Supporting freedom of speech and expression is a bit of a spectrum. On one end there is the complete commitment to free speech, consequences to anybody be damned. On the other end there is North Korea.
In between, there’s the hypocritical commitment to free speech in Indian politics where Shashi Tharoor will criticise Modi banning Jaswant Sinha’s book but say nothing about Congress government bans on Nine Hours to Rama, The Satanic Verses, and James Laine’s books. There’re also the Hindutvawadis who are all for free speech when it comes to Taslima Nasreen and the Danish Muhammad cartoons, but suddenly do an about face when it comes to MF Hussain and the poor chap in Vadodara.
But even if you’re not committed to free speech at a fundamental or ideological level, there’s a very good selfish reason to support it, or to speak up for any poor bastard who’s getting thulped for having caused offense: if people who are actually offensive and obnoxious can get away with it, people who’re entirely innocent don’t have anything to worry about. If Muslims can depict Hindu gods any way they like even if they are blatantly hurtful or derogatory, Hindus can also depcit gods in any manner, even if these are not traditional and a little edgy. Conversely, if offended Hindus can get away with hounding Muslims, they’ll soon start going after offensive Hindus too. And apparently we have already slipped down that particular slope:
Dr Subodh Kerkar, an artist based in the holiday resort state of Goa, had announced the exhibition of his sketches, which depicts Lord Ganesh in different form including the one holding Oscar award.
I have been receiving phone calls which threatens me with dire consequences. They told me that they will chop off my fingers for indulging in such act, Dr Kerkar told daijiworld from his gallery at Calangute, a beach village in North Goa.
The series of calls for the painter started when Sanatan Saustha, a hard core Hindu organization through its mouthpiece, Sanatan Prabhat carried the sketches appealing `Hindus to call up Dr Kerkar and express their anguish.
The paintings means no offence to any religion. They are my ex-pression of creativity, Dr Kerkar said. The painter said that he himself is a devotee of Lord Ganesh and has always been inspired by him.
He got into trouble for painting Ganesh with an Oscar. At this rate Tantra T-shirts are doomed.
Once upon a time, being violent to members of your religion for not being pious enough was something that the Dukhtaran-e-Millat used to do in Kashmir. It’s tragic that now we Hindus are sinking to that level.