The digital age lynch mob over the women ministry’s faux pas

I am not a Christian, but one of my favourite quotes is from the Bible: “You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5).

It tells of our obsession with seeing the worst in others, and never the flaws in ourselves.

It is a trait that is hardwired in humans, Christian or otherwise.

In Malay, we have a similar saying: “Kuman di seberang laut nampak, gajah di depan mata tak nampak.” (We can see the germ across the sea but is blind to the elephant right before our eyes).

In this connected world, this human attribute can lead to a cyber lynch mob whose ferocity is no less than how medieval folks, armed with pitchforks and torches, descended on those accused of being witches.

The good that others do, we simply gloss over, while the mistakes that they make, we magnify. This becomes worse when we allow our personal biases and prejudices to tamper with our judgements.

How many of us actually follow the Facebook page of the Women’s Development Department? It boasts of just under 70,000 likes. Most of us have no inkling that the social media platform has been dishing out advice to womenfolk during the movement control order (MCO). And to be honest, they were doing a decent job at it.

But it took only two poorly thought-out posters castigating women, and the whole nation descended upon the minister like how the medieval folks descended upon those accused of practising witchcraft.

Yes, only two postings out of dozens. I am not trying to defend the posts. They were out of line. Women should not be treated like objects.

But do we need to get overly worked up at a time of national crisis?

In most examinations, scoring 90% would have been a great achievement. If the ministry’s social media timeline had been populated with fairly decent content but made two mistakes, that’s quite an achievement already.

Call out the department for the foolish mistakes, and move on. There is no need to build an online bonfire for us to dance around and get that adrenaline high from sense of moral superiority.

Have we gone through life scoring 90% and above in all that we do? If we ask our colleagues, family members and friends, would they honestly rate us 90% or more in terms of how they relate to us? Would you rate YOURSELF 90% or more in whatever that you do?

Let me close by citing another biblical tale. In it, a woman caught for adultery was brought before Jesus. According to the Old Testament, the punishment for adultery was stoning to death.

Jesus then asked those without sin to cast the first stone. But slowly, her accusers started leaving the scene.

If those from biblical times had the presence of thought to reflect on their own shortcomings, then should we not spend more time doing self-reflection than rushing to cast the first stone?

Suryani Mohammad is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.