Don't stifle: Talk it out instead

Even after the storm that has arisen post the arrest of two girls over the controversial Facebook post on Shiva Sena chief Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena seems unrepentant and according to our report yesterday is determined to punish, in their own way, others who post certain kinds of messages on Facebook. The fact that opinions and comments can be misconstrued and are actually very subjective, open to opinion is another matter altogether.

What is important is that the party has once again literally threatened the cops that they must take action over another anti-Bal Thackeray post made on Facebook. The post was put up by one Abhay Kamble. The angry Sainiks thundered that if suitable action is not taken, they will act in their own way.

Again, citizens are being intimidated, literally browbeaten by a powerful and often violent party to ensure that they toe a certain line. This particular tactic, seen in its entirety, is a way of controlling freedom — of speech and expression. For today, we live in a world of cyber speak. Opinions are expressed freely on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Who then is to decide whether a post is offensive or not? Can people be silenced because what they say may not go down well with another? Can silence be brought about through the threat of police action and violence? Going by recent examples and incidents, apparently it can.

When this paper brought out a Charter of Freedom a few days ago in response to the Palghar girls arrest, there was a strong show of support from activists, intellectuals and ordinary citizens who have watched in dismay the slow curbing of our liberties in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways.
The Shiv Sena is hardly garnering any sympathy or support with these reactions. A more dignified way is to maybe start a discussion on Facebook with the so-called ‘offender’? Better still, live by the ‘to each his own’ philosophy. 

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