Showing Periyar Slapping Hindu Gods/Goddesses is Unacceptable: When Freedom of Expression Crosses Lines of Faith
The freedom to express oneself is a cornerstone of any democratic society, including India. But the question that continually resurfaces is, where do we draw the line? A recent incident involving social media content that shows Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, a social activist and politician, slapping Hindu gods and goddesses, has reignited this debate.
Many believe that the depiction is not just distasteful but directly insulting to millions who follow the Hindu faith. The matter becomes even more complicated when the governing powers, who should ideally be impartial protectors of all faiths, seem to harbor a bias.
The Incendiary Content
The portrayal of Periyar slapping Hindu deities is problematic for a myriad of reasons. For one, it aggravates existing religious tensions and could be seen as an act of incitement. More so, it disrespects and trivializes a faith followed by millions. Whether or not one agrees with Periyar’s philosophies, it’s crucial to remember that freedom of speech should not impede upon someone’s religious sentiments.
Showing Periyar slapping Hindu gods/goddesses is unacceptable..
The problem is we can’t even ask about Police action against this handle as the CM family themselves hate Hinduism & keep insulting our faith….
— Mr Sinha (@MrSinha_) October 17, 2023
The Role of Authorities
It is the role of the authorities to ensure that religious sentiments are not hurt and that social harmony is maintained. However, when the very authorities in power seem to carry a bias against a particular faith, it casts doubt on their ability to govern impartially. In this case, the public’s call for action against the social media handle in question appears to fall on deaf ears, exacerbating the perception that the government is not doing enough to protect the Hindu community’s faith and sentiments.
“जय श्री राम का नारा बर्दास्त के बाहर है , हम इसे बर्दास्त नहीं करेंगे”
: दयानिधि मारन , DMK सांसद pic.twitter.com/g1yRqn1yL5
— Panchjanya (@epanchjanya) October 16, 2023
A Complex Historical Context
Periyar E.V. Ramasamy is a polarizing figure in Indian history, known for his opposition to caste-based discrimination and his critiques of Hinduism. He is a respected figure among many for his social reforms, but he is also a figure of controversy for his criticisms of Hindu beliefs. While it’s essential to have the space to discuss and even critique religious and social systems, it’s equally vital that this is done in a respectful manner that doesn’t inflame tensions or cause offense.
The “Freedom of Expression” Argument
Freedom of expression is a constitutional right, but it’s not absolute. There are limitations, such as hate speech, which is punishable by law. The depiction of a well-known personality slapping gods and goddesses of a particular religion not only comes close to crossing that line but may well have crossed it.
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The situation is a disturbing indicator of a larger issue—that of a society increasingly divided along lines of faith, spurred on by the very institutions that should be fostering unity. Authorities must take decisive action to remove harmful content that directly targets religious sentiments and ensure that the lines of freedom of expression are clearly demarcated to prevent similar incidents in the future.
While we uphold the value of free speech, it’s crucial to remember that this freedom comes with the responsibility of ensuring that we do not hurt the sentiments of a community, particularly when it concerns matters of faith. After all, a society’s strength lies in its ability to respect and celebrate its diverse beliefs, not in demeaning them