New Delhi: Recent controversies surrounding Kamal Haasan's movie 'Vishwaroopam' or Ashish Nandy's alleged anti-Dalit comment were reflection of a society which seems to be increasingly becoming a culture of "competitive intolerance", Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has said.
The events over the last week which also saw writer Salman Rushdie being denied entry into Kolkata "do not speak well of us", he regretted.
Emphasing on striking a careful balance in one's expression so as not to hurt any sentiment and incite violence, Tharoor said the country has not yet reached to a position where freedom of speech should include the right to offend.
"It should in my view include the right to say things that might offend some and therefore invite a counter argument and discussion and debate, but not to the point where a government or a judge determine that it is poses a danger to public order," he told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's the Devil's Advocate programme.
"The challenge for us as a society is got to be to find the right balance that leans more towards freedom and not towards repression."
Asked about Nandy's alleged anti-Dalit remarks, Tharoor, who is the Minister of State of HRD, replied there were "legitimate grounds of disagreeing" with what the sociologist had said but calling for arrest as demanded by some political class was totally "unnecessary".
He, however, felt Nandy could have phrased his remarks in a better way to avoid offending anyone.
The Minister maintained that a ban on Haasan's movie Vishwaroopam should not have been imposed, especially when it was certified by the Censor Board.
"...once the film has been certified by the Censor Board it ought to be screened and if you don't know what the film says, then engage with the film makers, argue if necessary, protest if you must but do not prevent screening...," he said.
Giving an overview of all these issues, Tharoor said the disturbances witnessed during the past week were because "we seem to be increasingly becoming a culture of competitive intolerance".