Comment by Marius Roodt, head of campaigns at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) at a briefing today co-hosted with AfriForum on why the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, 13 February 2019
The IRR believes that there should be no limits on what you are allowed to say or think except where such ideas threaten physical harm against another person.
It is dangerous that South Africa has imported from abroad a culture that seeks to protect people from things they don’t like to hear and savaging any person who holds an opinion that goes against the prevailing view.
This often leads to a situation where a small group of politicians, activists and journalists effectively decide what you are allowed to say or think.
We at the IRR advocate against all threats to freedom of speech and all attempts to force ‘group-think’ in business, academia, the media, civil society, and politics. A diversity of views is important, and all should be heard, including those that may offend others.
We must remember that offense is largely subjective. For example, many Christians would be offended if one questioned their belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Although such a statement will cause offence to some (even most) Christians, should it be banned? Our answer is no.