Guest Session: What remains of Language: Political Speech and its Criminalisation | Dr Anushka Singh | Department of International Relations
October 22 @ 1:30 pm - 2:40 pm
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Political speech, specifically understood here in terms of expressions against political authorities, is claimed to have enjoyed a ‘preferred position’ in democratic theory based upon the belief that political criticism ensures a better functioning of democratic regimes. In spite of its status, political speech has also been subjected to restrictions as well as criminalisation for its consequences believed to be detrimental to the functioning of political systems. It is here that an argument about violence through language is advanced, which becomes a ground for criminalisation of specific forms of expressions. Using insights from a comparative study of free speech jurisprudence across countries, in this talk, she will juxtapose the lived reality of the laws criminalising political speech with their existence both in the statute books and courts’ interpretations. As the two different yet mutually constitutive worlds of these laws unfold, they uncover the complexities which cannot be captured by the neat binaries of the right to speech versus its suppression and the use versus the misuse of laws. She argues that the tensions between the two different lifeworlds of law, problematize the justifications given by political regimes in restricting political speech for its injurious consequences.