The right to be wrong

Professor Nigam in The Wire (Emphasis mine):

Even assuming the fact that the protestors were utterly misguided, invoking the law of sedition is certainly inappropriate at a university, other than in exceptional circumstances. The protestors are students after all. They are at an age where they have a right to be wrong. They are in a place where being ridiculous is as important as being sublime. If the students have been motivated by politics and politicians to make a spectacle of themselves, so be it. Arresting young people for their immaturity is, to paraphrase the London Times, breaking a butterfly on a wheel.


2 thoughts on “The right to be wrong

  1. So, if a student plagiarizes someone’s thesis paper as his own, he is just being ridiculous because he is in that place, and should be excused. Why excused? He should be rewarded for having the right to be wrong in plagiarizing.

    JNU should be a place of intense discussion and debate. All views must be welcome and heard, but what is the correct forum for discussion and debate? A debate floor or streets? A lecture room or campus garden? An auditorium or free-for-all street slogan shouting?

    How does it help a student when he wastes his time, effort and parent’s money in slogan shouting on streets? What discussion happens in slogan shouting? What debate happens?

    If a student has a right to be wrong, how far will it go? At what point will the society say that ok, now enough is enough and you can’t make a worse fool of yourself. What is that breaking point? Surely, a student can’t be given a free hand in being ridiculous, just because he is a student!!

    • Ah — the perfect example of strawman argument. No, this piece I linked to does not suggest the student has the right to plagiarize. Or to copy. Or kill. Or in any other way, contravene established laws. Seriously — this is an argument?

      Slogan-shouting, speech-making, debate, discussion — all of it is, and has always been, part of the process of growing up. And that process has thrown up almost all the people who today lead us, on both sides of the political divide. (Check the antecedents of our politicians and see how many did NOT come from student political movements).

      Espousing causes and philosophies, believing in them passionately, examining them further, subjecting them to the test of passion and reason, rejecting what seems unsuitable in the light of years, experience and greater wisdom — that is how we grow. All of us.

      PS: I have shouted slogans in college. I have espoused radical causes. I have had my name — along with thousands of other students — posted on police station notice-boards. I was in college during the Emergency — and college campuses, then, were pretty much the only places where there was debate, discussion, opposition.

      None of it has done me any harm that I can see. You, of course, might have a different opinion. And, PS: When you have time, do go through the video of what actually was shouted there, and tell me: Shouting slogans demanding freedom from hunger, from oppression, is wrong why?

      I don’t know about you, but I personally would rather that the young had an awareness, a social conscience, to go with their textbook immersion.

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