Interesting discussion going on at Mero Report on Freedom of Speech in Nepal and the role of social media.
In a country where internet access is depressingly low, World Bank data puts it at 499,000(2008 est) in a country of about 29 million people, looking at social media revolution within the larger context of freedom of speech is quite uncomfortable.
Majority of the people with internet access belong to the economically advantaged class, within at least basic understanding of English language. If we focus on this group while discussing free speech , we are excluding large section of society and will end up with a lopsided view.
Yet, it would be short sighted to ignore social media revolution, especially after events in the Middle East.
Going back to the discussion at Mero Report, two comments I found most interesting are quoted here, just to present two sides of the free speech debate.
Santosh Sigdel says,
“…..I cant also agree with the statement that “the concept of freedom of speech is blurred due to the degrading moral of people who tend to look at as ‘experts’. First of all i couldn’t fully understand the idea behind this statement. ‘moral’ is subjective phenomenon. and some people’s degrading moral cant blur the concept of freedom of speech. The concept of Freedom of Speech is quite clear: Everyone is entitled to express their feeling, ideas, opinion through any media they want, subject to legitimate restriction. And those limitations are also for the public good, like to protect one’s privacy, honor, national security. The problem in Nepal is that the list of limitation is vague and ambiguous.
Internet (or social media, as the discussion started) has evolved as a very powerful tool or platform to exercise freedom of speech. One doesn’t have to run after mass media to get published her works, she can reach the world within seconds with a click. One can explore his ideas and share with the world. It was not the case earlier as the medium was in the hold of few and powerful ones. You can take example of Iran, Indonesia, Libya in recent past how the internet proved the best medium for general people to exercise their freedom of speech.”
Positive sentiments there on free speech scene in Nepal. But Ayush Joshi is not so sure,
“In Nepal’s context Freedom of speech is surely a distant dream. With no clarity in what it actually means and the communication pundits elaborating the essence of freedom in their own eccentric way; the concept of ‘Freedom of Speech’ is blurred due to the degrading moral of people who we tend to look at as ‘experts’.”
Well, check out the entire discussion and send in your thoughts, if you like to participate.