Censorship in the name of saving our sensibilities is an old ruse we Indians use to stop anyone whose views are different from our own. Forever the ostrich, we feel that if we can’t see the objectionable views, they don’t exist in the minds, hearts or art of others. M.F. Hussain, Salman Rushdie, and Tasleema Nasreen all know how it feels to be censured, exiled, banned, threatened to shut down, or even threatened to kill in the name of protecting the public’s ‘sensibilities’
The internet is a wonderful way to come together to share views. It is a wonderful way to learn what the other is thinking, even if we find it slightly jarring or distasteful. The beauty of Facebook is that you create your own content. If your friends are all dog lovers, your Facebook content is going to be a lot about dogs. On the other hand, if you and your friends are racist bigots, most of the post will be about related content – and you will not disapprove.
We are not in Communist China, but a democratic India and it seems neither feasible nor fair to pre-screen data – for one man’s poison is another man’s daily dose of humour. Pre-screening all data seems not only impossible but also violating an individual’s right to expressing their thoughts.
Google India, which along with 20 websites is facing criminal case for allegedly hosting objectionable material, on Monday told the Delhi High Court that blocking them was not an option as a democratic India does not have a “totalitarian” regime like China. Trying to turn India into anything like China is not only a bad idea which might affect the voters’ mind in the next polls but also against our right to freedom of speech.
“Unity in Diversity” cannot just be a token phrase but the feeling should seep into the everyday fabric of the Indian. To keep India the way it is and then move forward without diminishing our diversity, we need to keep moral censorship at an arm’s length. We should toughen up and accept that we live in a varied, dichotomous society where every member has their own wonderfully individualistic views on politics, religion, art and life in general. This heterogeneity should be encouraged as this is what holds us together.
We don’t need a moral watchdog to save our sensibilities. We should instead self-censor if the need be and remove unwanted content from our Facebook accounts by ‘removing’ it or ‘blocking’ it and even Reporting Abuse - Pornography, hate speech, threats, graphic violence, bullying, and spam are not allowed on Facebook. We can report abuse and keep off unwanted content even off our T.V screens; even on our Google search pages we can tighten filters if the need be. The bottom-line is that we the general public have to take a stand and keep the politicians from taking a decision on what we want to watch or say or do.