The Penny Sparrow debacle has yet again caused another high profile individual their job. This follows the early morning (Saturday, 09) shocking announcement by DSTV and M-net that Gareth Cliff will no longer be part of the Idols judging panel.
Gareth Cliff’s problems begun when he waded in on twitter on the Penny Sparrow debacle a week ago stating, “People don’t really understand free speech at all”.
This post however, didn’t go down well with many users on twitter who called for Idols to terminate his contract and who also vowed to boycott his online radio station. Soon thereafter Gareth Cliff posted an apology for his remarks but it seems that wasn’t enough as M-net decided not to renew his contract.
In an earlier statement by IOL, M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle confirmed that Gareth's future employment with the company was being reviewed.
Following his axing Gareth Cliff has written a lengthy statement seeking engagement on the racial issue and a way forward.
Here is the full blog post:
2016 has started painfully. I’m a white guy and I’m mindful that I inherit a system biased in my favour, but I’m also a passionate South African – and have been outspoken on matters to do with the country because I care so much. I’m not a member of any political party. The only membership I have is of the Mamelodi Sundowns fan club, which I joined when I was 15. In 1994, I was still at school and too young to vote. Since the General Election of 1999, I have only ever voted for the ANC – with the exception of one election where I wasted my vote on COPE. I kept voting ANC, even when I became disillusioned with the President and the executive – mostly because I believed in what the ANC stood for. Over the years I have taken a lot of abuse for my views – I’ve even received death threats. I’ve always regarded this as an exercise of freedom of speech – in a country where freedom of speech had not existed prior to 1994. In the light of #Sparrowgate and the ensuing controversy, I have come to understand that what I have been tolerating is hate speech.
Read it again and assess for yourself whether such a disproportionate outrage is called for. Calls to boycott me and even the TV show Idols came in the wake of this lynch-mob that directed their fury at me. In an effort to clarify things, I apologised for the confusion, which sadly only led to more vitriol. I certainly appreciate the need to obtain greater clarity on what the limits of free speech and the parameters of hate speech really are. I’m also grateful that people like Pinky Khoabane, Sizwe Dhlomo, Professor Jonathan Jansen, Advocate Dali Mpofu and DJ Fresh sought to constructively engage me on the matter. We all know that there are blurred lines in the sensitive context of race relations in South Africa. At this moment, I feel disappointed in how the conversation sometimes gets hijacked by angry and emotional people on Twitter, who have no desire to add value. We should not be deterred from continuing the discussions we need to have to build a better South Africa. When the dust settles, I hope that we can engage constructively – tell our stories, share our ideas and LISTEN to each other. Don’t be bullied. Don’t tolerate racism. Let’s keep talking.
Picture credit: mzanzilife.co.za
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