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Tag Every Rahul/Ankit/Sameer You Know. They Need To Read This

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By  Chaitanya Sethi 

One of the most baffling trends has taken over Facebook in recent times. The not-so-funny, insensitive or downright nasty memes asking people to tag the ‘Rahuls’, ‘Ankits’, ‘Sameers’ (among others) in posts carrying pictures of women who perhaps don’t fit the ideal image of a photoshopped model on Vogue.

This has left me and many others with a bitter taste in our mouths. A cursory glance through the comments section of these posts is enough to make you question the values of the people who are actively engaging with these memes. What’s even worse is that many people don’t grasp why jokes like these are extremely deleterious.

“What’s Your Problem With These Memes? They Are Harmless!”

Academy Award-nominee Gabourey Sidibe in an offensive 'Tag A Rahul' meme
Is this your idea of a ‘harmless meme’?

No, they aren’t harmless! These posts are utterly racist, with comments often indicating bigotry. Moreover, they reek of bullying. Keeping overweight and coloured women as the base for such jokes reinforces the notion of attributing a person’s worth to merely their appearance.

For anyone who even remotely resembles the subject of mockery in these memes, it can trigger self-esteem issues, push them into depression and cause lifelong psychological challenges. Childmind.org details the impact social media has on the self-esteem of most teenagers.

Moreover, in the wake of the recent attack on Nigerians in the Delhi NCR area, it has become even more difficult for us to maintain that we Indians aren’t racist or prejudiced towards people with fair skin.

“What About Comedy Sub-Genres Like Black Comedy And Roast?”

Academy Award-nominee Gabourey Sidibe in an offensive 'Tag A Rahul' meme
This ain’t ‘black comedy’ or ‘insult comedy’, folks! It’s plain offensive!

Black comedy, which has its roots in scepticism and cynicism, chooses to poke fun at issues that may be considered taboo by the society. While it isn’t quite the stuff that makes one introspect, it generally aims at highlighting the underlying hypocrisy of people. Personally, I don’t see any long-lasting psychological damage resulting from it.

As far as insult comedy and the trend of ‘roasts’ is concerned, what you may not have noticed is the fact that most of the ‘roasts’ treat the audience like a fly on the wall. The comedians and the ‘roastee’ are complicit in their agreement pertaining to the jokes, that mainly circle around public controversies surrounding the celebrity in question. Besides, the celebrity is paid heftily. These ‘roasts’ are more of a public relations campaign, than an excuse to poke fun at a celebrity’s stardom and their (not-so-private) missteps.

“Why Are Such Offensive Jokes So Popular?”

Herd mentality. This also explains the massive following these jokes attract. Psychology has long discussed the impact of conformity and how people tend to ‘de-individualise’ themselves in a crowd.

To understand this, you must look into experiments like the Asch Experiment. Once people feel that they are a part of a larger crowd, it doesn’t take them long to adopt the mannerisms and thought processes of those surrounding them. It’s almost as if they lose any sense of personal identity. For instance, in this article, the writer discusses how quickly the ‘wisdom of the masses’ can turn into the ‘stupidity of mobs’.

The bystander effect, a psychological phenomenon that often prevents individuals from helping others when they are in a group, also contributes to this.

With the entire internet becoming a sounding board of myriad opinions and tastes, the onus of taking the initiative to oppose a popular viewpoint has become difficult, as one usually expects someone else to do that. You feel that by ‘liking’ the comment of someone who tacitly agrees with you, you have appropriately and sufficiently acted, as per the situation.

“Why Am I Worried?”

I’m worried because people aren’t aware of the power their words carry. In a previous article, I had talked of Justine Sacco. She had tweeted a joke that eventually turned her life topsy-turvy. To this date, it haunts her. She still struggles with finding jobs, dating people and just leading a normal life.

The tweet that ruined Justine Sacco's life
Justine Sacco’s tweet

The case of Heidi Yeh is another cautionary tale amongst many. She became the butt of a widely-circulated meme, after she had appeared in a plastic surgery ad featuring attractive ‘parents’ and their three ‘children’ whose faces were significantly altered. The caption for the ad originally read, “The only thing you’ll ever have to worry about is how to explain it to the kids.” This was morphed into “Plastic surgery: you can’t hide it forever” in the meme.

After these developments, when a Chinese tabloid associated her with a fake story about a husband suing his wife of having plastic surgery before they met and having kids that looked nothing like her, Heidi Yeh’s career was simply damaged!

The meme that ruined the career of Taiwanese model, Heidi Yeh
This offensive meme ruined the career of Heidi Yeh

“What Can Be Done From This Point?”

It is absolutely crucial that we stop liking, commenting upon and sharing such memes. And if we come across people who make such memes, we must make them understand why they shouldn’t be doing this.

However, it’s also true that it’s much easier to discuss this with an acquaintance or a friend, as compared to a random stranger on the internet. We must therefore appeal to the conscience of people to think better of it and to reflect for a minute before making an imprudent comment, just to come across as witty.

So, to every ‘Rahul’, ‘Ankit’, ‘Sameer’ that has ever been tagged in offensive memes – tag your friends in this article and make them realise the folly of their ways. Finally, to satisfy the curiosity of all those who tag their friends in offensive memes (like the ones above), I would like to settle this once and for all. I really don’t think that the Academy Award-nominated Gabourey Sidibe needs your help in finding her a suitor. I’m pretty sure a woman of her talent and success can do it by herself. But thanks for your concern, nonetheless!

This article first appeared on the author’s blog.

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Kathua rape, murder case: Clashes continue in Kashmir

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Security forces on Saturday burst teargas shells to disperse the demonstrators, including students, at some places in Kashmir valley, protesting against rape and brutal murder of an eight-year-old girl at Kathua in Jammu.

Scores of youth hit the streets at main town Sopore in north Kashmir district of Baramulla, demanding death penalty for culprits in Kathua case.

However, when the youth tried to take out a protest march, security forces deployed in the area stopped them from moving ahead.
As the demonstrators didn’t back down, security forces burst teargas shells to disperse the protestors, who pelted stones.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted between security forces and students, who took to streets at Chadoora in central Kashmir district of Budgam and protested against the Kathua incident.

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Kathua Factories ‘Linked’ to Ex-Minister Lal Singh Raided | Crores of Rupees was Seized.

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“Our teams raided one factory in Kathua and two in Samba districts today,” inspector general of police Jammu zone SD Singh Jamwal told Greater Kashmir.

Three factories in which ousted BJP minister Lal Singh is believed to own a share were raided by the police on Friday and acacia catechu (kattha) worth crores of rupees was seized.

“Our teams raided one factory in Kathua and two in Samba districts today,” inspector general of police Jammu zone SD Singh Jamwal told Greater Kashmir.

Sources said that the raids came after major reshuffle in the Forest department carried out by Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, who took over charge of the department from Choudhary Lal Singh.

The former Forest Minister was compelled to resign by his party high command alongwith Industries Minister Chander Prakash Ganga following their controversial remarks in Kootah’s Hindu Ekta Manch Rally against Crime Branch probe in the brutal rape and murder case at Rasana.

Sources said that the Forest Vigilance team along with Police jointly conducted raids at J K Integrated Park in Kathua (close aide of Choudhary Lal Singh) and another factory of Katha wood in Kathua.

The raids were carried out on the Katha wood factory, where medicines are extracted. The State government has banned the export of wood out of the State, while a mafia runs the trade illegally.

Sources said that the former minister “was using his influence and most of the contractors were his close aides and the factories, which were given licenses, were run by close relatives of former Forest Minister”.
During the raids, sources told Rising Kashmir, records were checked, and seized by the Forest Department officials, and it was also learnt that large quantity of raw material was seized from the spot.
“Illegal registration has been given to some factories which processed the Khair wood more than the approved capacity,” said the sources citing the complaint.

Initially there were only three units of Khair wood— JK Katha, Guru Nanak, and BK Katha (Govt contractor) at Gangyal— but now the number was much higher. The case against Lal Singh was based on the fact that he instead of renewing the licenses had given the permissions to his kith and kin to start the work of extraction.

The involvement of former Minister started after 1994, sources said, as another unit was established with the name MS Industry and it was opposed by all three previous units who lodged a complaint with the Vigilance and later the matter went to the court.
Sources said that the court gave a ruling and directed the Government to form new policy and issue fresh licenses on the bases of raw material availability without hurting ecology or environment.

Sources told Rising Kashmir that the court directions were violated and the licenses to four units were not renewed by the Forest Department by Lal Singh. The licenses were also issued in violation of rules.

Meanwhile sources said that the BJP high command is unhappy with the former Forest Minister who is openly conducting rallies in support of a CBI inquiry in the Kathua case.
Sources told Rising Kashmir that the rallies by a senior BJP leader has put the alliance partner in a tight spot as these actions by Singh are being viewed as an “open revolt” after he was forced to resign over his participation in a pro-rape rally in Hiranagar last month.

“His campaign was seen as revolt in BJP by many and, he took out a march from Jammu City to Kathua and in Udhampur where some of his supporters shouted slogans against the Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh,” sources said.
Lal Singh, sources said, is considered to be the close aide of Jatinder Singh, who is Minister of State in PMO. On Thursday, brother of Lal Singh held a press conference in Kathua and demanded that Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh should step down.

Rajinder Singh Babbi demanded that Jitendar Singh should be made Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said that the BJP high command was unhappy with the activities of Lal Singh after he lost portfolio in the Government and started taking out protest rallies demanding CBI probe in Rasana case. His stand has put the government in trouble as people in Kathua and Samba, and Bar Associations are openly demanding CBI probe.
Sources said that Lal Singh “will not be taken back in the cabinet of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti due to his rallies against the Government.”

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Asiya Andrabi, associates arrested in Anantnag in south Kashmir

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Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested the Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) chief Asiya Andrabi along with her associates from Anantnag district late last night.

An official said that Andrabi and her associates were arrested from Anchidora area of the district for their alleged role in female student protests and subsequent stone-pelting on the forces.

Many other youth were also rounded up by the police during nocturnal raids in Anantnag town.

Asiya was detained at 10.00 pm yesterday after which raids followed, said the official, wishing anonymity.

Those arrested include Tehreek-e-Hurriyat tehsil Saddar Anantnag Aashiq Hussain.

Massive student protests against Kathua incident erupted earlier this week in south Kashmir, especially Anantnag town, where protesters clashed with the forces, leaving dozens of them injured.

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