Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Personal liberty vs public good

Alan Rusbridger, a former Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian posed a very significant question while delivering a lecture in Chennai on 'Journalism after Snowden'. Is the threat of terrorism today big enough to sacrifice the accumulated values of freedom and individual liberty? He implied it is not so. Not all may agree.

Should we wait till terrorism achieves a critical mass before we set limits on personal liberty? What is also implied in the question raised by Rusbridger is the painful acknowledgement that liberty is not absolute and that there could be circumstances warranting curbs on freedom.

In a different context, the comedian Bill Cosby's attorneys argued in a U.S.District Court that his right to privacy meant that the records pertaining to his sexual abuses should not be made public. The judge, Eduardo Robreno, had zero tolerance for this argument in the light of the "stark contrast between Bill Cosby, the public moralist and Bill Cosby, the subject of serious allegations concerning improper and perhaps criminal conduct".

Criminals should be named and shamed. Terrorism should be fought even at the cost of personal liberty. Else, it may be too late.

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