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Updated: September 25, 2012 20:26 IST

Free speech must never hurt sentiments: Buddhist thinker

Staff Reporter
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Buddhist thinker and philosopher Doboom Tulku
Buddhist thinker and philosopher Doboom Tulku

The freedom of expression or intellectual exercise must never be used to hurt the sentiments of any section, Buddhist thinker, philosopher and managing trustee of World Buddhist Culture Trust, Venerable Doboom Tulku has said.

The Lama, during an interview conducted here on the sidelines of a seminar on inter-faith dialogues on Tuesday, was reacting to the controversy over the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.

He was of the opinion that the film which has content portraying Islam in a bad light should never have been produced. “It should not have happened and should have been prevented. If the intention [behind producing the movie] is bad, then it is certainly condemnable. Everyone, irrespective of which religion they believe in, should respect the faith and beliefs of others,” he said.

According to him, freedom of expression or speech must be limited when the work could potentially hurt the sentiments of a large number of people. “Religious sentiments are mostly easy to spark or inflame. It is one thing to write books as part of an intellectual exercise. Similarly, producing films as a form of art is also acceptable. However, if the work is performed with bad intentions, they naturally will not be received positively.”

In addition to the numerous demonstrations and ensuing violence that have occurred due to the film, the inflammatory content has also led to a bounty being put on offer for the life of the film’s maker. However, the Tulku has advocated caution in dealing with the issue. “Such instances happen every now and then. Reacting to such actions with intolerance must be seen as the other extreme. Such acts could only worsen the situation.”

“In my opinion, everything depends on the attitude and intention of all those involved. For example, several years ago, when the Taliban had destroyed the Buddha statues in Afghanistan, only a mere few Buddhists had raised voices protesting against the action. But there was never any sort of retaliation in the issue. A sense of understanding had prevailed, back then. I have felt that the Taliban was not particularly against Buddhists or Buddhism. It was their belief that such statues should not be considered as an object of worship was what had led to their action,” he said.

He added that a high-level of understanding was necessary in dealing with matters relating to different faiths. At the same time, he stressed the importance of educating the public with lessons on moral and ethical values as they could influence individuals for the better.

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making permanent structures of art in stone or wood is prevalent in Islam too. Reverence is
what you make of it. A book could be reverent, a building could be reverent but remember
they are made of crushed trees or stones that weren't reverent before human intervention.
Some choose to glorify those humans and make the likeness of reverence in those human
forms. For a lot of people the mother or the lover is reverent. And they eulogized them in
poems, pictures, sculptures. Modern day wealth is mostly man made art, jewelry bonds
stocks currencies and such. Yes land buildings, palaces estates constitute wealth too but
that does not sustain modern economies. Does not drive innovation.does not give a
measure of prosperity away from slavery. For Muslims trading their natural resources what
if demand wanes or alternatives make their resources useless? And for western civilizations
- read the story of Ashoka the great.

from:  Uma
Posted on: Sep 26, 2012 at 07:47 IST

Freedom of expression is meant for unpopular speech. If your sentiments
are "hurt", you do not have the right to kill.

from:  Reju Nair
Posted on: Sep 26, 2012 at 02:08 IST

yes he is right ..

from:  shine
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 21:46 IST

What if I find Mr. Tulku's comment hurts my sentiment? Will he then be silenced?

It is a slippery slope when you start talking about "hurting sentiments"; moralistic
assumptions are highly subjective but the law isn't.

from:  mv
Posted on: Sep 25, 2012 at 20:49 IST
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