…Is an oxymoron. I live in a funny country. You can get away with murder or rape, but if you publish a news item or even put a status line or a tweet that offends anybody, you most definitely will end up in jail. And, to add the cherry on this little joke, the constitution clearly defines freedom of speech as one of your fundamental rights.
But let’s talk from a smaller viewpoint. If you utter a sentence, how many people around you is it affecting? Anything you say can and will be used against you. It’s not just what you say, it’s everything based on the very idea of “you”. “You” are the person who is not allowed to voice an opinion. Shut up. Else, run the risk of being judged/arrested/shot (but still, worst of all, judged, in my opinion).
In a country like India, nearly everyone’s nose is in everyone’s business, except their own. As a child, you were often warned of these mythical people who would incessantly judge you. Translated to English, these were the people your mother referred to as the “four people”. The “four people” appear in multiple Indian languages and are always present to pass comments, no matter what you say/do/eat/score (in class tests and stuff).
Why is every Indian child warned of the “four people” (all right, they are not mythical, they mean people like your jealous relatives, jealous neighbors, jealous cousins, jealous pets, jealous married-into-the family aunts, nearly all jealous people in the large Indian community that you belong to). Why must your life be dictated by people who are always telling you what’s right and what’s wrong. Who taught them about what’s right and what’s wrong. Who are they to tell you their ideas are right?
Later on in life, when you get a job and stuff, you think the four people are forever out of your life. But, in some companies that I have heard of, you are made to sign a contract that says something on the lines of “Whatever you speak, or post on social networking sites always remember, it reflects on the company you work for.” Assume you post a pic of what you had for lunch with a friend. How is that reflecting on the company you work for. Help me understand this, please!
In college, I once told a classmate that I liked Eminem. Apparently it reflected badly on me. I was judged based on the fact that I liked a singer whose songs had objectionable lyrics, ergo, I was morally loose. Made no sense at the time. But later on in life, I realized that a lot of people judge you based on things that need not, in a normal world be questionable.
And then there are the your-highnesses – the “higher authorities”. How many newspapers/news channels actually report things that are really happening, and how much is kept all hush-hush? If, someone is overstepping their boundaries, there are ways of silencing them. I wouldn’t know about the answer to the “how much” part of these questions (I don’t follow the news like normal people my age do). But even I am not so disconnected with the bigger world to not know that it is happening.
As an individual, you have to watch what you say to the people around you (especially, if, unfortunately, you are a female) In your profession, you have to be careful about what you say/post/print about anything around you. In your country, you dare not say/post anything about anyone who is related to the government, or related to the people who are related to these people (extended families included!).
Basically, keep your f*king mouth shut. Because, you enjoy the freedom of speech.