More than a year ago, June 26 2015, Pakistan was obvious in its disgust against the homosexuals. The social media campaign was almost violent in its reaction against the few who did end up rejoicing at the verdict passed on by the US Supreme court granting right of marriage to same-sex couples. Strangely enough, the verdict and its reaction created friction amongst people. Friends were deleted off of social media mediums. Religiosity was questioned. Faith was branded.

The reaction of the Pakistan of 2016 to the atrocious Orlando attacks has been different. The difference has basis in the details: it was barbaric and barbarism is scary; there is fear and annoyance at being affiliated with barbaric attacks and an emphasis on the contrary is a natural thing to do; there is widespread, and indeed heavily exaggerated, apologeticism that shapes the discourse about acts committed by fundamentalists; there is this weariness that comes out of fighting a futile war (against terrorism) for the last 15 years. Also, the horrific incident was impersonal for the Pakistanis of 2016. It happened somewhere far away and no one in the close social circles, back at home, could impose a relationship. Maybe, all this culminated into the sort of reaction that was seen to the Orlando attacks. The Pakistan of 2016 condemned the attack on the same community it had announced its abhorrence towards almost a year ago.

Let’s take a look at this difference through the lens of the self-acclaimed ‘rational’ voice of our generation: Mr. Hamza Ali Abbasi. One year ago, Hamza’s nephew asked him a simple question which brought out the bigot in him. How could he explain to the child the philosophy behind ‘Love wins’. The fine gentleman instead of finding answer in the perfectly simple concept of humanism, instead went onto his facebook page showing his disappointment at the populace at large for appreciating something that was “taboo even in animals” and “abnormal and un-natural”. That was then. His status got thousands of shares and much more likes and comments. Hamza, it seemed, had spoken the truth that the society needed to hear. The liberal fascists were bent upon destroying the morals of the holy society. Hamza was brave enough to call spade a spade. That was then.

Post the Orlando attack, Hamza again took upon the Facebook platform to express what he felt about the attacks. This time he announced that although he sympathised with the victims of the Orlando attack, he was not apologetic. He did not owe an explanation to anyone. The point of this post made little sense however, the support he got from his Facebook followers remained mammoth. Again, thousands of shares and much, much more likes and comments. Many, it seems, agreed with the equally bigoted and absurd Hamza of 2016.

And now he is news again. A leading scholar, a familiar face on TV channels, Kaukab Noorani, has implied a death threat onto Hamza for daring to announce that he would speak about the ‘Ahmedi’ issue somewhere in the future. The rant of Kaukab Noorani, now widespread across the social media spectrum, is pretty much a run of the mill fatwa the bearded amongst Pakistan have gotten used to. Any explanation of what he said is unnecessary. There was nothing metaphorical about what was said. If the state machinery failed to impede any attempts made towards even discussing the second amendment of the constitution, the soldiers of the Prophet will take arms and do what is necessary. The host of the program kept on saying ‘Allah’ in between this threat. Funny how comfortable the Muslim populace is in taking the God’s name in absolute vain.

Now there is an outpouring of sympathy for Hamza. He has suddenly become the educated voice that is being victimised by the right wing elements of the society. There are petitions seeking action against Kaukab Noorani and his channel which are being shared by some liberal voices. Tragedy, in this country, means a clean slate. Hamza too has managed a clean slate. The ever forgetful populace has forgotten about his bigotry and have come to his rescue. The rational adjective is no more in apostrophes. Hamza voice is now the sane voice in the insane noise of the society.

This is a stark reminder of how we treated Junaid Jamshed in recent times. The man who used an international TV medium to claim that women should not be allowed to drive became an innocent victim when he was accused of blasphemy taking, once again, about a woman. Pakistan forgets too easily and people like JJ and Hamza relish in our gullibility.

Let’s call spade a spade. No one has the right to give death threats. Agreed. But, no one should be allowed to use their public image to spread bigotry amongst the masses. This does not mean a shutting down of the voices for that is against the democratic principle of freedom of speech. However, for the greater good of the society, let’s not paint charcoal white and call it chalk.