Some people, particularly those from smaller Indian cities get the concept of freedom of expression catastrophically wrong. Unless of course, they don’t get it wrong at all but instead intentionally misuse it to purvey their graphic content in a manner as distasteful as it is obnoxious. The reference made to the individual/ group of people in the above statement should not be hard to decipher.
We take this freedom of expression thing too seriously. And honestly speaking, it’s not such a big deal. What would you do if you had infinite freedom of expression? What incestuous monstrosity would you express in that censorship-free utopian world? Are we seriously not being allowed to express ourselves freely? Did we not just welcome a film starring a porn star in a lead role? Do we not extend full support to a glorified Yogi desperately clinging on to a fleeting anti-corruption bandwagon? It’s really not a matter of freedom of expression. It’s about not being allowed to behave recklessly and accountability. Misconceptions about democracy float around on twitter. While it is the idea of a democracy to allow everyone to be able to express themselves, it’s also about protecting everyone’s rights. If Aseem Trivedi should be allowed his democratic right to express his “art” freely, I, a mere knower of two Vedas have an equal and opposite right to take offence to his expression of art.
What Aseem Trivedi did cannot be considered civil disobedience. It’s a step further and it’s one step too far. What he has tried to portray in his cartoon of Kasab urinating on The Indian Constitution in the form of a dog is beyond me. Does it qualify as sedition? Under the current law, yes. Is the law redundant? Perhaps. But one must note that changing the law will not change the content and the subject of Mr. Trivedi’s cartoon. Even if he wasn’t charged with sedition, everyone who has any regard for the union of India should take offence to it. It is one thing to caricaturize political figures and criticize their acts and behavior. But when an individual openly insults, the parliament, the constitution and the very fabric of governance of a nation, that falls under rebellion – not an offence any state would take kindly to. Neither should it.
Really Mr Trivedi? Is this your idea of Democracy and Patriotism?
There’s never been a time when a witty cartoon or clever caption about an inept government wasn’t appreciated. RK Laxman did it for years without once being charged with sedition. There are some lines however that mustn’t be crossed. I may not like Dr. Pratibha Patil and that entitles me to criticize her in the severest ways but if I were to morph her picture onto a naked woman’s photograph and add a lewd comment below it, surely I wouldn’t be doing anything illegal but is that all that matters?