Quote of the week

Excluding refugees from the right to work as private security providers simply because they are refugees will inevitably foster a climate of xenophobia which will be harmful to refugees and inconsistent with the overall vision of our Constitution. As a group that is by definition vulnerable, the impact of discrimination of this sort can be damaging in a significant way. In reaching this conclusion it is important to bear in mind that it is not only the social stigma which may result from such discrimination, but also the material impact that it may have on refugees.

Mokgoro J and O’Regan J (dissenting)
Union of Refugee Women and Others v Director, Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority and Others (CCT 39/06) [2006] ZACC 23
25 March 2010

On “hate speech” as a diversionary tactic

The wonderful thing about democracy is that it gives us all the right to make utter fools of ourselves and to say and do things that expose us as rabid, hypocritical, bigots. Julius Malema is a young man who has made good use of this freedom. Most decent and sane people now know that he is an idiot who says one thing and then does exactly the opposite. They also know that when he is caught lying or exposed as a hypocrite he blusters and bullies to detract attention from his own lack of honesty and integrity.

There are different ways to deal with the Malema problem. One can pretend that Julius is a genius leader in the making who only needs a bit of guidance from his party to become the next Nelson Mandela. That is President Jacob Zuma’s strategy – but we all know Zuma is following this strategy because he is weak and he needs Julius to cover his back.

One can also shout hysterically and jump up and down and lodge complaints about Malema’s hate speech – like Steve Hofmeyer is doing – and say racist things about black South Africans and whine and complain. This seems the preferred option for many white South Africans, perhaps because they have gold medals in whining and complaining already and it makes them feel better to hit Julius with his own bigoted medicine.

Ag nee wat.

Surely the best option is to ignore the things Julius says and to stick to the issues, to focus on the gap between who Julius says he is and what he actually does, to expose the way he got rich very fast and to ask hard questions about his tenders and his lies.  Why focus on his alleged hate speech when there are so much more important issues we need to be concerned about.

Who cares if Julius sings: “kill the boer”? Surely, the fact that he has a large stake in a company who received millions in tenders from municipalities and then did shoddy work is far more important. While the singing of an old struggle song calling for farmers to be permanently removed from society is irritating and maybe even hurtful to some, it is not going to make much difference to the quality of our democracy. Neither is it going to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans who feel deserted and angry because the governing party has deployed incompetent and sometimes corrupt friends and relatives to ensure the delivery of basic services needed for everyday survival.

People who make such a song and dance about the alleged hate speech uttered by Julius Malema play right into his hands. Instead of focusing on things that unite us (anger at shoddy service delivery, at the potholes and the blue light cars, at the corruption and the laziness, at the bigotry and hatred), the focus on hate speech forces us to talk only about that which divides us namely race, race and, yes, race.

I do not mean to say that there is no room for a law that prohibits extreme form of speech that dehumanises entire groups based on their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation. Although I suspect in a democracy it is almost always better to laugh at and ridicule those who say things that expose them as bigots and hate-mongers, it may well be necessary to safeguard the democratic space by regulating extreme forms of speech which is clearly intended to incite hatred against targeted groups.

But where an idiot like Malema launches silly and bigoted attacks against “boers” in order to change the topic so that we will stop talking about his R53 million in the bank, his tenders and his lies, then I suspect lodging “hate speech” complaints becomes a distraction that forces us to take our eye of the ball.

Next thing we will all be singing “Die Blou Bull eet nie van die Vloer af nie” while chanting Steve Hofmeyer’s name – all while Julius continues to rake in the millions and ordinary people suffer.

PS: I see Steve Hofmeyer is talking about recording a song called “Skiet die k.@#rs hulle is verkragters” This is as idiotic as one can get. Instead of demonstrating an ability to act in a decent and humane manner, Hofmeyer is really saying that he is no better than Malema. Sadly, many people follow and support Hofmeyer (and they are not all Blue Bulls supporters – some even support The Stormers like I do.)

Hofmeyer and his ilk does not understand that a racialist fight in which racist insults are hurled is bad for Afrikaners and bad for the country. It gives Julius what he wants on terms that he wants in a fight that only Julius can win. It is also unethical and wrong. But will I take Hofmeyer to the Equality Court for hate speech? Of course not. Let the idiots fight among themselves while decent people try and find ways to hold the lazy and corrupt to account and improve things for all South Africans.

2015 Constitutionally Speaking | website created by Idea in a Forest