Articles

The Role of the Media in Instilling the Culture of Tolerance in Society
Author : Dr. Hassan Abu_Arqoub
Date Added : 24-01-2023

The Role of the Media in Instilling the Culture of Tolerance in Society

 

The media plays a significant role in confidence building, shaping awareness, outlining orientations of the people from different issues, in addition to being an authority over minds and feelings.

The media is no longer concerned with conveying news; rather, to a remarkable extent, it assumed the role of steering and inciting. This is evident when considering the concept of media in a broader sense, which encompasses television, radio, electronic websites and various means of social media.

It is noted that violence and intolerance in the Arab region are escalating concomitant with the rise of the hate speech and the shunning of the other. If not a main reason, media incitement is responsible for the survival of horrible events that we are witnessing today in the Arab world. The rhetoric of bigotry, fear, distrust and cancellation of the other is prevalent and spread by various means of media whether directly or indirectly. The key question, here, is that does media identify with the situation of the people concerning hatred and violence or does it fuel and create them? If we add the role of the social media in the formation of the collective view and the dissemination of culture, we will arrive at a worse outcome. This is since satellite channels may carefully or wickedly propagate meanings of hatred, while words and messages in social media are direct and clear, and may deliver them in a higher volume and quicker manner of incitement. If satellite channels target viewer`s consciousness, social media targets consciousness and emotions.

How can we address this negative phenomenon?

It is imperative to address the existence of incitement and the revealed and concealed hate speech through the following:

1- Raising awareness and sensitivity against hate speech.

It is imperative that different satellite channels and media have excessive sensitivity against hate speech, violence, and rejection of the other through a code of conduct or even a law. This is since the growth or even the presence of such speech resembles a poisoned dagger piercing the heart of the nation and it is hard to recover from it except by paying a heavy price from the people`s wealth, blood, security and stability, which means impeding the progress of the wheel of development.

2- Spreading awareness amongst individuals.

Expanding the experiment of raising sensitivity and spreading it amongst individuals to organize their interactions on social media. This can be achieved through attracting their attention to that, discussing its positive side, and clarifying the negative side of bigotry and rejection of the other. In fact, increasing the level of awareness counters extremism and most people are affected by what is broadcast via satellite channels. Social media must be regulated through a law that criminalizes hate speech and incitement of strife because it threatens civil peace.

3- Opinions and other opinions.

Paying attention to the slogan "Opinions and other opinions" since it is negatively exploited. Even if we largely believe in this slogan, it is abusively applied. Before we introduce this slogan to the people, we should teach them how to respect opinions and other opinions through giving examples. For instance, guests of some talk shows, which are built on this slogan, shout at one another and question each other's doctrines and views, and even engage in fistfight. This clearly reinforces the following message: "There is no room for dialogue with the other and the outcome of any dialogue is struggle."

4- Handpicking guests.

Based on the previous point, we must select guests who present ideas objectively, with tolerance, and respect for the others. This is because based on the cultivation theory; the rhetoric of this moderate and tolerant model will be, with repetition, the followed model. Calm dialogue is both productive and effective and suffices even if it resulted in showing respect for the other. With repetition, people will learn the correct style of dialogue. However, bringing exclusionary guests will definitely deliver a negative message and influence to the viewer.

5- Giving precedence to public interest over incitement.

Although hate, violence, and intolerance speech maybe more interesting and engaging and of higher viewership rates, the intolerant models poison the community`s intellect one way or the other and fuel the spirit of division. Therefore, it is necessary that public interest outweighs personal interest as well as moral and material benefits. Preserving the spirit of unity with a lesser rate of viewership and profits means higher benefits for society. In addition, moderate rhetoric will become more acceptable and attractive and people will boycott the rhetoric of violence and extremism.

6- Emphasizing common frame of reference.

Despite differences of faith, thoughts, and doctrines, the population of any state will find one standard of reference that units them; namely the constitution, which considers all citizens equal before the law. This equality fosters tolerance and coexistence, so people will have a common ground for a fruitful dialogue. However, when there is no common ground, dialogue will be counterproductive. This promotes the concept of state, citizenship, and social unity since what all have in common is citizenship and belonging to the homeland on equal basis.

7- Annulling and criticizing intolerant ideas.

It is necessary to annul and criticize intolerant ideas as well as the cancelation of the other through employing a speech that rests on the intellect, reason, and religion since there are satellite channels serving such destructive ideas and there is a certain audience for that. Therefore, such ideas must be traced and nullified with extreme caution to eschew affecting the recipients. In addition, no room should be given to the leaders of the concept of cancelling the other to prevent spreading their intellectual poison.

8- Giving prizes to individuals and channels.

Giving prizes to channels that employ tolerant discourse or programs that promote the spirit of tolerance could encourage some channels and individuals to make changes, improve their rhetoric and content, in addition to leaving a positive impression in the minds of the viewers.

9- Promoting tolerance.

Based on the theory of setting priorities, media must concentrate on the positives of tolerance along with explaining its meaning using different methods and messages. This is since some understand tolerance as forgiving the other and submitting to them. It seems as if patronizing them while this isn`t the case for clarifying the concept of tolerance is the first step of the solution.

The most important positives of tolerance, which can be drafted in messages and depicted with scenes reflecting the content of these positives, are:

First: diversity and difference are a universal norm that we should deal with, not cancel.

Difference is one of Allah`s universal norms and can`t be changed since there can`t be one version of people. The correct way to deal with this phenomenon begins with accepting difference and diversity, and this acceptance is tolerance. Tolerance is defined as respecting cultural diversity through recognizing the rights of others to enjoy their basic rights and freedoms that are universally recognized. It is accepting the other, recognizing his/her existence and privacy. This is an offshoot of respecting the universal norm of difference and diversity people were created on. 

Second: intolerance is resisting Allah`s universal norm as regards difference and diversity, so this resistance is of no avail. 

Intolerance means rejecting and canceling the other. I.e. resisting the universal norm in difference and diversity, and consequently ignoring the wisdom behind the diversity of people; namely building bridges of cooperation and integration between the people to promote growth and prosperity on earth. Resisting this wisdom, although there is no positive outcome for that, leads to disputes and conflicts among individuals, people, and nations. Thus, there is no alternative for cooperation, integration, accepting the other, and tolerance. Actually, tolerance and acceptance of the other are the sole solution that results from all attempts of rivalry and struggle. For instance, Europe engaged in two world wars and the result was the emergence of the European Union.

Third: tolerance is the way for integrity and tolerance.

Accepting and cooperating with the other based on the common nominator, which is humanity, causes minds and powers to integrate and unite. Consequently, the nation will gain both material and moral powers and vice versa. Not accepting the other and bigotry tied with progeny, nationalism, language or religion will only lead to conflict causing brain drain, weakness, depletion of powers, and consequently hindering the wheel of development.

Fourth: tolerance is a win-win situation for all.

If man accepts fellow man, respects his existence, culture, difference, integrates and cooperates with him, peace and security will prevail on domestic and universal levels; nations will prosper and achieve welfare, so everyone wins. On the contrary, intolerance and not accepting the other leads to fragmentation of efforts and undermining of the nation, so everyone loses.

 

 

 

 

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