provocative material.
Kapil Sibal, while seeking to post-screen such disgusting material has said that some of the images and statements on social media risked fanning tensions in India, which has a long history of deadly religious violence. The Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice Markandeya Katju has publicly supported such a move.
Infact, what has not been otherwise sought to be curbed is the appalling state of affairs of the reader's comments in otherwise respected Indian newspaper web-sites. While International Newspaper Websites such as the New York Times, Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune moderate comments from readers to avoid vulgarity, innuendo, defamatory material and unverified and unsustainable slur, there is a complete lack of moderation in Indian newspaper Websites of otherwise respected newspapers and indeed of all newspaper web-sites of India. The content is most often defamatory, vulgar, perverted, illogical, un-intelligible, wholly unjustified and is aimed at spreading hate in the country.
All Indian newspapers ought to strengthen the role of the moderator.
Meanwhile, Facebook said in a statement that it recognised the government's wish to minimize the amount of offensive content on the Web. It said that it removes content that violates company rules on nudity and inciting violence and hatred.
Internet search giant Google, which owns social networking site Orkut and video-sharing site YouTube, also said it already removes content when it is illegal or against its own policy.
Therefore, it is easy to remove such disgusting material with either human intervention or through technology costing some money. While Google saw second-quarter profits jump 36 per cent to $2.51bn (£1.54bn), while revenues rose to $6.92bn, Facebook could stand to pull in close to $1 billion in profit this year.
India now has 100 million Internet users, less than a tenth of the country's population of 1.2 billion. It is the third-largest user base behind China and the United States. It is expected that there will be about 300 million users in India in the next three years.
More about Brijesh KalappaBrijesh Kalappa, an advocate in the Supreme Court, is the Additional Advocate General, Haryana. A former journalist, he has a wide range of interests including reading and travelling. He has worked with several legal luminaries on subjects of importance in civil, criminal, water and electoral laws and has individually represented governments, eminent individuals and major industrial houses. Gifted with the prowess for distinctive sharp-edged analysis, he has been working closely with several leaders of the Indian National Congress.
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