It’s an open secret among my blogger buddies that I am a huge fan of Salman Rushdie. Now, after reading this interview with him that took place at the India Today Conclave, I all the more love his brashness and his fierce belief in freedom. Here is one excerpt:
Q: At what point of time, does liberty for yourself becomes license to abuse others?
A: It’s a loaded question of course because I am not talking about liberty for myself but about liberty also for others to abuse me, which they have freely utilized. I am not trying to say that I am the only one who gets to speak, only that I also get to speak. The question of the limits of freedom – unfortunately, these days, people have begun to fall into the trap of believing that it is right to limit freedom, at that point which you were mentioning the point of where other people don’t like what you are saying, I am telling you, if you go down that road, nobody will be able to speak at all, because everybody can object for whatever reason to somebody else and you silence all speech…that’s the consequence of that mindset, it is better to be in a world where people say what they want and if you don’t like it, you say so in return. That’s how the debate of an open society proceeds. Of course I am not saying I am the only one who gets to talk, obviously I am not saying that.
Freedom. It’s a beautiful sounding word. We say, who would be against freedom? It’s a word that you would automatically be for, one would think. You think of a free society as one in which a thousand flowers bloom, in which a thousand and one voices speak… what a simple and grand idea… But in our time, many essential freedoms are in danger of defeat and not only in totalitarian or authoritarian states, here in India also a combination of religious fanaticism, political opportunism and I have to say public apathy, is damaging that freedom upon which all other freedoms depend which is the freedom of expression.
I also love that he ended his speech with one of Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poems.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
The TV channel did not show the last part of this speech (the poem), I later found this out from the internet. I wish I had gotten to see the entire speech. Did anyone?
The video of the interview can also be found here.
Did anyone else watch this interview? What did you think of it?