Stories about freedom of speech

I agree with Sam Harris and Bill Maher

A few days ago, social media went rife with people praising Ben Affleck. “Batman comes to the rescue” was the general sentiment tweeted by everyone and my friends happily posted the link to the clip from Bill Maher’s show. People were ecstatic that an American, a prominent actor at that, finally stood up for Islam on a highly rated TV show. The clip did not just cause a sensation in Pakistan; it opened a debate online with prominent analysts like Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria taking up sides and expressing their opinions. As I thought over what Maher and Sam Harris had said, I found myself ...

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Contradicting the Constitution (il)legally

“Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures… Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes… No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law… All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law… There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex… No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment… The State ...

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A sham democracy is not democracy at all, PML-N

In light of recent events, the government has said that it has a firm resolve to ‘safeguard’ democracy at any cost. I am not entirely sure what the government thinks democracy really is. So far, whatever steps they have taken to ‘safeguard’ it, have been in direct opposition to basic human rights – the same rights that democracy is supposed to protect. I can’t help but find the government’s ‘defence strategy’ heavily laden with panic and idiocy. Their response reminds me of a story I once read in which a man was entrusted with the duty to protect food reserves for a ...

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You don’t have to celebrate homosexuality, but please don’t be a homophobe

The landmark Supreme Court judgment was definitely not going to go unnoticed in Pakistan. It was obvious that it was going to get widespread support in Pakistan as well. I was surprised to even see a few people drape their profile pictures in the rainbow colours in unity. However, the copious amounts of vitriol directed towards those people were vastly unwarranted and totally unnecessary. Nobody is requiring every single person in the world to celebrate pride but there is no reason to berate people doing so. You are free to express yourself but your freedom of speech does not extend to having a right ...

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Kill them, kill them!

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Sinister, sinister, He exclaims, You are forever, Held in remains. You shall kill for you need to live, Earn for yourself but to me you give, Deny the contrary, expand the illusive, For we are the ones, we are exclusive. Sinner, sinner, He explains, Blessings for those, Who do not complain. You see my friend, you cannot speak. When elders troll, the minions scroll, To pacify you is our ultimate goal. Kill them, kill them! He will shout. The mind that opposes, Should bleed, no doubt. The end is nigh, we need to act. Those that answer, we will subtract. We are the holy, we are ...

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While ‘boys will be boys’ rape will be ‘sometimes right’ in India

Babulal Gaur, Madhya Pradesh’s Home Minister, said, “Rape is a mental disorder. Rapists do not inform police or government that they are going to rape. It cannot be curbed because it’s a mental disorder problem. We could have acted on motorists if they do not wear helmet. How can we prevent rape as it happens at a secluded place? This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.”   The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ostracised these remarks calling them the politicians ‘personal view and not in any way representative of the party’, but is that enough? Should a person, pledged to preserving law and ...

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Cheeekh-Speak Up: Plagiarism in the name of ‘freedom of expression’

Freedom of speech is a much touted phenomenon in the society today. However, along with this freedom comes the responsibility to recognise original content as well as the conscientious use of someone else’s opinion. Surfing on the internet one day, I came across a post shared on Facebook by a non-profit organisation called Cheeekh-Speak Up. Skimming through, I was shocked to see a post from my personal blog site published there as a contribution. What was even more appalling was that it had been published without any credit or link to my page, making it seem as if I myself had contributed ...

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KU, IBA and PU are plagued by political wings, they must be stopped

There is a common norm for political party student wings at the University of Karachi – if an issue is at odds with your views, the only way to deal with it is through disruption and menace. The members of these wings are university going students. One would expect, at this level, a certain sense of maturity and control over emotions from individuals at this age. Unfortunately, student politics has led them down quite the opposite path. There is hardly any wall or corner devoid of graffiti favouring or defaming one political party or the other. Student political wings, however, posses a ...

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Why the anti-Muslim ads in New York City were not hate speech

Offensive ads have been showing on New York City buses and in subway station.  One reads, “In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Beneath that, in blue, were two Stars of David, and the words, “Support Israel.” Below that, in red text, it read, “Defeat Jihad.“ Surely, this is politically incorrect in a world where human rights discourse has more or less permeated consciousness.  If teachers in colleges made such statements, many would boycott their classes – if employees at the office water cooler called Muslims savages, it’d be the subject of a workplace controversy. Why was the ad ...

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Azhar Ahmed: Punished for irresponsible freedom of speech?

His crime was posting comments that were tasteless, rude, offensive, and highly insensitive to those who had lost their loved ones, but were they worthy of a criminal trial? According to various prominent UK news organisations, including The Independent, the following comments posted by a 20-year-old British man, Azhar Ahmed, on the social networking website Facebook, landed him in hot water: “People gassin [venting off] about the deaths of soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmless ...

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