QUESTION: How do you take the suggestion to enact a law against hate speech in the public in India?
ANSWER: In the 1960s the United States was haunted by a hate spreading group called Ku Klux Klan. They did a lot of damage for the culture and took every opp-ortunity to decimate Afro Americans. The famous Oscar award winning movie MISSISSIPPI BURNING came out of that context. It revealed an important truth to the world: the people who give hate speech are often wildly supported by an ideology and a movement. If any law that does not go into this reality and recognise the width of that spectrum will not stand the test of time. If the government is planning to draft a law, it should listen to the people and those who suffered from hate speeches, sometimes damage to their life and their families. It should track down those who make the speech, the ideology which supports them and the movement which is behind them. Often these movements provide financial support to these persons and groups to create an atmosphere of anger, mutual distrust, violence and eventual decimation of a group or community. The reason why we should listen to the people is that often these kinds of laws will be used against human rights workers who will speak on behalf of vulnerable people. Once the law is passed, it should be sent down even to Panchayat level where people should know that they are not help-less in the face of someone who is set out to give hate speeches against people, institutions and individuals and they have recourse for action. In other words people should take ownership for drafting the law and using the law to build a harmonious society and be part of nation building.
Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath