Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When Goliaths collide

In 1997, a letter from John Le Carre in the Guradian, defending against himself against allegations of being anti-Semite, brought in the ring Salman Rushdie and Hitchens, invoking LeCarre's soft rationalization of the fatwa against Rushdie in 1989.
Oh what a delicious  battle this. And note how LeCarre's arguments already preempt the recent line taken by Chetan Bhagat.
Read Hitchen's opening metaphor! I was grinning imagining Chetan, cleaned out by the legendary Hitchens, trashed like poo in a soiled diaper.
Read here.

(All said and done,I still respect Chetan for sticking out for what he imagines freedom of speech as, even though i heartily disagree with him, and taking a stance. I believe that the Rushdie fatwa has been misused by certain rightwing elements for their own agenda, people who are as much enemies of "freedom of speech" as the ayatollah. Freedom is a rather tricky concept to understand because, many  times, the restraints lie not within the society but within us. Freedom is a dizzying plunge into a never-ending abyss of possibilities, negations, and regenerations, and not many of us want to walk to the edge of that cliff.  But it does strike me funny how he believes he sometimes "provokes" in his writings - illustrative how, like that frog in the well, our worldview seems so secure in its definitions, even in its accepted "provocations, when we choose not to imagine it beyond what we inherit.

From Satanic Verses:
“Question: What is the opposite of faith
Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself is a kind of belief. 


Tangled up in blue... said...

It's very interesting that le Carre brings up something called "limits of freedom". Doesn't that sound a little awkward, that phrase? A limited freedom is a bit of a contradiction in my head.

I like the definition of the right to freedom of speech that Voltaire gave us, "I do not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it."

Also, all that "to insult with impunity one of the world's great religions" bit was a more than a little overdone, I thought.

How does one insult a religion with impunity by writing a mere book?

Personally, I never get how anyone can be offended by a book when they have the simple option of not reading it. I mean, there's just good writing and bad writing and I don't see anyone sending Chetan Bhagat a fatwah anytime soon.

On a more serious note, about restraints lying within one's self - I think that's where they rightfully ought to lie. Within a single individual at a time. If we try to impose restraints on a larger scale, it's hard to do it without risking the curtailment of somebody's freedom.

Bland Spice said...

TUIB. exactly. are restraints are for us to decide.
no one is infinitely free in all possible senses. yet, when we project our fears and make theme general constraints, we restrain others, impinge on their right to find their own balance, own path, to live on.

Kholu said...

@gullu: I would say am a little conservative when it comes to freedom of speech, coz most of the people do not have that internal restraint and don't know where to draw the line. I am afraid the world we live in, is driven by phobias and constant need to conform, so I feel that in the years to come the freedom of speech will be curtailed further.