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There is a common headline that The Onion (premier satirical news outlet) uses whenever there is a mass shooting in the USA. It is very unfortunate that that we get to read this headline frequently. Most of the article is also redundant where only the place and dates are changed. This is not trivializing the grave occurrence that it is talking about but on the contrary, it is working on the principle of castigat ridendo mores which means ‘laughing corrects morals’. Simply put, satire does cause social change.

It is evident that India too is due, for some time now, to have a standard headline with formulaic subject matter, regarding the barbaric rapes that we are beleaguered with. Let’s face it, we are desensitized to rape. The tolerance level has reached its saturation. Our empathy is immune to human suffering. What if there is a helpless child at the end of the crime? Our feelings are in such short supply that it is limited to sharing cat videos over Facebook. So, why not have a rudimentary recycled piece masquerading as news? That’s all that we are worth for anyway.

More importantly, our outrage is very selective and short-lived. We must understand that the catastrophe must fit our rhetoric, our blind beliefs, our unshakable faith. Prime example is the vitriol we see in our social media, where fake news is fed to us like fodder. Enlightened educated souls are so gullible that they lap it up like a bone thrown to a ravenous dog. But what is apparent in the chain of messages and propaganda filled videos is the Dunning-Kruger effect, where people with less knowledge think that they know a lot about everything under the sun.

This happens more with politics than with any other topic. We see a sudden surge of in-depth analysis of the ethnic background of the victim and how that is relevant to the crime, relatives turned sleuths finding out the conspiracy behind all of it that certain sections of the society, be it media or the opposition that doesn’t want us to know, Godmen on TV making a mockery of the issue by saying rapes happen daily and has become inherent to the society. This is the time that we have to remember that barba non facit philosophum, a beard does not make a philosopher.

We have always been good at one thing, where we have nurtured the juvenile habit of shifting the blame by attacking others – the dreaded whataboutery. Rape happened in Kathua? So, what about the rapes in Assam and Bihar? We will make videos of those and circulate them everywhere. How can we forget the incidents that has not happened at all? The rape happened in a temple? What about the rape that happened in a mosque? We will spread the article as if it has happened recently even if it had happened years ago. We have stooped so low where we are spreading fake propaganda filled videos to shift the heat away from the incident. There are some who shifted the blame on refugees as they are the soft targets with no one to represent them. But there is still some hope with respect to that. We have to understand that whataboutism is the last recourse of the guilty. We fail to understand that it is in itself a fallacy, a faulty reasoning. If we resort to whataboutery, then we must understand that the logic is flawed. The pot calling the kettle black approach is no doubt tantalizing and will appeal to the hypocrisy. The ad hominem Tu quoque hyperbole tactic is for the coward, to the bigot and the vice.

Karthik C

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