‘Fake News’ – a phrase that has captured public imagination in recent times. Its everywhere, and is easily believable as it is presented even better than real facts have ever been. Put it in the same sentence with something as widespread as homophobia, and the possibilities become endless.
Recently, a post with the announcement, “Same-sex couple celebrates world’s first anal birth after successful rectal-ovary transplant “, went viral on social media.
Written in the tone of satire under the category of #parodynews, thousands shared this fake news on Facebook, from where it made its way to other platforms and generated a variety of responses from the masses. Featured in World News Daily Report as a humorous post, it got reposted by other sites, but without any disclaimer of it being fictitious. More problematic and controversial than the headline was its language, which in an implicit manner disrespected homosexuality by the very usage of phrases like ‘anal birth’ – it can’t be merely ignorance or lack of knowledge on the part of writers to write of a phenomenon that is biologically impossible.
HARMLESS FAKE NEWS? NOT SO MUCH…
This was an attempt to highlight a supposed void in homosexual relationships – of producing child through the natural process. Comparisons between homosexual and heterosexual relationships, where heterosexual ones are believed to be superior and ‘natural’, are a part of the many misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community, which in turn result in homophobia among the uninitiated or less aware masses. The fact that this piece of fake news was of the genre of ‘satire’ and ‘humor’, can prompt one to think of plausible reasons of it being mentioned under the category.
The few gay couples who reacted on this piece of fake news found it ‘magical’ – a way to fulfil a nature-ordained void in their lives, a development that would complete their love, a reason to rejoice. They mentioned how it defied both Nature and Science and was seemingly impossible, but would like to believe it just for the sake of experiencing those fulfilling emotions that only a woman is entitled to. Such emotional accounts demand introspection on our understanding of ‘humor’.
This isn’t a mere coincidence that sometimes, mainstream jokes, memes, cuss words and similar derogatory terminology reflects exploitation of gender minorities by the privileged majority. Colloquial usage of words like ‘chhakka’ and ‘meetha’ to insult others, and actions like clapping in a certain way to signify a ‘hijra’ (transgender), and other such supposedly ‘comical’ acts, show the ignorance and apathy of the majority, and are a disrespect to the LGBTQ+ community.
The fake news didn’t tickle laughter among the masses, as originally intended, but incited rage about the people who couldn’t perceive the emotional repercussions and targeted homosexuals. Hence resurfaced the homophobic character of a society that didn’t bother with cross-checking facts and spat their ‘righteous’ rage with their triggered comments on social media. How fake news can create havoc has already been witnessed by the Indian masses numerous times in the recent past, a horrific example being the several mob lynchings of 2017-18. Such fake news serves only the purpose of spreading hate against a particular community and even individuals by evoking negative emotions in the masses, which mostly is dangerous in the longer term.
Thus, say NO to fake news!!