Intolerance is tainting our society
ONE OF the greatest freedoms bestowed upon us by our constitution is the freedom of expression. Today, more than two decades after our liberation from a racist oppression, it has almost become fashionable to take this and other freedoms for granted.
The freedom of expression is accompanied by the freedom of association and the freedom of belief.
They are an important trifecta forged in the cauldron of the Struggle against apartheid where all of those were denied by the Nationalist government, desperate to prevent any challenge to their regime.
People couldn’t believe what they liked, and they certainly couldn’t say what they believed for fear of being prosecuted and jailed.
Many countries in Africa, tragically, are still like this. We are not. We stand like a beacon for Africa and the world, where we can say what we like and believe what we want.
This freedom is constrained by the rights of others not to be harmed. The beliefs we hold may not incite racial hatred, and they certainly may not provoke war.
We can call on our president to step down. We can say he is corrupt. Equally, we can stand up for the president, we can argue his innocence.
The one thing we cannot do is prevent people from speaking, either through intimidation or violence.
SACP leader Solly Mapaila faced Umkhonto weSizwe veterans protesting outside his home this week, threatening him for the stance he has taken against President Jacob Zuma.
ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza has asked her party’s chief whip for security after receiving death threats – allegedly from elements within the ANC Youth League.
How far have we, as a society, fallen when debate and dissent are not even tolerated among members of the same party, of the same famous tripartite alliance that once liberated this country and then governed it for the past 23 years?
Those making the threats should be ashamed of themselves.
They besmirch the legacy of patriots who were prepared to die for the freedoms they deny others.
Most of all, though, they should be prosecuted and jailed, because they’re breaking the law.