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Online hate speech disturbs peaceful coexistence in South Sudan

Do some diaspora South Sudanese know online hate speech continues to disturb peaceful co-existence back home

By Garang Abraham Malak

With due respect to journalistic ethics that at times disengages journalists from writing opinions, I plead that South Sudanese or readers of this article understand that journalists are not angels but humans who live like other persons that bear similar feelings individuals abide in various societies.

As you bookworm this the article, please understand that both positive and negative community occurrences also, touch our hearts [journalists] and perhaps we are at times are hurt like how other humans are miffed by events in communities but tend not to comment on those misfortunes in order to remain independent in adherence to our journalistic ethics.

To single it down to what am I want to disclose this Tuesday, I must admit that I am personally hurt by how some South Sudanese who were displaced to foreign countries by past and recent civil wars continue to preach hate speech on various social media platforms, instead of using those podiums to unite their fellows both at home and diaspora in attempts to mitigate or eradicate continuous conflicts.

What is hate speech?

What is the harm of hate speech - the harm for which hate speech is responsible? Is this harm sufficient to justify its proscription or regulation, given the strong protection liberal democracies often give freedom of speech in their constitution?

Some of my views may answer the above questions but the recent the literature on hate speech is much more voluminous than that on any other area of free speech philosophy of law. One of the most notable contributions has been that of Jeremy Waldron in his book, The Harm in Hate Speech (2012), a revision of the Holmes lectures he gave at Harvard in 2009.

The book titled “suggestive” like other books defines hate speech as abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group, especially on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation.

I have been and continue to be disturbed when I see some South Sudanese in diaspora linger to preach hate online, it leaves me wondering whether they really used the education acquired while in diaspora cordially.

I believe some South Sudanese in diaspora wasted their personal or some countries’ resources used to sponsor their studies in those particular countries, basically because if you cannot fully define the impacts of what you are about/going to do before writing or hosting an online social media discussion, then know you are fully doomed.

I cannot withstand the fact that some people are traumatized and feel healed after speaking out. But speaking out your feelings in a manner that hurts others, divides people, encourages revenge, undermines people’s race, colour, or tribe, among other barbaric things can help you alone while it ruins the lives of many, mostly the majority blind natives at home.

As in my free-time glance through various social media platforms, I have seen men and women with high reputation, married and blessed with children, educated and living a wealthy life write, host and debate online events where they are inciting hate or highly encourage hate. To make it worse, they continuously do it on a regular basis without fear, if I ask, what exactly are these people insinuating?

To just single it down to a certain community I know, though the barbaric acts are being carried out by South Sudanese from almost all regions across the country according to own online survey, one of an online hate speech event lead to a dispute that has cost lives, is still ongoing now on though on a low-case and may continue to divide people.

Are such deadly events what our people in diaspora want for us back at home, after civil wars wrecked communities and leftover 400,000 dead, millions displaced, and with the country in dire need of humanitarian assistance? I guess no because some sections of people overseas has continued to educate and cater for the welfare of their fellows at home.

Now, imagine you reading this article one day shed tears because a friend, relative, or workmate was injured or killed in a fight related or was triggered by an online hate speech which later culminated to offline hate speech, how will you feel? We can’t underscore that such scenarios have happened and will continue to happen if we don’t avoid the hate ethnicities.

What does the bible say about hate speech?

To quote the book of Jude 1:16-19, it says, “these are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain an advantage. But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

In addition, the book of Proverbs 26:24-28 says, “Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred is covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Imagine you reading such articles with such verses from the only bible has been preaching or will preach hate speech, how will you feel, who will your future look like, disastrous of course as per my own definition.

Please, when you want to look for FAM, seek it in the right way but not in a manner that jeopardizes the lives or wellbeing of others. And to make it worse, it’s heartbreaking that we adorably celebrate such creatures. How do you celebrate someone who has slashed individuals, families, and communities apart, ridiculous you are!

Way Forward

My plight to you who have been preaching hate speech, evangelization it now or will continue to orate it tomorrow, please cogitate that the small acts that you do after having your full meals while your kids are at school or you are studying, having health insurance, and continue to live a wealthy life are causing havoc back at home and are sullying the lives of many.

I advocate through encouraging you to always #Think Before you Click or #Thick Before you speak-out or host an online/offline the event, marking in mind that the hate you speak out doesn’t only jeopardize grassroots peaceful co-existence but also tempers with the only stick – 2018 Revitalized Peace Accord that the vulnerable South Sudanese have based all their hopes on.

Meanwhile, I urge South Sudan’s government, especially civil society organizations, relevant ministries and the Media Authority to facilitate processes on how the country can enact a Cyber-Crime Law that can be used to hold to account those practising hate speech both offline and online.

The writer is a South Sudanese professional Journalist, he can be reached via gmalakdiit@gmail.com. Kindly, treat this article as a personal opinion like any other citizen of South Sudan, bearing in mind that the views showcased don’t reflect on his profession.