Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

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Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:10 pm

Recently we have come to witness two cases of apparent violation of freedom of speech and expression.

First, let's talk about attack on Paris office of Charlie Hebdo.

Now if you have been living under a rock and don't know what Charlie Hebdo is then you should know that it is a French satirical magazine which is infamous for its long history of intentionally controversial and provocative cartoons and covers which tend to be anti-religious and anti authoritarian.
Just to give a perspective on how provocative their cartoons are, they had a cover illustrating Prophet Muhammad saying ''100 lashes if you don't die laughing'' and another one depicting Papal Conclave as a gay Conclave.

Charlie Hebdo have often defended their actions and said that they do not attack religion, unless it gets involved with politics, cause when that happens, democracy is in danger.

Now, post attacks on their Paris office, quite a few people have been of the opinion that with their continued obscene attacks on religious          figure-heads, they were in a way ''Asking For It''.

I believe this statement would have caused way more outrage, if it were spoken in context of women empowerment.
But steering clear of that controversial topic, for now, let's concentrate on freedom of expression.

The base argument upon which ''Asking for it'' allegation is made is that Charlie Hebdo have abused their freedom of expression.


Now let's move on to AIB Roast.
AIB recently uploaded a Roast of 2 popular bollywood actors in an attempt to raise the bar of what is acceptable in India ,and the show was as it claimed itself to be. It was crass and ugly. Kinda like how Charlie Hebdo's comics are.
AIB were attacked by various groups again on grounds of abuse of freedom of speech cause they claimed that it was a violation of one of its clauses, namely ''Decency and Morality''.

Indian Constitution gives us the freedom of speech and expression unless it violates one of the 8 clauses that includes contempt of court, defamation etc.

On further analysis of the 2 cases we see some stark differences between the two.

Charlie Hebdo, are known to be anti-religious and anti authoritarian, and most of their cartoons, no matter how offensive they may appear to be are aimed at the ideologies and not people.
If Charlie Hebdo is censored and their freedom is restricted then the very concept of ''Freedom of Expression'' loses its meaning.

In Salman Rushdie's word's,''What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”

If speech and expression can not be used to bring forth ideological changes then what is it's use.
Ideals are susceptible to change. And that change can be brought about only if ideologies are continuously ridiculed and criticized.
And Charlie Hebdo does that. They don't make fun of Pope as they are, they make fun of what they represent. And this freedom must be protected at all costs, if human beings as a species aim to develop and survive.
 

Meanwhile sadly, same cannot be said about AIB. As much as AIB tried to raise the bar of comic acceptability, all they managed to do was offend people, and not in a way Charlie Hebdo does.
AIB made fun of people for their appearance, skin color, and choice of religion.
In any other country, every joke on Shakya would be rightly labeled as being ''Racist''.

So, as much as you claim that AIB are wrongly being criticized for their actions, and had it been any other country, they would not have to go through what they had to go through here, then let me assure you, they would have faced worse actions, and widespread backlash, and that is considering if they had heard only jokes on Shakya's skin tone.

Furthermore, AIB may claim that every one participating were consenting adults who were okay with being ridiculed, but here's the  catch, the jokes they made were not exactly personalized jokes that were applicable only on people sitting there. For instance, most of  the jokes made on Tanmay and Shakya can be easily generalized as jokes on Fat people and Black people.


Having said that, we still need to figure out the acceptable level of freedom of expression, and should there be any restrictions on it at all.
It's one question we need to find the answer of if we are to proceed as a democracy which prioritizes freedom in its true sense.
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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by fordperfect on Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:23 pm

everybody make jokes on fat people.
imagine everybody on whom a joke is being made starts getting offended!
Pakistanis, sikhs, americans, fat peoples, tall peoples, spurs fans....
this list goes on and on untill in comprises every single person on the planet.
what i am trying to say here is everybody offend someone or the other in order to produce humor and its rather funny how they try to be partial about it.
imagine a world without no jokes, no cartoons no humor.
and its not only the jokes, they depict very serious issues through cartoons and memes, and no cartoon or memes either. yes, that's right, that's how the world would be Crying or Very sad
i agree with your post, 100% except your take on the AIB roast, both the cases you have discussed here are different isotopes of the same element called "freedom of expression".
you can not justify one and condemn the other.

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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by drunkninjabug on Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:07 pm

Interesting. I do agree on bits and pieces but there are a few things i have contrasting views on. Let's start with Charlie Hebdo.

I strongly believe that freedom to express and freedom to offend are two very different things. Let me show how.

"In Salman Rushdie's word's,''What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”"
I disagree with Mr. Rushdie.
This is my freedom to express my disapproval and i'm entitled to it. What i'm not entitled to do is saying "Mr. Rushdie is a Satan Worshiper who sacrifices Children". This goes way beyond my freedom to express.The amalgamation of these two concepts is where the problem lies.
Charlie hebdo, or any satirical publication for that matter, can exercise this freedom until it starts to offend a large section of the society. Let me take a tangent at this point. A modern thought has developed that if i'm offended by something then it's my fault for being offended. This, i believe, is quite ridiculous. Why ? Let's understand that.
Research has showed that Emotional and Psychological pain has much worse effects than Physical pain
http: //www .telegraph. co. uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2639959/Emotional-pain-hurts-more-than-physical-pain-researchers-say. html

Now I ask you, if I slap you, how justified would i be on saying "It's your problem for feeling hurt. I'm just exercising my freedom" ?
Why is the case different when it comes to emotional distress you cause to someone when you ridicule the concepts they hold dearer than most things ?

" And that change can be brought about only if ideologies are continuously ridiculed and criticized"
And this is where we part roads. Criticism and Ridicule are two very different things and they should be treated that way.

Talking about AIB. You are correct in your assessment that these two cases have stark differences. One attacks the theological concepts of over a billion people in a manner that is highly offensive and transgresses the lines of 'humorous criticism'. The other, is a form of adult comedy that is restricted in it's audience and presents itself with warning labels and age restrictions. AIB roast is not much different from a bunch of college friends swearing at each other and then posting it on youtube.It is completely under my discretion if i want to watch that content or not. And this is absolutely fine. This debate has some weight if such a thing is broadcasted on national Television or on the pages of a newspaper. Since that's not the case, AIB cannot be criticised on the grounds of promoting Racism, Sexism or any other form of hate speech.

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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by robinssidekick on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:15 am

Firstly I'd like to start with how hypocrisy works, basically you incept the process with biased judgement, or perhaps self deception. The further you investigate, the more solid you build that deception, skipping the useless intermediate steps, the end product is so solidly woven that even your finest judgement will not see the prejudice, hence self deception. Now coming back to the topic, the two instances that are subjected to scrutiny here are nothing but entirely same if we see it from a different frame of reference, that is each one exercising their freedom of expression. Now in the case of Charlie hebdo, though they intended to right what they deem wrong, but then similar could be the case with the guys at AIB. The way most of the non believers see religion wrong is basically the lack of reason penetrating ability the believers have, now the magazine, they found their efforts in a direction aimed at the betterment of the society, same was with the guys at AIB.
Ending it with the qualitative belief of freedom of expression being absolute, with absolutely no room for hypocrisy.
Next up would be the case of physical trauma being analogous to mental pain. Now the case here my friend is, that physical pain here has a universal meaning for almost every sane living organism, whereas mental effects of any external stimuli are purely subjective. Moreover this would be pretty evident from the AIB video itself how happy the faces were when they were subjected to mental 'distress'. On the other physically being traumatized is something entirely different because it causes physical pain, and no one likes to be in pain, unless you are rihanna, who research says is a masochist.

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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by drunkninjabug on Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:46 am

robinssidekick wrote:Firstly I'd like to start with how hypocrisy works, basically you incept the process with biased judgement, or perhaps self deception. The further you investigate, the more solid you build that deception, skipping the useless intermediate steps, the end product is so solidly woven that even your finest judgement will not see the prejudice, hence self deception.
I agree

robinssidekick wrote:Now coming back to the topic, the two instances that are subjected to scrutiny here are nothing but entirely same if we see it from a different frame of reference, that is each one exercising their freedom of expression.
I disagree.
As i pointed out before, the two cases are not at all similar.The whole foundation of our conflicting opinions rests itself on the definition of 'freedom of expression'. Freedom to offend should never be a subset of freedom to express.


robinssidekick wrote:Now in the case of Charlie hebdo, though they intended to right what they deem wrong, but then similar could be the case with the guys at AIB. The way most of the non believers see religion wrong is basically the lack of reason penetrating ability the believers have, now the magazine, they found their efforts in a direction aimed at the betterment of the society, same was with the guys at AIB.
Ending it with the qualitative belief of freedom of expression being absolute, with absolutely no room for hypocrisy.
See, here's the thing. Ridicule can never lead to betterment of society. Criticism and Discussion can.I'll get back on this.

robinssidekick wrote:Next up would be the case of physical trauma being analogous to mental pain. Now the case here my friend is, that physical pain here has a universal meaning for almost every sane living organism, whereas mental effects of any external stimuli are purely subjective. Moreover this would be pretty evident from the AIB video itself how happy the faces were when they were subjected to mental 'distress'. On the other physically being traumatized is something entirely different because it causes physical pain,

Mental trauma is indeed subjective.But the problem is, when you hurt religious sentiments  in a manner that is bound to cause distress to a large section of society, can you sill see justify that action on the grounds of subjectivity ? I would argue not. Let me connect this to how Ridicule and Criticism are two very different things and how one is a subsidiary of Freedom to express and other is not.
A Muslim/Hindu/Christian/Pastafarian may or may not be offended if you criticize Islam/Hinduism/Christianity/Pastafarianism and this is where your point of subjectivity comes in.That is why you'll seldom see a protest on an article that academically criticizes a religion.However, that person WILL be offended by lewd caricatures of Muhammad/Vishnu/Jesus/FSM.
This is no more subjective.
No one present at the AIB roast was offended because they knew what they were signing up for. And that's why i said "It is completely under my discretion if i want to watch that content or not. And this is absolutely fine". I defend AIB because they were on a restricted platform. If the same thing was broadcasted on Television, my stance would be different. And this is not hypocrisy because the two instances differ in their moral principles.

robinssidekick wrote: unless you are rihanna, who research says is a masochist
That debate is way beyond the scope of this form. I'll email you a PDF containing all the refutations and arguments on why Rihanna is a saint and why Kanye is the Antichrist.


Last edited by drunkninjabug on Mon Feb 16, 2015 11:31 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by drunkninjabug on Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:49 am

Off Topic:
How are we conducting this ? Because right now, this would just be an open discussion.
Here's what i suggest.
A member can start a thread with a debate topic. The first person to accept this challenge will be the opponent. We can have 3 posts each on the topic after which other members can post on who won and why. Thoughts ?

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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by Admin on Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:27 am

drunkninjabug''I disagree with Mr. Rushdie. 
This is my freedom to express my disapproval and i'm entitled to it. What i'm not entitled to do is saying "Mr. Rushdie is a Satan Worshiper who sacrifices Children". This goes way beyond my freedom to express.The amalgamation of these two concepts is where the problem lies. ''


Indeed, i totally agree with you. You have no right to say Mr. Rushdie is a Satan Worshiper who sacrifices children.
Cause if you do that, you are defaming Mr. Rushdie. In this case you are essentially  saying Mr. Rushdie is a evil person cause he worships Satan.
Now this is an allegation or to Mr. Rushdie, defamation. You are not criticizing Mr. Rushdie for the idea of worshiping Satan. You have used  it to create a image that is not acceptable. It is like calling someone stupid. You aren't really critiquing the idea of being stupid, you have just used it to create a bad effect.

But here's the thing, this statement is very much similar to some of the ''jokes'' we saw on AIB.


 For instance there was a joke on Abeesh Matthew that created a certain image of Baby Jesus crawling out of Abeesh. 
This joke was just as repulsive and emotionally scarring to any Catholic present in the audience as saying Mr. Rushdie is a Satan worshiper might be to Mr. Rushdie, and those  children he is sacrificing.


 

''Charlie hebdo, or any satirical publication for that matter, can exercise this freedom until it starts to offend a large section of the society. Let me take a tangent at this point. A modern thought has developed that if i'm offended by something then it's my fault for being offended. This, i believe, is quite ridiculous. Why ? Let's understand that. 
Research has showed that Emotional and Psychological pain has much worse effects than Physical pain
http: //www .telegraph. co. uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/2639959/Emotional-pain-hurts-more-than-physical-pain-researchers-say. html

Now I ask you, if I slap you, how justified would i be on saying "It's your problem for feeling hurt. I'm just exercising my freedom" ?
Why is the case different when it comes to emotional distress you cause to someone when you ridicule the concepts they hold dearer than most things ? ''


First of all, on emotional pain hurting more than physical pain. Yes, that is quite true, research has shown that emotional pain and physical pain trigger same region of brain called Anterior Cingulate Cortex, and also same amount of physical pain is more preferable over emotional pain. And that is why literature has often used juxtaposition to describe emotional pain with phrases like ''emotionally scarred'' to paint a picture of  emotional trauma using physical devices.

Having said that, from an evolutionary perspective, anything that increases our overall survival and fitness as a species is likely to persist. Same goes for emotional pain. 

Human Beings forge social bonds cause it increases the chances of their survival. You are more likely to survive and reproduce if you are not alone, in doing so they are prepared to handle the emotional pain of a losing a loved one, cause at the end of the day, this risk increases the overall chances of their survival.

Same goes for the theological concepts that one holds dear to himself. It arises from human's need to associate themselves with a cause greater than the basic animalistic needs of mating and procuring food and shelter, or with a need of having the warm feeling that even death can't completely destroy them, or perhaps to find some reason to live in a otherwise absurd world. And like the above case of losing a loved one, there can always be a scenario where a human can potentially find himself to be in pain cause of some challenge being made on his theological beliefs, and he must be prepared to risk that particular scenario.  

Because unlike physical pain which is a certainty when you touch a cup of hot coffee, a pain caused by a attack on theological belief isn’t certain. That is because every time you are about to touch a hot cup of coffee you know it for a fact that you will get hurt cause of the heat, but when you start believing is a theological concept, you don’t always know how it is gonna turn out for you, you only believe that all is gonna be well. 
 This is primarily because theological  beliefs are susceptible to change. And that change has happened only cause theological beliefs of past were challenged by better and fitter beliefs. For instance, the idea of the universe revolving around earth as was described in Bible, a book of theological beliefs many hold dear to themselves was challenged when a certain man with a telescope proved otherwise. 

In doing so he hurt the emotional feelings of a ''large section of society''. If that man had  freedom of expression in that age, then what you are essentially saying to him is, 'keep your knowledge to yourself, cause you might be harming some people's religious sentiments.'
But  a society that offers a freedom of expression of the aforementioned kind isn't really giving you any freedom. 


''
" And that change can be brought about only if ideologies are continuously ridiculed and criticized"
And this is where we part roads. Criticism and Ridicule are two very different things and they should be treated that way.''



I would like to know,what exactly is that difference in present context?

''
Talking about AIB. You are correct in your assessment that these two cases have stark differences. One attacks the theological concepts of over a billion people in a manner that is highly offensive and transgresses the lines of 'humorous criticism'. The other, is a form of adult comedy that is restricted in it's audience and presents itself with warning labels and age restrictions. AIB roast is not much different from a bunch of college friends swearing at each other and then posting it on youtube.It is completely under my discretion if i want to watch that content or not. And this is absolutely fine. This debate has some weight if such a thing is broadcasted on national Television or on the pages of a newspaper. Since that's not the case, AIB cannot be criticised on the grounds of promoting Racism, Sexism or any other form of hate speech.''



Ok, first things first, Youtube is as big a public platform as national televison or any newspaper.


 2nd if you are saying that AIB could have been criticized if it were broadcasted on national television,then i disagree. In that case, The National televison it was broadcasted upon would fall under the ambit of criticism and not AIB.


3 The discretion of what to watch or what not to watch always rests upon us. For instance if anyone is offended by a Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, then its always his discretion to not buy that magazine again. Like if i know how much pain a hot mugof coffee can cause me, i won't touch it again. 
4 The warning they gave was 18+, meaning the jokes can contain swear words and pornographic depictions, which for the record i don't mind that much, what that warning didn't say was it might contain jokes that degrade baby Jesus and the 3 kings that go to Abeesh's  house to adorn their savior, or jokes that may be racist in nature. 


Now, having said that, its true that in India people don't take racism seriously, and the entire world doesn't take Catholics seriously, so many of those jokes may go under the radar, and the focus would shift to pornographic depictions which IMO did came with proper warnings. But here's the thing, not even those artists who made this vid can be blamed for this, cause for 1 the censor board itself isn't clear on what to censor and what not to censor. They probably make those important decisions going by public's response to trailer of movies. And we know this cause there has already been many reports of inconsistency in censorship of movies. 

In fact, even the relatively simple cases of what to censor and what not to censor is often at times settled in the court of law. Therefore it is of utmost importance for the government to find an answer to this question. 
What should be the acceptable limit of censorship?
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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by Admin on Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:41 am

I have created a new sub-forum for 1 vs 1 debating.
I will post the rules as soon as i get some time. Meanwhile if you want to debate 1 v 1 we can do it in the way drunkninjabug has suggested. 
To add to those rules, after 6 comments of participating candidates, everyone else can act as adj and declare the winner and may or may not give feedback.
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Re: Free Speech : The curious case of attack on Charlie Hebdo & AIB Roast

Post by Admin on Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:44 am

drunkninjabug wrote:''
Mental trauma is indeed subjective.But the problem is, when you hurt religious sentiments  in a manner that is bound to cause distress to a large section of society, can you sill see justify that action on the grounds of subjectivity ? I would argue not. Let me connect this to how Ridicule and Criticism are two very different things and how one is a subsidiary of Freedom to express and other is not.
A Muslim/Hindu/Christian/Pastafarian may or may not be offended if you criticize Islam/Hinduism/Christianity/Pastafarianism and this is where your point of subjectivity comes in.That is why you'll seldom see a protest on an article that academically criticizes a religion.However, that person WILL be offended by lewd caricatures of Muhammad/Vishnu/Jesus/FSM.
This is no more subjective.
No one present at the AIB roast was offended because they knew what they were signing up for. And that's why i said "It is completely under my discretion if i want to watch that content or not. And this is absolutely fine". I defend AIB because they were on a restricted platform. If the same thing was broadcasted on Television, my stance would be different. And this is not hypocrisy because the two instances differ in their moral principles.''


I disagree with your point that academically criticizing a religion will have a totally different effect as compared to using caricatures, and other literary devices or other pieces of art.

This is because,  common sense and human history suggests that religious beliefs are hurt more when they are academically or scientifically discredited.
For the common sense part:
Let's take a example of a person X, say he witnesses a caricature that mocks his belief, and at the same time witnesses a scientific report that says everything his beloved book told him about this universe may not be true,  then what do you suppose will hurt him more. If that person has a incredibly thick skin, we can expect his response to lewd caricature might be, '' fuck the artist! he is a hater'', while his response to a scientific report may not be quite the same, because when a scientific report says what you believe in is false, then there is no scope for ambiguity. In that case blind believers may not respond too kindly to those reports. And we have historic evidence to support this hypothesis.

For Historic evidence part:
Let's go back to the man with telescope, and the period of human history we know as Renaissance.
The blind faith of the Catholic church led them to accusing Galileo of heresy. The scientists were portrayed as someone who work against the God, and therefore we can see, the word Scientist was derived from the word Satanist. For people with blind faith, faith overcomes evidence, but that doesn't mean their right to be offended must be protected at the cost of other's right to express what they believe in.
If religion has right to preach what it deems to be true, then even science has the right to preach what it knows to be true.

Now let's talk about the period of Renaissance.
If you analyse in depth, the current satirical magazines aren't much different from Renaissance art, which used literary devices and other form of art to to bring about a revolution in the thinking of people at the time. It brought about a new perspective to how we see the world.
The Catholics who encouraged the diminutive perspective of man with respect to god were challenged by the new idea which laid emphasis on the idea of God's manifestation of beauty in man and universe.  
The Renaissance artists of the time used art to express the change in the thinking and theological ideas of people at that time. Those pieces of art could be easily considered to be offensive by the Catholics of the period who would have disliked the way their theological beliefs were made fun of. 
And this is the whole point, Science and art works in tandem to bring about changes in beliefs of mankind, so saying one form should be favored over the other is quite absurd.

 




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