Sunday, April 11, 2010

Growing Pains

I spent the weekend with my old Aunties in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were very concerned about South Africa.

Hate Speech is a sophisticated concept. Once a country paves the way for Hate Speech they have to deal with lots of unintended consequences.

The SA Hate Speech provisions read:
In South Africa, Act No. 4 of 2000: Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.contains the following clause:
10. (1) Subject to the proviso in section 12. no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to -
(a) be hurtful;
(b) be harmful or to incite harm;
(c) promote or propagate hatred.

All I can think about is Martin Luther King Jr. (Sorry, I am Muzungu after all). I asked my old Aunties what it was really like when he was shot. They said the entire country was horrified, appalled and distressed. I was just trying to get a bead on the time when race relations in the US was ‘bad’, like people died. [some may argue that happens everyday through the dominance of the white majority but that is not actually everywhere in the US, mostly in urban areas, if at all]

I don’t really understand racial relations in SA. But I do think that Hate Speech takes a lot of getting used to. You need to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. You cannot just say what you like. You have to worry about inciting violent acts as a consequence of your speech. That is exceedingly difficult.

I worry about the World Cup and I worry that the growing pains of racial tolerance have hit SA at the worst possible time, just like everyone else.

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