The Department of Hate
The "bounds of tolerance" not yet exceeded
Absolved of crimethink!
By STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI
Readers of this samizdat may sleep more soundly knowing that in October 2003 an official tribunal acquitted me, in effect, of crimethink.
In March, my argument that the neocons were the driving force for the Iraq war provoked a charge of "hate speech" in the new, democratic South Africa, following a presentation on the taboo subject I made in a radio interview for the South African national FM station SAfm. It's an outlet of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, i.e., we're talking state radio. An apparent Jewish gentleman, Dr. Cohen, charged not only that my presentation was anti-Semitic but also that a search of the Internet showed that it had "firm root in previous anti-Semitic hate-speech." (I guess all my stuff on the Web can really get me in trouble!)
The tribunal, whose official name is the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa, noted that "the interviewer's interest in [the] topic was roused by a paper written by the said Prof. Sniegoski titled 'War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel.' The interview was a recorded one and comprised a few questions put by the interviewer and for the rest the said professor expounded on the theory that he developed in his paper."
The Complaints Commission ultimately rejected the charge of "hate speech" and ruled that if the complainant's plea to penalize the airing of the interview were accepted, it "would spell the end of freedom of expression in South Africa." Naturally that is exactly what was being sought in respect to the airing of anything that might seem the least bit negative toward Jews.
Here is the summary of the case:
Interview with professor of history on his theory that pro-Israel Jewish right-wingers influenced the U.S.A. to wage war on Iraq. Complaint that interview constituted hate speech against Jewish people. Tribunal found that interview and theory not of such inflammatory nature as to exceed the bounds of tolerance. Tribunal also found that there was no incitement to cause harm. Second point of complaint that there was imbalance in the programme because broadcaster failed to air opposing view. Tribunal found on the facts that an invitation was extended to the Jewish Board of Deputies but the Board failed to put forward its view. Offer by broadcaster to present an opposing point of view not accepted by representatives of Jewish viewpoint who set conditions, unacceptable to the broadcaster, for participation in programme. No contravention of Code. The complaint was dismissed.
I should stipulate that I have never represented myself as a "professor." These South Africans seem to have gotten the impression, somehow, that people with Ph.D.'s in history automatically become college professors. Maybe South Africa is a utopia for historians; in the good old U.S.A., though, I've been told I was lucky to get a job answering the telephone. The Commission also decided that I was from New York. In fact I have never claimed to be from New York, and I non-hatefully non-commit my non-crimethink in the Washington area. But from the vantage point of Africa, New York and Washington may seem identical.
Shortly after the Commission handed down its decision, the host of the radio program, Eric Miyeni, was fired. All respectable citizens will understand immediately that that was just coincidental, similar to the well-known coincidental pattern here at home whereby those few U.S. congressfolk who dare to buck the Zionist lobby quickly become ex-congressfolk. The radio station said Miyeni's silencing arose solely from a financial issue and was a "mutual decision." And yet Miyeni denies that, and believe it or not there are intimations floating about that he was removed because he was too controversial: "The presenter has been hauled before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for his reckless statements during his four months on air." ("Shafted Eric accuses SABC of lying," MediaWeb.co.za, "mouthpiece of the SA media.")
Four whole months he lasted. Well, sorry about that, Eric. If he needed support, I could have vouched for the fact that I did all the substantive talking in our interview. But then again, he didn't refute my claims. And he did invite me, after all. And what I had to say was "controversial." By the way, you may not be exactly stupefied to learn that my "controversial" presentation does not seem to be included currently among the transcripts on the SAfm Website. Guess the new, democratic, advanced, progressive South Africa tossed it down its new, democratic, advanced, progressive memory hole.
December 29, 2003
Full text of the Commission's judgment.
Comment by the editor-in-chief
Clearly the new, democratic, advanced, progressive South Africa still has a few things to learn about Polite Totalitarianism, at least as that technology of rule has been perfected here in the Imperial metropole. Even though censorship tribunals exist and flourish in progressive democracies other than South Africa, they're just too public, too direct, too obviously ugly to qualify under true Polite Totalitarian protocols. But the South African authorities have learned at least one important thing. If you simply must have such a tribunal, the good Polite Totalitarian thing to do is to have it formally clear an accused free-speaker and then knife him in the dark, on grounds that can be represented as completely unrelated. Most people won't talk about it, but they'll get the message, all right.
The Last Ditch
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