Dear (conveniently anonymous by being a group) Grocott’s Mail editorial board,
I can only assume that publishing a letter that advocates hatred and violence based on race and following it with an academic piece [editorial]that describes the subtleties of what you can and can’t be sued for goes under the banner of ethical journalism in your minds.
I’m happy that you feel safe from being sued. I’m less happy that you thought it in the town’s best interests to publish Kota’s quoted (perhaps – as there are no quotation marks) words extolling violence as a necessity for cleansing society, along with his claim that white supremacists pose as liberals. Your choice to redact names while protecting those individuals makes the generalised comment even more generic for want of the examples cited.
The cap (of a white supremacist disguised as a liberal) doesn’t fit – so I won’t wear it, but I’m quite sure that sentiments like these will do nothing but fuel hatred, discrimination and, yes, perhaps violence.
Are you really claiming, editors, that because someone encourages broadscale violence of the cleansing type (genocide, some might say) rather than targeting specific individuals to be violent against, that excludes their words from being classified as hate speech? Doesn’t seem like the spirit of the law to me. Furthermore, defending Kota’s (in my view arguable) constitutional right to say such inflammatory things is not the same as you publishing them to see exactly how far you can spread the damage.
As you pointed out, people of many races and ethnicities have put an inordinate amount of time, energy and soul into working for a just, non-racial, free and fair Makhanda. The work towards a “civic-led alternative to the current … political culture”, as you call it, is a drop in the ocean of that work.
Thanks for doing what you could to undermine all that by choosing to publish what, by your admission, was at best “unsubstantiated allegations of ‘white supremacism’” at worst, a startling example of hate speech.
It’s an interesting way to “connect and collaborate” with your readership, and it’s in no one in this town’s best interests except perhaps those looking only for self-aggrandisement.