Freedom of Speech is Also Freedom from Speech - New Canadian Media

Freedom of Speech is Also Freedom from Speech

Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media is a right, enshrined in legislation/law, given to every citizen in a secular democratic country, including France, the United States,…

Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media is a right, enshrined in legislation/law, given to every citizen in a secular democratic country, including France, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

Living under the protection of this lawful blessing in Canada, I wonder why Al-Qaeda and ISIS supporters, most recently being French nationals, and also blessed to be living insulated under so many democratic laws, go around killing fellow citizens. The January 7th massacre of 17 innocent victims was committed against the citizens of France by the citizens of France. Is this how Lincoln meant to define democracy? Most certainly not.

Pushing the Boundaries of Free Speech

The artistic/pictorial portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad is nothing compared to Maqbool Fida Husain’s culturally offensive portrayals of Hindu gods. I am referring for example to naked paintings of Lord Ganesha, the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi, and of the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. Husain really pushed the boundaries and even his luck, way beyond Hindu tolerance, when he painted the goddess of war, Durga, having sex with Ganesh’a trunk.

Would you not consider these paintings to be blasphemous? I do. But I note with pride that not a single Hindu ran after him with a loaded gun to shoot him, or with his shiny sword to behead him. Even the Supreme Court of India found him not guilty under the Freedom of Speech and Press protection.

Freedom has a price, a heavy price.

Indian history is filled with the names of those Muslim rulers who, over a period of 700 years, destroyed roughly 60,000 Hindu temples, plundered their gold idols, and built more than 3,000 mosques on those very same temple sites.

That kind of brutality was illegal, immoral, unethical and blasphemous then, and would be construed as exactly the same today. My Muslim friends must know that if a portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad is wrong, then making an offensive naked painting of the Hindu gods and goddesses is way beyond wrong. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander, but not for the civilized people. Freedom is never free.

Freedom has a price, a heavy price.

Despite the comparative examples above, I believe the portrayal of the Prophet was wrong, just as the destruction of Hindu temples was wrong; just as Husain’s vulgarity in his painting is wrong. A combination of two or more wrongs does not make it right.

Journalists’ Responsibilities for Peace

I believe that journalists have the same legal and ethical responsibilities as the legislators, who formulate our democratic laws. For me, the end result of any law has to be what is good and right for the people who are going to practice it and benefit from it.

It is irresponsible and frankly, lazy for them to go around provoking their fellow citizens, covered under the quilt of freedom of speech.

Journalists have to work for peace and not work against peace.

It is irresponsible and frankly, lazy for them to go around provoking their fellow citizens, covered under the quilt of freedom of speech.

Terrorists, and all those who support them in the name of one specific religion, can still redeem themselves from their current and past sins by fostering, nursing and showing the same respect for other religions that they demand for their religion. The expression of mutual respect heals all invisible wounds. Heal them and be healed.


Dr. Suresh Kurl is a former university professor; a retired Registrar of the BC Benefits Appeal Board and a former member of the National Parole Board.

Re-printed with permission from Asian Pacific Post.

About the author

Dr. Suresh Kurl is a former University Professor retired Registrar of the BC Benefits Appeal Board (Govt. of B.C.) a former-Member of the National Parole Board (Govt. of Canada), a writer and public speaker and a member of the Provincial Committee on Diversity and Policing.

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