Freedom of speech

2018-12-12 06:02

POLITICAL extremism poses a double threat to freedom of speech, ultimately to its very existence.

But in the meantime, to deny it a platform or ban certain words or phrases, tempting though that might be, undermines the basic principles of democracy that extremists are intent on destroying.

One way forward is prosecution for incitement to violence, but this too has its drawbacks and limitations. Success could provide the martyrdom that extremists crave. And intent is very hard to prove in law, however brazen the words. A University of Cape Town student recently emblazoned an assignment with the infamous “One settler, one bullet” slogan and followed it up with an aggressive, unambiguous tweet. But it would be difficult to prove in court beyond doubt that actual physical harm was meant.

Extremists flourish on the liberties they despise and seek to destroy. That is why Max du Preez’s approach to Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters (The Witness, November 28) is so compelling.

In spite of the animosity directed at them, journalists should continue to record Malema’s venomous ranting. But they also have an obligation to highlight the lies and distortions, half-truths and bullying.

Malema and his fascist followers are, somewhat ironically, constitutionally entitled to their freedom of expression. But the people and institutions he vilifies, and the nation as a whole, are owed the telling of the truth.


Lincoln Meade


Inside News24

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