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  • Writer's pictureAnilesh Kumar

The Bigotry Test

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

(Image courtesy: pricelessparenting)

For those reading this article there are four plausible explanations about you.

1- You want to check whether excessive news consumption has made you a bigot however, unwilling to change.

2- You know that you are a bigot, but willing to change.

3- You are a curious individual and looking for an opportunity to spread awareness.

4- Another day, one more article and you do not care!

If you belong to the fourth category, then you are not a victim of the media, but you are The Media yourself. You are the manifestation of the media on an individual level and if so, I doubt this article would be able to resuscitate by providing the oxygen of logic. For those falling into the first three categories mentioned above, thank you for being a part of the world where discussion or a possibility of engaging in a discussion is still an acceptable social tradition.

The existence of hate is as old as humanity/sense. Can you not ever hate anything? Probably not, as the diverse experience of life does bring circumstances triggering strong detesting emotions. However, bigotry and the role of media is more about a systematic degradation of values engineered by those controlling the content on your favourite broadcast box. People often use ‘hate’ and ‘dislike’ interchangeably which is not a crime but for those with penchant for precision, hate is more intense than dislike. How to measure the intensity of hate would require a whole new article hence leaving that for now.

Kristin J. Anderson, an American professor of Psychology has provided a short and apt definition of bigots. In her book ‘Benign Bigotry: The Psychology of Subtle Prejudice’, she claims that bigots are easy to identify. “Bigots – loud and proud and easy to recognise from their behaviour and conversation”, she writes. While this behavioural explanation is succinct, it does have its limitations. What about those who are neither loud nor proud? Is it not possible that one is mellow and calm but still a bigot?

Since media plays a huge role in constructing realties about virtually everything, let us try to find out what your favourite news organisation has done to you!

1- The news channel I watch is the voice of my religion

Are you one of those people who believe that the existence of your religion was in danger and the emergence of the news channel you watch has brought back the glory of the almighty? Do you think that if the channel stopped talking about the rights of the people belonging to your religion then your identity would be decimated and that the society would be taken over by the “the other people’’. Do you get a sense of relief by watching people from other communities being treated with contempt and thank God for sending this news anchor on planet earth and teaching them a lesson? Have you started believing that people from other communities are inferior? If the answer is yes, then you are infected with bigotry.

2- They deserve it

Have you ever noticed that you are fine with people being killed for trivial reasons like choice of food, partner, political disagreement etc.? Did the death of a person who had commented about your favourite political party gained responses like – the person deserved it and that he/she should not have been speaking against so and so? It is not acceptable to speak against the party I support. The news channel had exposed them completely by showing that were “doing politics’’. They must be engaged in anti-national activities, just look at them. The anchor was very right in asking the problem they have with our language. Why can’t they speak our language? If you are affirmative, then this is the second stage of bigotry infection.

Jack Lewin and Jack MacDevitt, in their book called 'Hate Crimes: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Bloodshed have highlighted one of the main tenets of bigotry – sadism. They argue that sometimes bigots do not need a reason to cause someone harm. There are people who derive pleasure from watching others suffer. In many cases, a connection of any kind would be missing from the victim and the perpetrator, but the nature of crime could shock one to the core. Take that argument in the context of news channels and ask yourself- have you been deriving pleasure from people being shouted at, chased, and insulted without being given an opportunity to defend? If you think that it is justified, then you need a course correction. The good news is – it is never too late!

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