Writers, publishers bat for freedom of expression

Writers, publishers bat for freedom of expression

Writers, publishers bat for freedom of expression

Writers and publishers on Sunday condemned the harassment of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, saying it was a blow to the freedom of expression.

Prominent authors and journalists who were in the session—Ankahee: What Must Not Be Said— shared their individual experiences on different forms of bias and social taboos and how inherent they were in all forms of public speech and writing. “Writers cannot be expected to act as warriors. They are artists and should be respected. Secular state should protect them and it applies to Perumal Murugan,”said poet-journalist C P Surendran.

After narrations from Murugan’s book “Madhorubhagan,” which has run into huge protests, Surendran wanted to know what was provocative in the novel. The entire issue is blown up unnecessarily, he said.   “As a journalist and writer I find that people talk about freedom of speech but you cannot find it unless you have a right to offend. Some area should be there where people can laugh at themselves. We need to be culturally more liberal,” Surendran said.

Narrating what happened with Murugan, the publisher of the book Kannan Sundaram said police told him that it was not safe for him (Murugan) to stay and so he left for Chennai. Later, Murgan was called by local police and forced to sign an apology letter.  Author and publisher Urvashi Butalia opined that everyone is committed to freedom of expression and must respect the dignity of the subject and writers.

Journalist and writer Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said, “I received many love letters (legal notices) over my book released last year on India’s largest corporate conglomerate. The question is how have I defamed them? They did not go to court nor did they find any factual error.”

Author Salil Tripathi said author Salman Rushdie had stated that if you don’t like a book shut it, discuss it, argue it but do not ban it. 

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