Freedom of expression is not absolute

2016-02-03 06:00

THE recent wave of racism stems mainly from socialisation and a lack of understanding as to how freedom of expression is governed as per the South African Constitution.

Recently, our media reported incidents of individuals expressing questionable social-media comments that can be classified as crimen injuria or have bordered on, and in some cases exceeded, the boundaries of hate speech.

Individuals who use racist or derogatory language that seriously impairs the dignity of another, or make insulting comments about individuals or communities, need to realise they can or will face prosecution if the boundary is crossed.

Due to the belief that the Constitution allows complete freedom of expression, some individuals make very reckless comments on social media and other platforms.

In terms of the Constitution, comments or statements that infringe on the rights of others are not immune from prosecution.

The Constitution does not promote an absolute right to freedom of expression or speech.

Constitutional rights are limited and not absolute. There is a line between free speech and hate speech.

We need to get rid of the notion that we have a complete right to freedom of speech. That’s not quite correct and people need to be educated about this fact.

A national anti-racism programme is needed in order to promote co-existence, equality, human rights and access to a life of dignity.


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