Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Media’s Double Standards

26 April 2011

Disturbingly both the editorials of the City Press (17 April) and the Mail and Guardian (22 April) seem to blame AfriForum for the spectacle we are witnessing in the Equality Court in Johannesburg. The populism and lack of thought of City Press’ sentiments are astounding: “On the one side is a group whose only political currency is the fear and prejudice of its membership and following. To maintain its relevance, this group finds itself hard-pressed to find proof that their members face imminent harm from the state or its leading agents. That is why this group has presented a case that would have been funny had its ignorance not had potentially damaging consequences for the national cohesion project.”

Ditto the Mail & Guardian: “... [T]o ban the song is wrong. We don’t think it rises to the very high level that the Constitution requires before freedom of speech can be interfered with ... it does not amount to hate speech that is likely to incite imminent violence.”

The fact is it has. While it is difficult to make a direct link between the right to free speech and the incitement to cause harm, the brutal murder of over 2000 farmers and family members since 1994, should shock us out of our complacency. The decline, furthermore, of 300 000 commercial farms to 37 000 currently, shows that we have a very serious problem on our hands, not to speak of the deleterious effects these murders have had on the situation of food security - a problem compounded by a glaringly flawed land restitution process, which as a result has left over 80% of black farmers destitute due to inadequate post-restitution support.

These politically correct newspapers would undoubtedly have argued otherwise had the slogan been: “Kill the kaffir, kill the miner.” It is for this reason that the Constitution states precisely that while “everyone has the right to freedom of expression,” this right does not extend to “incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” To imply as City Press does, that this is payback time for AfriForum, the villain in the saga, who, by bringing this matter to court, is responsible for damaging the “national cohesion project,” is to forever deny them their right to bring charges, given their/our past. It needs saying that the slogan “Kill the Boer, kill the Farmer” was wrong even as a struggle song and is as evil as “One settler, one bullet.” Justifying these wrongs in the name of apartheid, gives carte blanche to yesterday’s liberators to become tomorrow’s oppressors.

In the 1980s, Aggrey Klaaste warned that if we allow our children to lead the struggle and do not check their boundless militancy, the day will come in post-apartheid South Africa when we shall regret having shirked our parental duty. We see it now with the likes of Julius Malema. That he is allowed to enter the court with body guards draped with assault rifles is a flagrant violation of the rule of law. Worse, he is aided and abetted by ANC leaders who are even more contemptuous and who blame the media and Afrikaners for the “Malemaphobia” raging in the country. Well, Mr Mantashe, we do have Malemaphobia. When buffoons like Malema and Shavambu are led to believe that they are the kingmakers in returning the ANC to power, then our future looks scary.

This brazen display of weaponry in the courts, with police standing idly by, is a sign of things to come. Andries Tatane, Ficksburg activist and protester, is gunned down in worse than apartheid-style aggression, a horrendous image, emblazoned across CNN’s screens for the entire world to see. The community of Ficksburg is righty enraged at the heavy-handedness of the SAPS with its “shoot to kill” culture. The increasing militarization of the police epitomises in small measure what is happening in Libya today. Are we acquiring weapons so that we can use it against our own citizens should they rise up against their own oppressors? Is the ANC taking lessons from their friend Gaddafi, who is crushing his own citizens with all his military might for daring to demand that he step down after 40 years? 

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