Freedom of Expression

From among the opinions that were not given audience.

This was a response I wrote to the following conversation between Arnab Chaterjee and Inder Salim, about a post by Arnab Chaterjee about the public, the personal and the private on the Sarai Reader List. It was rejected because the mail ‘had a suspicious header’.


I don’t know if you will excuse my saying so in public, but I think that your work is brutally brutally(brutally, brutally) insensitive and inert.

It takes a lot of indifference to make a comment like this. But I hope you will think about it.

And the reasons why I refrain from being polite are

It does’nt take a fascist to change the world. It takes a realist. In adopting a stern ideological position you want to be heard. I have things to say. And I cannot wait until fortune(whatever that is) drops my way. It means that from where you are, you want, desperately to articulate what you feel.

It only takes an extremely masculine, privileged position to be as insensitive and culturally sterile as your research is.

While for some the personal, public, and private may be constructs that the likes of Habermas figured out, for some it’s a loss. Of an entire history.

While for some all that is going on needs to be looked at through the eyes of (who, why?) theorists, for some people like me (and this is personal), it’s a complete lacoona of understanding about how to participate. So when the debates are played out on some abstract notion of Freedom of Expression (what?), for some other people it’s the freedom to breathe that is at stake. The freedom to be.To imagine.

And terrorism.

Tell you what I think terrorism is, terrorism is not being allowed to behave how you want to.

Not being allowed to articulate your view point. I think terrorism is when you’re expected to conform to everyone’s ideas.

Terrorism is stifling difference. Terrorism is when you want to scream but are stifled because you are’nt allowed to stand out in everyone’s confused pot pourri of consumption. That’s what terrorism is.

Terrorism is expecting everyone to listen when you talk, when you dole out judgments.

Being excluded.

Terrorism is expecting someone to subscribe to what your idea of radical or modern or noteworthy.

I refuse to participate.

I refuse to comment.

I don’t want to have anything to do with your public sphere.

Go on, ask me why I’m so despondent.

Post Script 2: And what I think is a response, one that will take me a while(or a practice) to counter is here. I have always thought Kushwant Singh to be a deplorably bad joker on matters concerning women.Try reading ‘The Company of Women’. No further comments.


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