It is my assumption that, if you are reading this post, then it only means one of the two things. You are either a blogger, or well aware of blogs ( ie to say, you exactly know the difference between website and a blog.. please don’t make me get into the definition of blogs and stuff. I neither have the time nor the temperament now). In such case, it goes without saying that, we use blogs to voice our opinion to connect with like minded people who share similar concerns / interests. Whether we totally agree to what others say at their blogs is at the discretion of the individuals. Earlier, we used to speak our mind amidst friends and peers over a drink or smoke. Since blogging entered the mainstream internet, they take the position of "opinion" boards. After all, every person is entitled to his / her opinion, and blogs just gives just that opportunity. Well, that’s what you ( we all) thought ... hmmm...
Going by the recent Supreme Court judgment, as on Times Of India – 24 Feb 09, Bloggers can be penalised for what they say in their blogs. This judgment has come in effect because,
19 year old guy started a community in Orkut against Shiv-Sena. One thing led to another and "voicing opinion" became abusive and defamatory on personal level.ie.. someone commented on this guy's community/
Again.. i am not a member of this community, but this is what i gather from what i read about this over the internet. May be that sparked off the big and mighty party-enthusiasts to file against this teenager, as to "hurting public sentiments", rest is history, read the link.
From my own twisted sense of interpretation of free-speech,
- The fundamental right of "free-speech" comes with a social responsibility. We are rightly entitled to our opinion, but how we put it across is the vital part of this social responsibility. Are we operating within this paradigm in your blog posts ( or community / network.. whatever)?
- Haven’t we witnessed a situation in the real world, wherein we say something, and sooner or later it comes and hits us right in the eye. Why is this any different in the virtual world? Can we put a disclaimer ("All content are personal opinion of writer") and blissfully wash our hands off consequences of our words?
- When an argument gets out of hand, don’t we all amicably agree to disagree? Again, this is in adhering to the norms of decency and decorum of the situation. From whatI have seen in the blogosphere, most bloggers are doing just that. This is respecting free-speech even if the content does not please you. But strangely though, it’s the non-blogging population against the blogging population when this scenario comes up on the virtual world.
- Every time a "sentiment is hurt", can one call upon the clause of "hurting public / private/ personal/ religious / communal sentiments" and file a case on the court of law? Wherever there is a disagreement, there is bound to be "hurt sentiments". But using "only this", be THE valid reason for such a complaint?
- Every person derives his / her opinion from what he sees, reads & listens to what is happening around. His ability to frame his thoughts into an opinion makes him a better citizen as he is now socially aware. If so, how right is it to expect a socially aware citizen to keep this thoughts to himself?. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of free speech?
Thats not all , I am very much interested to know how this judgement was arrived at. Again, please don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning the judgement, but merely requesting the sequence that was seen thorough, to arrive at this. My curiosity stems from the fact that I am an average blogger, I blogs in my free time, I have an opinion and I would like to know others too, I try my best to adhere to social norms of "agree to disagree". No lengthy legal jargons, just giving us some pointers will shed light for us allm to see the Honourable Judge’s perspective as well.
- Did you visit blogs prior to hearing this case (or, any case on blogs) ?
- Do you remember the concept of the very first blog you visited ? ( movies , books, personal.. etc etc).
- Do you personally read blogs, or depend on your secretary to give you the information from blogs ?
- Does this mean, "Freedom of speech" comes with a Damocles sword?, at the bloggers own discretion ?
I strongly recommend that you also read the following. Feel free to give me a link to add to this list.