The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary– Apr 28, 2022; Day 280
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Difficult Word/ PhraseContextual Sense
Inflammatory Arousing to action 
Peddling to advocate (ideas) persistently or importunately
Prohibitory Tending to discourage (especially of prices)
Conspicuous completely obvious
Bin If you bin something, you throw it away
Fulmination Thunderous verbal attack
Incitement An act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action or instigating
Genocidal Relating to systematic killing of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status, etc.
Tenor purpose
Dithering Act nervously; be undecided
Call for Express the need or desire for
Stern very serious
Fringe A social group holding marginal or extreme views
Gainsaid Question the truth or validity of; take exception to
Provocateur A secret agent who incites suspected persons to commit illegal acts
Foster Promote the growth of
Feed off to gain strength, energy, or support from (something)
Seep to enter or be introduced at a slow pace
Tranquility A state of peace and quiet
Perennial Recurring again and again

Preventing harm: On judicial intervention against hate speech

Proactive intervention is needed to stop spread of hate and inflammatory (Arousing to action) speeches

The value of proactive judicial intervention cannot be understated. After the Supreme Court called for “corrective measures” against the peddling (to advocate (ideas) persistently or importunately) of communal hate from supposedly religious platforms, the authorities in Uttarakhand have prevented the holding of a ‘dharam sansad’ in Roorkee by imposing prohibitory (Tending to discourage (especially of prices)) orders against such gatherings. At a time when communally motivated gatherings are becoming conspicuous (completely obvious) in their frequency and bin (If you bin something, you throw it away) their fulminations (Thunderous verbal attack) against minorities, one would have expected the police to be more sensitive to the situation and prevent hate speeches. Counsel for Himachal Pradesh has said preventive steps were taken when one such gathering took place a few days ago, and that the participants were warned against any incitement (An act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action or instigating), but those who have approached the Court against the trend of hate speeches at such meets, accuse the local authorities of inaction. It was one such religious conclave in Haridwar in December that witnessed extraordinarily inflammatory speeches being made against Muslims, some of them having a shockingly genocidal (Relating to systematic killing of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status, etc.) tenor (purpose). After dithering (Act nervously; be undecided), the Uttarakhand police had then arrested Yati Narsinghanand, a controversial priest and Hindutva leader, who was among those who had allegedly called for (Express the need or desire for) armed violence against minorities. Even after obtaining bail, under a condition that he would not make any provocative speeches, he had participated in a similar event in Delhi. Instances of controversial religious figures making unacceptable comments at different places and occasions have emerged as a disturbing pattern, one that the Court may have to arrest by stern (very serious) action.

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One way of looking at this phenomenon is to dismiss it as not being representative of the silent majority and as the activity of a few fringe (A social group holding marginal or extreme views) elements. However, it cannot be gainsaid (Question the truth or validity of; take exception to) that the provocateurs (A secret agent who incites suspected persons to commit illegal acts) are seeking to foster (Promote the growth of) a collective fear among the majority that their interests are not being protected by an allegedly minority-friendly Constitution, and feeding off (to gain strength, energy, or support from (something)) the same fear to spread their message of hate. The possible damage to the social fabric is incalculable, as the language of hatred may seep (to enter or be introduced at a slow pace) into the public consciousness as an acceptable thought process. The result may be an atmosphere in which communal harmony and public tranquillity (A state of peace and quiet) will be at perennial (Recurring again and again) risk. It is in this backdrop that modern democracies make a clear distinction between freedom of expression and speech that tends to incite hatred against a public group or section of society. The Supreme Court has recognised the potential for a wider societal impact beyond the distress caused to individual members of the targeted group. In cases relating to lynching and ‘khap panchayats’, the Court laid down guidelines on preventive, remedial and punitive measures. While these are to be followed without exceptions, there is also a need for considering new criminal and penal provisions to combat hate speech.

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