HomeHealthWhat do we control? | Vopbuzz.com

What do we control? | Vopbuzz.com

The argument behind the recent anti-defamation legislation in Punjab and the ongoing ban on X goes something like this: speech that is considered by some to be defamatory is dangerous to society, its members and its functions, and should therefore be regulated and, if necessary, prosecuted. The basic principle here is that things that are harmful to society should not be disseminated. This seems like a reasonable position. Let us evaluate this argument from three different perspectives on how this principle operates in society.

First, there is no doubt in the public health and health care community that substandard, counterfeit, or outright fake medications cause serious harm to individuals, families, and communities. There is also ample evidence that these medications are widely available across the country and not that difficult to find in hospitals and pharmacies. Every pharmacist I spoke to when I was working on this issue a few years ago could tell me which brands were not to be trusted and which medications were of dubious quality. There is no serious interest on the part of the government, federal or provincial, to take action against the distribution of such medications. Likewise, tens of thousands of studies have shown that the unrestricted sale of antibiotics without a prescription harms communities, yet, as I have written before, it is now easier than ever to get antibiotics delivered to your door (and in bulk) thanks to the various delivery apps available across the country. We must note here that this is not normal. No country serious about protecting the health and safety of its population allows this to happen.

The second example is food quality. The connection between food safety and the well-being of society is clear and constant. Yet in every city, big or small, we have vendors and traders who sell products that do not meet the most basic standards of hygiene and safety. They operate in open markets and have done so for as long as I have been alive (and long before). And again, beyond the cosmetic measures of suppression by the government in a day when there was little news, there is no real interest in protecting the population.

Last but not least, we have a serious gun problem in this country. It is not hard to find wealthy members of society or so-called VIPs surrounded by private security guards who openly display serious, deadly weapons despite strict laws against such behavior. These private security guards casually display these weapons on the street, in and around residential areas, on roadways, and even in restaurants. They are often seen next to the very legislators (and their families) who enthusiastically support speech regulation. Any argument about protecting public safety and public order on the part of the government is disingenuous as long as it remains uninterested and unwilling to regulate the availability, display, and use of deadly weapons.

The examples above are just a few of the cases that demonstrate the lack of serious interest in public safety. Similar arguments can be made about housing cooperatives and building materials, access to clean water and sanitation in our cities, and schools that are both inefficient and exclusionary and discriminatory – all of which affect public safety, well-being, and social cohesion. Governments, whether central or provincial, have no interest in addressing issues that are not subject to debate or disagreement. Instead, under the guise of public safety, they have chosen to focus on something that is the basis of a healthy society, self-reflection, and necessary debate. The real interest here is not well-being, but control. Instead of controlling speech, government actually needs to control its own desire to control.

Published in Vopbuzz.com, June 4y2024.

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