You Don’t Have to Agree with Someone’s Opinion to Defend Their Freedom of Speech

  • Post category:Social Justice
  • Reading time:4 min(s) read

Dumb Shiwani Neupane jokes - feat image

Back in November when Robert Penner discovered a Facebook page deriding Shiwani Neupane, he sprung into action, calling people to report the page.

That in spite of the fact that he had a longish history of Twitter “war” with Neupane (and other public figures) over a Human Rights Watch report of human rights violations in the Southern Plains during the agitation the preceding two months. Penner describes the “war” in detail in Nepal Public Figures Challenge Human Rights Watch.

Earlier this month, Penner was picked up by the police for his Twitter activities and, after 26 hours in jail, asked to voluntarily leave the country in two days. His crime? “Threatening” participation in social media.

With that, my amusing observation early last month took a sinister turn. (See Wag the Dog for more on GoN’s reaction to the perceived threats.)

Penner’s arrest followed a flurry of activity on Twitter. During her exchanges with Neupane about Penner and the deportation incident, Supriya Manandhar tweeted about Penner coming to her support:

Her response belied a clear lack of understanding of why Penner might have petitioned.

I had responded to Penner’s call to report the Facebook-bullying page (see image at the top) and had asked others to do the same.

Having thus contributed to the take down of the page, I responded to Neupane to draw attention to the important fact that I petitioned in spite of NOT agreeing with her opinions AND to ask her if Penner may have done the same for a different reason.

She did not respond in any way.

The following day I tweeted the following with a screenshot of the above exchange.

And two days later, the following:

As indicated in my tweet, I don’t agree with some of Neupane’s opinions nor do I agree with some of her assessments etc. But I’ll defend her right to express herself, as well as the rights of others, such as Penner, as long as they express themselves civilly, reasonably and logically. You don’t have to agree with someone’s opinion to defend their freedom of speech, which, like all other universal freedoms, is considerably more important than personal differences (of opinion for example).

You don't have to agree with someone's opinion to defend their freedom of speech. Click To Tweet

Based on the limited information I have about Neupane, which is mostly tweets, it appears she is unable to see Penner’s deportation incident beyond how he made her feel when he persistently challenged and questioned her opinion on the HRW report. She doesn’t seem to know or understand or care why Penner and I had petitioned.

Incidentally, this is a Nepalese woman with almost 9K followers on Twitter and whose @shiwanineupane profile reads thus:

Writer of novel Crossing Shadows/ 2015. Columbia Journalism/ Ithaca Grad. Currently in business. Op-ed Writer, Co-founder @storysouthasia.

What do you think?

 

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References:

“Like We Are Not Nepali” Protest and Police Crackdown in the Terai Region of Nepal.

Nepal Public Figures Challenge Human Rights Watch.

Nepal Expels Canadian Citizen For Tweeting About Its Politics.

 

 

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