(via BBC News)
The issue of free speech and how far it can go, especially in regards to comedy, will very likely never end. That being said, different parts of the world are not so far along in that ongoing debate.
Due to the official complaint of a politician’s son in India, Munawar Faruqui was arrested under suspicion that he was going to tell some of his jokes that were deemed offensive to Hindus. Faruqui reportedly didn’t include any such material in his set the night of the arrest, but that didn’t stop authorities from detaining him for 5 weeks before he was granted bail.
That night, Mr Faruqui and four others, including another comic, were arrested and charged with outraging religious feelings and performing a “negligent act likely to spread infection of diseases dangerous to life”, alluding to the pandemic.
The limits of speech are a little more restrictive in India, if not a lot as you can see in this case, in regards to religious commentary compared to other parts of the world. Faruqui himself identifies as a Muslim, but claims he makes jokes that poke fun at all backgrounds. Faruqui was recently granted bail, but the prospect that he was not only arrested and put behind bars for making fun of Hindu gods, but on the prospect that he might do so as there is a history of him doing so in the past is scary and astounding in 2021.
When it comes to freedom of speech in comedy, everyone has to realize that it goes both ways. Comedians should be able to talk about any subject, but anyone listening/watching should be allowed to feel the way they do and express themselves in regards to the comedy they’re consuming.
No single comedian’s comedy will be for everyone (just remember that billions of people don’t even speak English) and, more often than not, the most distinguished comedians do not try to pander to the masses. Hopefully, that’s an arrangement that all of comedy can get to throughout every country within our lifetime.