exploring issues related to the constitution, democracy & the south african jewish community
In this article Joshua Hovsha explores how our historical and political backgrounds determine our response to freedom of expression and our approach to hate speech.
The past is never dead. It’s not even past. – William Faulkner
“Penny Sparrow has written more legislation than I ever will.” A friend and prominent member of civil society jested the other week. We were working through the latest draft of the Hate Crimes Bill. A Bill which has taken ten years to reach parliament. A Bill which has become contentious after very broad hate speech provisions were added. Provisions only added after Penny Sparrow’s racist comments elicited unprecedented outrage in January 2016.
The public outcry following Sparrow’s racist remarks has become a turning point in our political discourse, along with university protests, calls for land expropriation, and daily debates over who can lay claim to the experience of racism and persecution.
"... two and a half decades into democratic rule South African Jews find themselves uncertain over how to approach a long history of persecution coupled with a recent history of privilege."
Frustration is often expressed in terms of perceived double standards over who is charged and who is not. Harsh sentences against some may allow for temporary satisfaction. These punishments will not in and of themselves redress the wrong committed against other victims, nor will they fix the societal ills of racism and discrimination.