“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”Winston Churchill
Countless times, I have written about freedom of speech on this website. Every single time I have said that freedom of speech is a pillar of the democratic world we live in. For centuries, people fought against oppressors to attain the right to speak their minds. All of the revolutions or movements which have taken place in history, whether it be the English Revolution, the French Revolution or the Indian independence movement; all of them shared the same objective: to get freedom.
We like to compare and think of ourselves as vastly superior to the past because we have adopted more humane methods of living and are ‘more civilized.’ There is order in society. Countries don’t go to war with each other (not as often). The existence of comprehensive dialogue between people from different parts of the world and the exchange of information and ideas. Better healthcare, justice systems, economic systems, political systems etc.
However, in the past few days the same systems seem to have betrayed me.
“This post goes against our Community Standards, so no one else can see it.”Facebook
A fortnight ago, Facebook took down all of my posts from my website’s page, TheMusing.in. At first, I assumed that this was accidental and that my posts would be put up again in a few days. A week passed and nothing happened. This got me worried because I know that my posts do not violate the Community Standards of Facebook. I have tried contacting them, demanded an explanation and till now I have received no reply.
It is not just me who is facing this problem, Facebook has gone a step further and has taken down posts of the Rising Mélange, the collaborative platform of Rivets, TheMusing.in and Chrysalising. Furthermore, they have banned all links to our respective websites! In fact you cannot put the website link of any of these websites on your Instagram bio as well! (Try it, if you don’t believe me)
Though they have not given the justification for such a move. I believe that this has been done due to the last Perspective article, Accepting not tolerating which was posted on February 10, 2019. This article talked about an incident and further elaborated on how acceptance is a missing feature in our society and that tolerance is the norm. It is my belief and assumption that some people did not like what I wrote, especially when the article used the incident mentioned in it to illustrate the problem of tolerating and not accepting diversity. They reported it and Facebook went ahead and took it down.
What enrages me even more is that they not only took down that one article, they took down all posts of my website from my Facebook page and banned the links to my website itself. It is also worth mentioning that Facebook took down a post which talked about tea and its history! What community standards does talking about tea violate?
“The fact that Facebook took down a post which talks about the origins of tea tells us that they don’t even read what they are censoring.”Priyamvad Rai
What is the use of a democracy, if we cannot freely express our opinion just because a few people found it not to their taste? The question I raise is that do we really live in a democracy? Or is it just a facade meant to keep us under an illusion of freedom. Ask yourself this question, think of all the times you have had to keep quiet because speaking up would have been dangerous or undesirable!
This censorship is nothing less than the infringement of my Fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed to me and to the people of India, under Article 19, Part III of the Constitution of India. However, this censorship is not going to stop me and the Rising Mélange from writing. I would like to conclude with the following quote
“Dissent, is a right essential to any concept of the dignity and freedom of the individual; it is essential to the search for truth in a world wherein no authority is infallible.”Norman Thomas