” I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall
I have always thought having a person disagree with my point of view was a good thing because it would
- help me gain a new perspective
- give me a good excuse for a rousing healthy debate. [I can turn on a dime and argue on both sides on most issues and enjoy doing so too]
But its an unfortunate thing that most times nowadays I keep quiet whatever I may feel about a matter, especially in social media outlets like facebook or whatsapp.
The reason for it is an unfortunate and absolute lack of any tolerance with the masses. The mentality now is to read up a little bit on some topic, decide on a side to support and support it to death, even if proven wrong, and even if it means reacting violently and vulgarly against anyone opposing it. Its taken as a personal insult if someone opposes one’s point of view. “If you are not with me, you are against me”.That means I will take everything you say personally and insult you in every means possible and maybe even physically.
This has been very appalling. When I supported Modi’s demonetization in a whatsapp group, last November one friend got so offended he would not even read what I was trying to explain. He has not spoken to me the last 3 months now. Another got so offended and personally affronted that he called me names. I was not the one who took the decision to demonitize, so why turn on me? Am I not allowed to have a stance, where we can agree to disagree? where does it say we should always think on similar lines? and how boring would that be! I was very hurt and bewildered by their attitudes.
On the same day Trump won the US elections and world went on mourning. Just to be the devil’s advocate I said he would not be able to do much harm, as I am sure there were checks and balances in place. By God! I don’t even want to talk about the abuses I had to face.
Similarly when people started abusing PETA for the Jallikattu ban and sexually and physically threatening its CEO, I felt sympathy for the lady. PETA is not a law making body and she did not ban the sport. It was the highest court in the land that banned it and there were protests already against the ban. Why then all the hatred against the Organisation and its head? Does she not have the right to express her opinion, the same as you? But this time I kept quiet. I had been abused enough.
Tolerance and the concept of healthy debates are a thing of past. With the advent of social media, its an unfortunate fact that there is more false news and followers of the same than truth and one can always find acceptance and support for ones ideologies and perceptions, however incorrect they maybe. And people have become rigid in their thinking and in their belief that they are always right.
Oh! for the freedom to think and express without fear of persecution, not by the government but by one’s own friends and acquaintances. Sigh! those were the days!