The King’s speech: was it hate, or just hateful?

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King VomitsIn March this year King Good Zwelethini made comments calling for foreigns to pack their bags and go home. Cue an outbreak of xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal, which swiftly spread to other parts of the country.

The king later claimed that his comments had been misinterpreted, but this didn’t stop a charge of hate speech being laid against him at the South African Human Rights Commission.

The commission announced this week that it will make a preliminary determination on the case by mid-June. The commissioners seem to be taking their time, but we reckon it’s fair enough: the distinction between illegal hate speech and hateful speech – which may not be nice, but is perfectly legal – is one that is often lost, and it’s important that they don’t rush to judgement, or a judgment.

 

 

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