UPDATED June 2014: At the blogger’s request, his name has been changed to CK instead of his actual name. All links to his blog (and to the cache) have been removed and replaced by underlines.
On India’s Republic Day, blogger CK published a retraction to a post he did on the irresponsible role of the journalists in the Mumbai attack. I read the original piece and while it was angry, it could hardly be termed libelous (I refrain from quoting from it for CK’s sake, but curious minds might be interested in Google’s cache of the post – scroll to the very bottom).
All over the blogosphere, angry posts were written after the Mumbai attacks–some criticizing the government; and others questioning the media’s role. In tone and content, they did not differ from CK’s piece. It is clear that NDTV is trying to make an example of CK as a warning against future criticism. That is unacceptable. What’s appalling is the very bodies who owe their survival to free speech, the very organizations that used free speech to report on the Mumbai attacks, and defended their content as necessary for information dissemination are now against a blogger’s right to free speech.
Let’s take the following scenario – NDTV and Ms. Barkha Dutt do a piece on someone. Let’s call her A. They tear A to shreds for some reason. Talk about how A didn’t live up to the expectations of her job. Let’s say the piece is a liberal mix of opinion and fact – based on my limited visibility to Ms. Dutt, that’s her modus operandi anyway (which she’s entitled to). Now, let’s say A sues NDTV and Barkha Dutt. What do you presume would happen? Using their huge platform as a national news channel and their vast legal resources, they would fight it. There would be stories on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. There would be righteous stomping around on how the press in India is always maligned blah, blah, blah.
Needless to say, other channels of mainstream media and, of course, bloggers would join NDTV in defending its right of free speech. In fact, all of this happened in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks where the press in India hoisted a vigorous defense of itself. Excellent, I say – defend yourselves. Excellent – use the right to free speech and stand by your right to report events as they happen.
Now, let’s turn to what they are doing to poor CK1. According to NDTV and Barkha Dutt, he is not entitled to freedom of speech. He’s only a piddly little blogger, so he’s not entitled to the freedom of the press caveat either. Who is he? A poor sod who’s an individual blogger? Well then, throw the entire weight of the NDTV legal staff at him and coerce him into a retraction2.
This is pathetic. This reeks of a double standard so despicable it probably violates some journalistic ethic. There, I said it. Sue me!!