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Sri Lanka: Personal Statement on the Cult of Intolerance And Irrationality

Some hardcore fans of a “strongman cult” assert that if I have shared a post, even without endorsement or a single comment, that means that's my view! So, by that logic, does it mean that if I share a post of a quote from the Buddha, Jesus, or the Koran, I am the author of it? Is it my statement?

by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

I was horrified to hear a question that Dilka Samanmalee asked Ali Sabry PC on Derana 360. She said that “Dayan Jayatilleka has made a statement that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was responsible for the Easter attacks because he had paid Zahran”. Of course, being a highly trained and respected lawyer, Ali Sabry PC rightly omitted all mention of me in his reply, just as I expected he would. Dilka Samanmalee did not source the alleged quote; she did not mention when and where I had said anything remotely like this or tantamount to this. She did not do so because there is no proof—not a shred of evidence; and there is no proof because I said no such thing! I have never been in the habit of taking legal action against the media because my late father may not have approved, believing as he did in self-regulatory media ethics. But I have to say I am tempted.

Media in the post-truth era 


I have not written a single article on the election, as I have done during every election since 1982, whatever post I have held at the time.

I have not given a single TV interview and have declined several invitations to give such interviews via Skype.

I have declined newspaper interviews, local and foreign.

I have not returned to Sri Lanka and entered the campaign in a manner that Ambassadors (both political appointees and at least one senior career diplomat) did during the 2010 Presidential election campaign, including one of my illustrious predecessors in my present post, a close relative of a candidate.

If I wanted to campaign, I would have taken a leave of absence, returned and gone on TV, as I did in 2005 for MR (when I came back to SL, while I was a visiting academic in Washington DC). I have not done that.

I have only engaged in (abbreviated) self -expression on my longstanding PERSONAL FB page.

Some hardcore fans of a “strongman cult” assert that if I have shared a post, even without endorsement or a single comment, that means that's my view! So, by that logic, does it mean that if I share a post of a quote from the Buddha, Jesus, or the Koran, I am the author of it? Is it my statement? The same goes for a negative or critical remark. Unless I have endorsed it with a comment, I don't own it-- and in any case it was certainly not my statement! Since this is clearly illogical, irrational and nonsensical, what is important is the underlying point of those who attack me, namely, that it is heretical and a crime even to share on a personal FB, without endorsement or comment, anything remotely critical of their Führer!

Nothing I have said has been in my official capacity, or on an official social media site.

And yet, I have not only had hate mail, I have even had an attempt at legal intimidation on a letterhead. I will not say on whose behalf because I do not wish to directly intervene in the political controversy and competition.

As sources as diverse as MR and Prof Rohan Gunaratne could advise, if their advice is sought (which I rather doubt), I simply cannot be intimidated—by the State, the JVP or the LTTE. Not even as a much younger man, when my girlfriend at that time was incarcerated on Lalith Athulathmudali’s watch, and years later, even by a lynch-mob at Kanatte.

What the virulent reactions tell me is that the mentality is that of intolerance and irrationality; indeed, of neo-barbarism and crypto-fascism. It also tells me what the ethos of a regime of such people will be: the most violently intolerant regime in Sri Lanka’s/Ceylon’s history in my lifetime, indeed for a century.


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