No more slangs: it may land you in jail…….……….really?


The last page of the newspaper  The Hindu always offers some amusing news for me . Today was no exception. I was pleasantly “surprised” when I read the news “Pakistan bans 1,695 words on cellphone” ( see The news report gave a strong suggestion that activists within Pakistan have condemned it. True, in any democratic country the government can not ban the freedom of expression unless it falls within the strict criteria of constitutionally frame-worked “banned words”. Further, the government can not suomotu shut the mouth of citizens unless it has been proved that some one/group of people are really hurt and such activities will bring in huge chaos in the country. But the news report further suggested that Pakistangovernment has taken this decision after a series of court orders came out  “favoring reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech” . The Pakistantelecom authority (PTA) has ordered for content filtering for all the mobile phone service providers of some words including words like “Jesus Christ”.  Well, if this act is done to prevent mobile harassment especially for women, I am for it ( off course not for curbing other words which do not carry offending or sexually harassing or obscene motives). But one needs to see that whether this act of the government resulted from huge complaints from women regarding this. In Indiasending offensive communications via digital media is considered as an offence under section 66A. Along with this Section 509 of the IPC is  also  used in some cases when modesty of women are targeted, i.e, they are targeted with words which actually sounds very nasty. Not to forget the power of sections 69 and 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2008, which gives enough power to the government for intercepting, monitoring and even blocking the free flowing of informations through digi-tech services; India can also probably take up such action as her neighbor to prevent individuals from using slangs targeting women.   

Now, coming to the arguments against such government acts, I will sum up my points as below:

1.      women are targeted with slang words, men are neither spared. It has become a new fashion among some people to use abusive words, including slangs while texting or even speaking with friends……forget about the heated up arguments which often carry ‘unwanted words’.

2.     How far the government can check? Checking the usage of  words with double meaning  will become a huge task. Probably for this a new academic course would be needed to study the changing trend of  words with black and white meanings. Don’t forget, we in this peninsula speak both English and vernacular language and majority have excellent ability to use “Hinglish” to express thoughts.

3.     We get to see so much ***ing words/images in popular social networking sites which are hugely shared and also enjoyed by many of us… would government go ahead with banning these social networking sites too? Well, once Pakistan did ban Facebook for insulting Islam. But in India no such act was taken except the 2006 ban on an Orkut community which triggered tension for insulting the great Maratha king Chatrapati Shivaji. But note that Orkut as a site was not banned.

It is no wonder that the concept of unprotected speech and expression, seen from the aspect of Article 19(2)(v) under Indian constitution is becoming more narrowed. This provision speaks about curbing right to speech on the ground of morality and indecency. But at the same time, it lies upon the users of the free speech guarantee to use it in a proper fashion, so that the government need not step in to curb the right. Once the individual users, irrespective of their gender, decide the level of decency for usage of language themselves, the problem of objectionable words and government’s “Big Brother” attitude towards free speech guarantee may be  set at rest to a certain extent…..if not fully.     

Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2011), “No more slangs: it may land you in jail…….……….really?”20th November,2011, published in


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