Monday, June 16, 2008

The limits of freedom of speech and expression

Time and again, I've argued on my blog that free speech is absolute, and that the state or "society" has no business setting limits to the right of freedom of speech and expression. However, I must admit today, that there are limits to those rights.

The first limit is accountability. If you are making a statement, you should be willing to be held accountable for its consequences. Anonymous character assasinations are not covered under free speech. Nor is "hit and run" - false accusations, and change-of-topic when someone responds to a point you made.

Second, is preaching violence. Asking someone to kill, rape or maim someone in the name of religion, caste, ideology or any other fault-line.

The reason I'm pointing it out is because I've been reading some anonymous blog posts about a wing of my organization (search for "minimsft" on your favourite search engine), and the shameless way in which, without responsibility, people have proceeded to character-assasinate senior execs in the company. I'm not saying that the senior execs are all dyed in white (which they might be), but if you are making personal, imbecilic, and crude attacks on someone, the least you can do is identify yourself, so that the victim can respond with appropriate action.

No comments: