Chapter 24: Freedom of Expression
Mary Catherine, Samya and Subhuti, Rajneesh Times
What is the difference between printing negativity and printing freedom of expression?
There is no difference. It is man’s birthright to express whatever he thinks, whatever he feels, in whatever language he wants to express it. To interfere in it on any grounds, is to destroy democracy.
The grounds may look valid. For example, the literature may be condemned as obscene. But who is going to determine what is obscene? If the act of making love is not obscene, then writing about it cannot be obscene. Then printing a picture or painting about it, cannot be obscene.
Freedom of expression knows no limits. Any limit is an infringement on human individuality, on the grounds of morality, religion, ethics, manners, etiquette. These are all excuses, and these are the ways that humanity has been repressed. Anything can be called immoral, it all depends how you define it. There is no fixed definition of morality.
One of the greatest thinkers of this age, G.E. Moore, worked for years on one book, Principia Ethica. And his whole concentration was to define what is good, because if that can be defined then morality can be defined, immorality can be defined, and many more complex things become easier. But the nature of goodness has to be first determined.
Two hundred fifty pages, and he comes to the conclusion that the nature of good is experienceable but not definable. He accepts his defeat. And if you cannot define even what is good, how can you define what is bad? So all definitions are arbitrary.
What is obscene?
I have never seen anything obscene, and I have looked in the whole literature of the world. Things which have been condemned as obscene, even in the twentieth century, for example, books of D.H. Lawrence were condemned by courts as obscene, and banned, are one of the best, the highest quality literature that twentieth century has produced. But the problem is he describes intimate love acts in such depth that they become almost tangible.
He could not defend himself. But if I was there, I would have fought for him. Because if you can love a woman or a man - and there is nothing wrong in it - and you can feel each other’s warmth, melting into each other, reaching to a climax, to an orgasmic experience - and it is not banned - then why it should be prohibited if somebody is capable to describe it in such detail that it almost becomes real when you are reading it?