Politics has never been devoid of personal attacks, slandering, manipulation of information and belittling remarks against the dissent voices. Two wrongs cannot make one right but reciprocity is practiced in every arena. The contemporary politics of Pakistan is nothing alien. Abusive language was used in the past as well while body shaming isn’t new either. The ethics and politics aren’t often congruent, especially in the developing world. Meanwhile, we need to see why morality in politics is in a downward spiral. Why the demeaning slogans win the hearts of the public and why the battle over petty issues overtake the media industry. One is compelled to think if there is an exit from this never-ending circle.
The subjects need to be taken into consideration while deciphering the logic behind use of derogatory techniques in politics. The political icons, no matter which party they belong to have never spared a chance to ridicule the opponents. It is quite like the free market of opinions where demand for ridiculing language overshadows the debates over pressing issues. The louder the guests on talk shows shout, the greater the number of viewers becomes. It seems like masses themselves gravitate towards negative and impulsive leaders.
This matter is quite common throughout the world but since the past few years, things have deteriorated a lot in Pakistan or maybe this issue is brought into the limelight like never before. Many scholars trace the link between the rise of PTI and the ‘filthy language’ in politics but this kind of historical dementia may prove fatal. The debate regarding ‘Who Started’ rather than ‘How to Stop’ is horrific for the future. PTI puts the blame on PMLN’s intimidating past while the other parties along with PMLN point fingers towards the trend of obscene language started by Imran Khan and his party. The fact is that both the government and the opposition are highly competitive in the race of indecency.
There are multiple reasons behind these conditions of ethics in Pakistan and the naivete of the public is among the top. Majority of people in Pakistan lack tertiary education and even those who are educated lack the abilities of critical thinking and logical reasoning. They are swept away by the arguments of the winners in squabbles. People lack the knowledge about the intricacies of governance and are not even interested in understanding how politics operates. Unaware of the tradeoffs between various variables, the people are quickly fooled by half-truths. Governments and oppositions always malign each other over what they could not deliver giving sweeping statements. The ignorance of people is well manipulated as the leaders, instead of presenting arguments and counterarguments try to ease the language for viewers. People are unaware of technicalities so instead of upgrading the populations, the politicians themselves degrade their own levels.
There is another aspect to why real issues are not discussed with seriousness in our political discourse. Mainly, politicians themselves are unaware of the real issues of the state and are not well-groomed. The easiest way to dodge the real questions is to divert the attention towards a trivial issue which is relatable to the public as well. They are well aware of popular culture. Hence, they are kind enough to entertain masses rather than enlightening them. Still, we cannot put the entire blame on politicians in the free market of words. Here, demand for quarrel is more than urge for real discussions.
Thomas Hobbes was right pointing out the terrible human nature. In the current age of digitalization, the draconic version of human nature can be seen from Twitter trends to Facebook comments. Dissent is crushed through use of filthy language. Through retweeting and endorsing the unethical expressions by the leaders, people themselves become an active part of the moral decay of the society. Even in daily life, the louder is the winner. People take pride in winning debates no matter how. Patience to listen is considered a sign of weakness. The last person speaking becomes the winner of debate in our minds.
What the leaders do reflect who we are, especially in a democracy. The intolerant degrading behavior of individuals can stop if we stop giving an ear to negativity rather than sharing, liking and retweeting. We are feeding the monster of immorality and only we can strangle it to death. As a nation, we need to be aware of who we are becoming and what we are consuming and consequently what is being strengthened by what we do. Right now, we might be feeding the algorithms on the social media websites but soon the same algorithms will design our generations. There might come a time when even physical violence will become a new normal if we do not discourage hate speech even against the opponents.