“Hate speech” is not an objectively identifiable entity. Notice that Rocky Gerung didn’t tell anyone that any person or even any idea should be hated. He just expressed an opinion that is unpopular with Indonesian authorities. Hate speech laws, as I have often pointed out, are tools of the powerful that they use to silence the powerless. This incident is an excellent illustration of that fact.
A lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s School of Philosophy has been reported to the police for alleged hate speech after stating on a TV show on Tuesday that holy books are “fiction”.
The report was made to the Jakarta Police by Cyber Indonesia chairman Permadi Arya, also known as Abu Janda, on Wednesday.
While appearing on the Indonesia Lawyers Club talk show on TVOne, the philosophy lecturer, Rocky Gerung, argued about the importance of fiction or literature. He said the word fiksi (fiction), particularly in political parlance, is now considered as pejorative in Indonesia, while it is in fact an important tool for stimulating the imagination.
“If I use the notion that ‘fiction activates the imagination, then holy books are [works of] fiction because they are not yet conclusive […] The function of fiction is to activate the imagination, to encourage us to be more imaginative. And now that word is being slain by politicians,” he said….
“According to the Indonesian dictionary, holy books refer to the Quran, the Gospels and others. So he cannot make the excuse that he did not specifically say what religion he was referring to. The dictionary definition is clear,” Permadi said as quoted by kompas.com….
Permadi said Rocky had offended all religious believers, adding that the representatives of the major religions in the country— Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism—had supported his legal move.
Rocky could be charged with hate speech as stipulated under Article 28 of the nation’s draconian Electronic Information and Transaction Law, which carries a maximum punishment of six years’ imprisonment.