“National Symbols” – Impossible to FORCE Someone to Respect Them
It’s obvious that the charges of sedition against Aseem Trivedi cannot stand. If anything, he loves the country too much – not too little. Only someone who is emotionally invested in a nation will take such pains to consistently spread the word about what’s wrong with it. No – it’s pretty damn obvious that sedition is not the problem here. Even Binayak Sen was granted bail and the courts are pretty strict about the specifics of sedition.
The real charge facing Trivedi is for “disrespect to national symbols”. He showed the Ashoka chakra with wolves instead of lions, showed the parliament as a toilet and Ajmal Kasab peeing on the Constitution. We’ve all been taught in civics classes that we must “respect” the flag and other national symbols. But is this good? In my opinion, these stupid laws need to go as well.
How can you mandate respect? Can you create a law saying “Respect this!” And how do you enforce it? Look at the following list of actions and tell me which you think is illegal:
- I merely think to myself “I disrespect the flag” – legal or illegal?
- I merely think of something bad like peeing on the flag – legal or illegal?
- I tell someone I disrespect the flag – legal or illegal?
- I tell someone I want to pee on the flag – legal or illegal?
- I write that I want to pee on the flag – legal or illegal?
- I draw myself peeing on the flag – legal or illegal?
Can merely thinking something be a crime? If so, then we’re all screwed. No – a mere thought cannot constitute a crime. But that is exactly what the law makes it! “Respect” and “Disrespect” are thoughts. You can’t criminalize a person’s thoughts and emotions. And if you’re thinking something, it’s natural that you say it. Words are only an expression of what you feel. And writing is merely words on paper. Cartoons are just thoughts laid down in ink.
All of these are victim-less actions. No one is hurt, no one’s freedoms are being taken away. In my opinion, every law should ask the question – does this protect anyone? Will some specific person’s life become better because of this? Sedition laws and rules preventing the “disrespect” of national symbols fail this test. I don’t care if someone does something to the Indian flag. How is my life affected?
Thought crimes are the worst kind of laws. And expression is merely thought being manifested in the real world via books, paintings or speech. All of these should be protected because if you don’t allow them, you have to ask – is thinking about them illegal too? Imagine that the government had a monitoring device for your thoughts and it could prove that such and such an idea came from you. Can you think of the kind of laws it would create? *shudder*
Sedition laws need to go. Laws regarding national symbols need to go. They don’t make anyone’s life better and are insufferable violations of the Freedom of Expression guaranteed to us by the Constitution.