obviously the polity has been over heated by hate speech trailing the social media. No doubt millions of Nigerians have been found guilty of having eaten the forbidden fruit named “Hate speech”. This blunder of acidic speeches with corrosive effects have emitted from the mouths of various classes that have sent wrong signals to the spines of the receivers and have launched the nation in a state of pandemonium. Argumentative bifurcations have emerged over governments move to prosecute hate speech offenders. The severity of the offence is stressed in its equating hate speech with the act of terrorism. The knitting gritty of the issues surrounding is how necessary is the hate speech law?.
In my candid opinion, the hate speech halt is a vital pain killer to subside the menace of the pending war eloquently manifested in the ugly pronouncements of some agitators and even the political class with special reference to manifestos and campaigns against the 2019 election. The media is at the apex of the list of accused in committing hate speech blunders. The media exaggeration and emphasis on hate speech in order to gain patronage by coining captivating headlines with evil intents is a sure promoter of national disintegration.
On the other hand, millions of Nigerians have frowned at the acclaimed sinister move of the government to punctuate hate speech with a full stop on the premise that it is an impediment to exercising the right to freedom of speech as encoded in the constitution. This line of argument brings to the fore the need for the definition of the term “Hate speech” at this juncture as it is not enigmatic as many paint it to be. Hate speech are conscious words targeted at an opposition to get them embittered with resultant effect being a negative reaction from the targets. Hate speech indeed is no statement of fact. The thin line between hate speech and freedom of speech is “Intent”. Freedom of speech is a right to expression but has been abused to mean right to war where emphasis is to indiscriminately employ disdainful words to define people and the nation. This if not curtailed honestly will fuel the already burning situation in the country. An end to hate speech simply means logical reasoning and constructive criticisms for the purpose of national cohesion. In a nutshell of what positive impact has hate speech constituted if not heightened grievances amongst ethnic, religious and tribal entities (verbal war).
Let’s not be hoodwinked into believing that freedom of speech is free in its entirety because even in Freetown nothing is free. Freedom of speech doesn’t connote irresponsibility where authorities should be talked about without trepidation an example being the cartooning of Mr President by every dick and Hary. Constructive criticism is the bedrock of a speech but when recklessness sets in it becomes hate speech.
The media and their reportage system is like a siren that attracts much attention from those who hear it. People live and act on information they hear. Wrong information indeed can deform the mentality of the receiver. The involvement of the military to monitor the social media spread of hate speech is a welcome development because as far as i am concerned the best way to regulate behaviours even in a democratic dispensation is “Force” as Nigerians do not like it simple. Its a wrong notion that the role of the military ends in Sambassa forest or the barracks as it also relevant in correcting social evil capable of inducing security threat.
On the above analogy, I Concur to the governments move to seal the lips of irrational thinkers who misconstrue freedom of speech to mean freedom of hate. The say no to hate speech is an instrument of peace and not a masquerade that parades to scare anyone. The gains of the hate speech end can conquer implementation gaps if no one is considered above the law in terms of prosecution irrespective of religious, political , ethic affiliations.
“Long live the president and long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria”