It’s A Fine Line is Press Freedom

The recent events in Paris, France, have left everyone staggering with horror. The barbaric slaughter of cartoonists and other staff as well as police personnel and civilians in the name of religion doesn’t wash with me.

I am totally against violence. I am against religious extremism or fundamentalism. I am against intolerance of other’s right to hold views and subsequent retaliations based on that intolerance.

Freedom of the press is crucial to any democracy, censorship breeds contempt and smacks of political interference.

We have here in South Africa ‘Hate Speech’ caveats. It is a fine line between holding differing views to incitement and hate speech. Hate Speech is inciteful, inflammatory, derogatory and threatening, it can be the instigator of violence against groupings of people based on intolerance, narrow-mindedness and absolute ignorance.

The world as we know it has changed dramatically over the decades. 9/11 marked a turning point. The West’s foreign policy, especially that of Republican led America, has done more harm than good. Wars have not been fought, won or lost on tanks, aircraft carriers and bombs for some time – it is a technologically strategic and individualised war we are now being confronted with. War is no longer just about killing the ‘enemy’s’ army personnel, it is now about killing civilians and groups of people who disagree with us.

There are many issues in this world we do not all support. Everyone’s religion is personal. Many do not believe in organised religion and follow other more esoteric faiths.

I believe we all have the right to write our views, to express ourselves, but do we have the right to continually incite other groupings or faiths via what we write? Do we not take cogniscence of this changing stage we all play on, that the chips are different now, the opportunity for innocent death is greater because of our actions? The possible consequences to some from the actions of a few in this new world can be catastrophic. Is it a time to take ten paces back, take a deep breath, retain your conviction or sense of humour but expand your vision of the possible ramifications?

If one is aware that what we are reporting, has been declared excessive and inflammatory to the highest degree – whether we agree or not – is it sensible to continue to antagonise communities that have expressed violent outrage? I am not talking about the odd article here, I am talking about high profile, on-going and ;inciteful coverage.

We have seen this Hate Speech concept upheld in the new South Africa, where so much ignorant expression from the hideous past needed to be eliminated due to its insulting and derogatory nature and revolting and despicable insinuations.

Yes we have the right to press freedoms; expression of our opinions and views…. but sometimes in this changed world, should we not ask, when the bush is burning, at what cost and to whom ?

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4 thoughts on “It’s A Fine Line is Press Freedom

  1. You ask such an important question: “but do we have the right to continually incite other groupings or faiths via what we write?’ I am a strong believer in free-speech, and my distant past of journalism preached this…but there has to be some accountability and commonsense. Agree with you…sometimes I think we just have to ask “Why?”

    • Hi I completely agree with you. There has to be accountability and common sense. Walking the world today is like walking through a mine field of wire traps….some thought is required before you put your foot down.

  2. You can certainly see your expertise within the article you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to
    mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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