February 17, 2014

Why Free Speech Loses in India

Jonathan Shainin, New Yorker

The Associated Press

Free speech has innumerable enemies in India, and comparably few principled defenders—against whom vast legal, political, and social obstacles are arrayed. A writer, publisher, or newspaper editor can fight a case in court, provided he has the patience to endure the interminable delays of the legal system. In the end, he may even win, though the relevant laws have been interpreted, over the decades, to carve out larger and larger exceptions to the right of free expression enshrined in India’s Constitution. No political leader will dare speak in defense of a text under attack unless the book in question targets his enemies; supporting the freedom of unpopular speech only costs votes and never wins them. And the state does not offer much protection from physical harm. When...

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TAGGED: India

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