2nd October 2011
Ganesh vs. the Third Reich #1
I'm finally getting around to an analysis of the detailed issues in relation to the play Ganesh vs. the Third Reich and actions taken in this regard by the Indian community in Sydney. To streamline things, I'm going to pick a few key posts (and sequence of comments following these posts) from this open Facebook group, and post them on this blog without comment (but with colour highlights). To the extent possible, I will remove names (except mine and Bhagwad's).
The material was very extensive, and has raised numerous issues. Once I finish posting and compiling this material into relevant sections, I'll provide some comment.
It is clear I have upset a few people by asking a few blunt questions. Well, debate is good for clearing the cobwebs of the mind. So let's have it. Just one point at this stage – I do not object to protests against offensive material. I don't object to people writing against it, or even holding a dharna. I only object to one thing: the involvement of government (or the law) in matters related to such offence.
And I agree that my comments seeking "proof" for the harm were not quite strategic. Clearly the sentiments of many (if not all) Hindus have been hurt. These are emotional matters not for me to judge, nor should I have approached the matter through that pathway. Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, including those who are hurt by a particular comment.
But let me complete the publication of these comments and then provide consolidated feedback.
COMMENT #1 and sequence of discussion
Sanjeev Sabhlok Thanks for adding me, Y. Two blog posts that discuss this issue. Happy to debate either her or on my blog:http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2011/09/freedom-of-speech-on-the-backfoot-in-australia/ and http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2011/09/hinduism-must-drop-the-pretense-of-tolerance-and-join-islamic-fanatics/YS Freedom of speech is not an absolute thing. It does not entitle anyone to denigrate people’s race or religious beliefs.NR these are two different topics being covered, and two different socio-political principles. Freedom of Speech is not the same as Freedom of the Press.If you want to protest about Andrew Bolt’s case, argue it under the Freedom of the Press, which has nothing to do with this groupIf you want to argue about Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, then take into consideration the principle of harm, which is a recognised limitation to Freedom of Speech.Just as you’re claiming that anything and everything should be said under freedom of speech without constraints, we’re exercising our right under the principle of harm, which is built into the principle of Freedom of Speech.Sanjeev Sabhlok What’s the harm? Can you be very explicit and very detailed? Where is the cut on your body? Where is the blood? Have you been hospitalised?Sanjeev Sabhlok What’s to distinguish your arguments against this one: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cartoonist-held-for-modi-sketch-insulting-islam/853348/YS Harm does not always need to be physical or involve physical injuries or cuts. An injured person does not always need to be hospitalized. Even illnesses can be physical and non-physical. I just can’t see any logic or sense in the statement that freedom of speech has to be ABSOLUTE. That concept is totally impractical and unreal. Freedom of speech is a relative thing.YS Indian Express story has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Even the Cartoon is not there. Let us not confuse the issues.Sanjeev Sabhlok The intent is exactly the same, Y. Anyway, what precisely was the harm? If not physical then where? In the head? Which part of the head hurt? Can we have X-rays of the head? (or whatever it is that detects that pain)?YS I am unable to understand your logic, sometimes. On Kyle Sandilands matter, you were not happy with an apology alone from him. You wanted him to be sacked for a lot less offence than what we are seeing in the current issue. You are apparently a supporter of the concept of "Absolute freedom of speech" and yet you wanted him to be sacked for using "freedom of speech"! Bizarre, to say the least. You are wrong on both counts.YS Sorry, you can’t see every thing in an X-ray! There are many things which you can’t visualise. You can only feel them. Pain, anguish, distress, disgust and revolt are some examples which no X-ray can visualise. Sorry, I forgot, you do not believe in modern medicine or medical profession. You yourself have called names for medical profession, without you having any background in medicine or medical training. You are wrong there too. Your anecdotal experience does not prove a thing. Modern medicine saves lives and a few bad apples in medical profession do not render the whole profession useless or bad. Your Blog used hyperbole and gave an imbalanced view of the profession.YS I disagree with your theory of "ABSOLUTE freedom of speech" and "The whole medical profession is useless".YS According to you, they have an ABSOLUTE freedom of speech which entitles them to denigrate our beliefs, deities or religion, but we are not entitled to express our disapproval and disgust by the same logic of yours. Bizarre!YS http://www.sabhlokcity.com/2011/09/the-medical-profession-is-in-shambles-a-farce/ This blog of yours does not prove a point, just because you had the misfortune to meet a specialist who was not good enough. Exceptions do not become rules. Just like calling medical profession a FARCE, you are calling some of us, HINDU fanatics, just because we are using our freedom of speech to express our concerns with denigration of our deities or beliefs. You are WRONG on both counts. You have not even seen the Cartoon from India [Indian Express story], but you still jumped to a premature conclusion and called us HINDU fanatics. We are not fanatics at all. Instead, we are rational people, who do not denigrate or abuse any one’s beliefs, deities, or religions, but also do not want others to do the same for ours. Is it not FAIR, Sanjeev?YS Sorry, I forgot one thing. You do not believe in modern medicine, as is clear from your Blog. Despite this, you are now willing to rely on X-rays? I can see a clear contradiction! BTW, who will read that X-ray? I am afraid, it would not be a lay person, with no knowledge of medicine. It would again be a medical professional, whom you will not trust. Are you going to re-write your Blog on medical profession?YS http://Ysingh.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/clarification-ganesh-versus-the-third-reich-is-not-an-issue-between-australia-and-india/ This Blog post of mine explains what I am about. There were some mistakes in The Age article. I have clarified where I stand on this matter. Council of Indian Australians Inc [www.cia.org.au] is not a HINDU organisation. It is an Indian Australian community Organisation. I am its president and happen to be a Hindu. Our secretary, Mr D’cruz is a Catholic christian. We have people from many faiths in our organisation. We have all resolved to express our concerns about Ganesh versus the third Reich. We are not FANATICS, by any means.NR Sanjeev, I’ve had a similar discussion about the harm caused in earlier posts.To save me from retyping the points I’ve made, please scroll down and read the previous discussions that have been had.Bhagwad Jal Park Even the most repressive regimes in the world allow people to say nice things which don’t hurt anyone. But if a country claims to have "freedom of speech" it must allow hurtful speech that hurts people’s sentiments. Otherwise, what’s the meaning of "free speech?"
Bhagwad Jal Park Also no one forces a person to read an article, watch a play, or listen to a speech. It’s a choice. And every choice comes with the risks that one’s sentiments will be hurt. Take it like an adult.AKA But freedom of speech does not imply acceptance of intentional sentimental injury. As long as the facts are not distorted, freedom of speech is absolutely fine. Again, I have no idea why ppl keep on harping on about freedom of speech. We are ALL in support of freedom of speech – ppl opposing this campaign, pls understand that clearly & retain this clarity when putting arguments forward. Living in a free, democratic and multicultural society also comes with the responsibility of respect & sensitivity which is a very different issue to freedom of speech. Thats the only thing 1100 FB supporters & 18 community organizations are requesting which is a very basic human right in modern society. This is why I am proud to live in & uphold Australian values which is based on mutual respect & understanding. I’m not going to retype all my previous points, but refer to another of my thread where I’ve addressed this in more depth.Bhagwad Jal Park Freedom of speech is meaningless unless you have the right to offend whomsoever you want. Like I said, it takes no great qualities to tolerate nice polite things. It’s special only when you ignore deliberate provocation – as long as no physical violence is conducted of course.
Bhagwad Jal Park Only physical violence is to be punished. Because a person cannot ignore physical violence and may be defenceless. But the law assumes that all adults can just ignore mere words. There’s a saying – sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Bhagwad Jal Park Finally, no one choose to get beaten up physically. If the offending speech etc were on public loudspeakers where you have no choice but to hear it then that might be a problem. But you PAY to go see a play! It’s not accidental. You PAY to read a book. You CHOOSE to go listen to a speaker. And so you cannot claim to be a victim when you freely walked into a private area where you may hear things you don’t like.YS ..as long as adverse or offending comments or description are not published anywhere, and no one except those who are in that private space has access to that private event/speech/play.NR If that’s the case, explain why there are laws against slander, defamation and libel?Shouldn’t freedom of speech apply and these laws be null and void?YS Violence can be physical or verbal. Physical or psychological injury both are bad and affect people for a long time. Bullying is nothing but psychological violence.YS Violence can be physical or verbal. Physical or psychological injury both are bad and can affect people for a long time. Bullying is nothing but psychological violence, which is a criminal offence.DN extreme cynicism, intolerance and satire result from failure to trust oneself and to belong. In medicine and psychiatry we call it narcissism.Bhagwad Jal Park Laws against slander, defamation and libel result only when a purposely person spreads false information maliciously. Comedy, parody and satire are specifically exempt from this standard because everyone knows it’s a joke.NR Explain how torture scenes of Lord Ganesh is comedy, parody or satire…?SI And for the perpetrator humor is a convenient defence for degrading another…Bhagwad Jal Park Yes – humor might indeed be a convenient way to degrade another person. But in a free society, no one has the right to not have their feelings hurt.Bhagwad Jal Park Torture scenes aren’t libel either are they? And as mentioned before, if Ganesh is a real person, he has the right to sue in court. Other people have no such standing!SI Everyone has the right to stand up and ask not to be offended too, and to have the truth told and the record set straight. Do you have an issue with us doing so lawfully and respectfully?Bhagwad Jal Park Not at all. You’re correct – everyone has the right to stand up and ask not to be offended. But there’s no guarantee that your request will be granted. You don’t have the right to not be offended and you can’t demand that other people keep things to themselves which will offend youNR OK, no value in continuing this conversation. You’re just arguing for the sake of it.Bhagwad Jal Park I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m trying to be as logical as possible. It’s more likely that you don’t know how to refute the points I bring up.AKA I agree with N. Goodbye Bhagwat and God bless.Bhagwad Jal Park I think it’s unfair to make assumptions that certain arguments are posted in bad faith. You must always assume that people are genuine and only after specific evidence must you change your mind. But you must always give people the benefit of the doubt to start with.But no issues – it’s between you and your consciousness to decide whether or you’re unfairly judging someone. I tried.