The folly of our hate speech laws was demonstrated by recent court cases against Julius Malema, for threats and insults, and Jon Qwelane for condemning homosexuality. In both cases the hate laws have only stirred up animosity and given publicity to the accused.

Julius Malema has gifts of showmanship and political organisation. Otherwise he is a tedious figure with nothing original to say or offer. He adorns his body alternatively in the battledress of a toy soldier or in expensive European clothes and Gucci accessories. He thrives on the publicity from his loud and outrageous statements against other people and races. Mainly he should be ignored. If he does explicitly incite people to violence against named targets, he should be charged under common law.

The case of Jon Qwelane is more pertinent. It has come up before various courts in the past twelve years and has now come up in the Constitutional Court. Qwelane is one of our few interesting journalists and never shies away from controversy. In 2008, in the Sunday Sun, he wrote an article entitled “Call me names, but gay is NOT okay”. It condemned homosexuality but did not incite violence against homosexual people. It compared intercourse between people of the same sex with intercourse between humans and animals. My own feelings on homosexuality are clear, and are the same as those of most people in most ages: it’s a fact of life, accept it. We must give full legal rights to homosexual union. But we must allow free speech on the matter.

I find the term “gay” offensive. It seems to mock homosexuality and suggest there is something frivolous about it. (It also robs us of a nice word meaning “cheerful” or “lighthearted”, so that when we use it in this way there are sniggers.) The problem with the word I use instead, “homosexual”, is that is it clumsy and contrived. This is because it was only invented in the 19th Century. Before then there was no word for a homosexual person, and this is because nobody bothered about homosexuality. Nobody cared whether you had sexual intercourse with a man or a woman. Armies down the ages, from Alexander’s Greeks to Hitler’s Nazis, were rife with homosexuality, often openly displayed, and nobody cared. This is not because ancient people were always tolerant; they were fiercely intolerant towards certain minorities, including left-handed people, who were branded as “sinistra”.

You can comb the four gospels of Jesus and you will find no mention of homosexuality. Jesus didn’t care. He had more important things to deal with. Paul did, but Paul was not the Messiah. (I am an atheist, and can be objective about this.) For most of history, homophobia was unknown. But there were times, for mysterious reasons, where it flared up. The 19th and 20th centuries were such. I don’t know why. Today in Islamic countries and in some African countries, homosexuality is illegal and may carry the death penalty.

Qwelane’s article was said to be “hurtful”. But if it were illegal to write or say anything that might hurt certain people, almost everything would be illegal, including jokes, plays, articles, novels, and histories. Consider a shy, trembling little girl who is bullied at school. If you said in public that she was “fat and ugly”, it would cause her incomparably deeper hurt than anything Qwelane said about anybody. It might even kill the little girl; it might lead her into some eating disorder that could end her young life. But I can’t see that it should be illegal to call anybody fat and ugly. There is a far more effective deterrent than the law against making such hurtful comment, and that is social censure. Humans are desperate for approval, and if you called a little girl fat and ugly, you would be annihilated with disapproval. You would be stigmatised for life, a punishment worse than any court’s decision.

Qwelane’s hate speech case reached Concourt last month. His advocate, Mark Oppenheimer, said that under the hate speech laws the Bible would be banned because of its violence and bigotry. True. The Bible, by far the most influential book ever written, is filled with bloodshed, prejudice, vengeance and sin. It is also, in the King James version, a literary masterpiece.

The hate speech laws should be removed from our statutes. The common law will deal with real crimes of speech, and social disapproval will stop most hurtful words in public. I don’t condemn Qwelane for anything he has written or said about homosexuality. I’m just puzzled and curious. I’d like to ask him why it bothers him so much that some people are attracted to their own sex. So what? What harm does it do to you, Jon?

Private Eye, the UK satirical magazine, wrote fictitious letters by Margaret Thatcher’s husband, Denis, to “Dear Bill”. Denis expressed his views on other people’s sexual preferences like this: “What a man does with his wedding tackle is his own affair.”  My sentiments exactly.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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Image by Michael de Groot from Pixabay

3 COMMENTS

  1. When it comes to hate speech, I’m a sticks and stones kind of person. If toddlers can learn how to cope with being called offensive names, certainly adults should set an even better example.

    Julius Malema is very clearly guilty of hate speech and in effect calls for genocide with his obtuse statements. Should he get away with this? Legally speaking, yes. If someone is a racist, like Julius Malema appears to be given that he is guilty of hate speech, or if someone is a homophobe, then those fools should be given enough rope. Thin of it as a public service: We want to know where those cretins are, who they are, and what is on their minds.

  2. The LGBT movement will brook no dissent. For ever it was accepted that ideal human bonding was a man and a woman. Sure there were dissenters who found attraction to the other sex but they did not want overthrow the normative consensus. Now if anyone anywhere dares to stand up for traditional family values he or she is persecuted by the LGBT lobby. They have become the intolerant ones. They are guilty of trying to force us to change the way we think and what we believe. They are no satisfied with their legal victory in their right to marry . They want more. They want to make us endorse this right and to bend a knee to homosexuality. This is a very dangerous path as it entails an attempt to force people to go against their very conscience and beliefs.

    • Letting consenting adults enter into legal contracts like a marriage should not be a contentious issue. LGBTQTPI people should be allowed to commit the same legal blunders with state involvement as the rest of us. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you have to support LGBTQTPI lifestyles, but you may be surprised to know that there are many – if not most – gay people who are actually also fond of traditional family values. Think of Dave Rubin and Douglas Murray, to name two.

      That being said, I hear you when it comes to S&M kind of parades in public in plain view of kids, or pushing the ‘tranny story time’ narrative. I’m opposed to this, as are gay people with traditional family values and morals. This is not because I am squeamish, or because I have something against trans people. As someone of a plain vanilla gender persuasion. I think it’s just as inappropriate for trans people to discuss their bedroom habits with children as it would be for me to do so. It is similarly just as inappropriate for me to parade around in ass-less chaps (or whatever they are called) in public in front of kids, foaming at the mouth from lust, or for anyone to have a softcore porn heavy petting session in the public isles of an aeroplane, in my view, regardless of gender persuasions.

      Just keep in mind that the LGBT lobby has got very little to do with addressing the concerns of actual LGBT people. The massive controversy around J K Rowling’s statements around gender, which are so bluntly obvious that even a lefty like herself can grasp it, shows this quite clearly. The LGBT lobby does not speak for actual LGBTQTPI people, and in fact cares very little for anyone.

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