I'm all in favour for political dissent and people expressing their opinions honestly and with passion. My question, however, is this: "Why have a group of anti-ANC protesters allowed their public criticisms of the ANC to become nothing short of hate-speech, summarised to a core of pithy - to be generous, racist to be less generous - one-liners that mean nothing by themselves?"
You know, you really can't make some of the comments up on News24 in general, and I attract more than my fair share with my 'unpopular' (to these people at least) articles.
My recent article, In Defence of E-Tolling, revealed more than its share of anti-ANC sentiment (specifically in relation to it muddying the anti- e-Tolling waters).
My absolute favourite comments, however, came from one person (you can find them easily above but because it's not about him/her I won't reference their name here).
Quote 1 (symptomatic of the gross generalisations I'm speaking about):
"Joys of a democracy, and if running the country is anything to go by , the administration of E-Tolls will be a failure because the current bunch with their 30% pass rate cannot run a piss up in a brewery."
Things to look out for: de-humanisation ('current bunch'), extrapolation ('with their 30% pass rate'), untrue example ('run a piss up in a brewery')
Quote 2 (sympomatic of 'hedging your bets' or why the ANC is 'Damned if they do, damned if they don't'):
"So somewhere the administration should fail and if it does not it will only prove that they are effective when collecting and stealing money."
Things to look out for: Pessimistic viewpoint from the outset ('should fail'); hedging bets ('if it does not it will only prove') and false equations ('collecting and stealing money').
As South Africans living in South Africa, I think we need to urgently start highlighting these radical viewpoints wherever they crop up, and ridicule them for being as senseley counter-productive to nation-building as they are.
DO NOT GET ME WRONG: I am NOT an ANC supporter.
Moreover, I do NOT think that everything that the ANC has done in the past 20 years is perfect, but only a grossly dishonest person would suggest that the ANC is completely inept throughout, or link "collecting and stealing money" into a single phrase.
If you want to be taken seriously with your criticisms, start making intelligent, well thought-out points. Propose solutions. Don't insult without due cause. Recognise your opponent's strengths openly.
I am in wholly in favour of nation-building. I want to live in a South Africa where people of all races and political beliefs can co-exist peacefully, and where we are upset about something we upset because it affects ALL OF US, and not just sitting in little islands flinging insults and gross generalisations at each other.
Please join me in this much at least. Protest e-Tolling if you want. Buy a red rhino horn for your car. Wear a 'think bike' sticker. Do any of the myriad of things I've queried here before. Just whatever it is, do it for the common good, because this is OUR country and we need to start respecting our enemies.