Active Citizenship – Is our right of speech zensored by modern-day pillory?

This post is about a volunteer who tried to find an emergency foster home for a child in need and got negative reports in national newspapers instead.

This morning, before taking our kids a bit out into nature, we sat in Wimpy (a south African franchise serving excellent coffee and breakfasts) reading a newspaper this morning, or at least trying to, while keeping the kids relatively behaved.

I was shocked, to say the least,  to read an article in the Saturday Star how one persons facebook post about requesting a save place for a child in need makes (negative) front page news.

It’s definitely safer to only post about your lunch and share photos of kittens on facebook. This world is spinning out of control and if you call a spade a spade you get publicly displayed as evil? It scares me. Who is with me that we need to make sure the right of freedom of speech stays protected as long as we are not calling ourselves a dictatorship?

Here’s the low down:

The Children’s Act states that if a child needs to be placed in a save place outside their own home the court must consider a report by a
designated social worker about—
(a)
the cultural, religious and linguistic background of the child; and
(b)
the availability of a suitable person with a similar background to that
of the child who is willing and able to provide foster care to the child.
(2) A child may be placed in the foster care of a person from a different
cultural, religious and linguistic background to that of the child, but only
if—
(a)
there is an existing bond between that person and the child; or
(b)
a suitable and willing person with a similar background is not readily
available to provide foster care to the child
also the Children’s Act states that if the child needs to be cared for by non-relatives, the caregiver must preferably be of similar ethnic and cultural background.

This is a HUMAN RIGHT in South Africa.

Diversity is important. Exposing children to a multicultural environment is an important part of education. In time of trauma, however, what a child needs most is stability, not a new challenge.

If an Hindu child needs a safe place, it would be kind not to place her in an environment where there’s nobody speaking her language and on top of being taken away from a familiar environment she would have to deal with a different culture.

IMG_20130505_00203229
Should have rather posted a puppy picture instead of asking for a safe place for a child in need …


So if a volunteer linked to a Helping Hand Organisation (but not even the organization themselves) posts the request by a mother in need for an Afrikaans child to be placed in an Afrikaans safe place, is that according to our laws? Definately. You can find the Child’s act at http://www.dsd.gov.za/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=++%0D9&Ite

Now tell me, why do I read in the Saturday Star there is a “National Outcry” because this volunteer has exercised her right of speech and did just that, asked for a save place where there would be people who speak the language of a six year old girl in need?

Do we deserve to have our facebook requests posted in the news to scare the public to not speak their mind lest the same happens to them? Just asking?

Only if we do not take the time to study our nations laws and exercise our rights will we feel victimized and helpless. Passivity leads to depression. I’d rather go down fighting for what’s right then to sit and mope about what’s all not the way it should be.

When a whole nation came together for peace-prayers and started to courageously call out “We ARE the people”, the communist dictatorship in East Germany quietly packed their bags. What an exciting time that was in my life!

I have seen a communist nation regain it’s freedom because almost every single citizen chose to lift their voices, peacefully, and in the end prayer meetings in every town and village were attended by virtually everyone.

The communist system in East Germany was brought down by the millions of feet of the little people.

East Germans told their government: Hey, We ARE the people, not the enemy!

I am every Sunday amazed at how the City Press is publishing tweets of whoever does not obey the rules of political correctness.It sure feels like modern day pillory. Do not speak your mind too loudly, they might publish your name, picture and email address in the Sunday Paper!

I used to think the press was there to keep the government accountable, not to make sure the people all speak newspeak.

Zama Khumalo, 24, told his 493 friends on the social website he would send out an invitation to a “Big Black Braai” to celebrate the deaths of 42 white children when their school bus plunged into Westdene dam, Johannesburg, on 27 March 1985.

This is a country of Human Rights. There must be an outcry when a journalist uses facebook to invite people to a BBQ to celebrate the death of a busload of school children, yes.

But for someone to look for an appropriate foster home in an emergency situation to be nailed as “having the nerve” to ask for an ethnic and linguistic appropriate care giver in accordance to the South African Children’s act, that needs a public outcry of a different sort: Protect our rights of speech.

I do not know if facebook was actually designed to make it easier for the clandestine services of governments to keep an eye on what people are saying or doing. Maybe it is better to use it to publish pictures of our pets. There is no guideline saying: Please do not post anything emotionally charged, the press might judge you about it. Nationally.

All I am trying to say, the scale seems to be tipping dangerously creating a society in which we all speak hushedly and common sense diminishes. Please friends, do not let that happen.

All South Africans fare better when people, in a friendly way, keep reminding the government that they answer to the people and not the other way around.

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5 thoughts on “Active Citizenship – Is our right of speech zensored by modern-day pillory?”

  1. For a long time I have posted blogs deploring some of the things happening here in South Africa. It seems to me that if you are White, Afrikaans or belong to any other political party than the ANC then no matter what you say or try do there will always be a backlash that you are racist or trying to undermine the government.
    I cant see any reason why anybody should have a problem with trying to place a child in an environment that they would be comfortable with. While the child is small it may not seem to be a problem but when they get older there are tons of problems that suddenly pop out of the woodwork.
    I agree with the comment that the press keeps highlighting the petty things and “forgetting” the big things that really count. But if you keep the race card in the news it keeps the uninformed voters from voting for anything other than the ANC.
    The training camps here in SA were mentioned some time ago as well as a consignment of firearms (in a container) that was delivered to a farm in the Free State (Schmidtsdrift area), this was suddenly pulled from the news and nothing more was heard of who got the firearms.

    1. As long as people huddle in their individual little comfort zones nothing much will change. We are actively involved in our community, my husband heads the “moral regeneration forum” of our local municipality, having been elected chairperson although he is the only white on the forum. We have to write letters to editors and also use our rights of speech. Silence means quiet agreement. I am trying to encourage the people in my circles to stay involved and to educate the public …

  2. From my limited perspective and experience of South Africa, there seem to be a lot bigger, more important issues for the press to cover than one person’s Facebook post. Like public schools without libraries, computers, or heat. Once the important issues are all resolved, then the press can get petty.

  3. kudos for writing this. In Australia we just put down, not without making a LOT of noise, an attempt to make speaking about religious or political views in the workplace illegal. The world is on a knife edge. In the West we have become slaves to P.C, as it segregates society through gender, rich, poor et.al, it has become a terrible master. It is disappointing that Africa seems to be following that.

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