Choosing to Offend

By February 25, 2018 No Comments


By Akshat Singh


Photo: wiredforlego on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC


There is a seemingly endless debate relating to equitable treatment and discrimination around the globe. The debate has inevitably been lengthened as a result of the tussle between the universal right of human dignity and plain cynical naivety which often lurks, masqueraded as intellect.


To begin with, the discussions over discrimination should not stem from the appropriate response of the victim but should focus on the actions of the perpetrator. Acceptance is the first step to root out a problem, but acceptance alone isn’t a tool strong enough to yield results. Simply saying that you realize, discrimination exists (apparently, in 99.9% as well as the 0.01% cases) does not offer a viable solution. Ignorance no longer equates with bliss.


Having dealt with the rather superficial aspect of the issue, let us delve into getting a more nuanced understanding of it. To begin with, all forms of discrimination, whether based on race, caste or even economic status are simply wrong. A behavioralist would try to justify discrimination by arguing how the perpetrator too, at some point would have been wronged, which in turn can pose as a reasonable explanation for the individual’s actions. This lack of basic decency cannot be tolerated.


We must acknowledge that any problem isn’t based on a binary response. It is not only ignorant but also irresponsible for us to oversimplify complex issues for the sake of our convenience. Of course, no one should be excluded from the public discourse regarding an issue just because of the color of their skin, but differences must be in line with our responsibility. I would not be utopian and propose that only acceptance can usher in relative peace, but would it be too much to ask for the halt of discriminatory behavior which might cause inconvenience? In the same light, one should not be ostracized for their political opinions, but is it too much to hope for the underlying logic to be inclusive? Of course, being a man should not be reason to stop individuals from being members of discussions of feminism, but is it too much to ask for the individual to not be a bigot?


What concerns me the most is the arbitrary drawing of distinctions between what may be or may not be a “larger case of discrimination”. I believe that it is beyond my meager human capabilities, or of any other individual to fully understand (from an eagle’s point of view at least) the issues the process of discrimination creates, let alone giving a dictum about what should and should not be considered a ‘real’ case of discrimination.


I appreciate the difference between slur chanting and racially motivated shootouts but it is obvious to think that the ones who indulged in the latter are people who have preconceived racial convictions. Conditioning, whether rational or doctrinal in nature, does not occur overnight and is a prolonged process which manifests after the convenient ignorance of ‘smaller’ issues. Appropriate response to both verbal and physical forms of discrimination is thus not mutually exclusive. The battle for an equitable society must be fought on all fronts.


It is of course not reasonable to assume that citizens hailing from 200 countries, who are exposed to the negative coverage of various countries, will have positive opinions about all of them. Biased behavior due to this reason may be inevitable but is not justified. Moreover, it is only reasonable to expect a responsible citizen to be irked by such statements and set the record straight so that individuals in the future can be saved from hurtful comments. Is it so hard to see why ignorance when responded with ignorance only does harm to all involved parties? For some individuals, it apparently is.


The essence of equality is the promise of equal treatment to all individuals as per their constitutional rights. Having said this, if everyone should be the recipient of equal rights, they should be liable to punishments in case of violation as well.


Statistically the fact that a black young male is nine times more likely to be shot by the police than any other American citizen committing the same crime is bound to raise some eyebrows. Does the color of an individual’s skin contribute to deterioration of their criminal temperament? I think not. Simply saying that an individual, any individual, who can be proven guilty in relation to a crime or a felony must be treated in the same way irrespective of their skin color, ethnicity and gender.  


To conclude, I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to all individuals who have been discriminated against because their country’s economy is in a dismal state while they were skiing on the Swiss Alps. Regardless of the fact that people suffer from systemic discrimination wherever they go – even because of matters which are beyond their control (like the color of their skin) and this discrimination is perpetuated by even the most mundane matters, you still have my sympathies. I do not wish to trivialize your experience – that would go against the essence of the entire article, but in my opinion you missed an opportunity to perhaps change the archaic mindset of an ignorant fool. The first step of solving any problem lies in accepting the existence of the problem.  I hope all of us can make that leap soon.


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