Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Subramanian Swamy, President of the Janata Party, economics whiz and accused in many defamation cases, has impleaded himself in the Da Vinci Code case in Tamil Nadu. His argument is that the DMK government’s move violates Article 19 (a) of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression.

P.S: Rajesh - please be brief.


rajesh said...

Good for Dr.Swamy. He has nothing else to do anyway. [I hope this is brief enough].

Sanjib Kumar Roy said...

Ms Zoyab,

This post not only supports your view towards the whole case but also gives a very short reply to Mr Rajesh’s lengthy essays.

As far as freedom of speech is concerned I am absolutely with you but as far as hurting the feelings of minority I am not. “Don’t like it don’t watch it” doesn’t really solve the matter here.

I am a Hindu and I am proud for this, but some time I feel in my country when Hindus do something that is considered “fair” but when it comes to the feeling of minority, things goes other way round.

Even after Gujarat Riots – Narendra Modi wins, Babri Masjid issue – Advani, Uma Bharathi win. When Hussain’s paintings hurt Hindu Sentiments his gallery was vandalized within in Minutes but when an hour long Movie hurts minority’s sentiment we sit and discuss, as we are not sure what we should do.

Of course we should not allow politics to enter in this issue but atleast lets try and listen what people related to this wanna say. Let’s stand with them.

Let me finish: If someone says any movie is hurting his/her religious feeling I am with him/her but if political party plays a game behind it, I am not there. I support minorities if they demonstrate for their religious demand, but I am against those who believe in violent demonstration.

Ms. Zoyab, Dr. Asif: Yes freedom of speech is most important thing but everybody can’t bear the responsibility, comes with it. Mr. Rajesh is a perfect example and thanks Ms Zoyab for allowing him to enjoy his freedom of speech too, in your blog.

P.S: I too enjoyed the freedom of speech.

Sanjib Kumar Roy said...

The Da Vinci Code Receives a Much Needed Laugh

Da Vinci Code 2:
Electric Boogaloo is scheduled to open mid-August and run through mid-October in Chicago. This campy, witty and irreverent look at The Da Vinci Code pokes fun at The Da Vinci Code tale and those involved in creating and opposing both the book and the movie and does so in a way that both devout Christ followers and devout Da Vinci Code fans will find enjoyable, amusing and even a bit thought-provoking.

Matthew Moran, founder and Artistic Director of Only a Stranger Productions, encouraged his friend and award-winning playwright John Cosper to write a parody on The Da Vinci Code in response to the overwhelming rhetoric being dished out by both Da Vinci Code fans and opponents, alike.

“It’s time to laugh about it,” said Matthew Moran. “Controversy, although stirring and powerful, can often leave us more hurt than helped and more confused than informed. Whereas, laughter and love can break down barriers and bring healing. In Da Vinci Code 2: Electric Boogaloo we give people of every viewpoint an opportunity to join together for an evening of theatre where they can shake hands and laugh the night away. Even if you don’t know a thing about The Da Vinci Code you will still have a thoroughly enjoyable time!”

Only a Stranger Productions was founded as a way to approach important issues facing the religious world and provide a beacon of hope through entertaining and provocative theatre.

To learn more about Only a Stranger Productions, please visit our website.(source: Newswiretoday.com)

Sanjib Kumar Roy
Port Blair

rajesh said...

mr.sanjib kumar roy,

the freedom with resposibility that we discussed is within the purview of secular boundaries. so please dont bring in your hindu-muslim-atheist boogeyman logic or 'im an indian, i was born hindu' nostalgic jingoisms into this.

as far as accusing me of not having responsibility for the freedom i enjoy, it has always been me who insisted on avoiding insensitive or irresponsible statements under the garb of freedom of speech. so i dont understand what you mean.

and thanks for thanking alaphia on my behalf for allowing me to post comments. next time, do inform me before you do anything on my behalf.


Anonymous said...


Looks like veering from pure "Da Vinci Code" debate to stretch the boundaries of article 19(a) and Freedom of Speech and Expression. I have nothing new to add save what has been said in your previous blog!

Sanjib Kumar Roy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sanjib Kumar Roy said...

Mr. Rajesh i think we should remember this is Alaphia's blog.. So no personal comments please

Let others have a pleasant read in this blog.....

Mr. Srini: I think you are right we are crossing the limit of article 19(a.


Bala (Karthik) said...

I wonder why someone would name his book "Da Vinci Code"????? I mean, Da Vinci is not part of a *name*. It just means "of/from Vinci".

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

its just a movie, i wonder how its going to hurt the sentiments of minorities. this was the land in which people once used to garland gods with shoes and now they say it hurts sentiments.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kausikram Krishnasayee.There seems to be a different law for each religion/caste atleast here in TN.The CM has a well known precedence in this issue.Appeasemne of minorities has been for long his cup of tea.Why does he call certain Hindu customs as barbarian?These are all highly debatable issues.I think Alaphia is chiefly highlighting the politicisation of this entire issue and there is no denial of that fact.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alaphia You look nice with your new hair style

rajesh said...

its just a movie, i wonder how the liberals are going to rue the 'entertainment' they wud miss out because of the ban. this was the land where Bhavani cultists indulged in human sacrifice, widows were burnt for sati ma, children were buried in the mud for rains to pour...oh this land has seen a lot of disgusting things...Tolerance, mutual respect, sensitivity for others' belief and practices are also a part of this land. That is how it has become a pluralistic society.

The larger issue is the necessity for this ban and not whether the TN exhibited different behaviours when he was young, middle-aged or old....or whether he is appeasing or displeasing some sections.

anyways, if alaphia is chiefly "highlighting the politicisation of this entire issue" as bnap is claiming, and not on the 'importance' of this ban, i disagree with such a prioritization.

Arif Syed said...

Ms. Zoyab:

This space appears to be getting bit too personal for me. Again its a reflection of democracy without responsibility.

U probably know this but I shall quote William Pitt the Younger:

"Neccessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."


rajesh said...


Of course this a personal exchange of arguments concering a societal incident. However, it is not about our personal lives.

It is not just me or you or anyone who is discussing things here....but a larger sections of the society who are represented thru us.

i too have a good deal of quotations starting with Hammurabi's, but nay!...i'm already under immense pressure not to write more than others could read.


Alaphia Zoyab said...

Havent had the time to reply to any of the comments on this post. But these are my observations.
Ill begin by thanking Anonymous for complimenting my new hair style.

Incidentally, Karthi Chidambaram, son of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is the latest to go on record and decry the banning of the film as 'cultural terrorism'. I couldnt agree more.

Pam - You're absolutely right. We are preoccupied with the most inane trivialities in this country and I really wish people would stop wearing their religion on their sleeve.

Rajesh - You dont seem to know the difference between violation of Human rights and freedom of speech. You've come up with some very silly analogies.

Dr. Arif - I didnt know I would be starting a hornets nest with this topic. But thats the beauty of the Internet. You can say what you want.

BNAP and Kaushikram - Exactly - its just a stupid film. And for all of you who take yourself so seriuosly, I have one piece of advise. Go watch Monty Python. .. Especially 'Life of Brian'. Lets talk then.

rajesh said...

difference between violation of Human rights and freedom of speech...

Thatz the whole point. Whereas abuse of individual freedom of expression is legally dealt with thru slander, defamation suits, etc...there is no protection against attacks by individuals on beliefs and activities held by communities. Anyone can mock at sacred beliefs and get away with it.

It is easy to brush aside these social nuances after reading 19th century J.S.Mill's books and simply declare the anamolies as 'silly' and leave it at that.

GeekBeyondRedemption said...

Attacking beliefs is the basis of all science. Your holy beliefs mean ZIP, NADA, NOTHING, to me. And I can choose to say they are wrong, ridicule, and mock them. And just like a slander case or defamation suit, unless you can prove that I am wrong in what I say, you have no case against me. And since you agree that it is a belief, there is no way to prove things, one way or the other.

For instance if I say the 'Lord' Krishna was a wanton, immoral, guy, who spoilt the reputations and lives of legions of women, unless you prove that I'm wrong, you have no case against me.

Similarly if I said that about you, you'd have to prove that what I said was wrong, if you threw a libel case against me. Note that I'm NOT saying any such thing about you.

Sacred beliefs my a**. Beliefs are to be avoided unless on a personal level. The only place where your 'sacred beliefs' will lead you is to a Jihad - no matter whether it's called a Crusade, or whatever it is the Hindus or Buddhists call it when they kill people.

When will people grow up and realize that all religions and 'sacred beliefs' are things that were useful when humanity was immature and couldn't explain things around us? Now that we can, and your entire existence is dependent on the science you so desperately avoid via your beliefs, you still cling to your caveman ideas.

Ideas or beliefs need no protection. If they are true/correct, they will survive. If they are not, they will perish. I will mock your 'sacred beliefs' whenever and wherever I can. If you truly believe in them, the mere words that I spout will not shake your belief. On the other hand, if you understand why a belief can and must be continuously questioned, you may change your 'sacred beliefs'. Why you think your sacred belief must have legal protection, when the Gods themselves are behind your beliefs is mystifying to me.

rajesh said...

Nice comments there, Geek! I appreciate it.

What you've described is a pure scientific way of thinking. Wake up! What sort of utopian society where everyone is an ultimate rationalist are you talking about? Don't you think it so impractical and idealistic....almost to the point of day dreaming.

The reality is that human beings are bound by varying degrees of rationality and belief systems. And the solution is also constrained by the same boundaries. Thus, I'm not saying "DON'T critize other's belief or assumptions"...but it is common sense not to oppose others for the sake of taking a stance. Oppose it ONLY if you've concrete evidence in terms of historical or archeological data. For, belief systems are based on faith and emotions.

When a belief opposes another belief, there will be resentment among all the players...till there occurs some give and take...and a synergy sets forth...this is basis of cultural evolution....in other words, opposing beliefs CANNOT co-exist in their pristine forms forever, however mature a society is...ideas go by laws of evolution too....

When evidence opposes another evidence, there will be more thinking among all the players...till another set of inclusive evidence is discovered...

When evidence has no oppostion whatsoever in a given context, everyone reaches the same conclusion (which btw, this is the theory of rationality)

We are human beings...not so rational as to live as a machine...not so instinctive as to live as an animal.

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

@ alaphia:

true true very true, Go watch Monty Python. .. Especially 'Life of Brian'

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Rajesh - Every established idea, belief, faith and practice can and perhaps should be challenged. You can do it in a non-violent way... or violently ... creatively or intellectually... but it is healthy to question. Thats why God (the one who you think is beyond question) gave you a brain. Besides, going by your logic, everything we do or say, cant please everyone. So since we always run the risk of hurting or displeasing someone.. lets just all roll over and die.

Geekbeyondredemption - I can sense your growing frustration with this debate.

Kausikram - I guess you know what I mean.

GeekBeyondRedemption said...

I don't give a damn if people are hurt when facts interfere with their sacred cows, I mean beliefs. I would like to live life as rationally as possible. I am disappointed that there are far too many non-rationalists (I'm resisting the temptation to call them idiots here), in this day and this age - where perhaps one in hundred of us would be alive without modern scientific advancements.

"A reasonable man adapts himself to his environment. An unreasonable man persists in attempting to adapt his environment to suit himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw

I rest my case.

rajesh said...

very good...it is getting subtler and thatz a good thing....


I'm not saying the brain given by God shdn't be used. I'm saying that it cannot be useful for each and every activity. That would make us machines.
Every established idea, belief, faith and practice can and perhaps should be challenged WITH EVIDENCE. Only EVIDENCE can JUSTIFY the challenge (This is the "responsibility" I'm talking about). Just shooting in the air will achieve nothing....other than hurting sentiments and creating ill-will among communities. I dont know why this simple everyday observation is not understood. In every human being there is fight between rationalism and emotions. We cannot make rationalism win ALL the time. Its simply not in human nature.
Frustrations can arise when conflicting viewpoints are discussed. Yes, frustrations can be mutual.

Well, I too have the temptation to label the so-called "rationalistic" crowd as no different from religious fanatics. They are many building blocks in creating a society...but the closer it reflects our own human nature, the more stable it will be.

You may want to live life as rationally as possible...rationally eat, rationally sleep, or get wedded or have kids and rationally die...but that is not what MANY of us want...rationalism has its place...and emotions, instincts, traditions and morality have their own...like I said, there is difference between me and the computer that I'm using. A man and his society is a mix of several forces. The laws that we create shd take this into account. It can't be based ONLY on merely rationalism. It is a subtle thing and I'll understand if it is difficult for you to. This is not your typical school level physics problem. This is a subject only a social/humanities student can appreciate.

Oh...I almost forgot to quote a quote just show off some intellectual adequacy from my side. I dont have GBS here...but I hope a Pascal would do:

"Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them." - Blaise Pascal

I won't rest my case. I am willing to Know. Rationalism or no rationalism. Religion or no religion. Through you or any other being. There are many paths to Truth and Harmony.

GeekBeyondRedemption said...

Methinks we are abusing Alaphia's blog for our own ends here.

Our disagreement is very simple.

You believe that rationality is a part of existence. I believe that without logic/rationality/science we might as well be animals and that if three thousand years of faith has taught us anything it's that faith is mostly useless and can and will be twisted for bitter ends.

You believe we have a higher purpose, a soul perhaps. I believe we ARE machines! Just genetically programmed to survive and procreate. Our emotions, instincts, traditions, are just products of genetic inheritance.

Morality on the other hand has an independant origin and is independant of faith. Deriving morality on the basis of species(genetic) survival and benefit is quite possible.

Your typical social sciences or humanities student has done precious little over the past few thousand years to create the society we are in. They're good for studying things - not so good for doing things.

I like the way you try to portray me as a simple physics student - useful for lights and sounds - not so useful for 'understanding society'. Laws must be rational and logical - otherwise they cannot stand. Sure they must take into account contemporary deficiencies in human beings - I'm not saying all humans are rational. But they must do so knowing that it is a deficiency, and not something integral. And Law is science - it acknowledges that it is not perfect and therefore submits itself to continuous improvement - both via legislature and via judicial means.

Thanks for the Pascal quote. Perhaps I proved your point by not being impressed by it.

The quote I gave was to prove a point. When the first man made fire in his cave, I'm sure there were those who grunted, 'Oooo Fire bad, fire god going to be angry at you for tying him here, and won't the boss of the other tribe be upset when he finds that you tied up his God here?'

In any case, Alaphia, thanks for the hospitality :-). Rajesh, if we're to continue this, please suggest another place. I'd rather leave, than be kicked out :-D.

rajesh said...

well, geek...i've my bags packed...anticipating Alaphia's karate kick anytime...

but you've captured our differences quite nicely. rationalism certainly distinguishes us from animals, but lets not go all the way to other extreme and become machines. We are not machines!!

Yes, I do believe we've a higher purpose in life. For, if we were just a genetically programmed instruments to survive and procreate, we very well cud've be born as an ant, a crow or an ape or a banyan tree. There is meaning in our existence.

i'm available at yahoo msgr(j_mv2@yahoo), orkut, google talk almost all time...if you're somewhere down south (blore, chennai, etc) perhaps we cud even meet over a cup of coffee...

i'm extremely curious to interact with a human machine. i wanna know how/what he/she/it thinks. it wud help in my current study in the field of perception and consciousness.

im pretty "excited" abt it, but thaz just an emotion, nothing rational in that:-)

Anonymous said...


Is this essay competition open for all? Rajesh and geek if alaphia allows lets have an competition.

Anonymous said...

"Excited" is a very rational emotion Mr Rajesh. There is a logic behind your excitement and naturally it becomes a rational one.

There is no purpose or meaning behind a human beings existence. We come alone and we will go alone. All this talk of purpose or meaning is the work of some idle minds. Lot of people in this planet have pots of money earned by their forefathers and they dont feel the need to work and hence they invent some story or the other. People who are either frustrated in life or looking for some answers to their small day to day problems think these inventors as some messiah and follow their words.

All our emotions have logic and rationale behind it. We are supposed to be machines but i reckon the day we realise it might be some years away.

rajesh said...


if my emotion of excitement can be rationally explained...if all our emotions have logic behind them...then perhaps, the hurt and the resentment felt by so many ppl becoz of this movie is also quite rational...this fiction mocks at their belief system...this hurt cannot be mitigated by empty, bookish and convenient rhetorics like "freedom of speech". This is a qualified freedom...shd be exercised with responsibilty.

calling out member of SC/ST community as a "pariah" can land you in jail within minutes, punishment under a defamatory case can put the loose tongue behind bars for months, making disrespectful remarks against national flag/anthem/song will ensure that you book a prison cell for the next few months....

where is your "freedom of speech" in above situations?

in fact, these legal mechanisms disallow misuse of basic freedom of speech. ban is one such instrument for the larger benefit of the society approved by people's own representatives.

and sunil, there is meaning to life.
you'll know it when you'll find yours.
it doesn't matter whether you search for the meaning or the other way round.

okay alaphia....go ahead...in case you're furious by now, seeing all the essays, kick me out of here...

Anonymous said...

Hey Alaphia,
been reading ur blog of and on.. Got time right now... Nice ones!! I watched the movie and was kind of surprised! don;t understand why political bigwigs always areon their toes to make "mileage" of any hot topic.. They do everything other than serving the country anf doing their job...

Not sure whether u remember me but i was ur class mate at SMA, Adyar till 10th. 7C till 10C... I remember Payal, Parakram....


GeekBeyondRedemption said...

VJ = ?

This is Prasanna of 4B-5C-10C-12B....

cynicalcount said...

" ban is one such instrument for the larger benefit of the society approved by people's own representatives"

Do you know how many faiths exist in India? Some people paint a tree and worship it, Some people put a red tilak on signpost and worship it. If one movie tomorrow has a dog relieving itself against any tree or signpost and some people ask for a ban will you support it? Some 8 years ago there was a small stone 6 kms from my house and one old beggar used to live near it and he was using the stone for the purpose of keeping his clothes. Some 5 years back when i was going to work i first noticed a some people had put a green cloth over the stone and were praying. I was taken aback . Now if you see there is small enclosure with gate and iron railings for queue and there are around 10 hawkers selling gaudy colored chaddar. A notice board says "Peer Baba". I see huge crowds on Friday. I suppose this is also faith for you Rajesh. In a public area one large stone has been turned into a temple or dargah or whatever and is creating a traffic nuisance due to some one wanting to make a quick buck. Only good thing is some people have got employment by selling sweets, chaddar, bangles and what not. Will you and your ilk have the guts to demolish it in the larger interests of soceity. What kind of faith is this Rajesh which says create traffic snarls?

Rajesh stop living in your idealistic bleeding heart world and get real dude.

rajesh said...

cynical (how appropriate...hehe),

very interesting inputs from you.

plz understand this: In any society there will be myriad forces with opposing views on everything....in a democratic society, all like-minded people will form their own pressure groups...If "Peer Baba" does manage to have a considerable following, his well-wishers will "democratically" succeed in putting forth Baba's viewpoints.

There are no absolute moral value systems. What the society decide through consensus is "right"! This country is secular because the majority want it to be so. Not because Pt Nehru imposed it. If the majority (parliment/assembly or any other representation) feel the ban is needed, then it is needed.

The ban is imposed by people's own representatives. If the number of people who are against the BAN are the majority, let them protest. If they matter, then government WOULD HAVE to look into their queries. This is how democracy works.

Which is idealistic: your point that everybody should have "complete freedom of speech" (even if they bad-mouth/accuse/mock others without evidence) or my point that only "qualified" freedom (that stresses responsibility/sensitivity) should be allowed....in the fervour to empower the individual, we cannot afford to create ill-will among sections of the society and cause its ruin.

And btw, my questions regarding disrespect to national flag, reasoning behind punishment for slander, etc...remains unanswered. Aren't these violations of your "sacred" "freedom of speech"? Isn't this some sort of elitist hypocrisy?