As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say…’

Editorial in The Hindu:

“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.

“There is no such nexus in Arundhati Roy‘s statements on Kashmir, which are shaped around the theme of gross human rights violations and ‘fundamentally a call for justice.’ It is tragi-comic that there is talk of ‘sedition’ at a time when it is regarded as obsolete in many countries.”

Editorial in Mail Today:

“Those arguing for registration of criminal cases against these individuals are only betraying their lack of respect for the right of free speech and their rather fragile notion of what constitutes our nationhood….

“Arundhati Roy is a public intellectual and has a right to voice her views even if they may appear anti- India in nature. The right of free speech and expression lies at the core of our democracy, and any abrogation of it, diminishes freedom in the country. That is why censorship is the most important weapon in the arsenal of autocrats….

“The bottomline here is that the Indian state is not so weak or fragile as to feel threatened by speeches that few will commend for their balance or good sense.”

Venkatesan Vembu in DNA:

“Soundbite-savvy Roy’s polemics were once merely infuriatingly dishonest (even when they had half a point), her most recent public articulations on Kashmir, coming on top of her unvarnished defence of Maoist resort to violence, cross the threshold of what any self-respecting, law-bound nation-state can tolerate….

“Apart from being historically inaccurate, Roy’s words also betray an inadequate sensitivity to the enormous gravity of any loose talk of azaadi or self-determination at a time when the separatist campaign in Kashmir finally stands exposed before the world as having been propelled all along by Pakistan-backed jihadis who are playing for much larger stakes: the disintegration of secular India.

“Perhaps in parlour room polemics, among calm and politically sanitised minds, there may be little risk from intellectual explorations of the merits of Kashmiri self-determination. But the Kashmir mind today is in a fevered state as a result of years of hot-headed jihadi indoctrination; only when that fever subsides can other cures be contemplated.

“Right now, given that inflamed state, Roy’s words have the potency to bestir indoctrinated minds into extreme action.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

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6 Responses to “As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say…’”

  1. twistleton Says:

    I can’t believe the media is saying that Arundhati talks too much. It is like the pot calling the kettle black :)

  2. Somebody Says:

    Today you know who are the biggest threats to an unified India? It is not any enemy country, it is not fanatics (Hindus or Muslims or any other community), it is not politicians, it is not corrupt people (beurocrats or any others). It is not naxals or any other groups. Because it is possible to deal with them. It is the socalled intellectuals and socalled pseudos, who are the real threats to our nation. They do it so cleverly, using rhetorics, jargons, quotations, at different places and different conditions, it is difficult to make out what exactly is their view point and what exactly do they want . Each day they come out with different statements, clarifications, justifications etc. and the media simply gets carried away with their persona and start heavily projecting them, adding their own versions and interpretations and thus creating more and more confusion in the minds of the people, which is also a very clever kind of destabilizing the unity of the nation. People should be wary of them, beware of them.

  3. Pulikeshi the Last Says:


    Roy is important because she does say what she means and has been consistent in her creed these many years. Bucking the system in a former British colony is not for the faint of heart.

    As in all capitalist countries, the language of profit speaks more clearly and loudly than any other. I am happy that it has not been able to still the voices of Roy and Patkar.

  4. Kumar Says:

    Don’t puke Voltaire or John Stuart Mill. We don’t want to know. Why don’t you quote Chanakya? You ignorant Scallywags!!

    American and British democracies!
    The democracy as practised by the US is inherently flawed because of the two party(Pillar to Post) system that cannot represent the changing socio-cultural face of the American society. The British have a better democracy than the US but again, how much of the mix in the society is represented in their parliament?

    To all the pseudos(media editors), including the editors of the ‘Mail Today’ and ‘The Hindu’… Understand this. The problems faced by a country like India prevail in other so called democracies too, in one form or the other. It is just not that widely known because YOU pseudos have not made a conscious effort to report it. It is because you are still ‘the frog in the well’. You have not made it out of the well yet and will not do so in the future.

    We ARE in a position to EVEN argue about the comments ‘that stupid booker prize winner’ has made, is because of the free speech in India. You see it in the way the sections of the society gets represented. The inability of a single party to win an outright majority is a testament to that fact.This is a country where democracy is alive and kicking. The system is robust, NOT the people governing it. It is in the hands of the people to make better use of it. Yes, it is a struggle, don’t cut and run. Had she been in the US and made silly irresponsible comments like this in these times, she would have disappeared without a trace. What was she thinking? decades of problems- easily solved by one articulate fiction writer making stupid comments? Mullahs and the Indians thanking her after 60 years of struggle? What does she think of the Kashmiri pandits in Delhi who are refugees in their own country?

    So, the lesson any school kid can give you is… act responsibly and speak sensibly. If you cannot contribute to building a better nation, step aside and let other willing countrymen to make a difference. I know, we’re not all squeaky clean and shining. Who is…??

    Thankfully there are these other jokers like the Shiv Sena and the RSS to even out the ill effects of these self proclaimed elite who are out to squander the nation away to the Mullahs and the Maoists for nothing.

    One more thing! Stop Quoting OXBRIDGES and LOOKUP YOUR OWN HISTORY! YOUR VERY ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORY!! You’ll find more quotes from better thinkers than the entire West put together.

  5. S Krishna Kumar Says:

    Will The Hindu say the same words in defence of Chinese dissidents?

  6. Formerly Anon Says:

    N Ram will follow his lecture on free speech with an even stronger defense of China’s suppression of Tibetans and Uighurs.

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