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Unconventional voices

The article "Conspiring to silence unconventional voices" (Nov. 26) was excellent. Its staunch support for freedom of expression with authoritative quotes and judgments was commendable. The quotation from a Supreme Court ruling, "in a democracy it is not necessary that everyone should sing the same song," is very impressive and valuable.

B. Sripada Rajan,
Coimbatore

The Kushboo episode exposes an irony and anomaly. It is the self-styled opponents of Manu's orthodoxy who are up in arms to defend Manu's central creed — that a woman is the ward of her father, husband, and son, never independent, and that different laws and customs should govern men and women. What is being proffered as Tamil culture is actually an apology for Victorian hypocrisy, Salafi-Wahabbi orthodoxy, and Manu Smrithi.

Thiruvengadam Ramakrishnan,
New Orleans, Los Angeles

Actor Kushboo's views on pre-marital sex are personal. I do not understand why the media, politicians, and rights activists are wasting their precious time, ink, and paper on the issue. As long as men and women exist, issues of sex will also exist. Why such a hue and cry over them?

S. Suyambu,
Chennai

It is the media that have blown the issue out of proportion, provoking the so-called preservers of Tamil tradition. A celebrity's utterances have a wider reach and a more serious impact. The actor who is now drawing flak for her free speech is also the one for whom a temple was built not long ago in the same State.

Kumar Nagarajan,
Chennai

Voltaire is credited with saying: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Freedom of thought and expression is valuable for fostering social progress.

K.P.K. Pechiannan,
Coimbatore

Can someone tell us exactly what constitutes Tamil culture? This will help people like me get updated.

R. Muralikrishnan,
Chennai

The root cause for the intolerance lies in the lack of awareness among the people or their unwillingness to accept the changing trends in the man-woman relationship. We are passing through a phase of evolution no coercive force can possibly stop. Those seeking to ebb the tide of change can do so only through long-term tactical and persuasive methods and not through specious litigation or by hurling footwear, rotten eggs, and tomatoes at Kushboo. We should take guidance from Swami Vivekananda who said: "The only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral and that which is unselfish is moral."

T. Rama Prasad,
Perundurai, T.N.

While the views expressed by Kushboo and supported by Suhasini were their own, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi's statement that the involvement of some influential people in the issue may help nurture another anti-Brahmin movement in Tamil Nadu has deliberate caste overtones.

While claiming to work for a casteless society, most politicians indulge in casteism. Mr. Karunanidhi has proved that he is no exception.

Subramanyam Sridharan,
Bangalore

In a land of high cultural order, one cannot ignore irresponsible comments in the name of freedom of expression. But the talk of an anti-Brahmin crusade by a seasoned leader like Mr. Karunanidhi is unfortunate.

He is undoubtedly the bulwark against the suppression of the downtrodden but his stand on this issue is not in keeping with his stature.

K. Bhoopathy,
Sriharikota, A.P.

If two individuals can hurt the sentiments of the Tamils and it can be justified in the name of freedom of expression, there is nothing wrong in the statement of Mr. Karunanidhi, who has been raised in the Dravidian culture, adding spice to the issue by introducing a Brahmin-non-Brahmin context.

R.M. Manoharan,
Cupertino, California

Mr. Karunanidhi's remark giving a new twist to the controversy, after remaining silent for so long, was avoidable. It is like adding fuel to fire.

R. Ponnarassi,
Vellore, T.N.

Mr. Karunanidhi should use his party and position to enable Dalits to remain presidents of the Pappapatti and Keeripatti village panchayats (reserved constituencies in which panchayat presidents resign as soon as they win for fear of antagonising the upper castes), instead of playing the caste card on trivial issues.

S. Samuel,
Chennai

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