HATE SPEECH: WE NEED NEW LAWS

Okay…let’s get serious shall we.

Two days ago, I came across this screenshot of a series of tweets done by one dude – King With No Crown (@mcvaaey). The subject: the need to kill all Igbos for being ‘sellouts’. He called Igbos a number of unprintable names and called on all ‘well meaning’ Nigerians to embark on a ‘purge’ or ethnic cleansing of sorts.

We’ve always had this tribal e-warfare but never since Chinua Achebe’s There Was A Country book drama and Fashola’s deportation of Igbos have we had it this bad. This time it really reeks, like Fani Kayode’s underwear.

Obviously the guy has never heard of Rwanda and Sudan to mention just two. The guy obviously never heard of our own civil war. History isn’t his forte.

These are difficult explanations to come up with. And they’ll stand.

But I’ve got an easier answer: this guy is a bigoted cretin who should be time jumped back to WWII and labelled a Jew. And that goes for the rest of them. Everyone else who would only open their mouths to spew vitriol against people of other tribes, nationalities, faiths, ideological leanings, etc.

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Funny this is that this moron and others like him will still bitch about Boko Haram and wonder why the terrorists act the way they do. Are they any different? Just because they do their nonsense from behind a keypad doesn’t make them any better. And I only feel pity for them. Because they are the first to cry if they land in Russia and someone makes a monkey sound or brandishes a banana at the sight of them.

It’s not just talk. No. Stuff like this can start riots. And they’ll go to church and sing ‘My hands are blessed’ when they’re in fact stained with blood. Some will take communion or say prayers with that same hateful tongue.

It’s sad. really.

And for anyone who really knows me, I can’t just deal with ethnic bullshit. Some of my closest friends aren’t Yoruba. Hell, if I don’t tell you my name or speak Yoruba, you’ll probably think I’m Hausa. My mom is Yoruba, grew up in the North, schooled in the East and her bestie is an Ibibio woman who married a Yoruba man and gave birth to wonderful kids like Seun Olayemi​, Olayemi Oluwatosin​ and their siblings.

This is where I’m going: if I meet an Ibo man who happens to be an asshole, I won’t call him an Ibo asshole. He’s simply a jerk and will be a jerk whether or not he’s from a tribe that isn’t mine. And this is where we need new laws. I’m not a lawyer but I believe our constitution is pretty weak on hate speech. Help me out here Sir Okwudilichukwu Obu​.

In a sane country like the UK or US, the dude that tweeted such nonsense would already be behind bars. Anton Ferdinand accused John Terry for racist remarks on a football pitch and it became not just a football disciplinary issue but a legal one taken up by the authorities. Last year in the US, Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clipers was banned for life and practically stripped of his ownership because he made a snide racist remark against black basketball players. And here’s the clincher, he said it in private.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet, facebook post, blog comment or meme, you’re gonna get what’s coming – just ask Mario Balotelli.

We need these kind of laws here. You can insult all you want but eave race, gender and religion out of it. That way, you can ensure that some moron won’t wake up one day and start killing people that don’t speak his tongue. And when we do have those laws, it’s our duty to make them work. It’s our duty to report such people to the authorities and make them realise that you can’t type hateful stuff about people and hope to get away with it.

Rwanda is pretty pretty now but we can have an awesome Nigeria without going through what they did. Nigeria is. Let Nigeria continue to be. See the headache most Eastern European nations are still having after their split? I want none of that.

Hate isn’t pretty, and its children are bloody ugly.

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UNTIL IT’S CLOSE TO HOME

Note: While homosexuality is an orientation I don’t just ‘get’, homosexuals are still human beings and I find it difficult to label people by their sexual orientations alone. I do not hate people (I don’t think I like people very much either) but I’ve learned to keep my nose out of people’s bedrooms, lest I be branded a voyeur. However, I’m wholly against this silly, haphazardly drafted anti-gay law as well. That won’t change.

I’m not keen on going through this gay debate wahala again. Unfortunately, a lot of people still stand firmly on a wobbly foundation of ignorance and hate. That’s what gets to me and it scares me shitless that people don’t realise that this new law has given fillip to the prevalent mob culture in Nigeria. I pity that straight girl who get’s wrongfully arrested for being a lesbian – or even a lesbian – and what the Nigerian police might do to her in the course of their ‘investigations’. Hate crimes just might be on the rise. I’ve even have to re-evaluate the stance of some of my Christian brothers and sisters on this, because they conveniently forget the phrase: “what would Jesus do?” Condemn yes, definitely not jail. But that’s not what this is about.

See, my world’s probably bigger so I tend to see things differently. But then again, I’ve seen a lot in my very short time on this planet – which the ‘majority’ thought was flat at a point in time (hope you get the point). In one of my arguments on social media, some people felt my thoughts had been clouded by ‘western’ logic. I found that funny, considering that I haven’t visited a foreign news website – minus ESPN – or watched cable television for the better part of three months now. I hardly ever base my views on what a white man says, except it makes sense. Much funnier is the fact that we blame everything on foreign influence now, but ignore the fact that these countries do their best to cater to the needs of the weakest as well as the strong in their society.

Almost two decades ago while I was in secondary school, a couple of students in the hostels then were caught engaging in homosexual acts. There was hardly any cable television back then or even private terrestrial TV, so I wonder where those kids got influenced from. Foreign influence? I’m not so sure.

A few years after I graduated, one of my closest friends came out and told me his sexual orientation – which differed entirely from mine. Up to that point, I thought he liked just girls, but he likes much more than that. I was a bit taken aback when he told me and I told him he was crazy. Still, I sat with him and enjoyed my ice cream. Did I hate him? No. I’ve known him for close to a decade and that this new information wouldn’t change our friendship. Even though I hope he changes and told him I believe it’s wrong, I love him like a brother. This dude has come through for me so much that I’d be crazy to now dismiss him. He’s tested my resolve – as per my sexual orientation – once but when he saw we were completely different, he didn’t push.

These days, if we’re making plans to hang out, I ask if he’s coming with a boyfriend or a girlfriend. He laughs and tells me I’m nuts.

Over the years, I found out that quite a number of his friends were also ‘gay’. Some are married now – to women – just to satisfy societal expectations but they still have their lovers. They will have children with their wives. Everyone will be kept in the dark, save for a few. But we’ll believe we have a law that’s working simply because gay people aren’t getting married. The truth is, they probably weren’t even thinking of getting married knowing the kind of society they’re in. Now I wonder if our attempt to preserve ‘societal’ norms isn’t worsening it.

Most times, we make pronouncements from our moral high horse, having never come in contact with a particular situation. I’ll ask these questions again: what if your brother/sister came out of the closet? Will you wish jail on him/her? What if the bestman – your best friend – at your wedding suddenly tells you he’s gay? Jail? I’ll wager on the opposite. As much as we’d disagree with their ‘abnormal’ orientation and want them to change or see the ‘light’, there’d be no takers if the slammer is ever presented as an option. It’s not about emotion or sentiment, but the understanding that what they do with their bodies in the privacy of their bedrooms is their business – so long as there is no underage or unwilling participant involved.

This is when it hits home. When we come in contact with someone ‘different’ – the difference in this case being their sexual orientation. That’s when our empathy should kick in – assuming you have a capacity for it. That’s the only thing we need in this case, nothing more. If you don’t have, get it small… it’s two for N5.