I’m not really a fan of governmental bodies deciding which forms of speech are acceptable and which are not, but apparently, that is the status quo in South Africa. The press Ombudsman of South Africa (A governmental agency that arbitrates all issues relating to the media) has ordered Huffington Post – South Africa to issue an apology for publishing their article titled “Is it time to deny white men the franchise“. As we have come to learn, the article was in fact a satirical piece written by a very clever troll to expose Huffington Post’s bigotry and lack of fact checking.
The Press Ombudsman issued a very stern rebuke toward HuffPo, stating that they have violated numerous sections of the press code. The agency said it has found HuffPo of publishing “hate speech”, and publishing speech that targeted a specific group of people. According to the agency, Husspo’s article was “Discriminatory and denigratory to white males'”
Cape Town – The Huffington Post has been ordered to apologise to the public for publishing a ”racist and sexist” blog that incited hate speech, titled “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?”.
In a strongly worded finding, Press Ombudsman Johan Retief said editor Verashni Pillay had violated numerous sections of the Press Code, and had “contributed to the erosion of public trust in the media”.
The publication, which was launched last year as a sister to News24 in the Media24 stable, has already complied fully with the ombud’s order to publish an apology of equal prominence and position to the blog, and has included a linked copy of the full finding, as ordered.
“The Press Ombudsman of South Africa has found the Huffington Post South Africa guilty of the publication of hate speech.
”HuffPost SA apologises unreservedly for the publication of the blog titled Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise on 13 April 2017.”
It also quoted Andreij Horn, head of 24.com, a division of Media24, as saying the company regretted the incident.
“A number of in-depth interventions will be, and in some instances, have already been, implemented to address processes and attitudes that caused this situation. The investigation into the incident is at an advanced stage and will be concluded early next week,” Horn said.
In related news, the editor in chief of Huffington Post – South Africa, Verashni Pillay, has presented a resignation later to her employers, and it has been accepted. News 24, HuffPost SA’s parent company says her decision to resign was in response to rebuke from the Press Ombudsman:
Andreij Horn, head of 24.com, announced that the company has accepted the resignation of Verashni Pillay from her position as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post SA.
Her resignation followed immediately on the release earlier today of the findings of the press ombudsman that a blog published on the site was “malicious” and “discriminatory”.
Horn said editorial control over the site has been reassigned: “With immediate effect, Ferial Haffajee, The Huffington Post SA’s editor-at-large, and Pieter du Toit, the site’s deputy editor, will take over the editorial management of the site until we have appointed a new editor. We have the utmost faith in their ability to lead the site through both the changes we are making to address the internal issues that made this situation possible in the first place, and the impact it had on society at large, the company, and its staff.”
Pillay said: “I respect the office of the press ombudsman and have decided to tender my resignation. Thank you to Media24 for this opportunity and all the best to the team at HuffPost SA going forward.”
Like I said in the beginning, I don’t like governmental agencies having the right to censor “hate speech”. However, if there are laws in place in a certain country to ensure that people don’t say discriminatory things towards minorities, then the least they can do is ensure that said laws are also applied fairly when white men are the ones being targeted. I disagree with the Press Ombudsman’s decision, but respect its consistency.