Thursday, May 07, 2015
About Us
Please enter your email here, we would like to keep you informed.
Connect With Us - Facebook RSS
<May 2015>
Liberty In The News
Liberty Events
Conference Proceedings
Development is the Key
Economic Freedom
Education for Life
Freedom of Expression
Freedom to Trade
Globalization for the Good
Health is Wealth
Intellectual Property Rights
International Relations
Liberty is Security
Limited Government
Principles of Politics
Population - the ultimate resource
Property Rights
Regulatory Affairs
Rule of Law
Tax Freedom
Facts & Figures
 Freedom of Expression
Religious zealots fear open democratic debate
The Hindu
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Arvind Sivaramakrishnan
What the partisan and allegedly religious objectors demonstrate is the fear that ordinary people, especially coreligionists of those who claim to have been offended, may not take offence or may even be indifferent to the texts in question. A truly secular society has no need to fear a serious public discussion of religion, but that is probably the very thing fundamentalists and extremists of any faith cannot countenance, and that is because they would be exposed as the bullies and totalitarians they so often are, writes Dr Arvind Sivaramakrishnan in The Hindu
signs of a cheater why husband cheat on their wife online
my wife emotionally cheated on me open women who love to cheat
how many women cheat on husbands online link
husbands who cheat why women cheat how to cheat on my husband

In 1983, the Mozert family of Hawkins County, Tennessee, took its local education administration to court. The Mozerts, fundamentalist Protestants, objected to a civics textbook for fourth grade pupils — nine-year-olds — which, in a particular passage, showed boys toasting bread for girls. This, the Mozerts contended, constituted a violation of divinely-ordained sex roles. They also brought charges against the book for citing Anne Frank’s remark that unor thodox religious belief was better than no belief, and for making a mention — and no more — of witches and magic.

The case went as far as a federal appeals court, which concluded in 1987 that a mere exposure to the pictures, in effect, to diversity, did not constitute teaching, indoctrination, opposition, or promotion of the things exposed and was therefore not an infringement of the right to free expression created by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The court ruled against the Mozerts, in fact, on all the three counts, and the decision contains the remark that although followers of a faith might find some passages offensive, the book was neutral on religion.

In response, the Mozerts transferred their children to a local self-run school attended only by children of fundamentalists, in which only fundamentalist values were taught. In any case, the strict separation which the U.S. Constitution requires between faith and the state means children in any faith school in the U.S. receive an education in the content of which the state plays no part. Neither, as some educationists have pointed out, do such children in the U.S. have much contact even with coreligionists of less extreme parents, let alone those of other faiths or of no faith at all. If an education is supposed to turn out well-informed children who can make friends with children from other backgrounds and learn about ways of life other than their own, this rigid separation would seem to achieve the exact opposite.


In today’s political context it is very significant that the court — a public body conducting a public procedure — examined the book in question. Other courts have undoubtedly done just the same, in that they have examined, often very closely, the texts or films or anything else at issue. The trial — for obscenity — in the English courts of D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 took six days and involved testimony from dozens of highly authoritative witnesses, including novelists, critics, and professors of literature. The same goes for the European Court of Human Rights, which in 1996 — in a judgment which surprised many observers — ruled that director Nigel Wingrove’s 18-minute video about St Teresa of Avila was blasphemous, despite the high standard of proof required by English law in such cases. Wingrove brought the action himself as he apparently feared criminal action for blasphemy in the English courts by followers of the Church of England or by the Anglican Church itself — the Anglican faith is the official state religion of the United Kingdom and the only faith protected by a blasphemy law in the U.K. In the event, an eminent commentator who happens to be a devout Christian said publicly at the time that serious faith had no need of a blasphemy law; that commentator also analysed the content of the film and the ruling itself gives a detailed account of the film.


Needless to say, the problems around such texts — in the widest sense — and the issues arising are not confined to the reflection and reasoning of the courtroom. After — and despite — the Mozert ruling, the publishers of the book, the prestigious firm of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, removed the passages in question from subsequent editions. As an eminent American political philosopher has pointed out, American fundamentalist Protestants are numerous and powerful; they are highly politically active, and are a very influential element in the American social and political order. It is far from clear whether or not anyone actually threatened the publishers in any way, or if the publishers would even admit it if they had been threatened. Therefore, it could well be the case that the publishers were simply acting out of fear, and thereby fuelling further a climate of fear engendered by religious fundamentalism in general.


The generation of that kind of climate of generalised fear is a familiar strategy on the part of a wide range of the religiously extreme. For example, the Northern Ireland Protestant leader, the Rev Dr Ian Paisley, has said publicly on several occasions that he would not incite violence, but if certain policies were adopted there would be violence.


Such strategies raise the important question of incitement to violence, or to communal or racial hatred, which are criminal offences in a number of democracies; for example, the U.K. recently deported an Islamic cleric for speeches in his mosque which the English courts, on consideration of evidence, deemed to constitute incitement. While few democracies wish to limit freedom of expression, most draw the line at incitement or at what some legal systems call hate-speech.

It is highly significant here too, that incitement has to be established in and by a public judicial process in which the text or texts involved are examined. But in the partisan and party-dominated politicisation of such issues, the text is the first thing that disappears from the public debate, either because passages are excised, or because whole texts are banned, often by an executive order rather than the application of law in the courts, or for a range of other reasons. Those who make the initial complaints are therefore apparently asserting — with a remarkable and scarcely-justifiable effect — no more than the right to be offended, which is simply not to be taken seriously as a right.


Author : Dr. Sivaramakrishnan is an Associate Professor at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai
dating for married people why do wifes cheat will my husband cheat again
online website why women cheat on husbands
link my husband cheated reasons wives cheat on husbands
husbands who cheat black women white men how to cheat on my husband
order abortion pill online where can you buy the abortion pill how abortion works
Tags- Find more articles on -

Post your Comments on this Article

Comments will be moderated

A new way of going Dutch: Price of tolerating intolerance
From Taslima to Tibet, India proves chicken
Freedom to offend
Radical Islam at the ballot box
India must stand for liberal democracy
Flag trouble: National emblems, Differing treatments
Former Soviet Republics most dangerous for journalists
Oxford liberals stumped by free speech
Cry freedom: MF Hussain to Taslima Nasreen
Politics of bans and rights: Debate over Taslima Nasreen
More Related Articles
Freedom of Expression
Denmark: Danish cartoon debate: A chronology
From Cyberia to Siberia: Price of protecting privacy
Of girls and boys
God in God’s Own Country
Changing mores on religion and gender in Bangladesh
The Possible Prosecution of WikiLeaks
Histrionics Over the Mosque: Symbolism Crowds Out Reality
Two cheers for American tolerance
Sri Lanka: Freedom of Expression on the Internet not so secure, CPA study" style="color: #990033; text-decoration: none;">Save the Tiger Initiative
   Protecting Property Right
   Challenging Climate
   Wealth to Health
   Asia Fighting Malaria
   Miracle of Democracy
   Ayn Rand in India
   Empowering India: Making Democracy Meaningful
   Right to Property - Implementing the Forest Rights Act
   Rakesh Wadhwa
   Barun Mitra : On the road to liberty
   China India Citizen's Initiative

Liberty Partners
  20-22 July: Shanghai Austrian Economics Summit
  9th International Conference: Property Rights, Economics and Environment, June 20-23, Aix-en-Provence
  Alternate Solutions Insitutte
  Atlas Economic Research Foundation
  Freedom to Trade
  Friedrich Naumann Stiftung - Für Die Freiheit.
  India FNF Alumni Network
  Initiative for Public Policy Analysis
  Inter Region Economic Network (IREN)
  International Policy Network
  Liberty New Central
  Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc.
  The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey
An Initiative of
All rights reserved.