Nitin Pai quoted on free speech and expression

Takshashila’s Nitin Pai quoted in The Bangalore Mirror on a piece on the freedom of expression, in light of the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and the protests against  Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubhagan.

Is freedom of speech bunkum?

“But there are those who believe that arguments for context are a cop-out. Nitin Pai, Director, Takshashila Institution, an independent thinktank, believes the very idea of free speech and expression is one unfettered by government, politicians, social consensus or popular sentiments. The only exception he makes is: “The ‘harm principle’ where there is incitement to violence. Of course some free speech can be defamatory, and those defamed can seek legal recourse for the damage caused to them. But there cannot be any prior restraints on free speech”. “Power imbalance is precisely why free speech is a non-negotiable construct. Free speech is more meaningful for the minority, for their voices to be heard. It is more meaningful for the weaker, powerless, poor or disadvantaged. Only free speech allows the disadvantaged asymmetric power.”

Caveats and conflicts notwithstanding, FoE is an important pillar of an evolved. And while it may be tempting to consider it a myth, Pai begs to differ. “The fact that we are debating its limits is a statement to its existence, importance and acceptance in society. Our only problem is that we want it to be self-serving!”

Read the entire piece here.