‘You can go to jail for 3 years if you say all politicians are thieving liars’
TMG Digital | 2017-01-31 11:19:04.0
Free Market Foundation executive director Leon Louw. Photo file.
The Free Market Foundation says petty insults are turned into crimes punishable by jail time under the proposed Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
“Saying‚ ‘All politicians are thieving liars’ or ‘All lawyers are blood-sucking parasites’‚ may land you in jail for up to three years if the proposed Bill is passed into law‚” the NGO says.
“If enacted‚ South Africa will become one of the few countries in the world where freedom of expression is regulated to this draconian extent especially as‚ contrary to international practice‚ the Bill provides for no exemptions or defences.” Hate speech is speech which is likely to lead to violence or which causes the aggrieved party intense psychological or emotional harm. However‚ in a submission to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development ahead of the 31 January deadline‚ the Free Market Foundation argues that the Bill is far too wide‚ that much of the content is unconstitutional and‚ inevitably‚ will lead to successful constitutional challenge.
The FMF submission highlights four critical areas which it recommends should be scrapped or amended‚ points out that existing legislation does the same job‚ and that new legislation is not required or desired.
The Equality Act prohibits hate speech‚ and the Films and Publications Act empowers the Films and Publications Board to refuse classification to publications which contain hate speech. The FMF said doctrine of crimen injuria has been used to prosecute cases of hate speech‚ most notably the recent case of Penny Sparrow‚ and is superior to the proposed Bill because‚ unlike the Bill‚ it requires someone’s dignity to have been violated – and – that the reasonable person‚ in the same circumstances‚ would also have felt degraded.
The FMF’s submission on the Hate Speech Bill can be read here.