ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Does Censorship Ever Work?

Censorship, use of draconian laws (such as those of sedition), taking down of online content citing violent repercussions, all these measures go against laws guaranteeing freedom of expression. There are more mature, reasonable and painstaking ways of dealing with objectionable material than the knee-jerk reactions that governments have involved themselves in.

Censorship takes many forms in India and elsewhere. Book bans are routine, as are the protests over titles, dialogues or lyrics in films or attacks on art galleries. But the physical silencing – the murders and attacks or the jailing of journalists, right-to-information activists, members of political and social movements, writers, theatre directors and playwrights, authors or artists – is an increasingly dangerous trend and is proceeding with complete impunity as well. Add to this, the rising instances of online censorship – the blocking of websites and web pages, take down notices for online content, videos or blocks on social media accounts and the cases lodged under the draconian Information Technology Act, 2000.

In barely a month, two separate events in India and a third, while not l­ocated in India, brought some of the most contentious aspects of freedom of expression into sharp focus – hate speech and mischievous propaganda on online and mobile media and cartoons that are allegedly offensive and insulting to national honour.

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