Max du Preez

Protests 'important to a democracy'

2010-11-01 12:40

It is completely legitimate in a democracy for a Christian lobby to threaten a boycott of a supermarket chain because they decided to stop selling low-circulation Christian magazines, even though it annoyed many of us.

It is also legitimate to threaten to boycott a bank because they expressed an opinion on the racial make-up of rugby teams, even though I thought AfriForum’s campaign was completely inappropriate.

Civil action and protest are as important to a democracy as regular general elections and we should welcome the fact that white South Africans and Christians are also beginning to understand this.

But to have any kind of credibility, these kinds of campaigns should be consistent, coherent and in the spirit of our Constitution.

If citizens get the impression that an interest group or lobby is acting out of prejudice, arrogance or a spirit of entitlement, that lobby’s campaign will certainly be counter-productive.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental cornerstone of our constitution, which means no particular religion should get preference over another and citizens have the right to refuse any religion being imposed upon them.

Why, then, are the vast majority of our state schools still operating as if this is a Christian state?

Would they accept a Wiccan magazine?

Why should children whose parents, and I know of quite a few, who are protesting at Christianity being forced down their children’s throats, have to run the risk of being ostracised at school?

Would those Christians who campaigned against Woolworths about the magazines accept it if a Wiccan or even Satanist group published a magazine and the store decided to sell it?

Would they be happy if their Christian magazines were to find a place on the shelves next to a soft porn magazine?

Some of those Christian magazines apparently have a national circulation of about 5 000 copies. Is this particular Christian lobby not prepared to accept that a store could make a decision on purely financial considerations?

The daughter of that old Afrikaner icon Bles Bridges, Sunette, herself a prominent Afrikaans celebrity, made a blatantly racist statement on her Facebook page last week that has received much publicity.

She referred to her black gardener/builder and said no tools but a sjambok can make him build properly.

When some readers protested, she made it worse by saying the worker was like a child in her house.

AfriForum, the great campaigners against racism, is silent about this and other racist insults and utterances by whites.

Sunette Bridges is a self-proclaimed Christian and sometimes leaves Christian messages on her Facebook page.

One would expect the self-righteous Christian lobbies to now urge a boycott of her music. Don’t hold your breath.

More civil action needed

Afrikaans newspapers and predominantly white institutions have been vociferous in their opposition to the ANC’s so-called Secrecy Bill and the proposal for a media tribunal, and quite rightly so.

But when the campaign was taken to the streets and to Parliament, most of the protestors were young people from the townships with just a handful of pale faces among them.

The only newspaper editor I saw at last week’s Right2Know campaign's march to parliament was Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail and Guardian.

More civil action is needed if we want to stem the tide of Zanu-fication of our ruling party (and our country) and citizens should be encouraged to become more involved in the fight to keep our constitution intact.

But if you only want to sit in your ivory tower sniping at those who threaten your own sectarian interests, ordinary South Africans will ignore you.

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