I’m not asking it, but an irate PP reader emails in pointing to this article in last week’s Times newspaper asking that silly question. Is there a better example of modern religious Orientalism? – ‘Ha ha, these Hindoooos with their pornographic temples are so funny’. There is just too much nonsense in that article to take apart.
However, our reader asks: “Are people going too far in the desperate attempt to test their rights for freedom of speech?” – Well, no. Going too far would be to incite violence or hatred against Hindus, this article does neither. So you can complain to the Times but the writer should have the right to their freedom of (uninformed) speech.
This ties in with something else. Some people are complaining against London’s Blag club using idols of Ganesh inside as decoration. [Hat tip: Rakhee]
As ever I think it’s important to understand the issues here.
1) People have the right to be offended.
2) They have the right to protest (peacefully), lobby or boycott the club in order to show their displeasure.
3) But just because you are offended does not give you the right to dictate how others should behave towards you.
4) Saying the other person should change their behaviour out of respect is appealing to their conscience. But if they don’t want to that is their democratic right. The point about freedom of expression in religion or politics is that it applies across the board and to everyone – not just those think they are in the right.
5) Hinduism is a lot more tolerant than is given credit for, even by many Hindus. There have been plenty of movements that rejected idols or embraced a completely non-ritualistic expression of the Vedas. People need to stop fantasising about the Al-Ghuaraaba crew when organising protests.
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Filed in: Civil liberties