I am a supporter of free speech and expression. As you’d imagine, I get plenty of ‘But we won’t have any problems if everyone is respectful of others’ sentiments’. The problem with that idea is that it soon becomes a race to the bottom.

Sample this:

Bollywood star Aamir Khan’s wife Kiran Rao has to grapple with a legal case over the title of her directorial debut Dhobi Ghat, which premiered at the Toronto international film festival recently.

Claiming that the film title was a sign for creating caste division in the dhobi community, Hindustan Kanojia Organisation of Dhobis chairman Vinod Kumar Kanojia approached the Delhi high court, demanding a change of title before its release in theatres later this year or early next year.

Kanojia requested the censor board to review the film’s title so that it does not encourage caste division in society.

“The film could have been given some other name. It has been given the name to hurt the feelings of the community, which is highly condemned,” Kanojia stated in his petition.

We are fast descending into a nation of offence-takers; it is our national pastime. There is little doubt that law will support the producers, but law doesn’t matter here. Amit Varma put it nicely in his column Mobs Are Above The Law. If a mob disrupts screenings and theatre-owners decide to not screen the movie, it doesn’t matter to the producer what the court verdict was: It is just a piece of paper he has.

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