I've just returned from a month in Europe. It's been about fifteen years since I spent such a long period away from my adopted country and I mention it for two reasons. Firstly it gave me a brief opportunity to experience firsthand what is happening there and secondly it afforded me a more dispassionate view of what is going on in South Africa. There are some uncomfortable similarities.
The first thing you notice when you visit London are the cameras. The place has become positively Orwellian. There are cameras on street lights, on railway stations, in railway carriages, in restaurants, banks, shops and on the sides of most buildings. There was even a camera in the gents toilet at Bank underground station but it was a rather cold day and I'm not expecting a call from Brett Murray.
The official reason for the cameras is to catch criminals but one can't help feeling that there are other, more sinister, reasons for cameras to be so widespread. Maybe the Leveson inquiry into media phone hacking has made me cynical but all those cameras make it very easy to invade someone's privacy and even fabricate evidence against a political or business enemy with a bit of skilful editing.
Political correctness was first identified back in the early 1990's in the UK. In those days it was seen as a joke and The Politically Correct Handbook sold well and way back then defined a "racist" as someone who disagrees with your point of view. In 2012 political correctness has got out of hand with the police terrified to arrest non white criminals for fear of being labelled racist by the media. The word "coloured" is now racist with black being the preferred term.
It has become very dangerous to even make a joke in public because anything that could be deemed offensive and insulting to someone could constitute an offence under section 5 of The Public Order Act 1986. An Oxford undergraduate was thrown into a police cell for a night for saying to a mounted policeman "Excuse me, but do you know that your horse is gay".
I'm not sure whether it was the horse or the police officer that was offended in this case but it does demonstrate a massive sense of humour failure on the part of the constabulary. Or worse, an opportunity for a policeman to show who is in charge by abusing a stupid law. There is currently a lobby to amend section 5 of the act which reads thus:
‘A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.'
This is an open invitation for every leftie malcontent with a grudge to take offence at the slightest thing. It virtually outlaws stand-up comedians because something they say during a show is bound to offend somebody in the audience. How long before the law forbids the sale of Fawlty Towers DVD's I wonder? England, once noted for its fearless satire has become a dour and humourless place.
South Africa has no great tradition of satire or humour thanks to a long history of pompous politcians who take themselves far too seriously. While they may pay lip service to the idea of freedom of speech our newspaper editors clearly don't practice what they preach. Who can blame them?
Most of them are politically embedded to a greater or lesser degree and know that they will only reach retirement unscathed if they play by the new rules. Those rules are very simple. Anybody who constantly criticises the ANC is automatically labeled a racist which immediately silences debate. With the critics silenced the ANC are free to get on with their plundering. From time to time the newspapers will splash a story all over their front pages exposing some crook or other but one increasingly gets the uncomfortable feeling that these "exposes" have been pre-approved by the ANC.
This would have the dual benefit of giving the gullible public the impression that our newspapers are feisty and independent while, at the same time, removing people the ANC no longer deem worthy of having their snouts in the trough. It is a known fact that certain opinions are banned in our newspapers and on our talk radio shows. Or, more precisely, not tolerated which amounts to the same thing. What those opinions are we will never know because they are banned so how can the SA media claim with a straight face to believe in freedom of expression?
A more sinister development though is the encouragement of white self loathing by, paradoxically, whites. Imagine Steve Biko preaching a similar message. Dr Samantha Vice, who lectures at that beacon of academic excellence Rhodes, suggested that whites should feel shame and guilt about their skin colour.
"(Whites)... would try, in a significantly different way to the normal workings of whiteliness, to make themselves invisible and unheard, concentrating rather on those damaged selves... One would live as quietly and decently as possible, refraining from airing one's view on the political situation in the public realm, realizing that it is not one's place to offer diagnoses and analyses, that blacks must be left to remake the country in their own way. Whites have too long had influence and a public voice; now they should in humility step back from expressing their thoughts or managing others."
Imagine the delight the ANC must have experienced when they read this. If the Vice Squad have their way whites will no longer have a political voice in South Africa. That's because they must acknowledge that they are worthless individuals and have no opinions worth listening to. Whoa Samantha.....is creating a new underclass such a good idea? Do you not think it might lead to a bit of resentment, particularly as these vile whiteys you loath so much make up a fair percentage of the dwindling army of tax payers?
While the UK starts to wake up to the idiocy of political correctness South Africa appears to be moving in the opposite direction. The debate on the internet following the appearance of Samantha Vice's potty outpourings may have been robust but the white self loathing message is now out there and to dismiss it marks you as a racist.
The loonier elements of left wing journalism and academia now control what we are allowed to read, say and think but they refuse to debate issues in public because they know they will be exposed for the charlatans they are. How this country can possibly prosper with a new wedge driven between black and white South Africans only the likes of Samantha Vice can know.
David Bullard can be followed on Twitter here.
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