Freedom is a funny thing. You probably take it for granted, until you wake up one morning and you haven't got it anymore. When Big Brother starts looking over your shoulder to tell you you can't watch certain kinds of characters in your favorite soapies anymore (because that is contrary to "nation-building"), or read about government's latest corruption scandal (because that would influence your vote come next election, duh), or walk down the street holding your partner's hand (because that promotes an "unhealthy lifestyle choice" and "threatens Christian family values") - then you will know the bite of censorship and miss it.
It's quite funny to note over the past week or so, that with all the petitions and civil organizations and personalities now speaking out against the "Protection of Information" Bill which would reintroduce censorship of the media in South Africa - all the right wing and fundamentalist Christian (aka Levitican) groups are deafeningly silent. Why, I wonder?
After all, all the standard liberal and pro-democratic political parties started protesting almost immediately when this infamous slap-in-the-face to democracy first made the news, but certain other parties have remained aloof and apparently indifferent. Have the FF+ said anything about it? What about their goose-stepping cousins, the AWB and the BWB? What about the "Boerekrygers" and the "Voortrekkerjeug"? LOL. Honestly, who cares? Have the religious right swooped in from on high to object to legislation which might very well be used to smother religious freedom in the media, by a government and ruling party which they themselves have all too often accused of being Marxist and outright communist? No?
In fact I find it strange that these same groups and their leaders have of late have abstained from making such remarks - and have instead taken to working with them in trying to "police" the "morals" of the country.
Could it be that these far-right Leviticans agree with it? Could it be that this resounding loss of democratic freedom would suit them? And why not? After all, the religious right has been pushing its own anti media-freedom agenda for the past year or so - namely the so-called "Pornography" Bill being punted by the deputy minister of HA, Mr Gigaba, in direct association with the fearless leader of the FPI - bible-thumping and gay-hating Cape Town pastor Erroll Naidoo who has been saying that TV is next on his list of censorship and "reforms".
Currently, the Protection of Information Bill is receiving all the media attention, and the focus of civil society - and my concern is that the so-called "Pornography Bill", which will allow the government pretty much similar leverage to impose media censorship, may slip through unnoticed. If the language used to formulate this Bill is broad enough in scope, or constructed in just the right way, it can be interpreted to mean just about anything the government may choose to view as a "threat" to "children" or "the family" or "society" - or anything at all the Religious Right chooses to call its nefarious intent to extend religious dominion over South African society - with its own apathetic consent.
I sincerely hope the parties speaking out against the "Protection of Information Bill" will speak out just as fervently against this other blatant attack on freedom and democracy as well, and thereby sidestep being otherwise justifiably labeled hypocrites.
Wake up now, protect your freedoms while you still have them - before you or your children have to fight to take them back later.
It will be a lot easier, believe me.
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