'Kill Honey Singh by not listening to his songs'

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Summary'We need to become a more liberal society and defend the liberty.'

"If you find Honey Singh offensive, kill him by not listening to his songs," remarked a speaker during a session on freedom of speech at the Jaipur Literature Festival today.

Participating in the session, journalist Shoma Chaudhury touched upon the recent controversy over rapper Singh and his music, saying no one should be stopped from doing any form of culture and art performance.

"If you find Honey Singh offensive then boycott him. Kill him by not listening to his music. But you can't ban him," Chaudhury, managing editor of Tehelka magazine, said.

Singh was the centre of a controversy when many groups ran a campaign against him over alleged offensive lyrics of his songs.

Chaudhury said India needs to become a more liberal society.

"We need to become a more liberal society and defend the liberty. The only narrow restriction we must have should be on incitement of violence and discrimination through speech," she said.

"We need to throw open the article 19(2) of our Constitution which restricts our speech...There is no exception to freedom of speech...except for cases which can incite violence we should have no curb," she added.

Most of the panelists and the audience expressed that the country lacks freedom of expression when panel moderator John Kampfner asked them to vote on whether they think India has too much freedom of expression, India has less freedom of expression and that freedom of expression is adequate.

"Raise your hand to whatever option you think is right," Kampfner, who is adviser to Google on freedom of expression and culture, said. To this, majority of the audience raised their hands when it was called that India has less freedom of expression.

Few also raised their hands for the option that India has enough freedom.

The panelists also comprised historian Orlando Figes, John Kampfner, author Basharat Peer and novelist John Burnside.

Figes, best known for his works on Russian history, in particular A People's Tragedy said, "There should be a market of free ideas. We should talk out our different views. Before you have free speech you must give authority to people to have free thoughts."

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