The controversial interdict passed on Friday by the Johannesburg High Court, banning the publication of the infamous Danish cartoon strip depicting caricatures of the revered Islamic figure Prophet Mohammed, may be frustrating to the media fraternity but it does well to remind us that most of the rights in the Bill of Rights are not absolute and can – and will – be limited should the need arise.In the real world, it is true that there are limits on freedom of the press from inciting violence. But that is inciting violence against the victims, not by the victims! Cartoons that call for the eradication of Islam could be considered incitement, but these cartoons that are less offensive than even the commentary above in its description of Flemming Rose's motivations.
An obvious example is the limitation of the right to equality in labour practice, where fair discrimination is condoned.
The section within the Bill of Rights granting the right to freedom of expression also expressly limits the right. In other words, the right to freedom of expression is inherently limited even before being limited by other competing rights, such as the right to dignity.
According to the Bill of Rights, the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media, “does not extend to incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm”.
The caricature cartoons, which were commissioned by one Flemming Rose, a supporter of the anti-Islamic Zionist "clash of civilizations" Neo-Cons behind the “war on terror”, were drafted with the intention to insult and outrage Muslims – an aim well achieved.
The surge of violent protests emanating from the Arab world in response to the cartoons is an indication that the publication of the cartoons in South Africa may incite violence from the Muslim community and, because the source intended the cartoons to advocate hatred based on religion, the publication in South Africa could very well constitute “incitement to cause harm”.
A law professor at Wits University has said that although the cartoons did not amount to hate speech, they did amount to an incitement of violence and, as such, limit the press’ right to publish them.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa – a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange – has said that the interdict is an “unacceptable intrusion on media freedom and freedom of expression by the courts and believes it is unconstitutional”.
The interdict will be challenged in court by at least one media organisation on 28 February 2006.
In other words, by flipping the definition of "incitement to violence" into referring to violence from the supposed victims, it changes the intent of the law from reducing violence to increasing it! It gives effective veto power over any article by the press to the victim group - by threatening violence. This ridiculous reasoning ends up chilling freedom and rewarding violence, the exact opposite of its intent.
Not only that, but the hypocrisy in South Africa is stunning. It's Almost Supernatural points out to overtly anti-Jewish themes in recent SA "anti-Zionist" cartoons:
As always, see It's Almost Supernatural for details on what's happening in South Africa.