I was listening to the PHAT 30 countdown on Friday evening when YES FM RJ's Jeremy and Delano started talking about Oscar Pistorious, the famous South African athlete who had just been arrested and subsequently charged with murdering his girlfriend. As you probably know by now, what at first seemed like an accidental shooting, later turned into a 1st degree murder charge. It was a tragic and highly charged story; however, it seems the friendly RJ's of YES FM didn't quite share this sentiment.
Let me just say, Jeremy and Delano are easily one of the worst RJ duos I have ever had the misfortune of listening to. I have heard babbling toddlers hold better conversations than these two geniuses; they spoke of the Pistorious murder in the most childish, idiotic way, first discussing the mechanics of shooting someone blind and then trying to guess what kind of costume Pistorious' model girlfriend must have been wearing to scare him into shooting her dead. Then, after fulfilling their quota of inane and insensitive chatter between songs, they promptly dedicated the next song to Oscar Pistorious' dead girlfriend.
The song? Ke$ha's "Die Young".
Let this sink in for a minute. These two clowns, who are professional RJ's, thought it was amusing to dedicate a song about partying like you're going to die young, to the victim of a brutal shooting. I almost stopped the car in shock and disbelief. It was a moment so inappropriate, so repulsive and so disgusting, most people would think twice before making that joke to their best friend. Here were two people who felt it was fine to share this during prime time on national radio.
This is just one example of a growing trend I have noticed in Sri Lanka, where people who you thought would 'know better', simply don't. From matters that range from women's rights to politics, from common manners to religion and race, a growing number of the 'educated masses', as I like to call them, are standing not on the side of reason but of complete madness.
Of course this sort of thing is not restricted to radio; I've already blogged about the famous (for 15 minutes) Sri Lankan sisters Natalie and Nadiya Anderson, who went on to discuss the various 'servants' they kept at home while being interviewed for The Amazing Race. While their actions can be excused as more a blooper than a serious issue, it once again shows the lack of awareness to cultural and social norms, especially when they were in essence representing the country to an international audience.
This is starting to ring some alarm bells, because Sri Lanka is no country of unity and harmony, despite the various images of harps and angels the government propaganda machine is generating. The truth is that while we have ended the most visible of wars, we are still fighting an invisible war against the dictatorship of the Rajapakses, the corruption of his friends-and-family government, the unknown state of the North, the lack of any form of opposition, poor education standards and the plight of women that work home and abroad, just to name a few. Given all these serious matters, it's important that the general public are educated and show solidarity for justice and reason, and not side with the fanatics and extremists, such as our newest friends - the Bodu Bala Sena.
Over the last few months, this group of organised (and sometimes violent) Buddhist extremists have become more and more vocal, staging protests and demonstrations against Muslims in various parts of the island. While anti-muslim hate is not something new in Sri Lanka, it has rarely been taken to such lengths as these. We can all remember how the Dambulla mosque incident turned out, with the Muslims wisely taking a diplomatic and non-confrontational stance towards the violent thuggery depicted by the monks. One wonders how much longer they can maintain such a stance, given the type of protests the BBS have staged. In the area where I work, monks and locals gathered together holding up signs depicting Allah as being a pig. Recently someone shared a picture of an effigy of what can only be either a Muslim imam or perhaps the Prophet being burned.
The BBS are very serious, and have active support in the most surprising circles. Not only has the government almost been completely silent on their activities, but there are a growing number of supporters that have thrown their weight behind their extremist views. Facebook especially has been flooded with 'patriotic' hate groups, calling for Sri Lankan 'lions' to purge the country of all Muslims since we are after all a 'buddhist state'.
Here's the thing though; let's for a minute put aside the agenda of the BBS. They are, after all, just another extremist hate group, and the world has its fair share of them. What is truly disturbing is that a growing number of people, educated and intelligent people, have actually bought into their fear-mongering mandate. There are articles published in our national newspapers, proudly defending their actions and even justifying their actions. That particular article has been shared 1500 times on Facebook alone, and that just terrifies me. I'm saddened to say that even members of my close circle of friends and family are starting to question the 'purpose' behind the halaal certification, and whether it should in fact be abolished in Sri Lanka.
To cap it off, many of you must have heard of the One Billion Rising movement that I blogged about recently. The aim was to raise awareness regarding gender based violence, and was part of an international movement that spanned all the continents. We had our own One Billion Rising movement in Colombo, and this post nicely details all the fantastic work that was done leading up to it. However, today I was shown a blog post written by an anonymous blogger, who had shared a picture of the Lipton Circus protest, and written the following:
"One Billion Rising..Colombo style..errr...thats more like One Hundred Rising but..hey..still..it was a good show! a show of strength a definite show of power...women power..NGO power..check the Chicks..should have gone there yesterday.. could have definitely hit on one of those loose NGO women...could have had a different V. Day then!!!"
What follows are a series of anonymous comments, basically ridiculing the protest, claiming the protesters don't know anything about women in urban areas because they are from the English speaking middle class, that they are a 'pathetic bunch of stooges who dance to the tune of some organisations from the West', and that this is all a publicity stunt for 'patrons living in a cool Western country'.
There are more bizarre ravings involving government conspiracies, but I don't want to go on, and I don't want to link to them either since I don't want their idiocy to be advertised.
Bottom line: There are crazy people out there; that's a given. What I can't understand is how their numbers seem to be growing. I can't understand how every time I log on to Facebook there is more evidence of people whom I call 'friends' sharing all this extremist nonsense. I can't understand how normal people, brought up in multicultural environments, can say and do the most insensitive things in public forums. I can't believe the voice of reason, peace, love and understanding is the one in the minority.
God help us all.