It is sad that 17 years into our democracy our political leaders are unable to leave the mindset of a revolution behind them.
I am speaking, of course, of Julius Malema who is facing charges of hate speech for his singing of the song "Shoot the Boer". Not only has he refused to apologise for the offence his singing may have caused but part of the defence he has made has been that the song has historical importance as a struggle song, a claim which, whether true or not, misses the point.
Hate speech is that speech which can be reasonably construed to demonstrate an intention to be hurtful, incite harm or promote hatred. The song Shoot the Boer fits into hate speech as it singles out the Afrikaner and calls for violent action against them. As such it is not acceptable in society and does not receive the protection of free speech.
In addition, no matter whether Malema claims that he intended violence against Afrikaners or not is immaterial. He has previously claimed that the ANCYL will kill for President Zuma and it is no stretch of the imagination to envisage some of his followers taking his words literally, whether that was his intention or not.
If it has historical importance then the song belongs in a museum or history book but its original purpose has run its course and it is no longer appropriate in a political context of a supposedly non-racial South Africa. No doubt Malema would oppose the resurrection of the old apartheid laws even though those too have incredible historical importance.
Malema needs to recognise that the song is inappropriate in a political context, offensive to an entire subset of the population and apologise for his singing of it. This is particularly important in our country which still suffers from high levels of racial tension, a situation exacerbated by such inflammatory songs, and which posses a population that can be incited to violence at the slightest provocation.
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