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Criticism Shouldn't End In Slander!

Dr Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin

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22nd-Nov-2020       
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Human beings are social creatures. They cannot live alone. This is not only because he needs the help of others to meet his physical and biological needs, but also because the company of society is essential for the stability and vitality of the human psyche. As you can see, at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, when everyone was told to stay home, a large section of society did not want to hear this advice. Another section initially accepted the matter without protest, but wanted to revolt within a few days.
When there is a moral decay in the society, there is a decrease in the love, compassion and goodwill among the people. Hatred, envy and slander gets rampant. Members of society cannot tolerate one other's progress. They want to topple each other whenever they get a chance. When someone goes astray, others feel no pity for him; don't feel any urge to try to get him on the right track. Everyone ends up just criticizing the way they like. Many of them, if they find a fault with someone, spread it all around, out of mere habit or out of personal resentment. The intent is more to defame the person and bring him down in the society rather than protesting against the misdeeds.
In Bengali society, if someone commits a fault, and especially if it is a little eye-catching and socially unacceptable, you may expect a lot of talks and gossips about it among people. These social condemnations, of course, have a good social impact. People become careful to avoid such activities for fear of social backlash. However, all this is for the poor, peaceful people of the society.
When mighty, imperious, influential people openly commit misdeeds, they feel no shame in it. Rather, they feel proud of it, swell their chests. You see, even if the society whispers about them in secret, they keep their mouths shut in public.
In human society, religion and religious teachings play a great role in preventing the moral decay. The majority of the people in this country are followers of Islam. Religious scholars and saints have a great influence on their way of life. If you sit down with the Islamic scholars, you will understand that Islam strictly discourages gossiping and criticizing others, except in some exceptional situations. Perhaps one reason is, in most cases it has no great purpose, the mutual friendship of the members of the society is rifted and, above all, the person concerned is socially degraded being unaware of it. If you come in touch with the people of Islamic scholars, you will see that one of the things they place great importance on is respecting others. To explain its religious significance, they cite a verse from the Holy Qur'an which means: "Indeed, We have honored the children of Adam." (Al-Quran 17:70)
In recent times, on the one hand, the evil deeds of some miscreants have increased in the society. News of horrific crimes is often coming from somewhere or else in the country, which is intensifying the people's resentment. Along with the proliferation of electronic and print media in the country, the advent of social media has given people a special opportunity to easily express their smoky rage. As a result, you will see many a time, some people are showing excessive reaction without going into the depths of the incident reported.
The recent scandal on social media over an incident involving a JU professor can be an example of our overall intolerance. Allegedly, she took a young domestic help on a long 8-hour bus journey without arranging a seat for her. The matter came to the notice of a journalist who was traveling in the same bus. This seemed very unbearable to him and he even called 999 to inform the police about it. At one point, he charged the lady himself after not getting the expected response from the police. Then there was some argument between them. The journalist later made a post on social media about it. The incident afterwards received widespread publicity on social media.
The thing that amazes me is, as the allegation says, the lady took the tiny girl to stand for 8 hours and none of the passengers including the driver-conductor of the bus could arrange a seat for her. Someone could even have carried such a tiny girl on his lap to teach the lady a lesson. The girl could also have been placed in the middle of the row by arranging something like a 'mora' (?????). Although an explanation of the lady came in the media, many do not want to pay heed to it. Is there any doubt that the work had been a reprehensible one if the lady took the girl on her long journey without arranging a seat for her with no justified ground? But, is the way the issue has been spread on social media just a protest? Concerned media man may have felt the need to publicize the incident out of a sense of professional responsibility, but as you can see if you investigate, many of those who took the initiative to spread it on social media were already angry with the lady for one reason or another and took this opportunity to punish her.
This is what concerns us. In this society, we are all bound by mutual love and affection. If someone does something wrong here, we will catch him. If he has committed a punishable crime, we will bring him to book if required. In addition to punishment, he must also face the criticism and condemnation. However, it is important to ensure that criticism does not end in slander. It is also important to keep in mind that the responsibility of society is to guide misguided members, not to cherish hatred against them or to defame them. We need to remember this old saying: 'Hate the sin, not the sinner.'

(Dr. Muhsin is a professor of Pharmacy, Jahangirnagar University).

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