They say that sticks and stones can break your bones (correct, they can) but words will never harm me (nonsense, it is will). Why the old children's rhythm in today's blog? A few reasons, we spoke often on this blog on the dangers of exploding your wrath onto Facebook and facing the legal consequences of being called a racist and worse.
But now it is taken further than that. I read that with the recent Sunnete Bridges (an Afrikaans singer & activist) v the South African Human Rights Commission case they now want you to deny as well. What it comes down to is this. If someone posts racist crap on you Facebook page or any other website under your control, you are expected to remove it or at least deny that you agree with the contents. What you cannot do, apparently, is to leave it there and allow everyone to attack each other in a highly personal and racist way.
Now I have not read the comments and am no great fan to begin with though I admire Sunnete for standing up in what she believes in. There are many things wrong in this country and the Afrikaner is under pressure if not downright being abused with affirmative action and the like. Mind you, I do like her dad's songs. No Afrikaner who was alive in the 1980s can claim he did not know oom Bles or did not sing along to his hits. Even today, after all these years "Ek sal by jou staan" brings good memories for me who rates loyalty very highly. Whether she is right or wrong the courts will decide but I will tell you this, you do not want such nonsense in your life. The Human Rights Commission is a powerful body and able to ruin you financially and they are on the prowl for this type of thing.
The law is neutral. Anyone bored enough to read my legal books will know I say so on every second page. What it comes down to is that the law can be used to your advantage (some say abused, not totally wrong) and must be used. If you do not stand on your rights as set out in the law you have only yourself to blame if the law then fails you. Take a simple example. Child or wife abuse (I should say spousal abuse since these days the "men" are abused too). If that abused one does not go to the police or to the court for assistance (both parties can help free of charge - read my book Satan's Touch) then how will the abuse come to an end? This is the classic example of the law being neutral, it does prohibit these actions (of abuse) but is not about to merge into a "legal super hero" to rescue you. No, you have to follow the procedures and do something yourself.
Hence my message is simple. Whatever your opinions on racism and making racist comments - do not allow such posts to stay on your timeline. I am lucky in that sense that I don't like Facebook much and have locked it down almost completely. I do not and will never (without permission) scratch around on someone else's Facebook pages. Why should I? I am really not that inquisitive and dare I say I am not that interesting either for anyone to have such a desire to see what I post. The public pages for my legal consultancy and books are something else, of course, they are meant for everyone to read. Here I mean your private page meant for friends and family. So be very careful and especially if you are overseas and think for some reason (it is not based on legal principles) that you are now safe to say what you please.
We often see this in South Africa. The ones who ran to Australia and New Zealand just cannot stop gloating about our troubles. They have to keep on reading about the old country (like the Pommies did during colonial rule) and have to keep on sprouting their racist crap. Listen to me, I don't want your nonsense on my sites and will delete it and block you. Besides that, you are not untouchable in law and will find no sympathy for such views in your new country. No matter how correct you may think you are, let it go. Rather take a hike in the mountains or the on the beaches of your new country. Leave us alone, we don't want your outdated ideas here. We have changed and moved on with life.
This got nothing to do with free speech by the way - we have free speech. It is guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. The new lot does not really understand it yet and hence you find instances of long haired liberals being fired or forced to resign (very enjoyable to me when that happens) because they became too critical. That is fine, it is not the end of freedom of speech but the beginning as the new lot will learn the hard way that a journalist is an obnoxious bastard to begin with. The entire Apartheid Security Structures (to use their own silly language of the day) could not keep them silent...do you think they will now turn turtle and sink into oblivion? Nah, no chance, I suspect the government and ruling party is going to learn that lesson in life the hard way.
What we are speaking off here is racism and hate speech and it is much more than just being critical of someone. However, the law is neutral, it goes both ways. If you feel aggrieved by what a black fellow said to you or about you - go to the Human Rights Commission. They will help you and they are independent. Make no mistake, the courts and the law are still very independent and not about to kow-tow to anyone. So it is not a one way street. Stand on your rights and don't be stupid. Lastly, I said this before but will do so again. Do not trust your mates around the braai (barbeque) to discuss your ridiculous plans to overthrow the government. There are only two crimes which must be reported by law - child abuse and high treason. That is how serious the law takes such discussions. Many before you tried and all have failed. They failed because their plans and ideas were reported to the authorities by their own so called mates. You have been warned.
Then on a lighter note, I heard Facebook was offline for an hour (no idea when, who cares?) and the good folk started calling 911 to ask when it will be back on. Now as funny as this sound it is not uncommon. I remember in my days in the police we were often called for nonsense. "Sergeant, my wife and I have a dispute; perhaps you can tell us the correct answer?" "Sergeant, do you know the answer to this cross word puzzle?" "Sergeant, please come here and frighten my child." The first few we laughed off and if in the mood, would adjudicate the matter. The last one evoked vicious responses. "Madam, we are not f ghosts. We don't frighten children but f terrorists and f criminals. Do not teach your child to be f afraid of us, one day he may need us, and will not call us because you taught him to be f scared of us." Yeah, that went down well. Enjoy your week.
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.