South Africa Ruling on 'Hate Speech'

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Jul 18 17:02:21 UTC 2003

>>From the New York Times, July 18, 2003

South Africa Panel Reverses Its Ruling on 'Hate Speech'


   JOHANNESBURG, July 17 The South African Human Rights Commission ruled
today that a slogan chanted at the funeral of an antiapartheid leader last
year, "Kill the Boer, kill the farmer," is hate speech and is not
constitutionally protected. The ruling reversed a previous finding that
the slogan, while reprehensible, was protected speech under the country's
post-apartheid Constitution.

Commissioner Karthy Govender told reporters today the commission had
concluded that "the calling for the killing of a group of people is an
advocacy of hatred, which must amount to harm." The Freedom Front, an
Afrikaner separatist group, brought the complaint last year after marchers
chanted the slogan at a meeting of the Youth League of the governing
African National Congress and at the funeral of Peter Mokaba, a militant
A.N.C. member of Parliament.

Television pictures of the funeral that showed marchers shouting, "Kill
the Boer, kill the farmer," caused an uproar last June. A.N.C. officials
at the event quickly put a stop to the chanting and party leaders have
disavowed the slogan. The ruling by the rights commission does not make
uttering the words illegal, but it creates the basis for civil litigation
against those who say them, which could result in monetary damages, an
apology or both.

Pete Uys, a spokesman for the Freedom Front, said the slogan has no place
in a democratic society. "We regard it as encouragement to commit murder,"
he said in a telephone interview. But Justine White, an expert in
communications law at the University of the Witswatersrand here, said the
ruling would have a chilling effect. "Given our history," she said, "I
think we need more speech, not less, even if it is of this kind."

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list