Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Joker's Mentality

There is a wide understanding and a mutual international consensus on the political front and that is the only and best way in organizing modern politics is through democracy as it one of the legitimate methods. However, the problem and menace of terrorism stands against the democratic way of the political system. Terrorism has transcended international boundaries, and thus, has acquired a global form. This mishap, has been affecting almost all countries in all regions. Hence, the threat of terrorism is no longer limited to a particular country or region. Even comic books touch on this and one of the world's favorite villains, The Joker when running loose in Gotham City uses very similar techniques in prompting global terrorism.
Bahrain has long seen some signs of unrest and terrorism since the 70's, however what has happened recently, is a terrorist conspiracy against compassionate Bahrain. How did it happen? When was this all planned? How can someone terrorize their own people and country? These might all be questions that you're thinking of, however determining what drives people to terrorism is no easy task. For one thing, terrorists aren't likely to volunteer as experimental subjects, and examining their activities from afar can lead to erroneous conclusions. What's more is, one group's terrorist is another group's freedom fighter, similarly to many Batman has been a protagonist, however the Joker is the hero, his followers will attest. "I don’t want to kill you! What would I do without you? Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, NO! No. You… you… complete me" (Joker) .This is why is it important to understand media & terrorism as separate entities but they complement each other like Batman & the Joker, they're both strong by themselves but when united, they're undefeatable because of their different fighting methods.
Defining Terrorism
What doesn't kill you only makes you..stranger (Joker). Defining terrorism has always been an uphill task for decision-makers, academics, defense personnel and even journalists. One definition that was interesting defines it as "the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear". What all definitions have in common are:
- Terrorism is generally understood to be the politically motivated violence
- Terrorism has been viewed to be generally directed towards soft targets
- Terrorism is essentially group phenomenon
- Terrorism must be seen as criminal, unfair and illegitimate use of abnormal force
- Terrorism has one of its main goals as a deliberate attempt to create fear
- Terrorism often gets involved in intimidating governments and societies
- Terrorism gets itself manifested as opposition of established authority
With the outmost confidence, it is only necessary to call the group that has disrupted Bahrain's peace as terrorists because they check off every possible understanding of what terrorism is.
Why Terrorism?
Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair! (Joker) Terrorism essentially tries to negate the existence of political power, this was the baseline for why these terrorists took part in a backlash against the government. It challenges the legitimacy of the political authority and uses fear, surprise, violence or threat of violence to achieve the goals through coercion, illegal and immoral use of force, transnational violence and internationalization of a conflict or demand with the latent involvement of communication media. Terrorism poses significant challenge to the political system and authority. Correct so far?

Some factors causing the phenomenon of terrorism around the around are enumerated as humiliation of the masses, increase in population, illiteracy, political frustration, regional disparities, widening of inequalities, intervention into religious, social and personal liberties, abject poverty, foreign support, lure for publicity and protest against the policies of the government. Terrorism is not just brutal and unthinking violence, I tell you.
"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just… do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. I’m not a schemer" (Joker). There is an agreement amongst the experts that there has always been a strategy behind terrorist actions. Taking any form of bombings, shootings, hijackings, or assassinations, terrorism has neither been random or spontaneous rather a deliberate and premeditated use of spectacular violence to make beneficial use of the psychological impact of violence or of the threat of violence to create political change. Since his appearance, the Joker has been planning, scheming and finding ways to take over Gotham City, but the one method that makes people listen to him is terrorism through media.
Media: Terrorist's Glorification Drive
­­­Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen, we are tonight's entertainment! Political terrorism is often intended to influence a larger audience and to disseminate specific messages besides publicizing some political or religious cause; demonstrating the weakness of a government; and ensure public overreactions purposefully. In many of my recent research and not long ago studies, academics describe political terrorism as 'theater'. "It is profound and often tragic drama for which the world is a stage. Violence, death, intimidation and fear are the theatrical ingredients. The plot often involves hostages, deadlines and high level bargaining. Tension and anxiety levels are immediately raised".
The relationship between media and terrorism is quite precarious. The interplay between media reporting and the use of violence by extremist movements has always been an interesting field of study. It has been observed that violent extremists understand the capacity of the present day media network to disseminate information through satellite and digital technology and to present the events 'live' and or graphically and to cater to the global audience. This instantaneous media exposure brings forward the grievances and facilitates them in garnering a larger audience. Keeping in view the media point, they have their "own incentives to report-major terrorist incidents". Today's terrorists have been able to exploit the advances in communication, transportation and weaponry. Terrorists are said to usually tailor their activities in a manner, which would help them in getting maximum of publicity, and dissipate their message through all communication channels.
Engaging Gotham
A large number of suggestions have been forwarded for combating terrorism which include strong administration, optimum efficiency, accountability of the state, neutrality in public affairs, normalcy in civil-police relationship, quick redressal of grievances, psychological and sociological inputs, eradication of corruption, coordination in intelligence units, integration of strategies of counter terrorism, increased role of opinion makers, commando raids on terrorist camps, restoration of democratic institutions, comprehensive assessment of the problems, social employment drive, boost to development efforts, revival of cultural and literary fora, revival of party organizations, agreement on extradition treaties and revitalizing International law.
It is the responsibility of the media to find differentiating lines between disseminating the news and spreading the message of the terrorists. Enjoying the liberty of expression, media must restrain from taking sides and using provocative language and photographs to attract larger audience. Media must contribute to the maintenance of democracy which is under threat. However, the potential culpability of the media in spreading propaganda and fostering fear while invoking its freedom with blind eye requires serious attention. The media must be responsible enough towards the democratic norms besides inculcation of these norms in the citizenship. Media must understand that only democracy has provided them freedom of expression and this freedom has to be handled with care.
With this I leave you with a famous quote from the infamous Joker, Why so serious? Let me put a smile on that face.

Note: Some of the confiscated weapons of the Joker's Gang. (Quite similar I would say).


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