I can't say I give a damn about the government's Protecion of Information bill. And I can't believe that I, someone who values free speech, am even saying this. But, lately I've been reflecting a lot on what we are being fed by the media, and gradually I'm losing hope for South Africans' ability to absorb unbiased information.
So, there are various reasons why I don't care about the proposed bill, including:
A. The South African Press is not freeMost of you already know that Naspers pretty much has a monopoly over all media in South Africa. You are thus allowed to write about anything you want, as long as you don't piss off advertisers. I'm especially thinking of an expose of beauty products a few years ago which was pulled from a glossy woman's magazine, since most of the products under scrutiny were being advertised in the same magazines. Then, less important, I might not be the best writer on earth, but so far two posts I've written on this forum were not published. Both pieces give a satirical view on racism, so I guess the content might have been misinterpreted and have hurt people. At least that's what I think happened and I accept it. Yet, a lot of contributors here, as well as renowned journalists elsewhere,openly propagate racism without anyone batting an eyelid. More about that later. B. South Africans have a twisted idea of what free speech entailsI mean, how many people were out there protesting when the beauty product example mentioned above were exposed by Noseweek? Did anyone even know or care? Yet, everyone's up in arms when paintings exposing the president's genitals are banned. Do we really need to see cock to realise that the man is a disgrace? And who remembers the outcry over Zapiro's cartoon a few years ago using an image of rape to portray's Pres. Zuma's indifference towards justice? Why do we keep defending somebody's right to publish such images in a family newspaper, in a country where so many people are sexually abused? And then the 'Shoot the Boer' debacle. Really, did we need a court case before it sunk in that the lyrics were offensive within today's context? And then, on the other side of the equation, we have the Red October folks, shamelessly spreading false statistics and carrying old South African flags whilst being protected by black police officers. Also, News24's failure to deal with hate speech in comments about articles makes me wonder why we even promote free speech. Is the freedom to spread hatred honestly all South Africans value? C. Biased, inaccurate and racist reportingIn Afrikaans papers like Beeld you mostly read about murders on white people, and colourds to a lesser extent. In The Sowetan, which is published in English but aimed at black people, it's all about black people being killed. I'm not sure where Indians fit in, I hardly ever see anything involving Indian people in the papers mentioned, other than Shaik and the Guptas. Does this mean all Indians are gangsters? Is there a white genocide? Do black people only die in Soweto? So much for unbiased reporting.Then we have The Daily Sun, recently acquired by Naspers, despite various complaints from the Press Ombudsman regarding in-factual reporting in this paper. Also the English press aimed at a more general audience, where there is an overt emphasis on class and culture. It's in the English press where you find top journalists detracting attention from a news story by concentrating on the individuals involved's poor demand of the English language. It is in the English press where it's okay to criticise a culture you have no knowlege of, and which holds no direct threat to you. I mean,Stephen Grootes, what's more likely to happen to your daughter: getting a proposal from a Zulu polygamist, or getting anorexia and being slut shamed by her white peers? Also, it is in the English media where Bullard shamelessly portrayed the black race as backwards (and still has the audacity to sue for unfair dismissal) , and where the cartoon discussed above was published. In terms of factualness, I've noticed articles in News24 quoting sources that have been discredited, including a story published by The Daily Maverick, claiming that Al Qaeda was well and alive in South Africa. The News24 article failed to mention that the 'facts' were unfound and that the Daily Maverick journalist resigned because of this article. Statistics are also often used from dubious sources, such as Pondering Panda. D. South Africans only believe what they want toEven if a story gets proven wrong, like the Daily Maverick example above, most people prefer to believe a lie. I mean, generally it is so much more fun to believe that the government has slipped up (again), than to acknowledge that some journalists suck news out of their thumbs. South Africans want to believe that we live in the worst place on earth. We want to believe that we are the only people suffering (and we also divide suffering along racial lines). And there's no place better to affirm how much your life sucks than on a News24 forum (who needs to read anything else to form a more balanced opinion?) We take rumours and create our own stories, because that makes life interesting. Yes, depressing is interesting, and bad news sells. E. South African humour is sexist, racist and classist......yet nobody questions it. I mean, think about all the Caster Semenya jokes, used in advertisements, told by comedians, written in news forums, etc. Ask yourself, how much of our humour is based on ridiculing people's accents, and subtily tying an accent to intelligence. The boertjie accent (because all Afrikaans people are farmers, and all farmers are backwards, right?) and the working class black accent are often used by comedians and advertisers. Do people even realise that by ridiculing Julius Malema's accent and education, they are ridiculing other, less obnoxious, decent black folks that also lack proper education, and/or that can't speak English like the queen? Advertisements overwhelmingly focus on successful men,having a crapload of 'chicks' to choose from. And that is supposed to be funny. And what the hell was with the Cape Town Fish Market ad using black face? And it got nominated for a Loerie if I'm not mistaken...F. We know that the govenrment are screwing up......and they're getting away with it, regardless of the press. And despite the free press, they have been covering things up for the a-team. Government officials are pretty much immune to persecution, as long as they don't piss off the president. You can write 700 articles about that, but nothing is changing.
So call me narrow-minded, cynical and negative, but I honestly don't see how my life is going to change if certain information is kept from the media. Maybe it's better for my psyche to stick to entertainment news in anyway. It remains to be seen whether this entry will be published, but that might be one step taken by Naspers to prove me wrong....
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