Preventing hate speech not an option, but a necessity

Editor, Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, said George Santiyana. Were Rwandans to ignore the role of the media in propagating hatred for a section of our population and therefore indoctrinating the other section of the population to not only accept but celebrate mass murder of the designated victims, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi would never have been possible.
Prime Minister Habumuremyi opening a media forum on hate speech in Kigali last week. (File)
Prime Minister Habumuremyi opening a media forum on hate speech in Kigali last week. (File)

Editor,

Reference is made to Prime Minister Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi’s article, “Preventing hate speech is no violation of freedom of speech” (The New Times, April 19).

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, said George Santiyana. Were Rwandans to ignore the role of the media in propagating hatred for a section of our population and therefore indoctrinating the other section of the population to not only accept but celebrate mass murder of the designated victims, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi would never have been possible.

As President Kagame has said before, genocide begins as an idea in the minds of men, it is then translated into words and disseminated among the population before it can be converted into murderous action.

Rwandans would be suicidal and foolish not to learn that certain rights are never absolute but subject to limitations imposed by other even more important rights such as the right to life. The moment you abuse your right to freedom of expression by promoting ideas aimed at depriving others of even more fundamental rights, you forfeit your less fundamental right.

In the West these days, from whence we are encouraged to see our models of rights or even from where there are attempts to “impose their ideas of rights” on us, there are now laws proscribing freedom of expression if it glorifies terrorism, even if only highly selective, i.e. if it is against themselves, not necessarily against others.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda

 

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