How many of you posted some sort of political opinion or criticism this past year on Facebook? We have had a lot of reasons to post opinions, the presidential election being our most recent one. Well, freedom of speech is not something awarded to everyone everywhere. We are lucky

Recently one woman, Shaheen Dhada, in India was arrested because of posting a Facebook status criticizing how her city handled the funeral of Hindu fundamentalist, Bal Thackeray. Another woman, Renu Srinivas, “liked” the status and was also arrested.

Dhada’s status simply stated that she felt the city was shut down not due to respect for the deceased fundamentalist, rather out of fear as there were reports Thackeray was linked to mob violence. I am happy to see that at least the Indian media are supporting the two women and also criticizing the government for making the arrests.

Freedom of Speech – A Fundamental Human Right

While the freedom of speech has been recognized has a fundamental right internationally under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is still quite a contentious issue around the world. Even here in the United States our government does not protect every type of speech, specifically:

  • Obscene speech;
  • Speech intended to incite lawlessness;
  • Fighting words intended to incite violence; and
  • True threats

We continuously are trying to figure out what falls under protected speech and what does not, but I do not see how Dhada’s status update on Facebook could hinder public order or incite some sort of lawlessness or violence. What do you think of the women's arrests?

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