The freedom to say what you think is always under threat. There will always be people who would give up freedom for temporary security (for ten points, complete the saying this sentence alludes to). Two stories interest me from the last week or so.
Kamal Haasan has made some movie that talks about fundamentalist Islamic terrorism in Afghanistan. And the good people of Chennai are up in arms because it hurts their sentiments. Or something. The Madras High Court, true to form, has thrown free speech under the bus, and then reversed direction a few times to make sure free speech is well and truly dead. The backlash on the streets, such as it was, against this movie may or may not have had something to do with things other than hurt sentiments, but the court’s ruling itself presumably had no reason other than that, I guess, free speech can go to hell.
Kamal Haasan insists, indeed pleads, that the movie has nothing at all derogatory about muslims. It is a movie that deals with terrorism, and specifically with al Qaeda. Not mentioning the religion and ideology of the terrorists would be silly. Demands that the movie be banned because it does mention the religion of the terrorist are insane and should be laughed out of any self-respecting democracy. Instead we have the honourable high court of Madras to save us. From something.
The other story is that of Ashis Nandy and his comments at the Jaipur Literary Festival. Depending on whom you ask, Nandy’s statements were the nuanced and humane insight, into a problem that’s millennia old, of an intellectual giant. [People saying this include Yogendra Yadav, here; Harsh Sethi, here; Shiv Vishwanathan, here]. Or the comments were the mad rambling of an upper-caste loon who has made a career of “repackaging elite prejudice as counter-intuitive insight and paradoxical wisdom.” [People saying this include S. Anand, here; The Round Table, here; and K. Satyanarayana, here].
Nandy is one of India’s foremost sociologists and is no stranger to controversy. He was the first person to call Narendra Modi an archetypal fascist. He has also come under some flak of late for supporting, with caveats, the RSS’ statement that rapes happen in India, not in Bharat. At the Jaipur Literary Festival, Ashis Nandy was asked something about corruption and responded with a statement about how corruption is more complicated than what you might think at first blush. And all hell has apparently broken loose.
…which is good! Nandy is an academic making an argument about the dynamics of caste and corruption. Nothing he says is going to change anything for the oppressed Dalit. In fact, people who do work for the emancipation of Dalits in this country are precisely the people who disagree vehemently with Nandy. However, what S. Anand does say is that whatever else may be true about the 70 year old Nandy, he does not deserve to be hounded by the police or go to jail.
There is a law in India that criminalises the (verbal) abuse of Dalits. The purpose of the law, the spirit in which the law was written, is to stop the systematic disenfranchisement of Dalits, not to shut down academic debate. Whatever you think about Nandy’s understanding of corruption and caste, whether or not you think he was being disingenuous or merely trying to be provocative, jailing academics for academic (in every sense of the word) opinions about their field of study has no part in a democracy. None.
My own opinion of what Nandy said a) doesn’t matter — I am no expert on caste or corruption in India, but b) will be the subject of my next blog post; for what, after all, is the point of having a blog if one won’t pontificate once in a while?
Elections at IITM were interesting. Candidates weren’t allowed to spend their own money. Candidates weren’t allowed to use their own media. Institute-sponsored “soapbox”es were conducted and places for campaigning were designated. And we aren’t talking about puppet-positions here. Elected representatives were given, under some adult supervision, a reasonable amount of power to conduct business. These elections, such as they were, were publicly financed — the administration (you might call it the government) paid for the elections in entirety.
Pretty much everybody not bought and paid for by the Corporation agrees that elections should be publicly financed. Public financing ensures that candidates take elections seriously and that people with money don’t run away with everything. Public financing doesn’t necessarily have to look like the elections at IITM. Not every candidate has to get the same amount of money for example. What is important is that every voter and every vote gets the same amount of importance.
Is there a reason this shouldn’t work for the country as a whole? Ravikanth asked a few of us this question.
While we don’t really (free airtime on Doordarshan and All-India Radio is given to every political party, apparently… like anybody even watches DD anymore) have publicly financed elections in this country, we do have campaign-spending limits. But these are limits applied on the candidate, and not the party. The most recent iteration of the campaign finance laws in India also make it easy for people and corporations to donate legally to candidates and parties. The problem is, however, that even if contributions are legal, they’re still only capped at 5% of the profits of the company. Which is a huge amount of money and an incredible amount of influence to put into the hands of the people running mega corporations. And all this is without even considering how much ‘black’ money runs elections.
Can we fix this? If the state sponsored every election expense, parties would no longer need their own money to win elections. Which means they wouldn’t need to seek out donors. Which means they wouldn’t need to do backhanded favours for the donors after they come to power. At least in theory, state-financed elections would fix the mess we are in.
I started this post alluding to IITM’s elections being ‘state’-financed. However, IITM is not India. Insofar as attitudes towards sexuality or morality are concerned, perhaps. But otherwise not.
The average IITian is literate; the literacy rate in the country as a whole hangs at around 75%. The average IITian has access to the internet and everything that entails.*
In fact, voting at IITM is done online. For the country as a whole, though, the numbers for internet usage are depressing.
This last detail is something that could truly have made a difference. Nobody doubts the power of the internet to rouse or mobilise people. We’ve seen real-life examples in the last year. And it might still happen in this country too. After all, India has seen a mobile telephony revolution. We have the cheapest telephone-calls in the world. And while China still beats us in the number of telephone users, the speed at which mobile access has grown in India is staggering. (If you’re counting, China has a billion telephone users. We have about 900 million.)
[Edit: 19.01.2013: * Aashish Gupta points out that voting at IITM is done at a booth where you login to a computer connected to a central server, which isn't all that different from the EVMs that are used in India's elections. I agree. But it is true that at IITM you could read about a candidate for election -- manifestos, propaganda, CVs -- online.]
The most expensive painting* ever sold is one of a naked woman asleep on a couch. The painting was made in 1995 by Lucian Freud and is of not the best-looking 51 year old woman. The painting sold for £17 million.
Painting naked women isn’t new. The Old Masters of the Renaissance (which may not really be a thing) made art out of women sans clothing. When I was looking for paintings by the Old Masters, one painting that came advertised as being erotic is that of Danae by Titian:
The story goes that Danae, a princess, was imprisoned by her father the king because her son would kill her father. Danae lets Zeus, the god, seduce her, fully aware of the consequences. Zeus appears as gold dust in this painting.
Okay, I confess that I am no art critic; I only have as much of a clue about whether a picture of a naked woman is art or pornography as anybody else. But it seems to me that the test for whether a painting/picture is art or pornography is who the “subject” is. Danae, in the painting above, isn’t naked for your benefit or mine; she doesn’t know we’re watching. More importantly, she doesn’t care.
Pornography exists to titillate its audience. This, as much as the perfect bodies, the contortionist body positions and the incredible sex, is a defining characteristic of pornography. In a pornographic version of waiting for Zeus, Danae would be trying to make the viewer imagine himself in Zeus’ place.
I point out all this in preface to a shocking documentary about the portrayal of women in Hindi movies called “No Country for Women”. Apparently, while I wasn’t looking, a de facto ban on actors so much as kissing on screen has gone away and been replaced by what I can only call free licence to show pornography.
So why is this access to pornography bad? We should measure a society’s progress by its acceptance of pornography, right?
Young men in this society apparently get their ideas about social interaction with the other sex not from, you know, social interaction but from the movies. This is amply demonstrated in the documentary (‘arey, woh Rakhi Sawant jaise skirt pehen ke ayegi to hum usey chedenge nahin to aur kya karenge?). Teaching men that women who dress well, or have certain body types, or go out at night are asking for attention is a recipe for disaster. And yet we see this in scene after scene.
I am all for promiscuity. I want women to break free of the shackles of societally imposed “modesty”. I am also for easier access to pornography. But let’s please label it as such, hmm?
*Correction: This is not the most expensive painting ever sold. This is the most expensive painting of a living artist ever sold. HT: Jayavel, who tells me even this may no longer be true.
I wrote about reactions to the Delhi gang-rape (and now murder) that are not what you expect from a civilised people. Abhijit Mukherjee was not the only person making dumb-headed comments. There are people who blame the victim and people who blame “western culture”; there are people in parliament and people on the streets demanding castration and death as punishment for rape.
But for all this, I have also heard some sane voices. Rape is only the worst symptom of a continuum of attitudes and the misogyny that pervades society at every level. Rape begins at home. Every boy who has it drilled into him that he is worth more than his sister is a potential rapist. He may not actually rape anybody, but he will become a member of this society in which it is ever so easy to blame the victim. It doesn’t help that even our mythology — the epics, the bedrock of this society — is misogynistic.
But while we in India may be worse than other societies, we are by no means unique when it comes to victim-blaming or treating women like second-class citizens. In fact, the language that is used to shame women — “shame the sluts” — is the same no matter which society we talk about.
Society’s treatment of women is again only one tragedy in a hierarchy of sorrow. This hierarchy is institutionalised and perpetuated by the xenophobia inherent in this society as in any other. We treat the other with contempt and suspicion. While it may sound facile to suggest that teaching men and women to empathise with those less privileged than themselves will stop rape, I can’t think of another permanent solution. Yes, the laws regarding rape need to be re-written. But no amount of policing and jurisprudence will end the tragedy of rape if change doesn’t begin at home and on the streets.
And finally, I have come across two accounts — those of Charanya Kannan, and of Sohalia Abdulali — of personal trauma and courage in the face of a malevolent society and an uncaring legal system. The only thing in common between these two women is that they had the support of their friends and families. Which is more than can be said for many women in this country. Read just these accounts of personal travails and you will have an idea of what we can do to change society for the better, bottom-up.
[Edit: After I had written this post, I found this wonderful TED-ed talk by Isabel Allende who says, near the end of her talk:
What I fear most is power with impunity. I fear abuse of power and the power to abuse. In our species, the alpha-males define reality and force the rest of the pack to accept that reality and follow the rules. The rules change all the time but they always benefit men. And in this case, the trickle-down effect that does not work in Economics works perfectly. Abuse trickles down from the top of the ladder to the bottom. Women and children, especially the poor, are at the bottom of the ladder. Even the most destitute of men has somebody to abuse -- a woman or a child. I am fed up with the power that the few exert over the many through gender, income, race and class. I think that the time is right to make fundamental changes in our civilisation. But for real change, we need feminine energy in the management of the world. We need a critical number of women in positions of power and we need to nurture the feminine energy in men. I am talking about men with young minds, of course. Old guys are useless; we have to wait for them to die off.
-C, 7 Jan 2013]
[Further edit: Sohalia Abdulali, mentioned above for her essay about her gang-rape has written for the NY Times about living to tell the story about her rape, with all the wisdom that age brings with it. The essay is titled "After being raped, I was wounded; my "honour" wasn't." The most hopeful thing about the essay, for me, was this:
At 17, I was just a child. Life rewarded me richly for surviving. I stumbled home, wounded and traumatized, to a fabulous family. With them on my side, so much came my way. I found true love. I wrote books. I saw a kangaroo in the wild. I caught buses and missed trains. I had a shining child. The century changed. My first gray hair appeared.
Too many others will never experience that. They will not see that it gets better, that the day comes when one incident is no longer the central focus of your life. One day you find you are no longer looking behind you, expecting every group of men to attack. One day you wind a scarf around your throat without having a flashback to being choked. One day you are not frightened anymore.
-C, 9 Jan 2013]
On Christmas day, fifteen of us went trekking at Ananthagiri, a clutch of low hills with some farms and some ponds, about 70 km from TIFR-Hyderabad. On our way down the steepest terrain I have done this sort of thing on, we had to crouch down under the thick shrubbery. At the bottom was a quiet little pond with its assorted birds. By the time we made it down to the pond, all of us had scratches and cuts, and even some bruises. Mine were relatively minor and healed needing nothing more than cold cream. I am, I suppose, dented and painted.
The gang-rape of a 23 year old student in Delhi has shaken up middle-class India. The brutal nature of the assault on this woman and the man who was with her in the Delhi bus seems to have woken up residents of Delhi to the fact that this society is misogynistic and unsafe for women. The Delhi gang-rape isn’t the only horrifying thing that we as a society have seen — not even just since the Delhi incident: see this, this, this (18 women get raped every day in Delhi, say statistics). One can only wonder why we don’t see mass-protests against rape and police inaction — or even active sabotage — more often.
It is hard not to notice that the people protesting the lack of safety for women seem focused — barring some sane voices — on tougher punishment and more policing than on changing the conditions that led to this tragedy in the first place. Raziman points out that this baying for blood is society attempting to wash its hands off any responsibility to actually change for the better. People have asked why this rape gets the attention of “the nation” while many other incidents get brushed aside, their victims left to fend for themselves, if not actually persecuted by the State’s official machinery.
It is against this backdrop that I first read about Abhijit Mukherjee, the son of India’s president, making the remarks that gave this blogpost its title. I remember glossing over the details and deciding that he had simply made a poor choice of words in trying to express the sentiment that we need structural change in this society’s treatment of women.
At the breakfast table yesterday, Sriram Ramaswamy brought up Mukherjee’s comments and the fact that even his own sister has condemned him for making them. He asked us if we know what ‘dented and painted’ means. I confessed to not having thought about it too much. He had; he had also seen Arnab Goswami give Mukherjee the full Monty.
A car that has had a minor bump and has to have its body reshaped – by the sheet-metal body getting its kinks hammered out and re-painted to cover up the bump and the body-work – is what is colloquially called ‘dented-and-painted’.
Calling women protesting an unsafe society ‘dented and painted’ isn’t just a poor choice of words. It is symptomatic of the same malady that makes our society such a dangerous place for a woman to live: the same backwardness that mandates that a two-finger test be performed on a rape-victim to ascertain whether she is “habituated to sex”, the same misogyny that led members of parliament in 2010 to reaffirm that marital rape will not be punished.
Mukherjee says that he was a student once and that he knows what a good student “should be”: no student who is so morally loose as to go to a discotheque has the right to also hold a candle-lit vigil against rape. And anybody who does, presumably, is only doing this so that she may continue her lifestyle of getting dented and painted.
UPDATE, 29/12/2012: I wrote this last night and posted it this morning. I have learnt, since, that the woman who was gang-raped in Delhi has died from her injuries in a Singapore hospital.
I have written in the past about Sir C.V. Raman’s work on understanding the Indian drums–the tabla and the mridangam–and their peculiarity at being percussive instruments that can achieve harmonic overtones. The secret is the black patch that is seen on every tabla or mridangam that makes the centre of the circular membrane denser than the periphery. In fact, CNR Rao points out that Raman did this work while he was an accounts officer in the British government, and that this work got him elected to the Royal Society.
This is all good. However, as the percussionist U. Sivaraman and Dr. T. Ramasami, Director of the Department of Science and Technology of the Govt. of India explained in the thirteenth ISRO-Satish Dhawan lecture at JNCASR on October 16th 2012, the materials that are traditionally used to make these drums do not satisfy phytosanitary constraints–island nations will not allow you to carry untreated leather without decontaminating it first. Fumigation effectively destroys the stuff that holds the black patch together — usually something like cooked rice.
The solution, then, is to use materials that reproduce the properties of traditionally used materials while meeting safety norms. Simple enough? Not even close: the traditional materials have been fine-tuned over millennia. And nobody knows exactly why the peculiar combinations of materials used in the making of these drums work.
The drum-heads have three layers, two of which are annuli. The layer that is entire is made of goat-skin. Goat skin from Bengal is preferred to goat-skin from Rajasthan. This layer also has the black patch on it. The black patch is iron oxide, silica and manganese held together by some adhesive. The silica and manganese are provided by river-bed sand. River-bed sand from Tanjore gives the drum a different sound quality compared to sand from Varanasi. The three layers are held together by ropes made from buffalo hide that tie the membrane down at exactly sixteen equally spaced points on circumference. The shells that these membranes are mounted on are made of particular types of wood–jackfruit tree wood is the best kind.
All of these things are necessary. Change any of them and the result is bad sound. Unless you know what each component does. U. Sivaraman and T. Ramasami have spent a decade looking for the answers.
The annular layers are there to cut out the highest frequencies, while still retaining up to nine overtones. This particular detail is actually due to CV Raman and a 1935 Indian Academy of Sciences paper.
Untanned goat-skin is used in the mridangam because it has the highest strength (per unit thickness). The annular layers are usually cow-skin.
Also, monitor-lizard skin is used in the kanjira, U. Sivaraman pointed out. But monitor-lizards are endangered, and we now use something else.
The shells are made of particular types of wood because these types of wood have the best sound radiation properties.
With modern materials, and Fourier analysis, Dr. Ramasami and company have managed to make novel versions of the Indian drums that reproduce the sound quality that connoisseurs enjoy, while also keeping the tabla travel-safe. This even includes reducing temperature-sensitivity letting musicians play in air-conditioned halls. They haven’t been able to make the drums humidity-resistant, though, which is an important shortcoming.
I have a Facebook friends list that posts some very cool music. It is apparently guitar season on my news feed; my ears aren’t complaining. I post the two that I liked best.
The first one is Joe Bonamassa playing BB King’s The Thrill is Gone. This is brilliant. HT: Vales.
The second one is John Butler playing Ocean. I am floored. HT: Sayash
[Edit, 5/October/2012] By the way, what you see John Butler doing with his left foot is use the wah wah pedal, first used to perfection by Jimi Hendrix (I think). Usually, the wah wah pedal is connected to the pick-up in an electric guitar, and is used to change the sensitivity of the pick-up at different frequencies. The guitar Butler is using is not electric. Prevailing opinion is that the microphone is plugged into the wah wah pedal is plugged into the amplifier. Do you know better?
I use Ubuntu. I’m running 12.04 Precise. My laptop has a 64-bit i5 processor with an AMD Radeon 6550 graphics card. Trying to troubleshoot a failed installation of the proprietary driver for the graphics card is another name for the fifth circle of hell. I am not kidding.
[Edit: a correction, courtesy Sayash: X is the drawing system. It uses display drivers to interact with the graphics devices. The standard display driver is called "radeon" or "ati". I wasn't joking about being a Linux newbie.]
So as I understand it, the X system is the simplest video driver for Linux. It uses system memory (RAM). Then there are the fglrx drivers, an open-source set of display drivers that run the graphics card. There are also proprietary drivers for the graphics card written for Linux supplied by AMD. This driver–or set of drivers–is called Catalyst.
For a long time, I had just the fglrx drivers installed. I didn’t face much trouble, but then I don’t do much with the laptop that uses the graphics card strenuously–g++ runs just fine on standard memory. I installed the proprietary driver, with some trial and error and lots of help from people, after somebody told me about them. The proprietary driver is better-performing than fglrx. Transitions became smoother, for example.
However, the proprietary driver has a habit of conking out; it has done this twice before. Ubuntu would go back to the X system, I guess. Both times, all I had to do was to reinstall–I say “reinstall”; I mean type ./installer from a shell and press enter–the driver and all would be well again.
This time, though, I was locked out of the GUI entirely. And no amount of fiddling, wheedling, or ubuntuforums drudgery brought back the GUI. I tried installing fglrx instead of the proprietary driver. I still get only a shell when I first switch the computer on. I have to log in and say startx, which brings me to the Desktop without the Dock or the system tray. I then have to start or restart lightdm — the desktop manager to get to the Ubuntu login screen, after which everything proceeds as usual.
Unless the shell loses its connection with the X server, which happened twice… afterI had installed fglrx.
Needless to say, I am bugged. Has anybody seen this sort of thing before? Do you know what the problem is and how to fix it? Please please help.
This is for future reference, posted here mostly because I’ve just realised that Facebook‘s timeline is useless at being an archive. These are all books by good writers, and I recommend them to anybody reading this and willing to listen. I will buy them the first chance I get–which, with my access to free money, means whenever the paperback editions come out. And the paperback editions will come out. They will, they will, they will.
1. Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients
I read this excerpt from the book in The Guardian. There’s also this TED talk. The book is about the serious malpractice committed in the pharmaceutical industry. Medical researchers are shills in the game. Anything for profit.
In any sensible world, when researchers are conducting trials on a new tablet for a drug company, for example, we’d expect universal contracts, making it clear that all researchers are obliged to publish their results, and that industry sponsors – which have a huge interest in positive results – must have no control over the data. But, despite everything we know about industry-funded research being systematically biased, this does not happen. In fact, the opposite is true: it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder./snip/
Missing data poisons the well for everybody. If proper trials are never done, if trials with negative results are withheld, then we simply cannot know the true effects of the treatments we use. Evidence in medicine is not an abstract academic preoccupation. When we are fed bad data, we make the wrong decisions, inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering, and death, on people just like us.
2. David Quammen’s Spillover
Here’s an excerpt also from The Guardian. David Quammen gave a talk at NCBS recently, and was interviewed for Tehelka by a classmate from the Science-Writing workshop. If you have seen the movie Contagion, this subject is already familiar to you. I haven’t seen the movie.
It’s a mildly technical term, zoonosis, unfamiliar to most people, but it helps clarify the biological complexities behind the ominous headlines about swine flu, bird flu, Sars, emerging diseases in general, and the threat of a global pandemic. It’s a word of the future, destined for heavy use in the 21st century.We’re unique in the history of mammals. No other primate has ever weighed upon the planet to anything like the degree we do. In ecological terms, we are almost paradoxical: large-bodied and long-lived but grotesquely abundant. We are an outbreak.
And here’s the thing about outbreaks: they end. In some cases they end after many years, in others they end rather soon. In some cases they end gradually, in others they end with a crash. In certain cases, they end and recur and end again.
3. David Byrne’s How Music Works
Is music universal? Is creativity? Or genius? David Byrne offers an answer that shouldn’t be as surprising as it nevertheless is. The excerpt from he book is at Salon.
I had an extremely slow-dawning insight about creation. That insight is that context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually the opposite of conventional wisdom, which maintains that creation emerges out of some interior emotion, from an upwelling of passion or feeling, and that the creative urge will brook no accommodation, that it simply must find an outlet to be heard, read, or seen.
Presuming that there is such a thing as “progress” when it comes to music, and that music is “better” now than it used to be, is typical of the high self-regard of those who live in the present. It is a myth. Creativity doesn’t “improve.”
It seems that creativity, whether bird song, painting, or songwriting, is as adaptive as anything else. Genius — the emergence of a truly remarkable and memorable work — seems to appear when a thing is perfectly suited to its context. When something works, it strikes us as not just being a clever adaptation, but as emotionally resonant as well. When the right thing is in the right place, we are moved.
I’ve had a surprising amount of pushback about my posting a link to this The Onion article, and about my surprise that Facebook would censor a post with this link because somebody reported it as, I don’t know–obscene, offensive, blasphemous, take your pick. Which brings me back to: oh my. People really don’t take kindly to pictures in which “the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fives Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist.”
[Edit: Picture removed. It was an editorial decision.]
I’ve made a list of people’s complaints. If you’ve been following along on Facebook, this isn’t new.
I actually think it is not inappropriate to curtail free speech till people get open minded. A riot /people getting killed/ inciting violence/ increasing communal tensions is too big a price to pay for someone being able to post random stuff online or write a controversial novel or make a outrageous movie. While we should work towards tolerance and liberty in every sense, that has to be gradual & systematic.. creating awareness and open-mindedness over time without offending people… and people who argue for freedom to expression should behave with more maturity. With great power / liberty should come great responsibility.
And a random-dude:
It got blocked because it shows penises, pubic hair and arseholes. Free speech curbing does not enter into it. Be responsible and post such links on 18+ forums if you must.
fb Statement of Rights and Responsibilities(section 3.7): You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
Random dude’s supporter:
The link you posted was just obscene… and maybe deep down they had a motive to avoid any probable reaction to your link (which might happen, even when you are only “advising” that it should not happen etcetera)… However you just gave them a legitimate reason by posting a link that violated the section [random dude] has mentioned above…
and btw… don’t you think “purpose is to point out that people should learn that in a free world, people have no right against being offended” is an oxymoron in itself..??
And the guy who got the post censored:
Croor – I have the right to TELL you NOT to call me an idiot… or protest against it to the moderators of a forum like facebook ( Which btw i did to prove a point to you ) you of course have the right to continue to ignore my request, till you can’t, like in this case, or find a way to express your views elsewhere.
Facebook did nothing on its own account anyhow. It just listened to the requests of other individuals converging on the nature of your article.
My point is that this was still a democratic removal of your article. There is a difference between this and China removing pictures of Tiananmen Square. People rated your post, and it fell below the troll line. This is moderation in ‘good faith’.
And btw, you were asked to fill in security information because facebook was polite enough to assume that maybe it wasn’t you and your account was hacked. How do i know this ? It asks me before reporting if i thought your account was hacked. Again.. ‘good faith’, not Mamata Banarjee
I leave as an exercise to you the reader to deal with random dude and his supporter. The other two made one or two points worth addressing.
Free speech is a line-drawing exercise, sure. The line is usually drawn at anything that poses a ‘clear and present danger’. Like yelling ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre. Or Advani or Uma Bharathi telling an assembled mob that god wants them to break down the mosque. “Increasing communal tension”, whatever that means, should not be covered. It isn’t ‘clear and present danger’. It happens over time. Which means people have time and brains to think about what was said, how much it offended them, and most importantly how they don’t have the right to ask somebody else not to offend them.
Comparing a post at The Onion (or indeed on my Facebook) to Tienanmen Square is a bit much, no? Can anybody say Godwin? More importantly: free speech trumps “democracy”. Especially if we’re talking about MY facebook wall, where democracy doesn’t apply at all.
You don’t like what’s on my wall? Don’t read it. Nobody is making you.