Censorship, like many out and in the information dissemination industry dislike and question, has caught my attention. For the past few months I have sort to meditate on what censorship really means and what Section 16 (Freedom of expression) embedded in the South African constitution implies. These questions are posed on two counts, firstly, what is that, that I am permitted not to write about and secondly, is the freedom of expression that we are given really free?
I signed up for a blog for over 6 months and for that period I had not found my feet into using it. I believe it is in the nature of every humankind to be curious, however, question, argue and counter argue. To air out views. Withstanding this, still, I found myself swimming in a pool of confusion on why exactly am I challenged by what I seemingly and aspiringly would love doing for the rest of my live. That is, expression oneself or rather to put words in black and white. As much as writing excites me, I lost it. For that period I reluctantly found myself cornered in whether writing was for me. I resorted back and forth to studying more on censorship and constitutional statutes.
I then later discovered that there was one reason behind my issues with expressing my thoughts, that is simply my conscious mind and the fear that boggled my thoughts when I thought how some topics can be detrimental in my own capacity from the workplace, future opportunities and so forth. Exemplie gratia, I would hear people always give advances as to how it is important to write “appropriately” so as not to dent your image negatively and how some writing pieces can get you kicked off work. This at the back of mind meant what I have termed “conscious writing with hides”. This is writing with fear of the “what-ifs”.
On the question of what exactly is correct and incorrect to publish has been daunting for me. Section 16 of the Constitution of South Africa states that I quote: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.” The word “impart”, simply meaning to tell or inform or making known of that which was not known. This gives us the approval to tell our stories, to be opinionated. Further on within this statute, I quote: “The right in subsection:
(1) does not extend to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.” This then outlines well the barriers of imparting this information.
I must acknowledge that it is of vital importance to articulate oneself well when writing off and online and maintaining a digital/virtual image. This statute is also important in a democratic dispensation and has being used several times to defend certain views, which to some extent, have been shunned and regarded as detrimental to the writer/ producer. My ideal democracy is one where I will write and argue my opinions and views without being stressed by a societal judgment and fearing for my future as a young aspiring journalist and a novice writer. From my own perceptions, I feel that the freedom of expression is not entirely free.