We must confront racial,religious,cultural and ethnic bigotry

2015-01-22 07:38

A follow up editorial  in a morning newspaper " Tackling Bigotry" (Mercury 22.1.2015) reinforces my feelings of grief and despair when stuff like racial,cultural and religious bigotry rear their ugly heads both in printed as well as online social media. We must confront these head on. As South Africans we have not quite reconciled ourselves as a united nation and that is clear from recent developments. Even the cartoon that accompanied the editorial spoke volumes of how ghettoized we have relegated our rainbow nation. Its an illusion that we are free and united when viewed from the trenches.

I have consistently been advocating for a civic society driven truth and reconciliation type process. The politically mediated TRC fell woefully short and what The Mercury editorialised in succession over two days ( a historic occasion unprecedented I believe) shows this up.

How many of us remember the actor Mel Gibson utter anti-semite comments a while back and was publicly hauled over the coals for his drunken comment which lay latent in his mind until the lubrication of alcohol released the demon of bigotry?

Permit me to say that we,South Africans, need to sensitize  ourselves as well as journalists and media practitioners  for it is through this level that racial,ethnic,cultural and religious bigotry gains a foothold and becomes a catalyst for spreading the virus of bigotry.

I will say this as a professional in legal practice.Following the Paris outrage there are lessons to be learnt that freedom of expression is not an absolute right and needs to be curtailed.

If, as it is alleged, racial stuff was disseminated on line through Sunette Bridges Facebook page then legally she is vicariously responsible as case law suggests, so that is a poor excuse if ever I have read one that she has no control over what people post on her page. She is obliged to monitor her page and discourage this. I can vouchsafe at least two of my friends discouraged racial slurs against me, on their Facebook pages by actively removing that bigot from their page and apologizing to me. Human dignity cries out to be vindicated and so Sunette knows what should be done but this has to be done  freely and voluntarily with a sense of genuine contriteness.

We have to put the past behind us otherwise the fruits of our victory over apartheid is beginning to taste like ashes in our mouths.

I repeat what I said  to all my  countrymen and women. Never give up on yourself.Never judge others or adversely comment about them on the basis of their race,religion,creed or heritage and always forgive your enemies. Nelson Mandela did so and he showed us how. Lets get to know and understand each other, our diversity and find common values that we can enshrine in practice.

I know its hard, but its the only way, we will be able to set ourselves free and move forward truly informed by the enshrining principle of ubuntu.

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