No Place for Hateful Racist Chant in South Africa Today

Cape Times (South Africa), September 15, 2011 | Go to article overview
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No Place for Hateful Racist Chant in South Africa Today


The furore that has erupted in the wake of Judge Lamont's finding that Shoot the Boer is hate speech has again divided us, and further polarised our public discourse.

He stated that how words were understood was far more important that what those uttering them meant.

The ANC's response via Jesse Duarte has been disappointing, to say the least. She argued about context; that these songs were sung hymnfully at funerals, and are an inalienable part of the history of the movement. Your commentator, Mathatha Tsedu, in a piece headlined "We are barred from remembering our history by Judge Lamont's decision", utters the same arguments about context, but with considerably less finesse. He also talks of context, and how singing such songs as a comfort during solitary confinement helped him get through.

Tsedu states that "songs create moods, they infuse energy, depending on what kind of energy you need".

I submit that perhaps he and Judge Lamont actually agree more than they realise. Tsedu claims that this ruling "defines or struggle heritage as hate speech" and that "we are now barred from remembering". This is nonsense as only this song has been declared hate speech, one of more than 2 000, according to Duarte.

But the point that Tsedu and Duarte miss is that these historical arguments were presented to the judge, and that his finding was that the case against Malema involved these songs being chanted and not sung, and aired in public spaces with precisely the intent to "create the energy you need".

Therefore, the court considered context, and found that it had changed.

It's a mischief on the part of these defenders to cite the hymn and remembrance arguments when this is not at all how the song has been adopted by the ANCYL; context therefore indeed is all important.

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No Place for Hateful Racist Chant in South Africa Today
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