Facebook, Google and several other Internet companies are “battling a criminal case in New Delhi filed against them by journalist Vinay Rai. He accuses them of violating India’s criminal code by hosting material on their sites that could disrupt public order and incite communal passions. If the firms are found guilty, punishment could include several years’ jail time for executives and hefty fines. The companies are appealing to quash the case in arguments at Delhi High Court.” (Wall Street Journal) ‘Google and Facebook have removed content from some Indian websites after [the] court warned that India would crack down “like China” if they did not take steps to protect religious sensibilities.’ (Guardian)
This leaves me wondering what I think, as a Buddhist, about free speech. Should it be a principle that overrides all others, as so often advocated in the West? Or should free speech be curtailed in the interests of harmony and cohesion between diverse communities, as is being debated in Delhi High Court?
Part of my interest in this area comes from receiving comments on Journal East posts. I love receiving comments – please comment! One of my reasons for starting the site is to stimulate debate and to bring a Buddhist voice to the live issues we face in society. In doing so, though, should I have an ‘anything goes’ policy on what finds its way here, even when some of the comments might be harsh and cause offence to others? Personally, I’m trying to live by the four speech precepts I was given at my ordination – avoiding false, slanderous, frivolous, harsh speech, and trying to engage in truthful, kindly, meaningful, harmonious speech. But should I expect others – Buddhist and non-Buddhist – to do the same? Am I responsible, in any significant way, for comments posted here? Am I just be shying away from controversy through fear, in blocking certain comments from this site? Comments please! (I promise to publish all of them…for now.)Share