Public discourse has hit the gutter

2009-10-31 13:30

“IT is a sad day when those ­relegated to the rubbish bin of history want to make a comeback through . . . rumblings of a raving lunatic.”

So read Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s statement in response to Kader Asmal’s criticism of plans for the police to return to military ranks.

It is fair to assume that Mbalula was hurt by Asmal saying he hoped he would not be alive if ever Mbalula became secretary-general of the ANC.

While Asmal can be accused of using robust language in his assessment of Mbalula, Mbalula’s response crosses into hate speech and for a government minister that is regrettable.

The rot started when senior ANC leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, did not ­reprimand youth league leader Julius Malema for his “kill for Zuma” vow. Their silence ­continued even after the league’s Thebe Meeko called for University of Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen to be “shot and killed”.

Public discourse in South ­Africa has truly degenerated into the gutter and something urgently needs to be done.

We agree with Asmal, who says the matter requires “all of us, but especially those who have status, power and authority, to lead by supporting a ­humane, generous and democratic climate for discussion and debate”.

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