LETTERS: Pains of democracy

This has reference to “Freedom of speech: The discomforts of democracy” (THT, June 22, Page 8). Quoting US President Obama, US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B. Teplitz writes, “We have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech.

Because, in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth”. One cannot but agree with her totally that “Freedom of speech and expression is the bedrock of democratic society.

Since citizens have different opinions, this freedom comes with some discomfort”. As such, any person in our democracy occupying public post of profit who feel discomfort at the barrage of freedom of expression of the general masses should counter ‘offensive’ free speech with more free speech as advised by Teplitz.

No matter how offensive or discomforting it may be for the politicians and public institutions, the masses at large have the inalienable right to truth and freedom of opinion. She asks, “Don’t like a political cartoon about something?” and advises, “Draw a better one, don’t punish the cartoonist.”

Accordingly, NIBL could exercise its freedom of speech and expression including cartoons to counter Arthik Abhiyan’s fundamental rights “Nepal Investment Bank moves Press Council against Arthik Abhiyan” (THT, June 22, Page 1). No need for them to get uptight.

As every one of us is a hardcore democrat, we must all swear and live by author Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s famous lines: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

If we cannot tolerate free speech against us, we should go back to the dark days of our obsolete kings. We cannot have it both ways – democracy and no freedom of speech.

Manohar Shrestha, Kathmandu

Colour blind

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter, 16, to an eye specialist for routine checkup. After the checkup, the doctor told me that she had colour blindness though it was mild type and won’t affect her daily tasks.

Though I knew it was genetic disorder and had no cure, I was eager to know who had such gene. Is it me or Ritika, my wife? So, me along with Ritika, went for checkup the following day. I couldn’t trust my ears when I heard Ritika was colour blind.

I was ashamed that I was unaware about it, even though we were together for last 22 years.Accordingly, the eye specialist, the colour blind person cannot see red, green or blue.

So, I was stuck with the question, what is colour? Is it what our eye decides or our mind? I realized that the actual dark red colour I can see can be a light red to someone else. But it is our adaptation of the perception of colour when we were toddlers to the present day that distinguishes different colours.

I always find myself in a cage of questions related to different social problems prevailing in our society and want to get out of the cage. And I am supremely confident that every problem has a solution.

After the incident, I am fully aware that the causes of such issues are socio-cultural colour blind perceptions about different circumstances which are transferred to us from our social norms and traditions.

Mananjeshor Bhattarai, via e-mail