DOES THE FREEDOM OF PRESS MEAN FREEDOM TO PUBLISH FALSEHOOD?

B.Premanand

Just see the way in which our prestigeous news papers publish false stories and advertisements to cement the blind beliefs and superstitions of their readers. Don't they have any obligation, or responsibility to their readers?

The first is an advertisement in Indian Express of 19.2.1990 wherein one Robert Tilton claims to make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk through his miracle ministry. There is an act called drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisements Act No.21 of 1954 which prohibits publishing of such advertisements. The offence is cognizable. But for sake of money the newspapers publish them and let their readers be exploited by these unscrupulous criminals in the name of god. One can also see the full page advertisements of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who claims to bring World Peace through T.M. while he needs the help of the police to bring peace in his ashram at Rishikesh because of the labour problem. There are advertisements in Blitz and such sensational news papers of cure of sexual disorders. It is fun to read their literature. So also advertisements of Tantriks who sell talismans for all problems and sickness, and who also invoke the powers of ghosts, spirits, gods, stars and planets for a better life here and hereafter.

Let us take the story of SSSNAKE in Indian Express of 24.1.1990. The Editor is silent over the address of the Show room where the Motor bike is kept for sale due to sssnake curse and no purchasers even for Rs.3000/-. When a cheque is sent to the editor for Rs.3100/- he returns the cheque without giving the address of the show room, or the 3 who died of the snake bite, or the author of the story.

The third is an article in The Times of Indian who in their 150 years Anniversary have published about the hauntings in a Bombay's land mark hotel! The article is authored by the Sub-Editor himself. And the Omsbudman of this news paper is the Retired Chief Justice of India who believes in incarnations of gods, spirits, ghosts and souls. (I know only about bottled spirit and hash which opens the 6th sense to perceive spirits, ghosts and souls) The author Russell J.Foulds is silent. So silent over the address of the hotel or the Air Hostess along with whom he witnessed the hauntings! in the plunging darkness.

Then comes the story of Mrs.Sunita Banerjee in "INDEPENDENT" of white pyramids and pyramid cures. This newspaper belongs to the Times of India Group. She still thinks that the mysteries of the BERMUDA TRIANGLE have not yet been explained.

We have a Press Council, We have Editor's Guild, we have Advertiser's Guild and several laws. But what use are these laws if they are not enforced? I am sending a copy of this issue to these people as well as to the editors of the respective newspapers and I shall let you know what action they have taken or they are still dead silent. I hope they will have the moral courage and prove their stories, or come with the truth that they are false.


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Gerald_Huber@r.maus.de

Last update: 14 July 1998