Democratic states of the world would not have existed at first, if they did, they would have gone into Oblivion where nothing will be heard of the system again. Freedom of speech has been a zenith feature and a rigid characteristic behind Democracy as a system of government. Nursing mothers, farmers, workers and possibly the sick ones will like to know one thing or the other about the government in power. Not all people can be available at a particular time to listen directly from the government or other people, hence, the reason for some people to report to them what exactly is going on in the community.
After reading a quote by Martin Luther King Jr that ‘Returning Hate for Hate multiply Hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that, hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.’ I did a minute travel to scrutinize the death speech (hate speech). How the law makers moved a motion to silence Nigerians by putting fear of death in them. Argumentum ad baculum (appealing to force), a common feature of human being, we are fearful, especially of death; so the press, a pivot arm of government will be speechless, dumb and deaf because the law is against them. If this happens, the bill will hate itself; absence of freedom of expression brings about dictatorship.
The reason to take life out of the people for expressing themselves in unknown but barring any unforeseen circumstances, have the law Makers forgotten that the Constitution in which is the supreme guidance of law in the country states in chapter 4, section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution that ‘ Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and information without interference”. If they look of the Constitution, why should they forget the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( UDHR ) of 1948? If this reasons are ignored then the bill will bring detriments upon itself.
The rumbling ship of the country will be perilously capsized if the law proposing against freedom of expressions on Internet, social media and all over the country are not probably amended now. Nadine Strossen says that while efforts to censor hate speech have the goal of protecting the most vulnerable, these efforts are ineffective and may have the opposite effect. Disadvantaged and ethnic minorities are sometimes the ones charged with violating laws against hate speech. Kidnapping, corruption and insurgency among others deserve death penalty and not freedom of speech.
Instead of regulating social media, why not regulating eccentric and uneven salaries among the workers of the country. The bill will hate itself as it will derail the law makers to deliberate fully on issues that matter in the country. Much time have been wasted while deliberating on the bill which sounds like an expensive joke to a responsible citizen of the country. There should be death penalty for corrupt public officers of the government and not correspondence of the poor in the society.
Copying European countries and others are unusual to our own styles of ruling. Even those countries we are trying to emulate, their judgement and penalties for Nigerian called death speech (hate speech) is not as harsh as ours. In Canada, offenders found guilty of hate speech will be sentenced to Prison with a maximum of two year to spend over there. In Iceland, just a fine or being sentenced to prison for two years, In May 2016 Japan passed a law dealing with hate speech. However, it does not ban hate speech and sets no penalty for committing it.
By killing offenders of Hate speech, the bill will hate itself. An excellent and well democratic system is not yet attained with the freedom of expressions. Kill a single offender of the law and the whole world will have their eyes on us and this will bring negative image to the nation.
Tosin Adesokan writes from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife . You can also reach him on : firstname.lastname@example.org