Fight bigotry with reason, not suppression
rapid social change make for a dangerous combination. The internet also allows all kinds of vile creatures to slither into your inbox.
The most recent one was a collec- tion of farm-murder photographs round-robinned by an educated man who presumably believes he is performing a useful social function. If the intention was to evoke fear and anger, in that he succeeds.
These are scenes of almost unbelievable violence. A sharpened broomstick is stuck up a vagina; a child is bludgeoned to death; and a young woman is disembowelled and hung by her heels from a meat hook.
The text rages against a media and government that deny the truth about crime. It talks of Afrikaner genocide, a political war to drive white farmers from the land, and it links to websites that are virulently anti-ANC, registered to the tiny island of Nauru in order to hide the identities of their operators.
The websites, including one lob- bying against the World Cup next year, have been repeatedly targeted by hackers. The assumption of many is that such cyber attacks are the work of South African government agents.
A week ago, the identity of the owner of ZASucks.com was revealed when police arrested him in a dawn raid. Albert Oosthuizen’s site claims its mission is “to bring news to the outside world of the crap that has become of SA”.
Oosthuizen was held overnight and released without charge after the prosecutor reportedly refused to pursue a 1993 fraud charge against him. ZASucks is now offline, Oosthuizen appears to have disappeared, and the local media is curiously disinterested in a contretemps that goes to the heart of freedom of expression.
At issue is what tolerance should be accorded to those who patently distort statistics and events to stir up emotions and to serve a political agenda most people find reprehensible. The answer is actually easy: every bit we can muster.
As ANC Youth Leaguer Julius Malema demonstrates, hate speech and venom are not the preserve of the right. Bigotry is best fought not by suppression but with reason.
Sure, whites are cruelly murdered by psychologically sick people and, in some cases, this is fuelled by racial hatred and the desire to drive whites off the land. There also must be many more pictures of black people similarly tortured and cruelly murdered, and their suffering changes the story somewhat.
The other side of the story tells of tens of millions of people who don’t behave this way, despite grinding poverty and harsh conditions. That side of the story argues that the best hope for a traumatised South Africa lies in development that delivers better lives and the gradual normalisation of a violence-plagued society.
The World Cup will help in a small way. So, too, would clarity on the strange events surrounding Oosthuizen and his activities.