Eusebius McKaiser invited me onto his radio show to talk about intentions and their role in assigning praise and blame, or more broadly, in determining the moral status of speech and action. You can listen to the podcast of the conversation, and/or read further if you’re interested in a fuller description of my views on the topic.
Here’s what I’ve learned from the past few days of social media debate regarding Gareth Cliff: it’s true that people don’t really share the same understanding of free speech at all.
Furthermore, even though I think my (and as far as I can tell, his) conception of it is the correct one, it’s partly the assumption of that correctness – rather than an argument for it – that leads to all the trouble on Twitter.
Following a brief period of goodwill over Christmas and New Year celebrations – where the goodwill was likely just people being distracted rather than benevolence – South Africa’s court of social media has resumed operations.
It’s difficult to know when calling people out becomes persecution or “witch hunt”, and I’ve no doubt that some of you think that it’s permissible, or even obligatory, to condemn racist tweets or Facebook posts in the strongest terms.
Some of you might also think that any attempt to contextualise the offensive statements somehow excuses them. It’s true that providing context can be a means of evading blame, or excusing someone else from rightful blame.