WHAT HATE SPEECH IS NOT
This will be a very simple and straight to the point kind of article.
Considering that this Blog is essentially a life class module we will delve into something that is a bit discordant even though it affects all who are Nigerians reading this.
The most important resource on earth is the human resource. As difficult as it is to deal with many human beings anyone who has a passion for and has worked in the field of human resource management and capacity building for any length of time will acquiesce to the fact that the most fulfilling thing on earth is making deposits in people and seeing them come good.
It is knowing you have actually been instrumental in the transformation of another individual.
I have been involved professionally in human resource development for at least 15 years and I have had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people from all kinds of backgrounds. There are difficult ones, but there are many more good people. In fact, I can authoritatively state that there are good people from everywhere.
I have personally witnessed them.
For this reason I find people who are bigoted very parochial. Having grown up in the South-West Nigerian mega city of Lagos I have a lot of Yoruba friends and know a good proportion of Muslims, including from the North of Nigeria, although I am indigenously Igbo and a Christian from the South-East of Nigeria.
Understanding what I know now about the average human being I consider
anyone who judges a person on the basis of what he cannot change a malevolent and divisive bigot.
No decent or reasonable person castigates a person over what he or she cannot change.
It is for this reason that the most myopic and disgusting people are racists, tribalists, misogynists and the like.
All those that use social stratification and differences in social phenomena to quell their insecurities by claiming false superiority are the most base of humanity.
YOU DO NOT JUDGE OR CONDEMN ANYONE, ESPECIALLY OVER WHAT A PERSON CANNOT CHANGE…
And these include Race, Tribe, Gender, Physical Deformities and so on.
Although I have not added religion or “sexual orientation” to that list I believe nobody has the right to condemn anyone else over anything at all, including the aforementioned two.
But the reason I have not put them in the category above is not because people should be condemned for either of them but because I believe religion and sexual orientation are both personal choices (I know some will not agree with me and if a person feels a homosexual urge or other form of sexual perversion like sexual attractions to children, animals or corpses it is pure perversion and can be handled should they choose to have it handled) and a person can change either.
I will get back to the above later.
Having pointed out my disdain for those who are critical of others for the sake of it, and those who antagonize others over what they cannot change I want to make a very clear point here- I do criticise.
But what I criticise is institutions.
Unfortunately there are those who think it is hate speech to do so.
On his return from an extended medical leave in the United Kingdom the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, was rushed on set to read the Riot Act to millions of Nigerians who eagerly waited some sort of communication from their President. He came on and true to script (the script of some individuals and not the script of the masses) admonished Nigerians to toe the path of unity and promised that those who questioned this path would be summarily dealt with.
He understandably said Nigeria’s unity was non-negotiable.
No reasonable Nigerian would expect him to say anything less, but considering the intensity of the acrimonious tide that has bathed the country thus far it would have been advisable to have drawn a distinction between “negotiable” and “debatable”.
The Federal Government seems to have placed a blanket ban on any sort of speech that is critical to the government of the country as well as anything it views to be even remotely inimical to the unity of the country.
There are some who also share the view that any sort of criticism (whether constructive or destructive) against the government or against any institution is “hate speech”.
I earlier said I criticize institutions.
Institutions do not mean only government. Let me explain.
I criticise the contradictions and extremist tendencies of religions when they put people’s lives or their way of life at risk, for instance like some elements in Islam, but I acknowledge there are many very good people who are Muslims.
I will NEVER condemn anyone merely for the faith he chooses to practice, particularly when it does not affect the liberties of others.
I support people’s rights to their actions (as long as they harm no other person) although I may not support some of those actions. For instance, while I respect people’s rights to their sexual preference and will never condemn anyone on that basis I still will never support any such lifestyle.
Anyone has the right to find his/her sexual satisfaction in anything as long as it does not disturb another.
I will not begrudge you that right although I am convinced it is NOT a right but a wrong.
Just because it might be legal doesn’t make it moral.
I believe there is a moral code put in the conscience of every human being to guide him in the right direction.
Borrowing a leaf from God I respect people’s rights to their lifestyles although I might not approve of that lifestyle.
A person has a right to be an atheist or freethinker, a homosexual or bisexual, or any other thing they might want but I also have a right not to support that lifestyle.
Like I said earlier, God respects people’s rights and this is why He will not impose Himself on anyone. He wants everyone to know Him and willingly follow Him and although He knows not everyone will He still will not compel anyone to.
But the fact that He will allow people make up their minds to go to hell if they choose to does not mean He supports or endorses anyone going to hell. It is not His wish. But be that as it may it is still the way He works.
I like that style and have adopted it.
I will love people the way God loves them and always strive to make a distinction between the act and the actor.
My reservations and dislike are channelled towards institutions, lifestyles and systems, NEVER towards people.
I criticise atheism because it is a godless and soulless contraption that will spawn more tinder for hell. Although I consider that they are deluded and blind to the Truth I still love atheists and it is my desire to do what I can to help deliver them from the fires of perdition.
I love humanity, but I hate all things that attempt to deride and pervert humanity.
I hate oppression, injustice, deception, perversion, nepotism, inequity and all the evils I have elucidated above.
Especially when they are institutionalized.
I will speak against them.
That is NOT hate speech….
I will speak about and demand better conditions of living and the need for everyone to come together and have a meeting to arrive at a unanimous decision for our collective destiny.
That is not hate speech.
I read a beautiful article by one Tayo Oke in a Nigerian daily (Punch Newspapers. September 5th, 2017) and I will put up some excerpts from it-
“The ruling elites in this country, with the quiescence of the mainstream media, fearful of the rising tide of demand for devolution of powers, have done the law-abiding citizens of this great country a great disservice by conflating legitimate political agitation, and ‘hate speech’…the Ministry of Information and Culture has since been airing advertisements on the horrors of ‘hate speech’…the premise upon which this benevolent ‘public information’ effort is based is seriously flawed, and is potentially dangerous. It is like a landlord who chooses to evict (rather than talk to) a recalcitrant tenant loaded with a gallon of petrol and a match in his hand.
What happens next to that house does not even bear thinking about for all concerned…..
Nigeria’s nationality question is not one of territory, but one of governability. It will remain (so) until it is resolved through a Sovereign National Conference of all ethnic affiliations, at the end of which the people would have spoken.
That said, I am conscious of the fact that although it may well be shared by millions of others in the country, this is only one person’s view being set out here.
It is equally important to acknowledge the fact that there may well be other equally large number of people with an interest in maintaining the status quo under the guise of ‘protecting Nigeria’s unity’. Others, still may wish to recreate their own latter day version of the Berlin Conference (the partitioning and slicing up of Nigeria into independent entities) here and now. If this is so, we need to hear the argument in either of these directions so it can be debunked. We cannot maintain Nigeria’s unity by stifling the voices of dissent, and hiding behind the nebulous epithet of ‘hate speech’…When a speech challenges authority and the status quo we baulk and sniff at its audacity and ‘divisiveness’. Why? Because that takes us into the realm of power and politics; the exclusive preserve of the ruling elites, or, so they think…
Contestation of ideas and controversy over who gets what, where and when do not amount to ‘hate speech’; it is the bread and butter of modern democratic politics. By putting a blanket ban on ‘hate speech’, the Nigerian establishment may be gathering for dinner on a powder keg. Apart from that, there is no gainsaying that any attempt to silence dissent would simply drive it underground. The police and other security agencies have been ordered to be on the lookout for perpetrators of ‘hate speech’…
For those who wish to use this to muzzle the quest for devolution of power in this country, I only wish they would heed Victor Hugo’s timeless aphorism: ‘There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.’”