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Never argue with a stupid person. First they'll drag you down to their level, then they will beat you with experience.

Insults

Abuse and Cursing 

Criticism

Propaganda 

Defamation

Contempt of Court

Free Media 

Blasphemy

Nudity and Erotic Literature 

Pornography

Politics 

Those who start abusing start committing excesses multiply their sins and sufis say that if we are abused we should not reply with abuse because Allah (swt) for each excess takes away our sins and adds to the abuser's sins.

As we have seen in case of invasion of Iraq war propaganda of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq based on lies and distortion lead to fear and fear lead to approval of invasion by a slim majority.

We should meet abuse by forbearance. Human nature is so constituted that if we take absolutely no notice of anger or abuse, the person indulging in it will soon weary of it and stop.

Son, in politics you’ve got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad._ Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–73), U.S. Democratic politician, president

What Freedom of Expression Means?

Part 2 - By Shah N. Khan

Founder and Moderator of Internet Discussion Group Pakistan Post
Follow @link2shah

Free societies do not negate the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience. Politeness, courtesy and decency are considered virtuous but vain talk or the things that injure feelings of others unjustly or offensive or disrespectful expressions especially for elders, women and superiors are not favored. Lies, distortions, sensual and vile expressions inciting to sin or illegal action as well as backbiting and spreading hatred or rumors are prohibited.

Freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution and by different laws in different countries. But nowhere freedom is absolute. In most countries obscenity, incitement to illegal action, defamation, racism and fighting words are not protected. In some European countries even denial of Holocaust is punishable crime.

Even in this age of enlightenment; haughtiness, vanities, arrogances, meanness, and hypocrisies remain psychic diseases – especially among the affluent, which are despised by the less fortunate as well as the balanced people.


Arguments

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
Omar Khayyám (c. 11–12th century), Persian astronomer, poet

Quite often political debates and the proceedings in parliaments and different types of meetings are found to be much in deviation from these high ideals. As Thomas Jefferson said:An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.

Insults

Somebody quipped that daily life is governed by an economic system in which the production and consumption of insults tends to balance out. Russell Lynes, U.S. editor and critic gave us sound advice: The only gracious way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.

There is an old Indian saying that the injury caused by sword heals more quickly than that caused by tongue. But late H. L. Mencken, U.S. journalist thought:The only cure for contempt is counter contempt.And another great American statesman Benjamin Franklin opined:
Those disputing, contradicting, and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get victory, sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be of more use to them.

There are few people in this world who think like Will smith: “Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.

Abuse and Cursing 

Timothy Jay, professor of psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is the author of Why We Curse” and Cursing in America. He opines that cursing expresses our emotions in a deeper way than any other in a language. In fact, swearing might even be an evolutionary advantage. The four letter words we use today are hundreds of years old, Jay says. He went on to say that animals express their anger through physical reactions and violence. An angry dog will growl or bite. Over the years, Jay has recorded tens of thousands of volunteers yelling and swearing at each other — none of his subjects ever have come to blows. You don’t just walk up to someone and punch them in the face." An understanding of swearing requires recognition that profanity is just another extension of culture.

The reason we have racist language is because we have racism, Jay says. The current sexual climate is repressive; there’s an absence of sex education, a high degree of moral posturing, he says. There’s no reason to believe that these taboos are going to go anywhere soon.

His current study deals with the frequency of certain curses, and for the past 40 years, the most popular have changed very little. Thirty percent of all swearing, he has found, comprises just two of the more popular of centuries old famous words.

We find these days free use of abusive language not only in movies but also books and magazine. Here are a few sophisticated examples:

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”_ Maya Angelou (b. 1928), U.S. author. “Kicking Ass ,

Politics is a choice of enemas. You’re gonna get it up the ass, no matter what you do. _George V. Higgins (b. 1939), U.S. novelist.

Son, in politics you’ve got to learn that overnight chicken shit can turn to chicken salad._ Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–73), U.S. Democratic politician, president.

Twenty-first century America’s profanity was born in medieval England, when the church had immediate influence on daily life. Swearing comes from the idea of swearing on the Bible, says University English professor Joseph Wittig,Swearing on Christ's wounds is just another way to do that.

Criticism

Sincere criticism with the specific object of correcting a fault must be appreciated even though it may cause some pain or embarrassment, which more often than not, is quickly healed by honest soul searching and reflection. But censure or disparagement in the course of idle gossip or for the purpose of ridiculing or hurting or destroying the image is quite different. It is a vice. People who indulge in this vice as idle gossip usually lose their countenance when their criticism is responded with strong refutation based on logic and reason.

Wise men hammer out truth on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate. But when mind is full of predigested rubbish or when people look at the facts with the jaundiced eye irrationality dominates causing animosity or pandemonium.

Propaganda 

Propaganda has a bad name but all politicians and rulers use it as s a soft weapon in combination with the arsenal of lies, deceit, camouflage or exaggeration. Professional propagandists or lobbying firms are hired not only to improve one's image but also to destroy the image of opponents. Some hypocrites are engaged full time in demonizing Islam.

Propaganda is not merely dissemination of ideas and information for the purpose of inducing or intensifying specific attitudes and actions. It is an art lying which consists in nearly deceiving your own people as well as your enemies. Because propaganda is frequently accompanied by distortions of fact and by appeals to passion and prejudice, it is often thought to be invariably false or misleading. Although some propagandists may intentionally distort fact, others may present it as faithfully as objective observers.<.p>

As we have seen in case of invasion of Iraq war propaganda of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq based on lies and distortion lead to fear and fear lead to approval of invasion by a slim majority.

Defamation

Every man has a right to express what he thinks truth but speaking or publishing words for defamation, inciting for illegal action or involving obscenity are not be allowed, especially those that vilify or ridicule religious beliefs or Holy Scriptures are regarded generally criminal acts of blasphemy. Nobody has a right to make defamatory or slanderous statements about people. But it is difficult to prove it in court of law as the willful act of damaging the reputation of another by means of false and calumnious communications. In common law, defamation in writing is classified as libel, and oral defamation as slander.

If defamation is proved, usually damages are granted by the courts for monetary losses—such as loss of business

or of a job—as well as for other types of losses, including harm to the victim's reputation or emotional distress and the person or body accused of defamation is required to pay that. . In some cases punishment is given to the libeler rather than to compensate the victim.

It generally accepted that the right to free speech could be curtailed on grounds of national security. Contempt of court is another area where one cannot say the things that insult the judge or ridicule his judgment.

Free Media 

Journalism is still regarded as a more immediate short- term weapon to change the public opinion. Few journalists conform to the modern journalist’s code of Olympian objectivity and total purity of motive. Here is a confession from a senior journalist. If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people — including me — would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism._ Hunter S. Thompson (b. 1939), U.S. journalist.

In developing countries ridiculing or defaming the rulers may sometimes lead to jail sentence on real or fabricated charges depending upon the laws regulating press and publications. In India we see ideal freedom of media, but the journalists and papers favoring independent struggle of Kashmir are harassed and punished on fabricated charges. President Musharraf allowed freedom to media to great extent.However, religious extremists both in India and Pakistan do not tolerate blasphemy or criticism of their religious rites. Hindu extremists in India tore down centuries historical Babri Mosque merely on the rumor that Mogul Emperor had built the mosque by destroying their temple. There is no archaeological evidence available to support that.

International organizations take cognizance of attacks on freedom of expression for the journalists. Generally the journalists are required to follow a code ethics under which the media is supposed to honor the right of the public to know the facts but refrain from presenting a false picture and aiding and abetting a prosecutorial agent of the state in the commission of a felony. The freedom that the media in the West enjoys is unthinkable in many third world countries.

Here is a confession from a senior journalist. If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people — including me — would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism._ Hunter S. Thompson (b. 1939), U.S. journalist.

Blasphemy

In common law in the West, Blasphemy is a crime of speaking or publishing words that vilify or ridicule God, the Bible, or religious beliefs. Scurrility and a resultant tendency to provoke a public disturbance are the criteria for blasphemy. Laws that condemn it are held to be in consonance with the laws that protect freedom of speech. Blasphemy is still a crime in Britain and in most of the United States, but prosecutions are now rare. But in medieval Europe people used to be burned alive or killed for blasphemy. Ridiculing Pope and Clergy was treated as a form of blasphemy. In many countries uttering words against kings or religious deity was considered as a sin punishable usually by death.

Although in Quran great emphasis is laid on kindness, forgiveness, mercy etc. orthodox Muslims take blasphemy very seriously and in some sects Sharia laws prescribe death penalty whereas during his lifetime Holy Prophet Mohammed discouraged such cruelties and forgave even those who had molested him and made him migrate from Makkah.

The anger of Muslims over the cartoons published by some European papers ridiculing Prophet Muhammad caused worldwide protests recently. Some Muslim religious leaders say that the agents of the enemies of Islam planted their agents in peaceful demonstrations to ignite violence with the object of demonizing Islam. And some moderate scholars say that we should look for enemies within us as the worst blasphemy is violating the commandments about justice, honesty, brotherhood, kindness and altruism. See related article

Blasphemy - Why US and Western Countries Must Reinforce or Enact and Amend Laws Against Blasphemy?

Nudity and Erotic Literature 

In countries like Afghanistan extremists and despots object to all kinds of female modeling for publicity. Adult Magazines showing pictures of bikini clad girls or topless pin ups are banned.

However in moderate Islamic State like Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia etc. the laws and values for lies, distortion, exaggeration, slander, inciting to illegal action, spreading hatred etc. are not much different than the universally accepted norms. But nudity and obscenity are not dealt with as leniently as in the West.

It is not right to believe that the good Samaritans all over the Western world support MTV culture; gay rights and events like beauty pageants. Definition of obscenity varies in different cultures and nudity is not prohibited in most countries to the same extent as it is in Islamic world. Any Publisher of erotic literature or nude or pornographic pictures would land up in jail in most Islamic states and in countries like Afghanistan the porn film actors (if any caught) would be sentenced to death. The values in the West are quite liberal as depicted by the following quotes:

Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed. William Blake (1757–1827), English poet, painter,

In the NUDE, all that is not beautiful is obscene._ Robert Bresson (b. 1907), French film director

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Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. … The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress._John Berger (b. 1926), British critic.

Pornography

The attitude of most people in the West towards it is truthfully shown by Tony Hancock (1924–68), British comedian: It’s red hot, mate. I hate to think of this sort of book getting in the wrong hands. As soon as I’ve finished this, I shall recommend they ban it.

Pornography is generally classified into two categories: soft-core, in which erotic content is more titillating than explicit. And hard-core, in which erotic content is explicitly and graphically depicted with full intensity. Most objections to pornography have been based on religious grounds. And pornographic sites on Internet are a great source of concern to most parents and attempts are made to block such sites. Most people regard pornography as degrading and socially harmful.

Proponents of pornography argue that it is essentially a harmless diversion and may serve to relieve sexual tensions. Much controversy over pornography centers on whether or not pornography should be considered a form of obscenity, and whether it should be subject to some form of censorship.

Bertrand Russell wrote: Nine-tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be.

Definition of pornographic literature has often posed problem, which prompted W. H. Auden (1907–73), Anglo-American poet to suggest, There’s only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic. But laws in many countries are more lenient.

Politics

Limits of free speech and tolerance are tested in political, religious and other kinds of debate. Intellectual debates on complex abstract topics always present the possibility of unproductive confusion people talking past one another, saying similar things with different words, using the same words with different meanings, or otherwise wasting their efforts in merely verbal disputes. In the opinion of Grant M. Nulle, "Politicians and their deputies are merely the best at exploiting the system's impaired moral climate to organize the state's confiscatory arm to serve their backer's interests.

Those who would treat politics and morality apart will never understand the one or the other. Rousseau.

Many intellectual believe that while our politicians may not be able to solve many of the problems they create, the political classes in many countries have proven they are still adept at causing crises—and then blaming others for the results.

The trouble with the adult franchise (specially in developing countries) is the political immaturity the voters as well as the candidates. Remember the old saying, "Majority consists of fools." Good democracy is said to be commensurate with literacy, class, wealth, and occupational convergence. Many scholars lament that less-than-perfect democracy has been achieved and existing system cannot guarantee good governance. and stricter qualifications for the voters and the candidates are needed.

A scene from the National Assembly of Pakistan or Indian Parliament ‘Lok Sabha” and some other countries is about the same: noise, clamor, and little genuine debate but variety of fisticuffs. While most of the Western Parliamentarians would be content with, the retorts, quips churlish replies or at worst the quarrelsome refutations, in India, Pakistan and a few other countries parliamentarians often cause pandemonium and sometimes do not hesitate take to fisticuffs at the slightest provocation? Not because great principles of policy are involved but simply because the ignorant majority elects the wrong people.

Ambrose Bierce defined diplomacy as the patriotic art of lying for one's country. And another diplomat regards the ambassador as honest people sent to lie abroad for the good of his country. As Barbara Tuchman, U.S. historian wrote: “Diplomacy means all the wicked devices of the Old World, spheres of influence, balances of power, secret treaties, triple alliances, and, during the interwar period, appeasement of Fascism.” And now diplomacy has become an art of saying nastiest things in nicest words.

Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Practical Reason posed a valid question: -Certainly one may say, ‘Freedom to speak or write can be taken from us by a superior power, but never the freedom to think!’ But how much, and how correctly, would we think if we did not think, as it were, in common with others, with whom we mutually communicate!

The ideals of freedom of expression could be defined not by what we are free to express but by what we are free not to express. It is the freedom to abstain, refrain and avoid offending people of different creeds and hurting the feelings of fellow human beings, which form the basis of conforming to the moral standards of the modern world. The business of these standards and laws is to free the freedom from confusion and chaos inherent in human life, which is bound to arise if one is free to do whatever one likes without any thought or consideration of its impact on others.

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