KARACHI: It all started with a tweet, as things nowadays usually do. Haroon Shahid, known for his band Symt, his Coke Studio appearances and his lead role in Shoaib Mansoor’s Verna opposite Mahira Khan, was just having an ordinary day, browsing Twitter and looking for fun things to retweet.
And he seemed to have came across something so ‘funny’, he absolutely had to share it with his followers: a tweet about slapping Gul Bukhari, a journalist, who had made an awful joke about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s leader Imran Khan’s appearance.
An account titled Baji Please claimed to have had a dream about slapping Gul Bukhari with a chappal. Haroon proceeded to retweet this, adding his own two cents as well:
This wasn’t met well with fellow tweeters.
He went on to defend himself, calling his tweet a light-hearted comment.
And then proceeded to apologise for his mistakes
But all hell has broken loose and it will take some time for Twitterati to forgive Haroon for what he said. Or maybe never.
And here’s why:
Firstly, he misused the #MeToo movement: If you hit a woman, it will indeed be a #MeToo moment because women have endured physical and sexual abuse from men for way too long and the purpose of this hashtag was to bring the alarming rate at which these incidents take place to the forefront. Please take the plight of thousands of women seriously and don’t use the term lightly, lightheartedly, in a joke or just for some RTs.
Secondly, his apology includes a false equivalence. Gul Bukhari’s tweet may have been in poor taste, but in no way does it incite violence against Imran Khan. Is she encouraging people to hit, abuse, attack him? Nope. Free speech means people have the right to criticise, the way you absolutely have the right to hate on Gul Bukhari for what she said. But when free speech starts to incite violence or hatred towards a person or a community is when you need to stop.
Further, we all expected better from Haroon because of your stance against abuse faced by women during Verna‘s film promotions.
A reminder: inciting violence against someone works two ways. If Haroon was abusive in his tweets, does that give you the right to do the same? Abusive tweets have started pouring against Haroon Shahid as well. When does the hate and abuse stop? Please, critique and question your stars when they fuck up but can you also stop being violent? Is there no room left for peaceful discourse anymore?
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.