12/08/2016 4:23 PM IST | Updated 12/08/2016 4:52 PM IST

Salman Khan Rapegate: Why The Media Was Wrong To React As It Did

Stringer Sri Lanka / Reuters

I happened to listen to the audio recording of the now infamous comment made by Salman Khan in which he compared himself to a rape victim. It is clear (in the audio) that the then present media burst into collective laughter, and to an extent gave Salman positive feedback for making another "bro-type" statement.

My question is -- why did no one interrupt him then and there? Why didn't anyone take a stand then, or even right after the interview? What was the laughter all about?

Let me try to answer that for you. The "mediapersons" laughed because they knew they had struck gold with Salman's comment. No one was actually offended. They were simply thinking of how to headline that statement as soon as possible, and grab eyeballs. In the same audio clip, one can hear how Salman Khan immediately realized that what he had said was wrong. In fact, he even muttered, "I don't think I should have said it." But this portion was conveniently edited out in most news accounts to sensationalize the story further. Primetime debates followed and the nation wanted to know -- or at least the media wanted the nation to know.

I feel there's this growing "intolerance" within the media itself, and one which comes with a disgusting veneer of manufactured moral outrage. This outrage is often conspicuously missing when you expect to see it. I wonder why no one created a hue and cry when an entire poem on rape and female genitalia was shown in the movie 3 Idiots in 2009. However, circa 2016, everyone seems to be perpetually on the verge of a conflagration.

There's this growing "intolerance" within the media itself, and one which comes with a disgusting veneer of manufactured moral outrage.

If the news media is actually concerned about rape victims, perhaps they should consider giving airtime to the struggles of one tribal woman named Soni Sori in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, who's been fighting a lone battle against institutional rape. Will they have an equally passionate decrying of the legality of marital rape in India?

I am not defending Salman Khan here, not at all. But time and again famous persons and celebrities are picked upon by the media acting as hounds -- a word here, a remark there, maybe a wardrobe malfunction, a cleavage shot etc. Give these people a break. They shouldn't be so important. Perhaps some of that airtime could be reserved for real issues? Shouldn't the media adhere to a certain ethical code when dealing with such sensitive matters, especially when it is trying to teach the same to other people?

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