Jokes can spark threats

Jokes can spark threats

When comedienne Sneha Suhas did a show in early August, she never expected it to lead to a slew of insults and threats a few months later. In the video, she talks about how Kannadigas don’t speak in Kannada when they meet and goes on to say how a man she met shortened his name because he felt his South Indian name would be too big to fit in her mouth. 

“The video in question was picked up by a Chennai-based Facebook page which said that this was a self-troll by Kannadigas. Soon people saw this, thought that I was making fun of them and started tagging each other. They didn’t get the joke and started making lewd and vulgar remarks on my Facebook page. I started receiving explicit and violent threats, including warnings of rape and death,” says the young comic. 

Sneha tried ignoring the comments at first but when people used her pictures in memes, she was disturbed. “I went through some profiles of the people who were threatening me — youngsters who looked like they might just do a wheelie on the road. I felt there was no point in reasoning with them.”

She then reached out to friends and told them what was happening. All of them together reported a few pages and Sneha has also started blocking profiles that send her abusive messages, “I don’t know what else to do about it,” she says.

“The threats range from I should get raped or killed to asking me to put out my address if I was that brave because they wanted to teach me a lesson. A lot of these people don’t even understand jokes, sarcasm or satire. They pick some words, form their own ideas and get offended. Now how is this my fault?”

“If anyone still takes it out of context, I go through the comments to see if there are changes I need to make. People will be people and they will see your work from their lens and what fits their narrative. In any work of art, once we put it out, we no longer control how it is perceived.”